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How is Darwinex different from Zulu / eToro for an investor?

12 February 2016

Fellow user and blog sparring partner Vlad posed yet another insightful challenge. With his permission, I’m (this is Juan 🙂 replying with an open letter – hoping to get more of you engaged on the subject. Here we go!

Hi Juan,

How is Darwinex different from Zulu / eToro for an investor?

I watched this presentation where you answered this question from the trader’s perspective.

I’m just amazed by the amount of dumb money that Zulu attracts ($6.6M from some 8.7k followers on the top 3 ‘traders’ who don’t even operate on a live account). You mentioned previously in our conversations tens of millions in AuM at Darwinex in the future…but what will be the source of that and how is that audience targeted ? I’ve seen already Darwins that should have much more investor attention (TSB for instance).

I think the most logical target would be the mutual funds clients – but if Darwinex is not clearly positioned that way it would be shunned by them (ah, just another social trading platform) and by the typical Zulu/Etoro client (because they’re after huge returns in a short amount of time).

What are your thoughts on this ?

Darwinex competitor overview – and Challenge assessment

First, our take on the competitors you mention.

Zulutrade is closer to the gaming / gambling  than the asset management business. They clearly have found a sustainable (?) niche for their offer, or else they wouldn’t have been around for close to 10 years. We have no insider knowledge of their investor acquisition channels, but I presume it’s a combination of outbound online marketing and inbound affiliate networks. It all works because b-booking brokers pay handsomely for such leads.

On the plus side, they must make money from investors. They make money for some strategy providers (else why are they there?).

On the negative side, I doubt they make money for investors on average – which makes me think the kind of investors we’re after would not consider them.

This guy knew people

eToro adds different nuances.

They’re agency-only (no b-booking), which is a start. They are (or can afford) gifted marketers and communicators, so attracting investors doesn’t seem to be an issue for them.

What about attracting and or keeping good traders?

  1. When you’re charging 3 pip EURUSD spreads whether you’re A-Book or B-Book doesn’t really matter – who can beat those transaction costs? Why even try if there’s more competitive, non Cyprus regulated brokers out there?
  2. Regulation – copy trading is deemed investment advice by ESMA and many national regulators. Traders not carrying license for investment advice and allowing copy-traders could be breaching regulation in multiple jurisdictions. Is that a sustainable business model for George Soros?
  3. eToro doesn’t pay traders on investor success – which opens the incentive can of worms.
  4. eToro have no way to charge investors for success because copy-trading is a free-for all. Which means they don’t have a way to pay traders on success. Which means traders either don’t stay or leave.

This, in turn, creates a challenge in keeping the investors they claim to attract, because of:

  1. Regulation – see above
  2. Transaction costs – see above
  3. Trader offering – would George Soros consider publishing his trades on eToro?
  4. Risk management – it’s really hard for an investor not understanding leverage to make money even copying good traders
  5. Homogeneity in risk – few people understand how risk and reward interact with each other. Which means strategies on offer are not on a level-playing field

eToro clearly has made inroads in creating a brand, by framing the “investing with the crowd” concept. But if the millions of customers they claim to have attracted are still with them, why raise 30 million in 2014? You’d think that USD 73 MM from VCs should be enough to trigger a sustainable business? If their traders are so good, why not invest any of those 73 MM themselves?

Darwinex – self-Assessment

 

And now on to your questions – our own set of tough challenges:

  1. How does Darwinex plan to differentiate itself from “social trading” outfits?
  2. How does Darwinex plan to attract (the first) tens of millions of investment into DARWINs?
  3. Why haven’t investors noticed TSB and others (yet?)

Our goal from the get-go was to package independent traders into an investable asset class. Thus the DARWIN Exchange concept, and investments into proper regulation, neutral, agency-only (non-dealing desk) positioning, diagnostic and risk management technology and apples-to-apples comparable DARWIN risk. In our opinion, these are all pre-requisites – must have foundations – to create the “independent trader” asset class.

