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A Trader's Journey: Shawn Catena

A Trader's Journey: Shawn Catena

Benzinga's "A Trader's Journey" features a trade who shares their life experiences and how it molded their career. This show airs weekly on Sundays at 11 a.m. ET on the Benzinga YouTube page.

Shawn Catena got started after seeing an ad for a prop firm on the job posting board while studying at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario. He didn’t know much about trading as they don’t teach markets in school. That didn’t stop him though, as he took a job at a prop firm that “doesn’t even pay you for working,” according to his parents.

The prop firm was all commission, no salary, or “eat what you kill” as he calls it. Shawn's parents were skeptical, but this opportunity to get on the floor really opened his eyes. The trading floor was fun and active, and Shawn got that tingling sensation you get when you have the realization that the fit is perfect.

He was the only person out of 15 that made money in the first month. Only two people stayed with the firm. Shawn feels strongly that newer traders should learn from other, more experienced traders. He looked at this as a huge advantage. In trading, you control your own ceiling. This appealed to Shawn, and he realized he could control his own financial freedom by going down this path. Additionally, this set the stage for Shawn’s passion on education towards trading.

The hardest skill that Shawn learned was blocking out the noise.

“You gotta stay focused on what you do best,” Shawn says. “If you are focused on what others are doing, you are not able to focus on what you do best.”

This can be difficult, especially for those that are new in this career. Information can come from all directions and turn into information overload if you are not careful.

Shawn’s favorite strategy right now is breakouts, largely due to the environment.

“When you get to those levels where you know there is immense supply and demand that gets tested and tested and tested and they finally break… we hammer this position. If you are on the right side, you can enjoy quite a large move in the trend direction,” he says.

What was the riskiest trading decision you have ever made? What happened?

“Shorting Tesla in front of $1,000," he says. “It was the first time it got to a $1,000… it was like 'Wow, that huge moment of OH MY GOD….' Needless to say, it was so nerve-racking because we kept shorting in front of a thousand and before you know it we have kind of a big position on… Finally near the end of the day, it cratered and I wound up taking a $70 per share winner on that trade."

It was such a “risk-on” situation, but he felt okay because he knew he had a plan of action: “If you don’t leave yourself that out, then realistically you are going to blow your account up more times than not.”

Always have a plan.

You can find Shawn on the TraderTV Live YouTube channel, as well as the Market Wisdom show by TraderTV. You can stay current on all the market moving news by using Benzinga Pro. Click here to start your free trial!


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