It’s worth noting that these generally shouldn’t be based on arbitrary percentage numbers. You should determine the profit target and stop-loss based on your analysis of the markets. Technical analysis indicators can be very helpful.
So, our profit target is 15% and our potential loss is 5%. How much is our risk/reward ratio? It is 5/15 = 1:3 = 0.33. Simple enough. This means that for each unit of risk, we’re potentially winning three times the reward. In other words, for each dollar of risk we’re taking, we’re liable to gain three. So if we have a position worth $100, we risk losing $5 for a potential $15 profit.
We could move our stop loss closer to our entry to decrease the ratio. However, as we’ve said, entry and exit points shouldn’t be calculated based on arbitrary numbers. They should be calculated based on our analysis. If the trade setup has a high risk/reward ratio, it’s probably not worth it to try and “game” the numbers. It might be better to move on and look for a different setup with a good risk/reward ratio.
Note that positions with different sizing can have the same risk/reward ratio. For example, if we have a position worth $10,000, we risk losing $500 for a potential $1,500 profit (the ratio is still 1:3). The ratio changes only if we change the relative position of our target and stop-loss.
The reward/risk ratio
It’s worth noting that many traders do this calculation in reverse, calculating the reward/risk ratio instead. Why? Well, it’s just a matter of preference. Some find this easier to understand. The calculation is just the opposite of the risk/reward ratio formula. As such, our reward/risk ratio in the example above would be 15/5 = 3. As you’d expect, a high reward/risk ratio is better than a low reward/risk ratio.
Example trade setup with a reward/risk ratio of 3.28.