Cavarzere is a little town south of Venice, lost in the vastness of the nothern Italy’s plain. You could not imagine that in Cavarzere there is the most aggressive team of stock scalpers I have ever met in my life. The story goes back to 2001 when Paolo Serafini decided to turn his part time passion, investing in stocks, into a new job behind what he was used to do to get a living up to that point: to teach young girls how to sew and embroider. The latter was a flourishing activity but the new one is today far more profitable: seldom Paolo Serafini, now 47, has a losing trading day. But Paolo is also one of the most-known scalper in Italy with a unique feature: he classified his entries and exit techniques so that everybody can learn, or at least to try to learn. So far Paolo Serafini educated dozen of other scalpers, five of them still trade with him in an anonymous flat in downtown Cavarzere. And as soon as you open the door of the flat you understand you fell on a new dimension. Most of the scalpers are intuitive traders that do not have any other skill than to watch 12 hours per day the stock books and try to ascertain what strong hands are buying and what are selling. On the contrary Serafini has his own rule to enter and exit the markets, objective rules. Unfortunately many of them are impossible to test as if they were a complete trading system since, even if clear-cut, they are too much adapted to the lowest time frame possible in trading: seconds. Moreover we can say that there is also an attentive and experienced reading of the book beyond chart pattern that is absolutely impossible both to explain and to code into a quantitative algorithm. But a big truth lies into the Paolo’s experience: if you want to trade stocks, whichever kind of stocks in whichever market you like, then except a few ones, the most volatile, the remaining 95% must be traded not in a trend following mode. That is something difficult to grasp even for an experienced trader. Markets are not all the same and over all they do not behave in the same matter. You can have common traits among markets but never expect to trade Allianz like Google. There are really few stocks that are volatile and that deserve to be traded with a channel breakout, or with trendlines or with a simple moving average. All the rest of the stocks are eternally moving around the trend, but the trend could not easily ascertained so that what is left for a quant is the “high low” movement, over all on the intraday time frame. “You can clearly see institutional investors and market makers that a certain point enter the market to buy heftily after a strong intraday down movement or to sell after and upward explosion” tells Corrado Testa, one of the Serafini’s contributors. Corrado does not check charts but he simply feeds himself with numbers. “My job is to sit in front of the screen all the day long and to wait that the market reaches an extreme, it does not matter if on the upside or on the downside. Then when in the middle of the crash, for example, I start to see big buy orders entering the market I just follow them without any reasoning. This is the start of the countermove and the lower are prices on an intraday basis the bigger will be the upward push”. Attending for some hours the trading room in Cavarzere you really understands that for those scalpers the markets are no way a reason to get excited: the boredom that could stem from buying 10 times in a row a knife that is falling and reselling it with 1 or 2 ticks loss is self evident. But if you risk 1 tick every trade and when the fatal big movement will come you will be aboard the band wagon then you really will make a fortune. Nobody cares at that point to lose 10 times in a row 1 tick. For a quantitative trader like me even if I do not know how statistics can justify such an approach I have to pay my respect to such a kind of warriors. From the middle of nowhere, day after day, month after month, year after year they reap their profits trumping the institutional traders like parvenu. Chapeau !
Emilio Tomasini is Chief Editor of the Italian edition of TRADERS’ MAGAZINE (www.traders-mag.it), the leading monthly publication in Europe for trading and investment, and since 1999 he organizes the TRADERS’ CUP the most important real money European trading competition (www.traders-cup.it). His personal weekly free newsletter L’Indipendente di Borsa (www.indipendentediborsa.it) is one of the most reputable Italian financial media and counts more than 100.000 readers. His website in English is www.emiliotomasini.com