Financial History

How Did the First Mobile Phone 30 Years Ago Bastardise Trading?

3 Min Read

"Hi dad, Mike here. I’m talking to you from Parliament Square, the very first call from a mobile phone, Happy New Year."

That was the first phone call on a mobile phone back on New Year’s Day in 1985. An historic moment.30 years on and the technology has gone onwards and upwards; we’re now at a stage where we can’t live without our mobiles and the vast benefits they provide. However, as a trader, this may have actually been a gift and a curse — and I am not just referring to the caricature of Wall Street traders 20 years ago with their pinstripe suits, slick-backed hair and oversized phones.In an earlier article: Are We in the Era of the Cowboy Investor? I questioned whether the modern technological structure for day trading has led to the decline in intelligent trading. This, of course, extends to the use of the mobile phone.Of course, mobiles have a wide range of uses for traders, which can’t be ignored or downplayed. For good traders who make intelligent

wall street phone

decisions and well thought-out trades, the mobile provides a quick route to market and accessibility from anywhere in the world. It means the trader can react quickly to market events and keep track of their portfolio. However, this has also led to a rise in gambler-traders, who bastardise the technology to facilitate their unfounded speculative activities.Having said that, there is still a beneficial purpose for the traders who stray into gambling. The mobile allows them to receive their margin calls from their broker and to act on that warning quicker than they could have done in the past. Thank goodness for that  -  they may still be left with a few pennies in their account thanks to that extra accessibility.Trading is a challenge of discipline and strategic thinking. It is a common trait amongst losing traders to get drawn into overtrading, where too many trades are placed  -  therefore not following an appropriate strategy. In the past, when it was a much more onerous task to place a trade than simply being a click of a button, the thought process was different. The act of ‘impulse trading’ was not so impulsive, as there was a lead-time before the trade was placed.Nowadays with one-click trading on mobile apps, a trader can be sitting in an unideal location for trading, but out of pure boredom will begin to look at what activity is happening in the markets. With the click of a button the trader can adopt the wise philosophy of ‘punt and hope for the best’, knowing that the market can only move in two directions. It becomes a temptation to gamble. It becomes a direct route to the poorhouse.We have all the technology we could wish for to facilitate our trading and lead to our success in the market. Now what we need is the right approach to learning. Traders need a revolution and I am hopeful it will begin in 2015. Novice traders need to learn the ropes and develop strategies before entering the market. Discipline needs to be upheld during even the most boring and tedious moments, with no technology-abuse taking place. We need to take our focus away from the modern technology and ease-of-access and back to the traditional approach of opening a book, taking a course and learning, learning, learning.