Confirmation vs. Risk/Reward: Striking the Balance for Effective Trading


Imagine you’re at the crossroads of a busy intersection and have to reach
somewhere urgently.

  • In one direction, there’s a sign pointing towards a shortcut through
    a dark alley, promising to save your precious time.

  • In the other direction, there’s a well-lit, well-traveled road, but
    it’s the longer route.

Surely, you’ve found yourself in a similar predicament before, haven’t you?

This scenario mirrors the daily dilemma that traders face. They grapple with
the tension between the need for confirmation and the allure of a promising
risk and reward setup. Both confirmation and risk/reward setup have their
unique merits and pitfalls, but finding the right balance between them is

In this article, we will understand the significance of both elements and
how finding equilibrium between them is the key to consistent trading
success. Let’s begin.

Unpacking the Concepts

Financial markets are dynamic, influenced by large investors, traders, news,
and economic events. Therefore, traders must strike a balance between
caution and decisiveness.

Striking this balance is crucial for effective trading and finding the
equilibrium point where confirmation provides confidence.

The Power of Confirmation in Trading Decisions

In the world of trading, ‘confirmation’ refers to the process of gathering
additional evidence or support for a trading decision before executing it.
Traders can gather confirmations from a variety of methods, like:

  • Spotting a supportive candlestick pattern

  • Noting a favorable shift in technical indicators

  • Corroborating market news that aligns with their trade thesis

The primary goal of confirmations is to validate their analysis and bolster
confidence in the trade’s potential success. It fulfills this a essential
role by:

  • Serving as a risk mitigation tool

  • Minimizing uncertainty that surrounds financial markets, and

  • Reducing the odds of making hasty or impulsive decisions

How to Strike the Right Balance?

The quest for balance often divides traders into two camps, each defending
their viewpoint:

More confirmations are better

Fewer confirmations are better

  • Advocates of this camp contend that more
    confirmations translate to a meticulous

  • They argue that multiple confirmations serve to:

a. Eliminate as much uncertainty as possible.

b. Reduce the likelihood of false signals.

c. Offer a safer entry point.

  • On the flip side, proponents of this camp
    advocate for not wasting too much time on
    collecting multiple confirmations.

  • They assert that excessive confirmation-seeking
    can lead to missed opportunities.

  • Their rationale revolves around the fact that:

a. Markets are dynamic and ever-evolving.

b. The perfect confluence of signals may not always

c. By the time all desired confirmations are gathered,
the trade window might close shut.



What are the Potential Pitfalls?

Undoubtedly, there are pitfalls associated with both extremes of the
confirmation spectrum:

1. Overreliance on Confirmations:

  • Waiting for an exhaustive list of confirmations can lead to
    “paralysis by analysis.”

  • Traders may find themselves trapped in an endless loop of seeking
    more evidence, ultimately missing profitable trade opportunities.


2. Insufficient Confirmation:

  • Conversely, acting without adequate confirmation can significantly
    elevate trade risk.

  • Impulsivity and lack of substantiation may result in substantial

Risk/Reward Ratios – The Trader’s Compass

The risk/reward ratio is a fundamental concept in trading that quantifies
the relationship between the potential loss (risk) and the potential gain
(reward) of a trade. It’s like the compass traders use to navigate the
stormy seas of financial markets.

Defining Risk

Defining Reward

  • ‘Risk’ represents the amount a trader is willing
    to lose in a trade.

  • This is often determined by setting a stop-loss

  • ‘Reward’ signifies the profit a trader expects
    to make from a trade.

  • This is mostly established by specifying a
    take-profit point.


  • Let us assume a trader prefers a 1:3 risk/reward

  • In this scenario, the trader is willing to stake
    $1 in potential loss to seize the opportunity
    for a $3 gain.


The risk/reward ratio is an invaluable tool in a trader’s arsenal when
evaluating the feasibility of a trade. Here’s why it holds such

  • A favorable ratio ensures that, over time, even with a 50%-win rate
    (where half of your trades are profitable), a trader can still be

  • However, this underscores a crucial principle: it’s not about the
    number of wins, but the quality of those wins.

