Do I Have To.Repay My.Check N Go If I.Lose.My Job Questions to Ask When Considering Joining a Proprietary Trading Firm

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Questions to Ask When Considering Joining a Proprietary Trading Firm

If you are considering joining a proprietary trading company, how do you rate different companies, particularly if you have never worked for or traded for one before?

There are so many companies out there and they offer so many different combinations of rates, environments, training, remote/onsite, market specialization, training, etc. That you really need to do your homework.

Start by asking around for reputable companies, but don’t be afraid to take a look at a new company (as long as you do your due diligence). There is nothing better than going to their location, shaking hands and having a look around.

The great thing for traders is that there are a lot of companies out there, so you can afford to be selective. There are a number of high-profile cons out there that sadly taint the overall perception of the entire props industry, but there are some that are reliable.

Any company that will let you leverage their money without your money upfront will want you to take some sort of training, or else have a proven and verified track record of performance. This is perfectly reasonable as they are not in the business of giving away their money to anyone who wants to trade. The training fee cushions them down in case you are losing their money and the course itself at least ensures that you know how they would like you to trade their money. However, whether paying for training is the right thing to do is the subject of another article.

There are other prop companies that will require you to make a deposit into your trading account, usually a minimum of $5000, from which they will add extra buying power, typically 10:1, and no coursework required. You still use their money for the extra leverage, but it’s your deposit to lose, they’re not going to let you lose their share of capital.

Here are some questions you can ask any proprietary trading company you are considering joining. The questions cover a number of the most important criteria that we suggest you consider:

1. What is the name of the incorporated company, not just the trade/brand name and how long has it been in business?

  • This means you can look them up in the state register or company house and see how long they have been around and in some cases, for a small fee, you may be able to access their accounts or annual returns to see how financially stable they are. .

2. Find out any fees you may be charged.

  • Not just commissions! While you should of course find out what your total cost per contract/share will be, you should also inquire about any seat, access or software costs. You should also ask about any exchange rebates, ECN kickbacks, or cost reductions or price breaks for reaching volume thresholds.

3. How does the company earn?

  • Do they charge high fees? High fees? Are traders required to put money before trading? Of course, if a trading firm makes most of its money from trading activities, that’s a good sign. Beware of a company that makes most of its profits from fees, such as training expenses.

4. Do you need to deposit your money or does the company offer “fully guaranteed” offers?

  • If a deposit is required, how much?

5. What “size” can you trade or what purchasing power will you be given?

  • What is the procedure to increase or increase your size while cashing profits into your account? Does this purchasing power reduce if you take a break even or a salary?

6. Which markets can you trade?

  • Are there any restrictions, for example: only large-cap stocks or only STIR Futures, or can you trade however you like? Does the company trade a variety of products and strategies?

7. What is the profit share or payment agreement?

  • Can you keep 50%, 70% or what of the trading account profits? What are the withdrawal intervals? Some companies only allow certain days of the month or a certain number of withdrawals in a month. Does the money have to stay in the account for a certain amount of time?

8. What are the Risk Management parameters?

  • Is there careful business management and, above all, risk management? What is the management philosophy for trader development? How do traders view this management style?

9. What are the loss limit criteria?

  • If you trade with corporate money, how much can you lose before you have to stop trading for the day/week/month?

10. Is the company licensed by the FSA in the UK or the NFA or SEC in the US?

  • Check and confirm any stated regulatory affiliations. Being licensed as a props company is not a legal requirement in the UK unless the business takes deposits, but it is an accurate measure of credibility and quality if they are. Watch out for any unauthorized props group as regulators in many countries are giving greater scrutiny to the activities of broker dealers and you don’t want your props company to vanish or be shut down taking your money with them or account profits!

11. Are they members of exchanges?

  • Check and confirm their exchange registrations.

12. Is any type of license or permit required to support trade?

  • In America, most prop groups require Series 7 NFA certificates. Canadians are exempt from this requirement. If a license is required, will the company sponsor you? Will they help you get your license?

13. Read the Client Agreement or Trading Agreement carefully!

  • I highly recommend investing in the small expense of having a lawyer read the contract for you! You should be aware of any preferential terms that may oblige you to repay losses, pay commissions or freeze your capital or profits when you leave the company.

14. Do they offer training or mentorship?

  • Find out who provides this and how? How long? Is there a cost? How successful were the other trainees who took the course? How many traders have been trained and how many continue to trade? Is the company invested in its developing traders?

15. Who are the owners/supporters of the company?

  • Look for them on Google, Linkedin and wherever you can think of. What is their background, experience and history? Are there skeletons in the closet that you should be aware of?

16. How long have top traders been working with the company?

  • Has the company bred successful traders? If you see highly successful traders sticking with a company, you know that the company is generating loyalty and delivering value.

17. Talk to those who trade there or who have gone through the training program.

  • What is the atmosphere in the office? What kind of people work there? Are they happy/satisfied with the company? Are traders collaborating and sharing ideas? Is it a fun place to work? Post questions or ask about experiences on trading forums like Trade2Win and EliteTrader, even if you understand you will get a wide range of responses, some of which may be very polarized on topics the author actually knows nothing about.

18. What trading strategies does the company use or prefer?

  • Are they a calendar spread or a pairs trading setup? Do they market or provide liquidity for ECN discounts? Do they allow outright trading and in which markets?

19. What trading software, charts and platforms do they use?

  • Look for these applications: Are they well-known names you’d be happy to work with like TT, CQG, Reuters, Bloomberg, or are they less developed or supported applications that might give you stability issues?

20. What is their IT hardware setup like?

  • How up to date is their infrastructure and how is it supported? Do they have dedicated IT staff?

21. Do they provide proprietary or in-house trading signals, software or technology?

  • Do they have superior trading platforms, IT support and decision support tools for traders?

22. Check for any regulatory infractions, disciplinary actions or sentences against them. 23. Through whom do they clear their trades?

  • Check out the clearest and make sure they are financially stable and reputable, as this is where your money or account will ultimately be held.

24. Ask for a copy of the support company’s balance sheet or most recent balance sheet.

No single company will deliver everything you want in all of these suggested criteria, but if you keep a “score” against their responses, you’ll quickly separate the more attractive options from the rest. Find a prop company that makes most of its revenue from your success and invests in good all-round support for its traders. Beware of companies that charge high fees and then offer small amounts of capital to trade.

Above all, find a company that trades the way you want to trade. Ultimately, there must be a match between the backing firm’s trading strategy and the skills and interests of its traders.

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