We’re no fools and know foundations are a necessary but not sufficient condition to get there. Even if some differentiation is visible to you (if you didn’t think we’re different you wouldn’t invest time into challenging us? :-), to get more mainstream investors to notice TSB we’ll need to overcome our own set of (HUGE) challenges:

  1. Communication: you (fellow Darwinex readers/early adopters) feel that we’re different, but we’re not good enough yet at explaining why. Every time you try to explain to someone what makes us different from eToro / Zulu and the point doesn’t come across in 10 seconds, we lose an opportunity for growth. Improved positioning is on its way – hope we get closer 🙂
  2. Credibility / trust by (good) traders : we’re doing at least some things right – else DARWINs like TSB (your pick, not mine, even if I agree more people should notice) wouldn’t list with us. BUT: AuM are still low to attract all good traders on board. We’ll shortly release technology to grow AuM faster.
  3. Investor credibility: we’re all (independent traders and Darwinex) sailing upwind. Every time a Zulu / eToro investor loses money, another bit of trader credibility dies. Given others (Currensee, Covestor, eToro, etc.) have failed where we’re trying, it won’t be easy – but we’re convinced it’s doable if TSB and others continue to join and stay.
  4. Investor exposure: Darwinex is little known in a small niche (social trading, etc.) that hasn’t yet reached mainstream. Both our general awareness and the concept of social investing (thank you, VC investors in eToro 🙂 are improving. Yet going mainstream will be expensive – and may well require our raising a series A from a VC.

I hate to admit it, but neither of the above will happen until we all catalyse an independent trader movement.

WATCH THE VIDEO IN THE LINK NOW – I SWEAR IT INSPIRED DARWINEX, I HOPE IT INSPIRES YOU + YOU WON’T UNDERSTAND WHAT FOLLOWS IF YOU DON’T 🙂

So here’s how TSB gets (the first) 50 millions of AuM.

Now Darwinex, then Tradeslide started doing weird things. This helped TSB & others understand that this time it was different. They joined. So did clean guys like 50 – who actually stuck out his neck for us when it was VERY risky. Then the DARWIN investor platform was finally ready, by which point TSB and others used their DARWINs to actively market to new potential investors. All along, they were credible because Darwinex was independent from all, made more money when investors won, and publicly listed everyone, including failed DARWINs, on a level playing field. The first investors tried with pea-nuts, and some picked the wrong guys until Vlad wrote a good blog post on how to screen DARWINs. Some investors noticed TSB, made some money & boasted about their own little secret profit source during a golf match. Darwinex launched something (r)evolutionary. More and more investors gave TSB & others a demo try. They had more fun than with stocks, so they tried with a couple of thousand Euros. They told other investors. Vlad told his own investors to diversify by investing both in his DARWIN and TSB. Eventually, the first 10 MM AuM joined. This was pea-nuts in the bigger scheme of the asset management business, but more than any of the independent managers on the Barclays CTA index was managing, so Darwinex started a PR campaign to get the fact out there. Traders who never knew Darwinex to begin with, and others who initially looked down on “another Zulu” joined. Aspiring traders realised TSB was making a killing without gambling his account, so they stopped trying to make 50% per month. This stopped their crashing – the first step in the evolution towards winning. Investors noticed. Darwinex raised 10 MM Series A to accelerate development and hired the creatives behind eToro’s video. They blew the ball out of the park with a video that went viral – because enough investors went public saying that they actually exchanged profits with independent traders etc.

You see what I mean. That’s our evolutionary dream come true. It might seem utopian now – but I tell you it’s a lot closer now than 2 years ago.

And the best part is, if we all work together, we’ll soon stop waking up at 4 AM with our favourite nightmare:

What comes first, the traders or the AuM

(In our – Vlad and mine – case it’s: which comes first, the investable traders or the investor assets under management).

So that’s how you get to (the first) 50 MM AuM:

  1. You risk your neck on a utopia worth trying
  2. You get a bunch of guys like TSB & 50 to join
  3. They do their very best to get a few investors to notice them
  4. Everybody pulls their weight sticking their neck out to contribute for everyone’s profit exchange
  5. Compound investor leverage kicks in
  6. Independent traders gradually, and then suddenly are “the secret asset class everyone should invest in”
  7. We all cross the chasm together

PS: A huge thanks to our first 1000 trading customers, the 300 beta investors and (currently) 28 guys working with Darwinex. Even more so to folks like 50 who not only joined, but actively stuck their neck / credibility out back when this was just a bunch of “losers” trading, writing & reading “loonie” blog-posts like this 🙂

So – on to our next blog post Vlad? Anyone else out there?

