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

  #691 (permalink)
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Scalpingtrader View Post

Being aware of aforementioned aspects, I personally don't really care how they are marketing themselves. I know why I am taking the combine and I know what steps will follow for me.

Cheers, ST.

Agreed, and that is the power of a consumer. You choose what matters to you and you decide where to spend your money.

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  #692 (permalink)
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Scalpingtrader View Post
Given the two points above, I am pretty certain that a significant part (probably the majority) of their income is achieved from "selling" combines.

Being aware of aforementioned aspects, I personally don't really care how they are marketing themselves. I know why I am taking the combine and I know what steps will follow for me.

Cheers, ST.

Exactly. It's not hard to see how they make most of their money. And as you said, you know why you are taking it and they are giving you the opportunity. It is what it is.

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  #693 (permalink)
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@Tymbeline

Quoting 
Is it really a valid question to ask if they're "earning 6-figures", or "having 25k+ days"?!

Did you look at where I quoted Michael Patak from their own web page? He said that he went on to earn an average of 6 figures with a best day earning 33k. He is the one who said that the key to his success was learning to tightly manage his risk. He is the one who is strongly implied that the TST program is modeled after his own trading rules that produced that success. I'd like to learn more about his trading. Was he pit trading or screen trading during this time? That's important too because pit traders had/have inherent advantages over screen trading. I'll bet he was pit trading.

The reason I asked previously if they'd share stats on how many traders cleared various amounts such as 30k,60k,100k,150k,500k, is that it tells us if anyone is actually able to make a living trading for their firm. If nobody is making a living from trading their firm then it suggests something about the nature of the business. Remember they are only taking 30% of the profits. Look at how much TST is spending! The sad part is they are offering their regular employees real benefits while the traders, who if we are to believe them who are producing the profits, get zero benefits.

Your argument might be but it's not fair to ask how much their traders make. It's a privacy issues. My reply is I'm only looking for basic stats. No personal identifiable information. This is a fair question given that they proudly boast about how many traders get funded accounts every chance they get.

Keep in mind they've been around for 6 years or so. In the U.S., even producing 50k per year (with zero benefits) would be a struggle in many cities. Even one such trader trading with them over the past 4 years would have cleared or hit a high water mark of 200k (50k*4 years = 200k). A trader producing 100k over the most recent 3 years would have hit a high water mark of 300k.

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  #694 (permalink)
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My TST experience

About 12 months ago I was curious to give a TST combine a try, I couldn't mold a discretionary strategy to fit their risk thresholds but I did have a 100% mechanical strategy which looked like it would pass ~70% of the time. It looked like a good opportunity to test a strategy which I was not ready to put into my own portfolio.

The caveat being this strategy did not have a high return rate (around 1.25). It took two attempts to pass the initial combine, it passed the live traders prep, but when it went live it hovered around b/e for the 10 days so I was invited to go back and do the LTP for free, which I took, the strategy passed the LTP, but went into draw down during the first few days of live trading the second time and after 10 days I choose not to return to the combine.

All in all, the strategy was up over the total period, but my luck was such that the draw downs or flat line occurred during live trading periods. You could argue that there was a difference between the sim & real market, but my strategy allowed for 2 ticks of slippage either way so it wasn't a major factor.

My take away, in neither of the live attempts did I reach the max draw down, it was the 10 day rule that took me out. You have no control over market in "10 days" if they want to be serious this is the rule that should be reconsidered. I have no issue with anything else.

I viewed it as a cheap testing ground and maybe an opportunity for a strategy to pay its own way, ultimately I could see I was going to be stuck in a loop of pass-return so left and took the risk in my own portfolio.

