by Binoy Thomas
He is the man who is today known as the guy who appeared on the front page of Toronto Star, a unique position that even an SRK or an Akshay Kumar would be happy with. The picture of Fawad Khan, 62, with his multiple large screen monitors in his basement, has gone around the world many times since then. In fact, he tells the Voice that it was friends who called him that Sunday morning with the news, and then, he sent his son out to get the newspaper.
According to Khan, the reporter was looking to do a story on day-trading, an activity that has picked up a huge momentum in the past few years. According to one recent estimate, there might be up to 19 million people trading online in North America alone and the number is still growing. From a short list of 13 or 14 traders, Khan’s name stood out as he is a South Asian and that rang the right editorial bells in multicultural Canada.
What happened then was very simple. The reporter came, he saw, and he transmitted the news of a minor money miracle that was happening in that tiny space. “He asked me if he could count how much was I making that day? I told him to go right ahead!” During two sessions of roughly two hours each that Sunday, Fawad Khan was up $3900. This is no chump change, and perhaps much more than most people in the multicultural communities make in a month. It was a good day, but it was not luck, but knowledge and attitude that allow Khan to stay ahead of the curve, in this case, quite literally, as the colourful graphs move ever so slowly on the screen.
Though fame has come calling now, he was at it ten years ago, making him one of the pioneers. The Star report refers to him as a ‘Civil Engineer from Pakistan’. That gives the impression that he was among the countless foreign qualified professionals who got washed up in Canada’s immigration system. Actually, Khan was gainfully associated with the construction industry back home, and a well-known business leader before he moved here. “I have never worked in a job in my life, and I was not going to do it here too. I was always a free spirit,” he tells Voice.
He hails from Charsadda, near Peshawar, a place better known as the birthplace of famous freedom fighter Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan (also known as ‘Frontier Gandhi’). Fawad Khan reminisces, “He donated his house to turn it into a school for girls and my mother opened that school. Actually, I was born in that school!”
His introduction to trading was quite unique. Being in the construction business, he once helped build a house for a client who was a trader at the Karachi Stock Market. “When it came time to compensate me, I told him not to pay me my fees, but teach me how to trade. I was getting fed up of the construction field, as there was a lot of palm-greasing that needed to be done.”
So when he arrived in Canada, he first checked out the business opportunities here, and found that palm-greasing of a different kind existed even here. Since he had tasted trading once, he probed the possibilities there, met with experts, and learned the craft from them. “Gradually I realized that the currency is more volatile than stocks. I switched to forex trading and I have been doing it for ten years now, since 2001.”
Of course, like anything that becomes the flavour of the month, visions of easy money can drive droves into the arena and not all of them may be quite up to the job. Khan says, “You’ve to be disciplined, organized and must have a lot of passion to be in this trade.” But given these attributes, he is confident that most people will be able to make a decent income, even if it’s not in the thousands Ustads like Khan can notch up.
Some years ago, he moved from being a trader to also becoming a teacher of day-trade. He explains, “I see so many qualified immigrants in dead end jobs, I wanted to help them, show them another way. Actually, if you put your mind to it, it’s quite easy, it’s certainly not rocket science.” The forex trade worldwide is a $4 trillion activity each day, and you can plug into this stream 24 hours. You can trade anytime, anywhere. He says one of his students sits in Multan today and trades thanks to the Internet. All you need is a laptop and a connection. “Just don’t trade and drive!” he quips.
There are two emotions that are the worst enemies of a day-trader, according to Khan. Greed and fear. He says, “Greed is a killer, people sometimes get carried away, they forget to put a stop-loss. When you are losing, you should get out of the market quickly.” The opposite of that will be fear, or nervousness. “Once you gain the appropriate knowledge and experience, the market becomes your baby. You should know it like how you know each step of your baby, when she will smile, when she will cray.” Then why fear, play the game and there is modest to decent gains (from $100 to $500 a day, according to Khan) to be made.
Come to think of it, conquering greed and fear, may just be the secret key to a happy life, let alone success at the forex market.