Last News

Darwinex Trading Hours for the 2017 Christmas & New Year Holiday Period

15 December 2017

Christmas is around the corner! Please find below the Darwinex Trading Schedule for the 2017 Christmas and New Year Holiday Period (all times are displayed in UK time and changes to regular trading hours are highlighted in red).   Instrument    Friday 22nd Dec   Monday 25th Dec   Tuesday 26th Dec FX 22:01 Thu – 21:55 Fri CLOSED 22:01 Mon – […]

Christmas is around the corner!

Please find below the Darwinex Trading Schedule for the 2017 Christmas and New Year Holiday Period (all times are displayed in UK time and changes to regular trading hours are highlighted in red).

 

Instrument 

 

Friday 22nd Dec

 

Monday 25th Dec

 

Tuesday 26th Dec

FX 22:01 Thu – 21:55 Fri CLOSED 22:01 Mon – 22:00 Tue
Commodities
Gold 23:01 Thu – 21:55 Fri  CLOSED 23:01 Mon – 21:59 Tue
Silver 23:00 Thu – 21:55 Fri  CLOSED 23:00 Mon – 22:00 Tue
Platinum 23:00 Thu – 21:55 Fri  CLOSED 23:00 Mon – 22:00 Tue
Palladium 23:00 Thu – 21:55 Fri  CLOSED 23:00 Mon – 22:00 Tue
US Crude 23:00 Thu – 21:55 Fri  CLOSED 23:00 Mon – 22:00 Tue
US Natural Gas 23:00 Thu – 20:00 Fri  CLOSED 23:00 Mon – 22:00 Tue
DARWINS 23:00 Thu – 20:00 Fri CLOSED 22:00 Mon – 22:00 Tue
Indices      
STOXX50E 23:00 Thu – 21:55 Fri  CLOSED CLOSED
GDAXI 07:00 – 21:00   CLOSED  CLOSED
SPA35 07:00 – 19:00   CLOSED  CLOSED
SPX500 23:00 Thu – 21:55 Fri  CLOSED  CLOSED
WS30 23:00 Thu – 21:55 Fri  CLOSED  CLOSED
NDX 23:00 Thu – 21:55 Fri  CLOSED  CLOSED
J225  23:00 Thu – 21:55 Fri CLOSED CLOSED
AUS200 23:00 Thu – 05:30 Fri CLOSED CLOSED 
FCHI40  23:00 Thu – 21:55 Fri  CLOSED  CLOSED
UK100 23:00 Thu – 12:30 Fri  CLOSED  CLOSED 

 

 

Instrument 

 

Friday 29th Dec 

 

Monday 1st Jan 

 

Tuesday 2nd Jan

FX 22:01 Thu – 21:55 Fri CLOSED 22:01 Mon – 22:00 Tue
Commodities
Gold 23:01 Thu – 21:55 Fri  CLOSED 23:01 Mon – 21:59 Tue
Silver 23:00 Thu – 21:55 Fri  CLOSED 23:00 Mon – 22:00 Tue
Platinum 23:00 Thu – 21:55 Fri  CLOSED 23:00 Mon – 22:00 Tue
Palladium 23:00 Thu – 21:55 Fri  CLOSED 23:00 Mon – 22:00 Tue
US Crude 23:00 Thu – 20:00 Fri  CLOSED 23:00 Mon – 22:00 Tue
US Natural Gas 23:00 Thu – 20:00 Fri  CLOSED 23:00 Mon – 22:00 Tue
DARWINS*  22:05 Thu – 22:00 Fri  CLOSED 22:00 Mon – 22:00 Tue
Indices      
STOXX50E 23:00 Thu – 21:55 Fri CLOSED 23:00 Mon – 22:00 Tue
GDAXI 07:00 – 21:00  CLOSED  07:00 – 21:00 
SPA35 07:00 – 19:00  CLOSED 07:00 – 19:00 
SPX500 23:00 Thu – 21:55 Fri  CLOSED  23:00 Mon – 22:00 Tue
WS30 23:00 Thu – 21:55 Fri  CLOSED  23:00 Mon – 22:00 Tue
NDX 23:00 Thu – 21:55 Fri  CLOSED  23:00 Mon – 22:00 Tue
J225  23:00 Thu – 21:55 Fri CLOSED 23:00 Mon – 22:00 Tue
AUS200 23:00 Thu – 05:30 Fri CLOSED 23:00 Mon – 22:00 Tue
FCHI40  23:00 Thu – 21:55 Fri CLOSED 23:00 Mon – 22:00 Tue
UK100 23:00 Thu – 12:30 Fri  CLOSED  23:00 Mon – 22:00 Tue

As always, if you have any queries, please feel free to contact us at info@darwinex.com.

