Pyramiding: A Risky Strategy
Pyramiding is adding to positions as price moves in the desired trend direction. Pyramiding is a highly aggressive trading strategy suitable only for full-time professional traders who know how to control risks and have the discipline to execute a tested plan consistently. Pyramiding should be executed only according a predetermined and tested method which includes an effective stop loss.
Although pyramiding increases profits if the trend continues as hoped, pyramiding also increases losses if the trend reverses, so risk control is key. Reward/risk tradeoffs quickly turn against the pyramid trader when the price trend reverses. Because adding to positions changes the total cost of the entire position on a per-unit basis toward the last price, a quick reversal to the original entry price can result in a significant loss. And if the price changes direction quickly and steeply, such as on a gap or fast market, it can be impossible or difficult to limit risk according to plan.
The signal to add to positions may be triggered at predetermined price points that confirm the trend direction. Such price points might be based on volatility bands, moving averages, a variety of trendlines, logical chart points, penetration of resistance levels, and so on.
The standard pyramid, which is also known as the scaled-down pyramid or upright pyramid, starts with a large initial position and is followed by predetermined additions that decrease systematically in size as price moves in the indicated trend direction. For example, if the initial entry was for 100 shares, then as price moves to the next predetermined level add 50 more shares, then 25 more at the next level, then 13 more, for a total of 188 shares.
The inverted pyramid, which is also known as the equal amounts pyramid, adds to an initial position in equal share-size increments. For example, if the initial entry was for 100 shares, then as price moves to the next predetermined level add 100 more, then if the price continues 100 more, then 100 more, for a total of 400. Here, however, the average cost per share is much higher, such that a smaller price reversal eliminates all profit. The inverted pyramid offers greater potential reward at the cost of much greater risk, as compared to the standard, scaled-down pyramid.
The reflecting pyramid systematically adds to a position up to a predetermined price level, then it reduces the position systematically as the trend continues, so the reflecting pyramid is not a pure trend following method. If the price does have a major move in the indicated trend direction, the reflecting pyramid would result in less profit than both the standard and inverted pyramids.
The maximum-leverage pyramid keeps on adding maximum size up to the limits of accumulated profits and margin requirements. This is the most aggressive strategy possible, and it offers the maximum potential reward, the maximum potential risk, and the worst reward/risk ratios. This pyramid must be combined with tight exit rules, or else it is a formula for near-certain ruin.
Robert W. Colby