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Anybody heard of topsteptrader (review)
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Anybody heard of topsteptrader (review)

  #541 (permalink)
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Sufyan View Post
So the question then becomes ... how would you even know the difference as to whether your account is funded with $100,000 or simply funded with $3,000 ? Because after all, in order to trade larger, you had to build up your equity.

Right. That is about 95% of what I was trying to say in my post. Good that we agree on that.


Quoting 
The more I think about, it doesn't even make sense why TopStep would even need to fund you with $100k in the first place. Why would they even take that risk ? (Not the risk that youll lose money, because you are stopped after losing 3%), but rather risks such as the flash-crash of 2008? When the market goes haywire like that, peoples stops get blown through and ignored because there's no liquidity.
Why would TopStep risk loosing potentially millions of dollars in some black swan event, when they could simply fund their traders with a couple of thousand dollars (depending on which combine they completed) and simply let them trade that tiny account.

Also, agreed. No one would be crazy enough to give $150,000 to someone who they only knew from their passing a 10-day test in a simulated trading account, which is what the Combine is. They would let them trade a few contracts with some very tight loss rules and see how they do. If they do well under those constraints, they would give them more. If not, they would not risk any more on them. The Combine is not real life. Nobody is going to put themselves seriously at risk by giving a lot of money to a sim trader, without some real-money experience with them, too.

Also, although obviously many people get excited about the "$150,000" number, that's trading a hypothetical account in sim only. All you have to do to understand how the live account works is read what they have posted about it. You get x number of contracts and y amount of loss tolerance. That's the whole story. There is no $50,000 or $150,000 bonanza here.

And certainly, you could put up your own money as margin in your own account, and, depending on your risk tolerance, trade that many contracts, too.


Quoting 
So I dont understand the whole "people leaving careers" to try and get funded.

Me, too. I hope there's not much of that kind of wishful thinking.

I do understand that it is easy to get excited about the money, when you think you'll get access to large sums and also have the idea that trading is super-easy, if you could only find a backer. So along comes a backer, people imagine, and all looks wonderful. In fact, the backing is very limited, and is limited by a simple and common-sense weighing of the risks of backing untested people with real money. No one is ever going to give an unknown newbie 150,000 US dollars to trade just based on a Combine.

Now, should anyone want to do a Combine, or be funded? I said before that that's your call, and it is. I am doing a Combine now. If I pass the thing and they offer to back me for x number of contracts, sure, I'll accept that. If I lose it, well, it wasn't mine anyway and I got some more experience. If I make some bucks, it will add to my beer fund. I'll take that.

Anyone getting their hopes up that they have found the magical pathway to endless riches has made a mistake in thinking, and also has not read the actual material that explains what they are offering.

I don't think there's any need to feel disappointed about that. It's what they have said all along, and it makes sense.

Anyway, the main value of the Combine, I believe, is learning the discipline of trading. Or at least as well as can be, without having actual money at risk.

I am glad that we agree on all this, though.

Bob.

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  #542 (permalink)
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@Sufyan wrote:
"TF I dont understand the whole "people leaving careers" to try and get funded. They would be in the same position (minus the educational benefits) if they simply opened their own 5k account and traded that. After all, their access to greater lot sizes would be roughly the same anyway as they built up the account (nevermind the issue that those lot sizes would blow them up anyway if they tried to trade that big with such a small account)."

There are three main reasons prospective traders pick TST:
1) Not everyone has 5K, and cannot "simply" open their own 5K-10K account.

2) TST avoids risk of ruin to the trader. I would have hated to have been on the wrong side of a chf/eur trade when it recently fell 2000 pips. In futures, you can be on the hook for more money than is in your account. What if your trading software closed your stop order before your main parent order, then the market moved in a black swan against you? You could owe tens or hundreds of thousands, even with the CME's circuit breakers and price limits.

3) TST offers educational value.


Yes, the 100k or 150k "accounts" are probably best to minimize risk, but you can see from the recent funding numbers (one per day last week) that you can get funded on smaller accounts if you have an excellent edge.

Yes, some people took many combines to pass, but others took only a handful or "1" even. What is typical? From an early interview with M. Patek, most who pass do it within 6 attempts. That probably says as much about their skill-level as their psychological commitment.