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  #695 (permalink)
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I'm the kind of guy who enjoys a logical discussion, even when it turns into a friendly debate.
  • First I'll explain my position because I don't want to give the impression that I'm on TST's side, or against them. I'm more on the neutral side. I haven't paid for a combine, but I do see myself taking the test in the near future. As a matter of fact I stumbled into this thread because I'm in the middle of creating the same parameters on NinjaTrader so that I can run my own "combines". This way I don't have to pay any fees until I've proven that I can successfully trade under their parameters.
  • Secondly, you have to be careful about labels. Just because you label something a "reality" doesn't mean it isn't an assumption. Reality requires facts and while you bring a logical argument, we don't have the facts. It's okay to have a discussion around assumptions, but let's be honest and call them what they are.
  • Thirdly, there are ways to contact TST for the answers (if they are willing to provide them). The CEO is on FIO, I'm sure they have social media or other ways to get in touch with them. They have also done webinars on FIO in the past so I wouldn't be surprised if they'll do one in the future. So if anyone wants to prove their assumptions right, I think that's the best route.


tpredictor View Post
@SoftSoap

1. Claim #1 TST is a risk free way to trade the markets

Reality: Subscribing to TST 100k program for a year would cost $3900 which is more risk then the $3000 they give you. Even if you think it won't take an entire year, let's imagine it only takes 3 combines, that's appx $1,000 or 33% of the risk of trading live. Plus you add on professional datafeeds and profit split! It's a terrible deal. Worse it looks like they don't even give you the full risk. It's a charade either way but technically it's not fraudulent if they give you the money to lose in the markets but there's a decent amount of evidence that they don't give you the full risk in every case and that to me, if it is true, would make it a fraud. But, their scheme would probably fall apart either way -- so they have to limit the damage.

You might be confusing what TST is, with what TST can be.

The exchange isn't your money for a TST account. It's your money for a chance at an account, depending on your trading ability. For most it will never be more than a dream, and you can say the same about trading.

I find it interesting that you bring up the maximum risk allowed and compare that with the cost to "play". This is something I've personally taken note of, but I don't see people discuss it that way. I think more traders should look at this instead of only looking at the potential upsides. Specially because I've read some journals where traders pay for the combine over and over because it's just "300", and then they pay 100 to re-do it before the month and they never get funded. And if they did get funded after trying 20-25 times, they would have to survive long enough to get back their capital in order for it to be worth it from a $-perspective. Time-wise, that's a different story.

However, we can't ignore the potential upsides of a $100k account. You can have a max position size of 10 contracts with the $100K account. You cannot have a position of 10 contracts with a $3,000 account. At least not while trading ES and so on. Brokers like IB require a minimum deposit of $10,000 just to open up a broker account.



tpredictor View Post
@SoftSoap

2. Claim #2 TST is a scouting agency that makes their money from PLACING the trader with their partner. They claim they are a prop firm with the primary objective to profit from trading in the market.

Reality: The real objective is to make money from the combine fees. Why is this logical? Any real prop needs to keep their star traders. You keep the star traders by earning their loyalty by being nice to them and giving them the opportunity to make more money trading for you then they could anywhere else and by holding back profits and locking them up. It's the only way something like this can work.

Also, think about this.. If the combine is to find the star traders then it'd be a one time fee or at most a yearly assessment. If you pass a combine and go live and don't make money then what's really going to happen? First, most likely you won't get another shot. The combine failed to weed you out but the market did. Why would you want to risk even more money on a trader who managed to "game" your tryouts? It would be the greatest evidence that this trader either has a strategy that doesn't work in the live markets or chokes and can't trade under real pressure. Even if they really believe in their model, you'd go back to the simulator and they wouldn't charge you.

I imagine a realistic combine might want to see a larger ratio of the total profit to the maximum drawdown. That'd be the best risk metric and proof that you could trade. It'd be over a longer period of time too. A realistic combine would probably give you 12k to 25k of total risk capital and they'd probably give you 3 months or 1 year to hit some very high multiple of that max drawdown ratio and there'd be some minimum. Realistic parameters might look something like the following, max 1k risk per day, 12k risk total, 4x your maximum drawdown and at least > 12k profits returned over a period of 3-4 months.

The primary objective of an organization doesn't have to equate with their primary means of generating income.

Take an upstream petroleum organization as an example. Their primary objective is to make money from extracting oil and selling a product, either refined or non-refined. They may have other sources of revenue such as a petrochemical division, and depending on market conditions it could make more money than their primary objective.
With oil being at low levels in the last 2 years, a lot of companies (at least in Canada) were losing money for every barrel they produced, while their petrochemical divisions were able to make money. But that doesn't mean that their primary objective is to now make money off their other divisions and neglect their primary division, because it's all about what the company prioritizes over the long-term.

