Backtesting is an important part of developing a successful trading strategy. It is performed by recreating transactions that would have happened in the past following rules set by a specific strategy utilizing historical data. The outcome provides data to assess the strategy’s efficacy.
The basic assumption is that any approach that has worked well in the past is likely to work well in the future, and any strategy that has not worked well in the past is likely to perform badly in the future. This article examines the apps used in backtesting, the types of data collected, and how to utilize it.
How to Backtest a Trading Strategy Using Data and Tools
Backtesting may offer a wealth of statistical information about a particular system. Among the universal backtesting statistics are:
- Net profit or loss is defined as the net percentage earned or lost.
- Maximum % upside and downside volatility
- Averages: percentage average gain and loss, average number of bars held
- Exposure is defined as the percentage of capital invested (or exposed to the market)
- Ratios: Wins-to-losses ratio
- Annualized return: The percentage return over the course of a year.
- Return on risk: The percentage return as a function of risk.
Backtesting software often has two critical displays. The first enables the trader to adjust the backtesting parameters. These adjustments range from time duration to commission charges. Here’s an example of a screen like this in AmiBroker:
The real backtesting results report is shown on the second screen. This is where you may find the previously stated statistics. Here’s another example of this screen in AmiBroker:
In general, most trading software incorporates aspects that are comparable. Some high-end software applications also provide sophisticated capabilities such as automated position sizing, optimization, and other advanced functions.
10 Rules ForBacktestingTrading Strategies
When traders backtest trading techniques, there are several things to consider. Here is a summary of the most essential points to keep in mind during backtesting:
- Consider the overall market trends in the time range in which a certain strategy was tried. For example, if a strategy was only backtested between 1999 and 2000, it may not perform well in a bad market. Backtesting over a lengthy time period that includes numerous different sorts of market circumstances is frequently a smart idea.
- Consider the world in which backtesting happened. For example, if a wide market system is evaluated with a universe of tech stocks, it may perform poorly in many industries. As a general guideline, if a strategy is aimed at a single kind of stock, restrict the universe to that type of stock; otherwise, keep a big universe for testing reasons.
- Volatility measurements are critical to consider while creating a trading strategy. This is particularly true for leveraged accounts, which face margin calls if their equity falls below a set threshold. Traders should strive to keep volatility low in order to decrease risk and make it simpler to enter and exit a specific asset.
- When constructing a trading strategy, the average number of bars held is also extremely crucial to consider. Although most backtesting software incorporates commission charges in the final calculations, this fact should not be overlooked. Increase your average number of bars held if feasible to cut commission expenses and boost your total return.
- Exposed is a two-edged sword. Increased exposure may result in larger earnings or losses, whilst decreasing exposure results in lower profits or losses. In general, keeping exposure below 70% is a solid way to decrease risk and make it simpler to migrate into and out of a specific company.
- When paired with the wins-to-losses ratio, the average-gain/loss statistic may be used to determine optimum position size and money management using strategies such as the Kelly criteria. Traders may take bigger positions while lowering commission expenses by boosting their average profits and wins-to-losses ratio.
- The annualized return is a technique for comparing the returns of a system to those of other investment venues. It is critical to consider not just the total annualized return but also the increased or reduced risk. This may be accomplished by examining the risk-adjusted return, which takes into account numerous risk variables. Before a trading system may be used, it must outperform all other investing venues with the same or lower risk.
- Customization of backtesting is critical. Many backtesting systems accept commission amounts, round (or fractional) lot sizes, tick sizes, margin requirements, interest rates, slippage assumptions, position-sizing rules, same-bar exit rules, (trailing) stop settings, and a variety of other parameters. To get the most accurate backtesting results, these parameters must be tuned to mirror the broker that will be utilized when the system goes live.
- Backtesting may sometimes result in over-optimization. This is a circumstance in which performance outcomes have been calibrated so precisely in the past that they are no longer as accurate in the future. In general, it is a good idea to create rules that apply to all stocks, or a subset of targeted stocks, and are not optimized to the point that the rules are no longer intelligible by the author.
- Backtesting is not necessarily the most reliable method of determining the success of a trading strategy. Strategies that functioned well in the past may not perform well in the future. Past performance does not predict future outcomes. To ensure that the approach still works in reality, paper trade a system that has been successfully backtested before going live.
The Bottom Line
Backtesting is a critical component in developing a trading strategy. It may assist traders refine and develop their tactics, discover any technical or theoretical weaknesses, and build confidence in their approach before deploying it to real-world markets if it is correctly produced and evaluated.
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