About John Burford

My road to being a Professional Trader

I didn’t start out life wanting to be trader.  Probably no-one does. At school, I was fascinated by how the world works – and gravitated towards studying the ‘hard sciences’ – Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics.

Having taken a PhD in Physics (in Low Temperature studies where my self-designed equipment attained temperatures just above the Absolute Zero), I obtained a post at NASA in Washington DC where I worked on the proposed manned missions to Mars – right on the heels of the Apollo moon landings. But what caught my interest there wasn’t Mars, but the price charts a colleague was keeping (this was in the pre-computer era).

He came into my office one day with his hand-drawn charts in a large folio of graph paper, placed it on my desk and opened it in silence. There must have been a dozen or more charts of Cattle spreads (the Oct/Feb I believe) and as I flicked through, they showed a win every year if put on and taken off at the same dates every year.  It didn’t take me long to figure out that this trade seemed like a sure thing!

So naturally, I opened a trading account with a local broker and put the spread on at the appointed date.  As the days passed, I was eagerly looking forward to cashing in on the sell date. But instead of advancing, the spread steadily lost value day after day.  That wasn’t supposed to happen! And being a total novice, I decided to hang in there, waiting for it to come right.

I’m sure you have already guessed the outcome – it didn’t come right and I lost money.  Not a lot, but that was the first time in over 12 years it failed to work – and I had to discover it at just the wrong time.  That was an important lesson.

And so was the lesson that there is no such thing as a ‘sure thing’ in the markets.

So how could I have failed in my first trade – myself with a Doctorate!  That question bugged me for weeks afterwards and it was that first losing experience that drove me to start studying trading seriously. That little episode told me the markets worked on different principles than in physics!

After leaving NASA (I knew the Mars programme would never fly in my lifetime) and having been bitten by the trading bug, I passed my CTA (Commodity Trading Advisor) exams and worked for a small boutique trading house in Los Angeles.  I was hooked on the markets!

All this time, I was looking for a simple system to analyse the markets, but failed to find one (I didn’t come across The Elliott Wave Theory until much later).  The fail rate of all the systems I tried was just too much so I dropped out of trading and became my wife’s business partner.

But the siren call of the markets was just too strong and I decided to see if I could work on discovering a relatively simple method of market analysis that could pinpoint accurate entries, set a close stop (for the necessary low risk), get the direction right and accurately forecast price targets to take profits.  After all, that is the Holy Grail for many traders.

And after months of trial-and -error (mostly error), the end result is my Tramline Trading method.

Of course, many believe that to achieve all of the above impossible.  You often hear the mantra: You can’t pick tops and bottoms.  After using my methods day in and day out for years, I can sincerely claim to have achieved just that in a great many very profitable cases.  The members of my services can attest to that.

So today, as a full-time professional trader, not only do I provide specific trading advice to members, but also reveal how I arrive at my trades using my unique method.

Why do I do it?  Simply because I have seen too many very intelligent traders lose money in the markets and I would like to pass on what I have discovered.

I have written on markets extensively for MoneyWeek and currently, write a weekly Chart of the Week article on UK shares for Interactive Investor.

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