What I'm going to say is an assumption. But if TST's primary objective is to fund traders, they can only make money from their successful traders. Unfortunately successful traders are very hard to come by, and the best will be harder to keep as their profits grow.

So if their primary objective isn't very effective over something they have little control of, should they restrict the # of combines so they still make more money off their traders? It would be an illogical business decision to consciously impede growth in another section of their organization due to their primary department not doing as well. I'm sure if it was up to them they would love to add thousands of extremely successful traders, but that's something that isn't going to be done with their current business model (having people come to them, as opposed to them recruiting and training rising traders).

In terms of keeping prop traders around what is the going rate for a prop trader? Are prop traders taking 75% of the profits that they make? I understand they don't have to risk their own capital, but how big is the upside? This is not a rhetorical question, I actually would like to know.



tpredictor View Post
@SoftSoap

Also, think about this.. If the combine is to find the star traders then it'd be a one time fee or at most a yearly assessment. If you pass a combine and go live and don't make money then what's really going to happen? First, most likely you won't get another shot. The combine failed to weed you out but the market did. Why would you want to risk even more money on a trader who managed to "game" your tryouts? It would be the greatest evidence that this trader either has a strategy that doesn't work in the live markets or chokes and can't trade under real pressure. Even if they really believe in their model, you'd go back to the simulator and they wouldn't charge you.

I imagine a realistic combine might want to see a larger ratio of the total profit to the maximum drawdown. That'd be the best risk metric and proof that you could trade. It'd be over a longer period of time too. A realistic combine would probably give you 12k to 25k of total risk capital and they'd probably give you 3 months or 1 year to hit some very high multiple of that max drawdown ratio and there'd be some minimum. Realistic parameters might look something like the following, max 1k risk per day, 12k risk total, 4x your maximum drawdown and at least > 12k profits returned over a period of 3-4 months.

I think you're looking at their business model as if it's a dichotomy. Meaning they either find star traders or they make money off "suckers", but that's not how it has to work, they can attempt to do both. Finding start traders while making money off the majority of traders who will never make it in this industry. This way they make money off the people who will never pass, and can use that for the traders that do pass (as well as overhead costs of course).

As for the risk parameters that might be ideal for you or for a larger population of traders, but it isn't ideal for the people running the organization. I hate to say it but it's up to the leaders in the organization to define what their best parameters are, and we have little influence outside of formal feedback to TST or by either purchasing or abstaining ourselves from purchasing their product. The company is also relatively new, so they are constantly trying things out and evolving. I know that the CEO of TST was talking about changes to their combine that will be announced shortly. Those changes could be closer to what you have, or further away, only time will tell.


tpredictor View Post
@SoftSoap

3 Claim #3 Patak is a prop firm with the sole objective of making a profit from the markets and giving their traders the ability to make a living. Reality the Patak is an entity designed for making the scheme technically legal with no real objective except to risk and lose as little money in the markets as possible while making sure they payout just enough to traders so if anyone examines their books they can point to those payouts.

Reality: A legitimate business must try to make money. Giving traders 100% payouts is no way to make money. Restricting the risk traders can take to virtually nothing --- is no way going to allow for a business to grow and make real money.

This is very bold assumption (pun intended).

TST only gives you 100% profits on the first $X dollars you make. I could be wrong but I think that's first $5,000 (or $7,500) if you pass a $150K combine.

We don't know why that decision was made. For all we know someone said "we'll have traders who spend up to $2,000 on the combine, and they will have to pay $80 in data fees, so let's be a good company and help them recover those costs ASAP by letting them keep 100% of their first $X in profits"

Again, we can only speculate.

tpredictor View Post
@SoftSoap

Reality: A legitimate business must try to make money. Giving traders 100% payouts is no way to make money. Restricting the risk traders can take to virtually nothing --- is no way going to allow for a business to grow and make real money.

They only give you 100% for the first bit, after that it's 75/25 split. This is a business incentive.