Guide for Setting Stop-Loss and Take-Profit Levels:

  • The risk/reward ratio guides traders in setting stop-loss and
    take-profit levels. The stop-loss limits potential losses, while the
    take-profit locks in gains. Adhering to a predetermined ratio helps
    inject discipline into trading strategies and prevents
    emotion-driven decisions.

How Do Different Trading Styles Impact the Risk-Reward Ratio?

The optimal risk/reward ratio is far from one-size-fits-all; it hinges on a
trader’s specific trading style. Here’s how various trading styles influence
this ratio:

For instance,

  • Scalping: Scalpers, who thrive on high-frequency trades within short
    time frames, often accept a 1:1 ratio. Their focus is on swift,
    incremental gains rather than larger profits per trade.

  • Swing Trading: Swing traders hold positions for more extended
    periods, often days or weeks, and seek substantial price movements.
    They typically aim for a 1:3 or even higher risk/reward ratio,
    allowing for bigger profits to offset fewer winning trades.

What Are the Pitfalls of Ignoring the Risk-Reward Ratio?

The risk/reward ratio can be considered as a compass not just pointing the
way to profitable opportunities but also keeping traders on a steady course.
Ignoring this crucial ratio can lead to substantial trading pitfalls,

  • Excessive Losses: Without assessing potential risk and reward,
    traders may incur losses surpassing their gains.

  • Unstable Strategies: Ignoring the ratio can result in shaky
    strategies vulnerable to market fluctuations.

The Trade-off Dilemma

Veteran traders often state that trading is a constant battle between two
formidable foes: patience and opportunity. This conflict gives birth to the
trade-off dilemma, where waiting for additional confirmations clashes with
seizing early opportunities.

The financial markets are often divided into types of traders, which are:


The Patient Traders

The Opportunistic Traders

What is their Natural Behavior?

The patient trader is like a sailor who:

  1. Meticulously checks the weather forecast,

  2. Scrutinizes the tides, and

  3. Waits for the perfect wind direction before
    setting sail.

The opportunistic trader is:

  1. Like a fearless pirate,

  2. Always sees a shiny treasure chest, and

  3. Dives in without second thoughts.

How do they react?

  • They demand confirmation from various sources to
    validate their trade thesis.

  • These sources could be:

  1. Technical analysis

  2. Fundamental data, and

  3. Market sentiments

  • They are attracted to an enticing risk/reward
    scenario, where the potential reward far
    outweighs the risk.

What are the pros?

  • By seeking multiple confirmations, the patient
    traders can:

  1. Mitigate risk

  2. Reduce the chances of falling into a false
    signal trap.


  • The opportunistic traders get:

  1. Early entries and a head start if the trade pans

What are the cons?

  • Markets move swiftly, and the perfect confluence
    of signals may never materialize.

  • It can lead to missed opportunities and the
    frustration of watching profitable trades unfold
    without participating in them.

  • The patient traders might find themselves
    sidelined while the market sails away.

  • Markets are deceptive. What might seem like a
    sure thing can quickly turn into a losing

  • Entering early based on a potentially attractive
    risk/reward scenario can result in a false

  • The opportunistic traders face the danger of:

  1. Taking impulsive decisions

  2. Taking part in emotional trading, and

  3. Incur substantial losses if the market doesn’t
    align with their initial perception.


How Can You Strike the Right Balance Between Confirmation and Risk/Reward?

Striking the right balance is an evolving journey, demanding ongoing
adjustments as market dynamics shift and your experience grows. This
equilibrium can be achieved when you gain a deep understanding of your:

  • Trading style

  • Risk tolerance, and

  • Market conditions

Here are some strategies that can help you:


  1. Define Your Trading Style

    1. Are you a scalper, day trader, swing trader, or long-term

    2. Your style will influence the balance you need to strike.

    3. Scalpers may prioritize quick executions with less confirmation,
      while swing traders may opt for more confirmation due to longer
      holding periods.

