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Brent crude oil futures offer tremendous opportunities for profits, but the volatility of oil markets also entails substantial risks. Developing expertise in risk management is a prerequisite for achieving lasting success in trading Brent futures.

This article will provide an overview of the primary risks associated with trading Brent futures and explain effective, research-based risk management strategies.


1. Understand the Risk Factors

Before executing any trades, it’s important to understand the primary risks involved with Brent futures so you can plan accordingly.

Here are the primary risk factors to consider:

  • Volatility - As with any commodity, prices fluctuate sharply due to supply and demand dynamics, geopolitics, and market psychology. Brent is prone to volatility, which can lead to extreme price swings. This volatility raises the risk of adverse price moves against your positions.
  • Leverage - Brent futures are traded on margin, which allows you to hold positions substantially greater than your invested capital. While leverage can multiply profits, it also exacerbates losses. Even a small adverse price move can wipe out your entire capital if overleveraged.
  • Liquidity - Although Brent futures are highly liquid, liquidity declines outside trading hours. Thin markets increase slippage and widen bid/ask spreads. Insufficient liquidity raises the risk of execution errors and prevents timely exiting or losing positions.
  • Contract Expiration - As front-month contracts approach expiration, liquidity drains, leading to erratic price swings. Holding contracts into expiry substantially raises risks due to volatility.
  • Geopolitics - As a global benchmark, Brent prices move sharply in reaction to international political and economic events. Geopolitical risks such as wars, sanctions, and policy shifts can trigger seismic price swings and add uncertainty.
  • Weather Events - Storms, natural disasters, and other weather perils can affect crude production and transportation routes. Adverse weather raises supply disruption risks that generate substantial price volatility.

Understanding these risks allows you to tailor your trading strategies and practices accordingly. Next, let’s explore some specific risk management strategies.


2. Use Stop Losses

One of the most critical trading tools is the stop-loss order. Once a price reaches your defined stop level, this order automatically closes out your position.

Using stop losses helps limit the downside on all trades. Place stops below support levels or at a maximum loss amount you’re willing to accept on the trade for Brent futures. Adjust the stop-up as the market moves in your favour to lock in profits.

Stops should be wide enough to withstand average volatility and avoid premature exit but close enough to minimize large losses. While stops don’t guarantee execution at the set price in fast markets, they remain an essential risk tool.

Stop losses on all Brent futures trades can help you cut losses quickly and avoid catastrophic drawdowns.


3. Limit Leverage


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Given the substantial leverage available in futures trading, using leverage prudently is necessary. Avoid overleveraging, which leaves you vulnerable to margin calls from small, adverse price swings.

A prudent level of leverage for a diversified portfolio is around 10-15% margin. This provides substantial exposure with a reasonable margin of safety.

Monitor margin levels continuously - if equity falls below the maintenance margin, reduce positions or deposit additional funds to avoid forced liquidation.

Leverage should be aligned with your portfolio size, risk tolerance, and trading style. Moderately overleveraging can be justified for short-term trades, but use leverage judiciously according to your circumstances.


4. Size Positions Wisely

Properly size positions according to your account balance and risk parameters when initiating trades. Risk no more than 1-3% of account equity on any Brent futures trade. This ensures one losing trade won’t cripple your portfolio.

Consider the volatility of Brent when sizing - in volatile markets, reduce position size to account for the elevated risk. You can also scale into larger positions gradually to spread out risk.

Avoid the temptation to “double down” on losing positions - this only compounds losses.


5. Use Reasonable Targets

Set realistic profit targets by analyzing technical resistance levels, volatility, and market conditions. While outsized returns feel great, consistent, modest gains are preferable for enduring success.

If a target seems too good to be true, it probably is. Chasing improbable profits often leads to outsized losses.

Let profits run with trailing stops but have reasonable expectations grounded in research and analytics.

Unreasonable targets often motivate overleveraging and excessive risk-taking. By setting rational profit goals, you can detach emotions and focus on high-probability trading opportunities.


6. Diversify Your Portfolio

Maintaining a diverse portfolio helps cushion your Brent futures trading against market turbulence in any commodity. Try to avoid overconcentration in Brent crude and include other assets like equities, precious metals, currencies, and commodities such as natural gas or corn.

Diversification allows profits in other assets to counterbalance losses in Brent. While closely monitoring correlations between asset classes, look for non-correlated or negatively correlated assets to offset risk.

A diversified portfolio integrated with prudent position sizing substantially lowers risk compared to trading just Brent futures.


7. Take Regular Breaks


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Maintaining intense focus while trading Brent futures induces considerable mental fatigue. This diminishes your decision-making abilities and emotional control.

When you feel exhausted or emotional, walk away to clear your head. The markets will still be there when you return refreshed and invigorated.

Build regular breaks into your trading routine - whether minutes, hours, or days away from the screen. Detaching yourself periodically maintains perspective and objectivity, enabling more competent trades and avoiding emotional decisions.


8. Avoid Overtrading

When trading volumes surge, it’s easy to get carried away and overtrade - jumping into multiple positions while on a “hot streak.” But reckless overtrading often produces disastrous results.

Always think about probability and wait patiently for the highest probability setups.

Trading is a game of discipline, not impulse. Remind yourself that every Brent trade has a losing outcome. Impatience erodes judgment and drags you into low-probability trades.

Staying disciplined, trading less, and avoiding euphoria is vital to long-term success, even when the markets seem bullish with opportunity.


9. Review and Improve

Consistently review your trading activity with honest self-critique. Identify mistakes and losing patterns such as overleveraging, irrational targets, or overtrading.

Strive to correct repeating errors and take proactive steps like reducing position size or widening stops to improve future outcomes.

Review both wins and losses with a clinical learning mindset. Track progress metrics like win rate, reward/risk ratio, and the percentage of profitable months.

The analysis enables adaptation and growth. This process of self-review and improvement is important for developing expertise in Brent futures trading.


You might also like to read: 10 Basic Trading Rules for Trading Success


In conclusion

Trading Brent crude oil futures can be highly rewarding yet poses substantial risks that must be managed for long-term success. By implementing this article’s strategic risk management principles, traders can significantly lower their risk profile and avoid catastrophic losses.

We encourage all traders to apply risk management techniques to achieve profitable and enduring careers trading Brent futures markets.

Adopting an analytical approach focused on probability and executing trades with the proper safeguards will lead to greater trading mastery and consistency.


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“When considering “CFDs” for trading and price predictions, remember that trading CFDs involves a significant risk and could result in capital loss. Past performance is not indicative of any future results. This information is provided for informative purposes only and should not be considered investment advice.”

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