TST is looking for the best of the best, who can grow an account better than probably 98% of fund managers. Not every trader can trade futures, let alone "intraday" on volatile instruments like CL. I'm reminded of an example from the film "The Professional", about skill levels and "distance to the opponent". Like an assassin, a trader should only get closer to the opponent as his skill improves. "Intraday", and especially "scalping", are the "last" skills a futures trader should learn.

But if you're looking to improve with "some", but not "too much" skin in the game, and you want to reduce your risk, and you want to maximize your chances of success (takes skin in the game and negative feedback like the combine fee), TST seems like more than a "good deal". It's a great deal!

That's just my 2 cents, from a trader who has taken three combines and hasn't passed yet.

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  #543 (permalink)
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If I remember rcorrect, it doesn't matter what size combine you pass with, everyone starts out with a 2 car limit until profit is built up to increase size.

You also appear to be applying combine metrics to a funded account.

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  #544 (permalink)
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The reason a 100k or 150k "account" is less risky, is you are given a larger max drawdown and larger daily loss limit. Funded 100k and 150k traders also get a bigger safety net. So if you want maximum safety, just pay for a larger combine, but trade a smaller position. With the continuous combine, you can do that effectively now. If one has an excellent edge, it shouldn't be difficult to pass the combine in 4-8 weeks.

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  #545 (permalink)
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@Sufyan I think your analysis is bang on the money and should make us all realise what the risk metrics really are if/once funded - it is not an easy option, and I'm pretty damn sure a lot of folks have not realised this.

That said, I am still keen to do a combine myself for the many education and discipline benefits and try for funded status, but it will most definitely be with your analysis in mind, so I thank you for raising the issue in such a well presented manner.

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  #546 (permalink)
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Nice poll @Big Mike.

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  #547 (permalink)
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Not addressed to me, but let me help him out...


matthew28 View Post
You're not profitable. In an earlier post you say that your largest account was a $5K account that after a few months was down to $200.


Just my biased two cents from somebody working on a combine but I don't see much wrong with my argument.

That is completely irrelevant to the topic. He was trying to figure out if it makes sense to use TST or not and if they are advertising the correct account value or they inflated it for PR purposes.

Your argument seems to be this: Well, you can lose your money to the market, or you could lose that same amount to TST as an education. Well, at the end, he will be out of 2K anyway, and the education isn't guaranteeing a sure profitability down the line...

Let's bring up Mergodon's example. I like the guy, don't get me wrong. He took 16 combines if I recall, probably paid for at least half of them so he was already out of about 2K by the time he passed the Combine and became a Live trader. He lasted less than 3 weeks as a Live trader.

And this brings up another point that very few people realize: Opportunity lost. Time wasted on a dream. If I open an account with 2K, blow it in a month and give up trading, I am much better off, then paying for X Combines, dreaming I will eventually make it and at the end giving it up after wasting X months/years on the dream, when I could have earned money by being something else.

Combines, specially rolling ones, keep the dream alive. Not necessary a good thing. That is also something to consider...

Just my completely objective 3 cents.


Last edited by Pedro40; February 1st, 2015 at 08:07 PM.
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  #548 (permalink)
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Opportunity

The fact of the matter is that if you would like the opportunity to be a funded trader and receive an 80% of the profits and trade up to 15 lots then there is an opportunity there to do so. You have to follow the rules on loss limits and draw downs or you will be shutdown. The equity partner for TST if you are trading a 1-5 lot 50k account ensures that there is sufficient funds allocated so as not to incur any margin calls. I can testify to the fact the clearing firm does indeed show the 50k funds in the brokerage account for that account type. Many folks recently have become funded and as long as they continue to be consistent and follow the rules they will continue to stay that way and receive 80% of the profit share.

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  #549 (permalink)
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XxBrianxX View Post
The fact of the matter is that if you would like the opportunity to be a funded trader and receive an 80% of the profits and trade up to 15 lots then there is an opportunity there to do so. You have to follow the rules on loss limits and draw downs or you will be shutdown. The equity partner for TST if you are trading a 1-5 lot 50k account ensures that there is sufficient funds allocated so as not to incur any margin calls. I can testify to the fact the clearing firm does indeed show the 50k funds in the brokerage account for that account type. Many folks recently have become funded and as long as they continue to be consistent and follow the rules they will continue to stay that way and receive 80% of the profit share.

Thanks. Good to hear from someone who is in the game.

Bob.

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  #550 (permalink)
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Sufyan View Post
Isn't that the same as saying "youll be funded with a few thousand dollars" ? I still dont understand what people mean when they keep emphasizing buying power as the perk.

