Darwinia – Explained

This video explains our monthly Darwinia trading challenge: why we run it, how it works, and what to expect if you win the allocation. We hope you enjoy it!

Darwinia is a monthly cash-prize for DARWIN providers. To provide a DARWIN, you must:

  1. Trade a live account with Darwinex
  2. Authorise Darwinex to market the DARWIN based on your trading for that live account

We started Darwinia in November 2014 with 2500 EUR, and it’s since grown to the current monthly pot.

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Visit the latest ranking!

It’s called Darwinia to draw a parallel with Darwinian selection in nature – only skilled traders survive the market, and because it rewards DARWINs with high 0-10 Investment Attribute scores (thus DarwinIA).

In addition to abuse for the name :-), we receive questions on how the ranking works – which we hope to cover with this post.

Why (does Darwinex run) Darwinia?

There’s no point explaining how you do something without first explaining why you do it (here’s why). If you’re just after the ranking, jump to the end for an explanation. However, be warned: ignoring the why defeats Darwinia’s purpose.

So, first things first, here’s why we do this. At its core, Darwinex is 2 claims:

  1. Skilled traders are likelier than unskilled ones to win tomorrow.
  2. Darwinex algorithms detect trading skill, today.

Which all sounds very nice, but where’s the proof?

That’s one of the whys to Darwinia – to prove both claims above.  Here’s how our desired chain of thought works. We:

  1. Publish skill grades for all DARWINs,
  2. Pay the DARWIN providers with the highest grades every month
  3. Track the performance of their DARWINs over time

If Darwinian selection works, investors should, over time, detect overlap between:

  1. DARWINS who win monthly Darwinia prices,
  2. DARWINs with consistent long-term term performance,

Once they do, Darwinia will have proven that today’s skill delivers tomorrow’s investor profits.

As a bonus, it helps Darwinex walk the evolutionary talk…  Every broker talks trader alignment, but how many pay for Experience, Risk Management, Consistency, Timing, Performance and Scalability?

Why does it run monthly?

Once Darwinex reaches steady state, Darwinia ought to be a secondary revenue source to successful DARWIN providers, who will hopefully make a lot more from quarterly success-fees from investors in their DARWINs than the monthly Darwinia cash-prize.

Why do we place so much emphasis on quarterly success?

Because smart investors distrust churn based models. Commissions generated aren’t even a factor in the Darwinia ranking. Please note that Darwinex can legally charge for investor success because we hold the regulatory permission to do so: Darwinex is an FCA regulated asset manager!

As a bonus, rewarding success is a nice self-selection mechanism. Given the choice over success fees and commissions, truly consistent traders, who prefer success fees, self-select into joining Darwinex. Churn champions, on the other hand, stay clear – which is just what we want.

Why not pay monthly success fees?

On this, consistent traders and savvy investors have legitimate reasons to disagree.

DARWIN providers prefer monthly – success pay. They have a point: normal jobs pay weekly or monthly because living costs accrue daily. Surely if your strategy makes a profit month in, month out, you deserve a monthly check?

Which is when investors answer: what if a strategy wins amazingly in January, stays flat in February and implodes in March? Surely it would be a joke if Darwinex charged success fees for January? And they have a point.

That’s why we run a monthly cash-prize (Darwinia): to help bridge this trader-investor divide.  We believe our claims (1 Darwinia winners are worthy long term investments, and 2 high 0-10 grades are the difference between skilled and lucky winners). So we walk our talk by paying Darwinia monthly, and taking the middle ground between traders and investors.

Which brings us to your why for Darwinia. Think of it as help from Darwinex to quit your “other” job and pursue full time trading, with a starting base salary. We know the current first prize of 1200 Euro isn’t quite there yet, but hey, as Darwinex grows (and we are GROWING) we’ll grow the prize, so you too GROW.

How do I win Darwinia?

In a nutshell: by providing DARWINs with high grades every month, and hopefully winning.

These are the only inputs into the ranking

These are the only inputs into the ranking

The factors entering the ranking are listed on the Leadearbord:

  1. Each DARWIN’s 0-10 grades for the 6 Investment Attributes
  2. Each DARWIN’s Investor Performance in that month, with medium risk (10% monthly Value at Risk)
  3. Monthly activity: irrelevant as long as you trade as often as you normally do. It excludes those on (trading) holiday from that month’s prize.

Note: factors are listed in order of importance. High grades IA grades count logarithmically more than monthly profit.