The Darwinex Team wishes you a Merry Xmas and a Happy New Year!

buho-navidad-darwinex-02

And the DarwinIA winners are… (November 2017)

1 December 2017

The November edition of our DarwinIA trading challenge came to its end. Below you can find the 48 winners of our € 4,000,000 notional allocation for a 6 month period. Place DARWIN Notional allocation 1st PUZ € 300,000.00 2nd AXF € 250,000.00 3rd STP € 210,000.00 4th CSP € 170,000.00 5th SVI € 150,000.00 6th […]

The November edition of our DarwinIA trading challenge came to its end. Below you can find the 48 winners of our € 4,000,000 notional allocation for a 6 month period.

Place DARWIN Notional allocation
1st PUZ € 300,000.00
2nd AXF € 250,000.00
3rd STP € 210,000.00
4th CSP € 170,000.00
5th SVI € 150,000.00
6th WIZ € 140,000.00
7th TSB € 130,000.00
8th HTS € 120,000.00
9th XAX € 110,000.00
10th NTI € 110,000.00
11th LZB € 110,000.00
12th CLA € 100,000.00
13th TZR € 100,000.00
14th MAT € 100,000.00
15th DDY € 90,000.00
16th CEM € 90,000.00
17th YIA € 90,000.00
18th ERQ € 80,000.00
19th QUA € 80,000.00
20th EEE € 80,000.00
21st SQG € 70,000.00
22nd AGD € 70,000.00
23rd FOF € 70,000.00
24th FEG € 70,000.00
25th EKB € 60,000.00
26th DSM € 60,000.00
27th BOT € 60,000.00
28th FJD € 60,000.00
29th RDD € 60,000.00
30th HTX € 60,000.00
31st RIB € 50,000.00
32nd BFT € 50,000.00
33rd ONE € 50,000.00
34th FCQ € 50,000.00
35th GPZ € 50,000.00
36th YHN € 50,000.00
37th ZTY € 50,000.00
38th PFZ € 40,000.00
39th PFI € 40,000.00
40th BGO € 40,000.00
41st JCZ € 40,000.00
42nd GTD € 40,000.00
43rd MMG € 40,000.00
44th APG € 40,000.00
45th YEC € 30,000.00
46th RFQ € 30,000.00
47th DJO € 30,000.00
48th VTJ € 30,000.00

 

Have questions about DarwinIA trading challenge ? At info@darwinex.com we’ll be happy to assist you!

Amended Trading Hours for US Thanksgiving Holidays (23 and 24 November 2017)

21 November 2017

Please note the amended Darwinex trading hours for the upcoming US Thanksgiving holiday period on 23 and 24 November 2017 (all times are in UK – GMT time).  Instrument 23 November 2017 24 November 2017 FX 22:01 Wed – 22:00 Thu 22:01 Thu – 21:55 Fri DARWINS 22:01 Wed – 22:00 Thu  22:01 Thu – 21:55 Fri  COMMODITIES     Gold* […]

Please note the amended Darwinex trading hours for the upcoming US Thanksgiving holiday period on 23 and 24 November 2017 (all times are in UK – GMT time).