TopStep's buying power (according to their scale up plan) is roughly the same buying power you would have access to yourself anyway if you built up your own tiny account to reach the levels required to achieve access to those funds. (for example, scale up plan requires you to generate 5k profits before you can trade 10 lots. If you increased your own tiny 5k account by another 5K, you could still trade 10 lots anyway.)

Its a big leap to say its only "marketing" even though that's the only conclusion that one can draw.

I guess I'm just a little disappointment because I was actually quite excited about the prospect of proving my trading chops and "earning" a large account to trade. Seems the reward is just another one of those tiny undercapitalized accounts i've been messing with for a long time and which are inherently doomed to fail. Except this time the tiny underfunded account is not my money. Its better than nothing but it aint no 100k.

I just wonder if those people taking many combines and leaving careers to join topstep actually understand the situation.

On the plus side, my interest in topstep finally forced me to learn about the futures market. Some of the products I've been testing trade far far far more beautifully with my strategies than they ever did in the forex market. Seems like futures are more of a "Traders market" than the wild west that is spot currency. (Some futures instruments are horrific though lol. The Emini Nasdaq might be the ugliest chart I have seen in my life)

Let me help you a bit more, and this is from a guy who passed his second combine attempt.

Buying power is the max allotment of contracts I can trade in any single day. (I know you know this) However, it is at my discretion how much of that power I might choose to use. My risk parameters are all ready established, so I know what the max is that I should lose. For myself, I build up the day with 1 lot, but if I can put on a second lot and keep the same original risk, then I will get in. Now I have twice as much buying power on, but the same risk... and my reward is much better. You don't need a 100K account to be a good trader. If you can't trade small, you can't trade big.

As for why I am doing the combine, there are several great reasons why I would recommend this over daytrading your own money:

1) The environment. You have the opportunity to rub shoulders with some very good traders. I learn from that! I don't get that opportunity where I live. I trade out of my home office, and I don't know of any other active futures traders who live in my city. When I didn't make it past live trader prep, John Hoagland, head of scouting called me up out of the blue to touch base and see if he could help me... and each time we have talked, he has given me excellent advice. You don't get that with your own account! Also, I have had some excellent traders give me ideas or advice.

2) The metrics. If you haven't tried it before, these are tough metrics to trade under, but they force you to become a better trader. Why? Well, for starters if you are going to be successful then there is no cheating. You don't get excuses or mulligans... or while trading increase your daily loss limit another $200 (You have a daily loss limit right?)
Secondly the metrics will force you to "tailor make" a trading strategy that works for you under those conditions and in today's marketplace.

3) The opportunity. You hear talk on forums from people about why would you do this TST thing, and why not just trade your own money... yet, how many of those people could take a $2000 account and grow it to $3500 in a month? Very few. Yet, for a minimal fee you could to attempt to do that very thing... AND if you come up with a successful trading methodology, then you pass the combine and now TST is funding you. This is were it gets interesting, because when you are funded you now get to prove yourself in the live market... but you have a history of knowing how you got to this point! Then you are given access to a room full of live traders and John Hoagland the head of scouting who obviously is there to help you become even better.

4) The risk. I was living abroad trading full time when the financial crisis hit. It was nuts. You weren't worried about trades being filled, you were worried if your money was going to be around... or if some other news was going to come out and liquidity would just dry up! TST's equity partner assumes all that risk.

5) The boss! It is my opinion, that someday, and it might only be 2% of the time... all traders need a boss. You need this for two reasons. The first is somewhat obvious, that day or moment that you go psycho and lose it and if the boss doesn't step in you will do serious damage to your account. But the second one isn't so obvious, we need someone to push us to become better... to point out to us when we should be trading larger size, and how to get there. For myself, I find that in listening to the CEO and Head of Scouting at TST... and I am sure if I was live, there is much more help.

I have a live account that I use for swing trading, and I could easily open up a daytrading account with a few thousand dollars in it and try the TST thing... but why in the world would I do that? Is a potential 20% more really worth it? Not to me it isn't... I would rather prove myself first in today's market under their metrics. When I am pulling down consistent checks from TST, then after my year is up I might consider exiting... but again, because of the reasons above, I don't know why I would do that.

Hope that all makes sense. I strongly encourage you to try it. Regardless of where your combine ends up, the process will help to make you a better trader.

Good Trades,
Yukoner

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