A further point on the grades: Darwinia is ranked with the 7 Darwinex levels in the skill progression. A DARWIN with a 7/10 in all 6 IAs gets more points than one with e.g. stellar performance, but mediocre Risk Management. Above anything else, Darwinia rewards consistency across ALL 6 skills / investment attributes.

Why logarithmic? Because given a monthly profit, a:

  1. “Pro” (Level 7) has between 2 and 3 more chances to win than
  2. “Expert” (Level 6), who in turn has 2-3 times as many chances than
  3. “Rookie” (Level 5), etc.

Given a monthly profit, a “Pro” has 2.5 higher chances to win Darwinia than an Expert, 6.25 more than Rookie, etc.

It’s deliberate: we want you to worry about improving ALL grades, and ignore the rest.

We do it, because we want to prove to the world that when you seed skill, profits eventually follow.

Until independent traders and Darwinex get there, we hope Darwinia helps you get there, quicker.


Please, please, please if there’s anything you feel we haven’t explained  clearly enough, don’t hesitate to ask and we’ll do our best to improve this blog-post!

Are FX markets playing crazy?

More than 2 months after the SNB bloodbath, things should be returning to “normal” in FX markets… but are they?

Is last week’s 1-day dip then re-bound in the EURUSD ¨normal¨? How about the speed with which the USD approaches EUR?

FX Volatility


The 6 USD TRN a day FX behemoth now seems jumpier than equity markets, and that’s not “normal”.

What if these are not freak-events, but the tail of a volatility wave?

How about bond markets?

Surely things ought to be more rationale in less speculative parts of town?


Yes, the Greek tragedy will unfold. Surely that’s part of it. But Greece is a small-ish fish in the bigger pond – it really seems as though the rest of the pond is moving too.

Bi-polar trading, anyone?

The underlying theme is interest rate expectations. No-one, least of all the Fed, really knows how the Fed will tighten US interest rates. Similarly, with QE just starting and the ECB entering unknown territory, no-one really knows where the Euro economy is headed, one month before a major milestone for Greece (and the Euro), etc.

With more than your fair share of macro-economic unknowns, who’s surprised by volatilities spiking? Plus traders take sides: check EUR-USD positioning.


That’s the kind of psychology that delivers (and follows) 22% value gain by the dollar vs. the US main commercial counterparts. It’s not happened in the last 40 years, but you can’t rule out it all happening again next year!

This is NOT a video-game on a trading screen. EURUSD has direct impact on absolute and relative global GDP growth (how import crazy will the US go?), debt servicing costs, commodity prices, etc. etc. This is a recurring them on the Financial Times in the next  3-5 years.

Implications for brokers and independent traders

Volatility is different things to different pockets. When it spikes, institutional money (focus: return OF capital) typically retreats into risk minimisation mode. To speculative money (focus: return ON capital)  this as a boon, the kind of environment to quickly build (and burn, and build again) a great reputation.

FX mean reversion is gone for now. “Hold on and recover when the ebb flows” can get any market making b-book broker out of a hole in normal conditions, but a client B-book over-exposed one way or the other could well be deadly now. Smart b-bookers will a-book more… passing the hot cookie to their LPs.

Problem is: how much risk appetite do they have post SNB? Established LPs may (partially or totally) withdraw as volatility mounts. Flows will perhaps land with less established LPs keener to pick coins in front of steam trains than the big boys.

Altogether, spreads ought to widen for the foreseeable future… which brings us to the implications for traders.

If you haven’t learnt the lesson yet, now is the time.

  • Investor capital is your ONLY viable business model.  You’re likelier to turn 3k into a million by playing the lottery than by trading your own capital with leverage.
  • Adjust your leverage. A 1:1 leverage EURUSD trade today is 2+ times riskier than 3 or 4 months ago.
  • That’s if you consider “average” moments. Spikes could well be significantly larger!
  • Do not trade with unregulated or lightly regulated broker-dealers.
  • Check not only your broker’s solvency, but their liquidity providers’.


It always pays to be an FCA regulated. As does offering FSCS protection up to 50.000 GBP and only offering liquid instruments on a 100% non-market making, pure broker basis.

Plus, this is a great learning opportunity for DARWIN risk management algorithms. Several extreme events in such a short time feed the event data-base, update risk policies and sharpen management scenarios. And with FX volatility making the headlines on a regular basis, expect new entrants into the market – which is not a bad thing.

Time to upgrade your trading?