Expectancy: How Profitable is your Trading Strategy?

FX:EURUSD   Euro / U.S. Dollar
As we all know, when we open a trade, there is no guarantee it will be a winner. Given the win rate of a certain trading strategy, there is a random distribution between wins and losses. We trade to make money over a larger number of trades, not to win every individual trade, which would simply be unrealistic. That is why it’s important to be confident when we place a trade. So we don’t “panic close” the trade when the market goes against us, or exit too soon when we are in profit.

If you know the expectancy of your trading strategy, you will be able to deal with these situations better. There is a psychological aspect here: knowing the predictable profitability of a larger number of trades you undertake will build your confidence, which in turn reduces your tendency to shortcut winners and to let losers run too long. Having this confidence will thereby improve your overall results. In December I developed a spreadsheet for myself, linked to my trading records, where I calculate several performance indicators, among which expectancy.

How to determine the expectancy of your trading system? Assuming you keep records of your trades, you should go back and look at all your trades that were profitable versus all your losing trades. Do this over a period of at least 3 months and at least 100 trades. The more data you can use, the more accurate the result. We only need 4 pieces of information: number of winning trades, number of losing trades, amount of money won and amount of money lost. From this data we can calculate the following:

Net profit = amount of money won - amount of money lost

Win rate = number of winning trades / total number of trades

Lose rate = 1 - win rate

Average winner = amount of money won / total number of winners

Average loser = amount of money lost / total number of losers

Average reward / risk = average winner / average loser

Expectancy per trade = win rate x average winner – lose rate x average loser

Or, alternatively, expectancy per trade = net profit / total # trades

Expectancy per month (profit forecast) = expectancy per trade x average # trades per month

Expectancy per amount of money risked = win rate x (average reward / risk + 1) – 1

Or, alternatively, expectancy per amount of money risked = net profit / average loser / total # trades

I will illustrate this with an example for a euro account. Lets assume we have been trading for 6 months and made a total of 540 trades. 297 of them were profitable and 243 were not, with €35.640,00 profit coming from the winning trades and €19.440,00 loss stemming from the losing trades. Lets make the calculations:

Net profit = €35.640,00 - €19.440,00 = €16.200,00

Win rate = 297 / 540 = 55%

Lose rate = 1 - 55% = 45%

Average winner = €35.640,00 / 297 = €120,00

Average loser = €19.440,00 / 243 = €80,00

Average reward / risk = €120,00 / €80,00 = 1,5

Expectancy per trade = 55% x €120,00 – 45% x €80,00 = €30,00

Or, alternatively, expectancy per trade = €16.200,00 / 540 = €30,00

In our example the expectancy per trade is €30,00. This means, on average (over many trades), each trade will contribute €30,00 to the overall P&L.

Expectancy per month = €30,00 x 540 / 6 = €2.700,00

In our example we can forecast a monthly profit of €2.700,00 based on prior performance.

Expectancy per risked = 55% x (1,5 + 1) – 1 = 38%

Or, alternatively, expectancy per risked = €16.200,00 / €80,00 / 540 = 0,38

In our example the expectancy of the trading strategy is 38%. That means the trading strategy will eventually (over many trades) return 38 eurocents for each euro risked.

Once you know your expectancy, as a function of your own trading statistics, you can forecast how much you could make per week, per month and per year.
You don´t need to be a weatherman to know which way the wind blows - B. Dylan


Thumbs up, keep up the great work.. Thank You
+4 Reply
JazzForex Technician
Thanks for the kind words, I hope it can be of help to other traders. It was a lot of fun creating the spreadsheet / dashboard based on these calculations.
+1 Reply
I thinks it is also very important the required risk : ratio to achieve a long-term expectancy:

Required Reward:Risk Ratio = (1 / Winrate) – 1

Example 2: If your system has a historical winrate of 60%, you need a reward:risk ratio of 0.6 : 1 to achieve a long-term expectancy:

(1 / 0.6) – 1 = 0.7
+3 Reply
Very nice brother! This will help a lot of people out =)
+2 Reply
JazzForex Daniel.B
Thanks alpha! Have you calculated your expectancy yet?
Thanks for taking the time to post this and thank you for all your interest in others expressed below in your answers. Kudos!

Question for you. How do you add to the equation a trade that required say a roll forward but eventually was not a loss. Simple example; I sell a put and on the day of expiry I am finding my thesis did not quite pan out yet and I still believe in it so I roll it forward and low and behold my thesis pans out by the next expiry and I'm on positive ground. Now I could have been on + ground before the roll just not where I wanted to be or I could have been -. How do I treat the two different trades. I'm assuming you'd keep the two trades separate in the equation and not treat them as one trade even though mentally I suspect many 'think' about them as one play. Thanks again.
+1 Reply
JazzForex ghettocounselor
Thank you for responding and for the kind words. I trade only forex and have no experience with options. So I am not sure I fully understand your question and I might not be the best person to ask this. But I "book" a trade as a win or a loss once I have closed it. The result that I book is then used in the expectancy calculation. Hope this clarifies it!
Thanks JasperForex I'll go with combining the two trades (orig and roll) or how many ever they are until the play closes. What kind of timeline are you running on. Thinking about this I suspect that time does impact things. In the end risk does have an element of influence in the realms of time. I can of course book a trade 3 months out and thereby have less risk than 3 days out. But maybe time is not necessary as we are really only looking at measure the success of a model, time is a part of the model. In which case we would kind of need to have a consistency in our 100 Measured Trades as far as timeline they played out on, if the bell curve was too wide we would risk equating success to a model that didn't even really exist (very interesting).
+1 Reply
Wonderful again :)
+1 Reply
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