It's similar to credit cards that offer you "no interest in the first 3 months". In theory you could get a card, rack it up, and pay it off within 3 months. Then after that cancel the card and go with another card that gives you 3 months no interest. If everybody did that then a credit card company wouldn't bring in enough revenue to cover their overhead costs. But they are providing you an incentive in exchange for your loyalty. Knowing that in the long-term they will make that money back and then some. Maybe not with you specifically (if you are like me and make money from your CC), but with enough clients and over a long enough period, they will.

Also, most companies that offer those type of incentives have more than one way to make money. Credit cards make money charging fees to the client, fees to the retailers, partnerships, cash flow, etc. Sound similar? TST can provide these incentives because they have another way of making money. Combines.

You talked about incentives to the traders for loyalty in return. From a business standpoint, this fits your criteria for that. Is it enough to keep traders around? Probably not, but it sure is a nice bonus.



tpredictor View Post
@SoftSoap

Have you looked and seen how many people TST is hiring? You are paying their salaries with your endless combines. You are basically paying someone who can't trade, who will never trade, and who was probably never passionate about the markets to tell you that you can't trade. Anyone who can really trade on so little capital, 2k for the standard combine, should easily come to the conclusion that it makes more sense to trade their their own money. If TST were the real deal then they'd clearly ramp up their best traders with more risk capital. They might start you off low but they'd ramp you up. Not because they are nice but because they'd have too in order to survive. And you would get maybe a 50/50 payout and be able to a make a living.

We live in a capitalist society, for good or bad, but that's how it works. There's a cost of overhead in every product that you purchase. It's good that you view things that way because most people don't, but there's little we can do about it apart from choosing with our wallet.

As for someone who doesn't trade telling you that you can't trade. Everyone has to choice to do that themselves. The parameters are laid out in detail publicly, and you can copy them to see whether or not you can trade. If someone chooses to pay money without running through those parameters on their own first, then that's on them.
It's no different than traders who choose to start trading without spending a minute in SIM, they have nobody to blame but themselves when they lose money over preventable mistakes.

As for TST ramping up their traders, do we know that they don't do that? What do they do with their best traders to keep them around? If they have traders who are making good returns and don't offer them more capital, then that's an opportunity lost and they are suffering through opportunity costs. Chances are that over the long-term they will lose the traders. But IF they do that then it doesn't mean they are a fraud, it just means they could make some improvements in their strategic processes.

But again, do we have any facts around that?




As for choosing to trade with 2K or taking the combines it all depends on the person.

If you're a good trader and can fit within their parameters, you should reach your destination faster trading TST.

If you're not a good trader though, you will lose your money whether you spend it on combines or you day trade yourself.

I think it's the people in the middle that get screwed. Those traders that can make money in the markets but can't fit their trading within the TST parameters.


Cheers.

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  #696 (permalink)
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tpredictor View Post
Apparently Michael is claiming to have been a profitable trader now, I hadn't seen that before.



Have any TST traders went on to earn 6 figure profits? Have any TST traders went on to have 25k+ days? These are valid questions. Was Michael profitable in his last 2 years of trading to the same degree? These are valid questions given his claims. Does he have any account statements backing up these claims?

One thing I'm really interested to learn is I've read that there is this 10 day period where whatever you make in the first 10 days determines what you are able to risk. I'd like to know what the deal is on that? Because it makes it seem like a fraud if they aren't giving you the full risk claimed.

I just received an email "554 funded accounts" over 2016. Were all these accounts given the full risk that the traders earned? That's what's implied. But, if a large portion of these accounts were cut off early then that's deceptive.

No idea for most of your questions, but this is on their site.

$4,523 most profited in a day by a funded trader.

So at least we have one answer

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  #697 (permalink)
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tturner86 View Post
Yes it does. Where a business generates it's money will determine where it puts its focus. Is the focus on generating profitable traders for your fund or running as many people through the mill to collect a fee.

From a business standpoint you are absolutely right. But none of us are sitting on the business side of TST.

Yes it'll have an impact on whether they spend most of their money on marketing (to generate money off combines), or coaching (to improve their traders). But as a potential customer, does it have an impact on my ability to pass the combine?

