MANAGING A PORTFOLIO ON HOLIDAY

Lots of readers must be heading off on Summer holidays soon because I’ve had a lot of questions about what to do with a portfolio whilst you are abroad!

It can be a shock to new traders to try to login outside of the UK and find FI will block their access. You can at least view the market when not logged in, but you will not be able to make any trades.

This is a problem, but not one that has an obvious solution right now. Hopefully FI can come up with something in future or just expand into more countries, but right now, gambling laws have to be complied with.

There are dodgy ways around it such as using a VPN which some suggest. But, there is also an argument that when on holiday, do we really want to be checking our phones and obsessively trading all the time? 

Certainly, if I want to stay on speaking terms with my girlfriend, then pulling out my phone to see if anything changed on FI in the last 7 minutes whilst we dine al fresco is not the way to go. 

So, how do we set up a stress free portfolio that we can feel more relaxed about leaving for a week or two? And is there anything we can do to prepare for an emergency?

Are there ways around it?

For those really determined, it is possible to use a Virtual Private Network service which basically tricks FI into thinking you are logging in from the UK. It’s possible but comes with risks and causes FI a lot of headaches. It’s really not ideal and I would advise against it. 

For starters, you are probably breaking the law in whatever country you are in. It’s blocked for a reason, right? And, if FI catch you out, you are breaking the terms and conditions and they could do anything from reversing any trades made abroad to banning your account for violating the terms. So, this isn’t something I personally do.

Another discussed alternative is to leave login details with a (very) trusted family member or friend. I have this as a last resort just in case anything went wrong if I was ever away (or if for whatever reason anything untoward happened to me and so my family could get my money, actually!).

Fortunately I’ve never had to use it but it makes me feel a bit better that it is there. This feels again like a bit of a grey area though because you could say that sharing your login details violates the FI terms too. I have never seen FI officially comment on this, though.

So what can we do?

To avoid any legal issues or terms and conditions violations, and, arguably more scarily, the wrath of a girlfriend with her holiday plans ruined, I tend to just prepare my portfolio in advance in a way I can feel comfortable with.

We all need holidays and if you want to do some deep thinking you could make a case that having a step back from trading, refreshing your head and getting a bit of perspective will help your gains in the long run.

Remove the Big Risks

First order of business: I want to be removing the big risks in my portfolio before I go away.

At any time of year, a players price can be very volatile if their value rests on one specific thing like the hope of getting the right transfer. Around January and Summer this is particularly evident but it can happen any time. 

These “one trick” trades are the first ones to go when removing the risks from my portfolio. Transfer trades are tough to keep track of at the best of times because they can fly or crash depending on a single breaking news story that we can’t really control.

It’s fine to hold a transfer trade but I would want to be comfortable holding them at their price even if the rumoured move did not happen. If they are good value whether they stay at their existing club, and even better if they get the desired move, that’s all good. 

If they are at a high price and that high price depends on the move happening, that is a hard no and I will cash that out.

Hold quality, not hyped up pump fodder

I would say that following social media pumpers is never a good idea but it’s even worse when on holiday and unable to trade. You never know when the pump target will shift.

I want to be holding players that have real underlying value. The only real source of value on FI is dividends and the potential to win them in future. Anything else is just fantasy.

The guiding questions I will ask are:

a) how much do I care if other people sell this player? Do I think they will come good eventually and could I shrug off a 10-20% drop if misfortune happens?

b) If I knew I could not trade for at least 3 months, would I be happy holding this player?

If they have realistic dividend return prospects, or the underlying stats that suggest they have potential then there is some underlying value there even if bad luck strikes. If the price tanks, at least I have some dividend prospects to support it and bring the price back up later.

I will definitely not be holding players who are years away from the first team or are bigged up on social media but are actually really weak. Particularly if they are at high prices.

Hold good value players, not overpriced ones.

Players who have recently spiked sharply in value are also a risk, no matter how good. What has come up quickly can often come back down quickly. 

In the members area I have what are called “Guide Prices”. Essentially, I observe the trends and work out what the market is prepared to pay for a player who matches the current trends and is generally perceived to be good quality. There are separate Guide Prices for each position. Members can use that as a reference point but if you are not a member, you could do something similar and think about this. 

For example, if a Forward is flying way above the price of other similar good quality forwards, he could be getting risky. And the opposite can be true, if through research you think you have a good quality forward but others don’t know yet and the price is still reasonable, you can be more comfortable holding at the lower price.

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