 Instrument 23 November 2017 24 November 2017
FX 22:01 Wed – 22:00 Thu 22:01 Thu – 21:55 Fri
DARWINS 22:01 Wed – 22:00 Thu  22:01 Thu – 21:55 Fri
 COMMODITIES    
Gold* 23:01 Wed – 17:59 Thu 23:01 Thu – 18:44 Fri
Silver* 23:00 Wed – 17:59 Thu 23:00 Thu – 18:44 Fri
Platinum* 23:00 Wed – 17:59 Thu 23:00 Thu – 18:44 Fri
Palladium* 23:00 Wed – 17:59 Thu 23:00 Thu – 18:44 Fri
US Crude* 23:00 Wed – 17:44 Thu 23:00 Thu – 17:29 Fri
Natural Gas* 23:00 Wed – 17:44 Thu 23:00 Thu – 17:29 Fri
 INDICES    
Australia 200 23:00 Wed – 22:00 Thu 23:00 Thu – 21:55 Fri
 Europe 50 23:00 Wed – 22:00 Thu 23:00 Thu – 21:55 Fri
France 40 23:00 Wed – 22:00 Thu 23:00 Thu – 21:55 Fri
Germany 30 07:00 – 21:00 07:00 – 21:00
Spain 35 07:00 – 19:00 07:00 – 19:00
Japan 225* 23:00 Wed – 17:59 Thu  23:00 Thu – 18:14 Fri 
UK 100 23:00 Wed – 22:00 Thu 23:00 Thu – 21:55 Fri
 US SPX 500* 23:00 Wed – 17:59 Thu 23:00 Thu – 18:14 Fri 
 US Tech 100* 23:00 Wed – 17:59 Thu 23:00 Thu – 18:14 Fri 
Wall Street 30* 23:00 Wed – 17:59 Thu 23:00 Thu – 18:14 Fri 
*Amended Darwinex trading hours.

As always, at info@darwinex.com we’ll be happy to assist you!

DARWIN conditional orders in live environment

14 November 2017

We have the pleasure to announce that we are finally rolling out DARWIN conditional orders in the live environment. Demand was so strong, this just couldn’t wait any longer! Conditional orders for live accounts The DARWIN Exchange now supports conditional orders in the live environment. Investors may now enter conditional orders so that when a […]

We have the pleasure to announce that we are finally rolling out DARWIN conditional orders in the live environment. Demand was so strong, this just couldn’t wait any longer!

Conditional orders for live accounts

The DARWIN Exchange now supports conditional orders in the live environment.

Investors may now enter conditional orders so that when a DARWIN quote:

  • Falls to a certain level, they buy it (Buy limit)
  • Rises to certain level, they buy it (Buy stop)
  • Falls to a certain level, they sell it (Stop Loss)
  • Rises to a certain level, they sell it (Take Profit)

NB: we’ve disabled Buy stops for now – we will activate them once everyone is comfortable with the other 3 limit order types.

 

In order to launch conditional orders in the live environment, we’ve also had to launch another much demanded feature – DARWIN candle charts.

Introducing DARWIN candle charts

We’re introducing candle charts, not for the purpose of charting, but to be as transparent as possible on whether DARWIN quotes hit a given level.

Candles represent a given time interval and have:

  • Opening quote: the first quote at the start of the interval represented by the candle
  • Closing quote: the last quote during the interval represented by the candle
  • High: highest quote in the interval
  • Low: lowest quote in the interval

Note that due to differences in the frequency of tick price movements and duration of candle periods, the close quote for a candle need not necessarily match the open quote for the succeeding candle.

Price granularity

Price granularity is a trade-off between accuracy/transparency and computational efficiency. Pick too little, and compromise transparency. Pick too much, and waste resources.

This is why we’ve opted for a 3-Tier approach:

  • Second level granularity: on quotes in the DARWIN platform since 15 August 2017
  • Minute granularity:  for the period between IPO/validation of the Darwin in question and the 15 August 2017
  • Hourly granularity: for the period pre Darwin IPO/validation, when there were no investors in the DARWIN. Transparency requirements are lowest – these are “fictitious” quotes that no investor experienced!
  • Exception on DARWIN re-sets: on occasions, owing to some execution issue on a DARWIN’s underlying strategy, DARWIN equity curves must be “simulated” back to what they would have been barring the execution issues. For the period where the curve has had to be re-created, or needs to be recreated in the future, granularity will be on an hourly basis (just like pre-IPO), and not on a minute/second basis as you would otherwise expect.

You might ask yourself, “Why only second level granularity from 15th August 2017?”. Well, it’s simple really. We simply didn’t think that we would need this level of detail.

Separately, we are aware that the treatment of exceptions is sub-optimal. Be assured however that there’s ongoing work both to minimise the probability of execution disruptions and to resolve the mismatch between the actual and “optimal” DARWIN equity curve. Unfortunately this is not a trivial issue, so it will take time to fix.