As long as they don't make the parameters unrealistic then I would argue no, and thus I personally wouldn't care whether they make more money off their traders, or off their combines. And if anybody finds their parameters to be unrealistic then they should choose with their wallet and not take the combines.

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  #698 (permalink)
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emini2000 View Post
Well @bobwest actually said it himself, but it wasn't the point he was making by saying it.

I would assess the odds of success in getting funded, and then succeeding as a funded trader, as pretty low. The odds of failing as a short-term trader are often quoted as being in the 90% range (although I don't know exactly where that comes from, and it might be worse), so the odds of succeeding in the TST universe should be fairly low as well, and it seems to be so, from the many journal posts on the subject.

Quite a few get funded if you get the emails every few weeks that show who has been funded. So how many then makes up the hundreds (if not in the thousands) of the 90% that fail? Multiply that by the combine cost, multiplied by the number of people that fail, and many do it multiple times trying to pass. Then you have those that did pass, and how many times did they take the combine to do that?

Like I said, it's pretty obvious that the bulk of the money is made from the combine, not the trading. Like I said, I'm not criticizing it, just telling it like it is.

I wrote the above post in response to someone asking me how I knew they made their money from the combines. So I want to go in a little more detail since this post was made by @tpredictor.


tpredictor View Post
I just received an email "554 funded accounts" over 2016. Were all these accounts given the full risk that the traders earned? That's what's implied. But, if a large portion of these accounts were cut off early then that's deceptive.

I got the same email. @bobwest said that he thinks maybe 10% of those that try pass the combine. So let's take these figures. 554 funded traders last year. That's 10% of 5540 total traders that took the combine if 10% funded is correct. If you take the funded traders away, that leaves just under 5k that weren't funded. But we'll round it up to 5k to make the numbers easier. I think it's probably less than 10% that pass, so about 20 more non funded to round up is no big deal.

The cheapest combine is $150. So those that weren't funded at the LEAST spent $750,000 taking combines. But as you know, some take the most expensive, some take in between and some do it over and over and pay monthly as they continue to try and pass, so the figure is actually much more than $750,000 spent on combines. Let's just say it's definitely over a million, and could be a few million.

Now there is a lot more I could do here, such as then look at the average of what each trader probably makes, and then the fact that TST let's the trader have the first 10K (or is it 5k?), and then they only take 20% of the profits after that. And all of these traders are not successful after they pass. If someone wants to do all that math they can. But it's not hard to see that the money from the combines FAR exceeds what they make off traders. That's really an unarguable fact. They may actually even take a loss on the actual trading part.

Again, not criticizing it. But plainly their business model is to make profits off the combine. And if they give a few traders the opportunity to be full time traders with their money, no big deal. Even if they take a loss on that part of the business. And as @Scalpingtrader said:

"Being aware of aforementioned aspects, I personally don't really care how they are marketing themselves. I know why I am taking the combine and I know what steps will follow for me." Same reason I took it even though I can see what their business model is. It's still an opportunity to trade full time. So I'm not hating on TST at all. Just stating what I think is pretty clear about the business model when you look at it really close.

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amoeba View Post
About 12 months ago I was curious to give a TST combine a try, I couldn't mold a discretionary strategy to fit their risk thresholds but I did have a 100% mechanical strategy which looked like it would pass ~70% of the time. It looked like a good opportunity to test a strategy which I was not ready to put into my own portfolio.

The caveat being this strategy did not have a high return rate (around 1.25). It took two attempts to pass the initial combine, it passed the live traders prep, but when it went live it hovered around b/e for the 10 days so I was invited to go back and do the LTP for free, which I took, the strategy passed the LTP, but went into draw down during the first few days of live trading the second time and after 10 days I choose not to return to the combine.

All in all, the strategy was up over the total period, but my luck was such that the draw downs or flat line occurred during live trading periods. You could argue that there was a difference between the sim & real market, but my strategy allowed for 2 ticks of slippage either way so it wasn't a major factor.

My take away, in neither of the live attempts did I reach the max draw down, it was the 10 day rule that took me out. You have no control over market in "10 days" if they want to be serious this is the rule that should be reconsidered. I have no issue with anything else.

