Saturday, May 10, 2008

Shady Proprietary (Prop) Trading Firms

I just received a call asking about a nearby proprietary trading firm that trains their traders. The catch is that they charge tens of thousands of dollars for the training.

We got a taste of this particular scam when Devon was doing some modeling in the Chicago area before heading off to college. After getting on some mailing lists, she received mail and phone solicitations from "agencies" that promised fantastic modeling assignments. To qualify, models had to enroll in their training programs (costing thousands of dollars). There were plenty of anecdotal success stories, but no hard indications that concrete jobs ever came of these "agencies".

Hey, if a modeling agency thinks you're talented, they'll sign you to an exclusive contract, get you lots of work, and make money from each job that you take.

Similarly, proprietary trading firms make money by splitting profits with their traders. If a prop firm is skilled at training traders, they'll make plenty of money by sharing in the traders' success. Yes, there will be "desk fees" to cover overhead and a pass-through of commission expenses, but the lion's share of a prop firm's profits should come from trader profits. That's what aligns the interests of the firm and the trader.

I assure you, any prop firm that is confident of their ability to grow and support talent won't need to make their money from charging sky-high commissions to their traders or by saddling them with huge fees for training and overhead. Their interests are *not* aligned with those of traders. Like the pseudo modeling agencies, they try to get as many people in and out of their doors, paying the big fees.

In short, the shady firms are selling a dream and a fantasy, not a career.

Please exercise due diligence before committing yourself to an expensive and disappointing venture. If you can display promise, prop firms will want you; you won't need to pay them to get in the door.


Steps Toward Joining a Prop Firm

Things to Consider When Joining a Trading Firm