Drawdown calculation

We will continue to calculate Drawdowns off the “Return Chart”. Note that this still doesn’t reflect the “Min” Candle – we’re working  on fixing this. Meanwhile, we preferred to release the candles over waiting for ironing out all related issues.

Thank you for your understanding and we look forward to your feedback on how to improve the platform!

And the DarwinIA winners are…

1 November 2017

The October edition of our DarwinIA trading challenge came to its end. Below you can find the 48 winners of our € 4,000,000 notional allocation for a 6 month period. Place DARWIN Notional allocation 1st TKT € 300,000.00 2nd UYZ € 250,000.00 3rd ZXW € 210,000.00 4th DLF € 170,000.00 5th FEG € 150,000.00 6th […]

The October edition of our DarwinIA trading challenge came to its end. Below you can find the 48 winners of our € 4,000,000 notional allocation for a 6 month period.

Place DARWIN Notional allocation
1st TKT € 300,000.00
2nd UYZ € 250,000.00
3rd ZXW € 210,000.00
4th DLF € 170,000.00
5th FEG € 150,000.00
6th VQB € 140,000.00
7th MOW € 130,000.00
8th HTS € 120,000.00
9th VTJ € 110,000.00
10th STP € 110,000.00
11th JCZ € 110,000.00
12th CLA € 100,000.00
13th LVS € 100,000.00
14th NWU € 100,000.00
15th PUL € 90,000.00
16th LDR € 90,000.00
17th PHD € 90,000.00
18th DFL € 80,000.00
19th AGD € 80,000.00
20th CNU € 80,000.00
21st KGL € 70,000.00
22nd PEW € 70,000.00
23rd KYQ € 70,000.00
24th AXF € 70,000.00
25th FGC € 60,000.00
26th QTN € 60,000.00
27th VNE € 60,000.00
28th ECC € 60,000.00
29th FYW € 60,000.00
30th PUD € 60,000.00
31st ERQ € 50,000.00
32nd DZL € 50,000.00
33rd PMZ € 50,000.00
34th BNX € 50,000.00
35th WBH € 50,000.00
36th LLZ € 50,000.00
37th FTT € 50,000.00
38th KWC € 40,000.00
39th OOG € 40,000.00
40th NGS € 40,000.00
41st SRK € 40,000.00
42nd XYP € 40,000.00
43rd NAU € 40,000.00
44th VHI € 40,000.00
45th ONE € 30,000.00
46th FER € 30,000.00
47th BYC € 30,000.00
48th PUZ € 30,000.00

Darwinex Amended Trading Hours due to German Public Holiday (31 October 2017)

27 October 2017

Please note the amended Darwinex trading hours for the upcoming Bank Holiday in Germany on 31 October 2017 (all times are in UK time).  Instrument Trading Hours  FX 22:05 Mon – 22:00 Tue   DARWINS 22:05 Mon – 22:00 Tue  COMMODITIES   Gold 23:00 Mon – 22:00 Tue Silver 23:00 Mon – 22:00 Tue Platinum 23:00 Mon – 22:00 […]

Please note the amended Darwinex trading hours for the upcoming Bank Holiday in Germany on 31 October 2017 (all times are in UK time).

 Instrument Trading Hours
 FX 22:05 Mon – 22:00 Tue
  DARWINS 22:05 Mon – 22:00 Tue
 COMMODITIES  
Gold 23:00 Mon – 22:00 Tue
Silver 23:00 Mon – 22:00 Tue
Platinum 23:00 Mon – 22:00 Tue
Palladium 23:00 Mon – 22:00 Tue
US Crude 23:00 Mon – 22:00 Tue
Natural Gas 23:00 Mon – 22:00 Tue
 INDICES  
Australia 200  23:00 Mon – 22:00 Tue
 Europe 50 23:00 Mon – 22:00 Tue
France 40 23:00 Mon – 22:00 Tue
Germany 30* Closed
Spain 35 08:00 – 19:00
Japan 225 23:00 Mon – 22:00 Tue
UK 100  23:00 Mon – 22:00 Tue
 US SPX 500 23:00 Mon – 22:00 Tue
 US Tech 100 23:00 Mon – 22:00 Tue
Wall Street 30 23:00 Mon – 22:00 Tue
*Amended Darwinex trading hours.

As always, at info@darwinex.com we’ll be happy to assist you!