I viewed it as a cheap testing ground and maybe an opportunity for a strategy to pay its own way, ultimately I could see I was going to be stuck in a loop of pass-return so left and took the risk in my own portfolio.


Can you elaborate on what was tough about the 10 days?

Is it the scaling plan? Is it the weekly loss limit? Max drawdown? Or is it the fact that your account must be above $0 after 10 days?

A lot of people have mentioned this and I'm curious to know.

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  #700 (permalink)
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tpredictor View Post
Apparently Michael is claiming to have been a profitable trader now, I hadn't seen that before.



Have any TST traders went on to earn 6 figure profits? Have any TST traders went on to have 25k+ days? These are valid questions. Was Michael profitable in his last 2 years of trading to the same degree? These are valid questions given his claims. Does he have any account statements backing up these claims?

One thing I'm really interested to learn is I've read that there is this 10 day period where whatever you make in the first 10 days determines what you are able to risk. I'd like to know what the deal is on that? Because it makes it seem like a fraud if they aren't giving you the full risk claimed.

I just received an email "554 funded accounts" over 2016. Were all these accounts given the full risk that the traders earned? That's what's implied. But, if a large portion of these accounts were cut off early then that's deceptive.

"Fraud" is a term with a particular legal meaning. You may be just a little too loose with it. I will pass on the question, however.

By the way, yes, Patak says that initially he was an individual trader (and says he lost a ton of money), and then was a trader for a prop shop, and said he made money, then went to the pit, then left the pit and went to the screen. Then started up TST. I read all this a couple of years ago, so it isn't new information. Do I know whether he actually did all that? No.

I think I can answer the 10-day period question, though, and this may be helpful.

During Funded Trader Prep, you have 10 days during which you can run a negative balance. At the end of the ten days, you have to have made a profit, and you need to stay positive from then on out, until you meet the profit objective for funding. In other words, after 10 days, you have to stay profitable.

There is also a Weekly Loss Limit and a Trailing Max Drawdown for FTP, based on your completed Combine. These limits are dropped after 10 days.

In the past, the same requirement to be above zero after the first 10 days and stay above zero was imposed on the Funded Account. I believe this has been or soon will be dropped or modified, but it is still on the TST website as of tonight: https://help.topsteptrader.com/hc/en-us/articles/220739167-Funded-Account-Rules Perhaps the web site has not been updated, or I may have it wrong. I am interested in the question, and will check with support next week.

The Weekly Loss Limit and Trailing Max Drawdown are also dropped after 10 days for funded accounts.

Finally, after 10 trading days you can add Eurex or ICE products to what you trade.

I do not know of any other 10-day requirements, and I have just scoured their website, so I think this is it. So I do not believe there is anything to "whatever you make in the first 10 days determines what you are able to risk." As far as I know, this idea is not correct.

Now, the amount you can trade is a different issue. For both the FTP and the Funded Account, the number of contracts you can trade is determined by the "scaling plan," given here on the TST website: https://help.topsteptrader.com/hc/en-us/articles/220389528-What-is-the-Scaling-Plan-

You may note that the buying power you are given is never expressed in terms of an account balance, for either the FTP or the Funded Account. You do not, for example, ever get a funded account with a balance of $50,000, nor does TST ever say so. The FTP and Funded Accounts open with a balance of zero. This is because they are not retail accounts, with a certain amount of margin backing up the number of contracts you can trade. They are sub-accounts of the firm's main account with its broker, and you will never know, or need to know, the amount of margin the broker requires them to have on hand. This is not "your" account: you are a contractor and you are trading the firm's money. You will have the ability to trade a given number of contracts, which initially is pegged to your Combine size, and can be adjusted upward depending on how you do.

You are never given an account with a certain number of dollars in it, and TST has never said you would. You are given access to an account with a certain limit on the contracts you can trade. I hope that was clear, because it's what the offer has always been, and it has always been spelled out this way.

It's also been discussed in wearying detail, on this thread and on the other TST thread on FIO.

I suggest you not spend time in this thread, asking these questions, or on some other forum, but just read over the TST website in detail. It will take under an hour, and you will have your questions answered, and answered by the source.

I hope I answered your question about the 10 days at least, or pointed to where it can be answered.

Bob.

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