  2. Set Clear Entry and Exit Rules

    1. Establish clear entry and exit criteria for your trades.

    2. Define what confirmation signals you need to see before entering
      a position.

    3. Determine stop-loss and take-profit levels based on your risk
      tolerance and risk/reward ratio.

  3. Use Technical and Fundamental Analysis

    1. Combine technical and fundamental analysis to build a
      comprehensive trading strategy.

    2. Technical indicators and chart patterns provide confirmation
      signals, while fundamental analysis helps you understand the
      broader market context.

  4. Implement Predefined Risk Management

    1. Always use stop-loss orders to limit potential losses.

    2. Set these levels based on your risk tolerance, not just on

    3. Implement position sizing that aligns with your risk management

  5. Keep Emotions in Check

    1. Cultivate emotional discipline to steer clear of impulsive
      decisions spurred by fear or greed.

    2. Stick to your predefined rules and trust your trading plan.

  6. Utilize Backtesting and Simulation

    1. Put your strategy to test in different market conditions through
      backtesting and paper trading.

    2. This will help refine your approach and gain confidence in your
      chosen balance.

Tips to Harmonize Confirmation with Risk/Reward

Harmonizing confirmation with risk/reward is tough. However, by adopting a
staged approach, setting predefined stop levels and persistently refining
trading strategies enables traders to find the optimal equilibrium between
confirmation and risk/reward.

Let’s explore some proven techniques for harmonizing confirmation with

1. Practice Sequential Confirmation:

One of the most popular strategies to harmonize confirmation with
risk/reward is to adopt a sequential confirmation approach, in which:

  • Traders start with an initial confirmation that meets their minimum

  • Instead of going all in, they begin with a smaller position size.

  • As more confirmations align with their trade thesis, they gradually
    increase their position.

How does this help?

This staged approach provides a safety net for traders. It allows them to
participate in potentially profitable opportunities even if they have
limited initial confirmation. If the trade continues to evolve as expected,
they can confidently add to their position, capitalizing on the
strengthening confirmations.

2. Set Predefined Stop Levels:

Setting predefined stop-loss levels is paramount in harmonizing confirmation
with risk/reward. Regardless of the level of confirmation, traders should
establish clear exit points based on their risk tolerance before entering a

How does it help?

Having firm stop-loss levels in place prevents traders from holding onto
losing positions in the hopes that additional confirmation will rescue the
trade. It enforces discipline and limits potential losses, which is
essential for long-term trading success.

3. Continuous Learning and Adjustment:

The financial markets are dynamic, and what works today may not work
tomorrow. To harmonize confirmation with risk/reward effectively, traders
must commit to continual learning and adjustment. This involves:

  • Consistent backtesting of formulated trading strategies.

  • Making real-world adjustments guided by trading outcomes.

How does it help?

By analyzing past trades, traders can refine their approach over time. They
can gain insights into the balance between confirmation and risk/reward that
works best for their unique trading style and objectives. This ongoing
self-improvement process ensures that traders remain adaptable and resilient
in the face of changing market conditions.


In the ever-evolving world of trading, finding the right balance between
confirmation and risk/reward is essential. While there is no universal
formula that fits every trader, understanding the nuances of each concept
and adapting strategies accordingly can undoubtedly lead to improved trading

Traders frequently grapple with the tension between confirmation and
risk/reward. On one hand, we need reassurance, for the safety of multiple
confirmations, and on the other hand, we have the allure of opportunity,
beckoning us to take calculated risks for potentially greater rewards.

In this balancing act, traders must recognize their trading styles, risk
tolerance, and objectives. The key is to stay agile, continuously refine the
approach, and strike that ever-elusive balance between confirmation and

For an in-depth understanding of how risk plays a role in trading decisions,
don’t miss our comprehensive article on measuring risk in trading. Delve
into expert insights and



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