Article #576) Volatility Trading Strategies is now 8 years old! Here's how it evolvedJan 01, 2020
Now that we're into 2020, Volatility Trading Strategies has officially been going for 8 years now and I thought I'd give a little VTS timeline for those who aren't aware of the history here.
As I'm doing this though, for those of you just starting your careers or perhaps in limbo between a day job and really wanting to pursue one of your passions full time, I want to you to pay attention to the underlying message in the evolution of Volatility Trading Strategies, and that is:
You never know where your work will take you! Start today, work hard, don't be afraid to share it publicly, and with time and patience, opportunities will present themselves.
Some of you just joined the VTS community in the past year, and many others have been with me a while. Regardless of when or how you found me though, I very much appreciate all the support. This life that I've created for myself where I get paid to pursue my passion (something that I would do anyway even without the income) is really a dream come true. But none of this works without people having confidence in me and following along. It's not possible without all of you, so a huge thank you to the entire VTS Community for that. I will always be grateful for the position I'm in, and rest assured I take this responsibility very seriously.
If you can believe it, there's a few of you who have been followers longer than the 8 years the Total Portfolio Solution has been a thing!
When I launched the first website just showing some trading performance in 2009 I didn't really know what to expect or where this would take me. Before that I was just a guy who had retired from professional golf 4 years earlier and was just trading full time for a living. I had no formal plans or any path laid out for myself, it was just me sharing my private work as I traded.
To be honest, back then it was my plan to share some of my work and then just move towards being a financial advisor in Canada. And nothing wrong with that right? I'm fully certified in Canada with all the levels passed for portfolio management with derivatives as well (CSC, CPH, WME, AIS, PMT, DMS). I'm good to go, I'd just have to register as an advisor and then start down that path.
However, it was basically just due to demand from those early followers that it became a public subscription service, and it's amazing to see that some of you are still around. Before the Total Portfolio Solution officially launched in January 2012 there were people following the public website with interest and wanting to actually pay to follow my trades.
That's how it all started for me. Showing proof of concept, and then people asking how they can follow along. For the first year or so it was all done privately, but then I made it all public and it started to snowball into what it is today.
The original name for the website wasn't Volatility Trading Strategies, and it wasn't called the Total Portfolio Solution. The website was actually called TheIronCondor.com back then, and the name of the portfolio was the Prosperitas Fund. It was actually pretty similar back then to what it is now.
January 2012 allocations:
- 50% Tactical Balanced strategy (MDY, IEF, GLD)
- 25% Tactical Volatility strategy (XIV, Cash, VXX)
- 25% Iron Condor strategy (1-2 longer dated Iron Condors / month)
January 2020 allocations:
- 30% Tactical Balanced strategy (MDY, IEF, GLD)
- 20% Tactical Volatility strategy (VXX Puts, Cash, VXX Calls)
- 20% VB Threshold strategy (TLT, ZIV, SPY, TLT, VXZ)
- 30% VTS Options dedicated service
So the Tactical Balanced and Tactical Volatility strategies are basically unchanged aside from the Tactical Volatility switching from XIV to the current VXX options due to Volpocalypse in February 2018. Aside from that, the original two strategies are still going strong. And of course Iron Condors specifically are still a major part of my options trading, but due to high demand for a full diversified portfolio the Iron Condor strategy evolved into VTS Options.
But what I did back then when I started 8 years ago is pretty much what I'm doing now. There are individual strategies and they do change allocations over time. New ones were introduced along the way, some have subsequently been put on the bench for a possible return at a future date, and no doubt there will be more strategies launched, probably a few this year. Spoiler alert, there will be new strategies this year :)
But everything I do is for the sole purpose of managing the Total Portfolio Solution to be the safest and most profitable it can be in the long run.
I don't treat it as just side money. Its purpose is a safe and fully diversified portfolio to manage my entire net worth. Nearly all subscription services out there are just strategy based. Even with the good ones out there I still feel that people can't put major portions of their money in them. They are too specific with drawdowns that are too large. With those, it will always be just side money placed in individual strategies.
VTS is different. It's comprehensive, and I manage the portfolio as such.
I had the idea 8 years ago to be a full portfolio manager, but still use the subscription service model so I'm not limited to just helping people from my specific country of residence. With a subscription service, I can help people from around the world, and the VTS community has members now from over 50 countries. A few of them I had to double check the spelling of when signing them up, so it's a very diverse group from around the world.
Volatility Trading Strategies (2015 - present)
In October 2015 I did a full rebrand of the business with the new website and new name Volatility Trading Strategies. I have no formal marketing experience or web design training. I just do the best I can with those, and this new branding was what I came up with. Not much in the way of marketing, but at least it's recognizable as an individuals work and not a polished marketing machine.
Social Media (2016 - present)
Another step I took was to finally join the social media world. As you may have noticed, I'm not very active on social media platforms, it's just not my style. I'm more of an introvert, just buried in my work all day long without a whole lot of time to be posting regularly. I'd rather focus on perfecting strategies, building new ones, writing articles, fielding questions from the community, and creating videos that have a lasting impression. Tweets, Instagram, Facebook, that's just not my thing, but you can follow me as I do plan to post a little more often.
YouTube (August 2016 - present)
The most difficult part of my business here at VTS is making videos. I think even for people who are very good on camera, they still find it a tremendous challenge. The time commitment is substantially longer than most people realize. It's not just turning on a camera and talking.
I put in several hours of planning and writing and putting together all the charts and graphs I'll be talking about. Then a couple hours actually setting up the camera/sound/lighting and shooting the video. Probably a minimum of 3 hours of editing, sometimes a lot longer if it has more graphics. Then another couple hours uploading it, adding tags and keywords, search engine optimization, and adding it to my website and posting on social media.
Each video, although only about 10 minutes long probably takes 10 hours or longer to put together. Now I will say, and this is getting back to my original statement about you and chasing your passion, YouTube is worth it!
Learning how to organize a presentation, how to organize your thoughts and speak on camera, create a decent looking set, get the sound quality right, editing video, and learning about Google Analytics and how to rank things, these are all valuable skills. I strongly suggest, IF you have the work ethic to be consistent and stick with it, YouTube is worth it.
But I'm not going to lie to you, it's not a 1 hour a day venture. It's difficult and time consuming and most people don't even start let alone stick with it. But it could change how your business progresses in the future. If you fast forward 10 years from now, people without a social media presence might find it difficult to grow a business. Food for thought, and I'll help you with some basic tips avoiding the mistakes I did if you want to accelerate your progress.
The Total Portfolio Solution is still going strong and maintaining its mandate, which is achieving the highest "risk adjusted" returns I can in the long run. The market has thrown a lot at me over the past decade, but I've kept the drawdowns in the mid to low single digits through it all.
In fact when you think about it, the Total Portfolio Solution is kind of like me, it reflects my personality. It's kind of boring :)
In my day to day life, there isn't a whole lot of excitement going on. I work 80+ hours a week, I eat the same meals at the same times of the day. I go to the gym or run at the same time of day. I have all my VTS workflow mapped out at the same times of the day. Boring. But when it comes to investing, boring is awesome!
Volatility Trading Strategies (and my life in the past 10 years) has been an evolution from just a guy reporting his performance publicly with no idea where it's going, to something that I truly look on today with pride. If you have a passion for something, you can do the same!
Again a huge thank you to all of you in the VTS Community. Happy New Year, and here's to another 8 great years! Thanks everyone.
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