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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 Amended trading Hours for President’s Day (19 February 2018)

13 February 2018

Please note the amended Darwinex trading hours for the upcoming President’s Day in the US on 19 February 2018 (all times are in UK – GMT time).  Instrument Trading Hours  FX 22:05 Sun – 22:00 Mon   DARWINS 22:05 Sun – 22:00 Mon  COMMODITIES   Gold* 23:01 Sun –17:59 Mon Silver* 23:00 Sun –18:00 Mon Platinum* 23:00 Sun –18:00 Mon Palladium* 23:00 Sun –18:00 Mon US Crude* […]

Please note the amended Darwinex trading hours for the upcoming President’s Day in the US on 19 February 2018 (all times are in UK – GMT time).

 Instrument Trading Hours
 FX 22:05 Sun – 22:00 Mon
  DARWINS 22:05 Sun – 22:00 Mon
 COMMODITIES  
Gold* 23:01 Sun –17:59 Mon
Silver* 23:00 Sun –18:00 Mon
Platinum* 23:00 Sun –18:00 Mon
Palladium* 23:00 Sun –18:00 Mon
US Crude* 23:00 Sun –17:45 Mon
Natural Gas* 23:00 Sun –17:45 Mon
 INDICES  
Australia 200 23:00 Sun –22:00 Mon
 Europe 50 23:00 Sun –22:00 Mon
France 40 23:00 Sun –22:00 Mon
Germany 30 07:00 – 21:00
Spain 35 07:00 – 19:00
Japan 225* 23:00 Sun –18:00 Mon
 UK 100 23:00 Sun –22:00 Mon
 US SPX 500* 23:00 Sun –18:00 Mon
 US Tech 100* 23:00 Sun –18:00 Mon
Wall Street 30* 23:00 Sun –18:00 Mon
*Amended Darwinex trading hours.

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

Our Latest Improvement In…The Importance Of A Good First Impression

In Darwinex, a first impression is the event when one investor first encounters a DARWIN and forms an opinion about it. First impressions are based on a wide range of characteristics: D-Score, Investing Attributes, AuM, return, drawdown, trader’s equity, etc. But, what about the strategy description? Write a delightful description to connect with your investors […]

In Darwinex, a first impression is the event when one investor first encounters a DARWIN and forms an opinion about it. First impressions are based on a wide range of characteristics: D-Score, Investing Attributes, AuM, return, drawdown, trader’s equity, etc. But, what about the strategy description?

Write a delightful description to connect with your investors at a deeper level

We know that a good description could significantly influence whether an investor allocates capital in your DARWIN or not since, at the end of the day, the relationship between a DARWIN provider and its investors is based on trust.

We are also aware that some of you have a blog or website where investors, or other traders, can know more about you and your strategy.

Enhanced tool to describe your strategy

That is the reason why we have decided to enhance our description tool so you can incorporate bold, italics and a link to your site in the description of your DARWIN/strategy, in your main profile and in all your “Darwinian filters”.

Here a brief example of how to do it:

Bold => **bold** => bold

Italics => _italics_ => italics

Link to your website => Go to [my website](https://www.darwinex.com/) => Go to my website

DARWIN VTJ paused for new investment

7 February 2018

Due to the divergence caused by the sheer increase in the volume of investors in the DARWIN VTJ- more than € 2MM under management! -, its DARWIN provider has requested us to close it temporarily. This means that the DARWIN will remain closed for new investments and current investors in VTJ will only be able […]

Due to the divergence caused by the sheer increase in the volume of investors in the DARWIN VTJ- more than € 2MM under management! -, its DARWIN provider has requested us to close it temporarily.

This means that the DARWIN will remain closed for new investments and current investors in VTJ will only be able to sell it.

For your information, we are currently working on a “Capacity Management” tool which will allow DARWIN providers to pause their DARWIN if they meet the following criteria:

  • 1-The max AuM cap established by the DARWIN provider is surpassed. The minimum will be determined by Darwinex.
  • 2-The divergence % in the DARWIN goes beyond the threshold established by the DARWIN provider. At this point, the DARWIN will be automatically paused. Irrespective of the min divergence % required by the DARWIN provider, Darwinex will automatically pause the DARWIN if it goes beyong  1%-1.5% (we’re still defining the optimal %)

This tool will allow Investors to:

  • 1-Know the parameters chosen by the DARWIN provider in advance.
  • 2-Activate a notification mechanism that will alert them when a trader changes any of the parameters defined beforehand or the DARWIN is paused/reopened again.

In the absence of such tool, the procedure hereinafter will be similar to the one applied for VTJ: the DARWIN provider notifies Darwinex of its intention to pause its DARWIN and we will comply with its will, with the limitations above-mentioned.

IMPORTANT: from now on, in case a DARWIN provider decides to pause it before the launch of the “Capacity Manegement” tool , Darwinex will not send any kind of notification to its clients.

Should you want to share your views on this topic, you are more than welcome to participate in this Community thread.

And the DarwinIA winners are… (January 2018)

1 February 2018

The January 2018 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 VQB € 300,000.00 2nd RDD € 250,000.00 3rd GTD € 210,000.00 4th WFJ € 170,000.00 5th CBY € 150,000.00 […]

The January 2018 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 VQB € 300,000.00
2nd RDD € 250,000.00
3rd GTD € 210,000.00
4th WFJ € 170,000.00
5th CBY € 150,000.00
6th KVL € 140,000.00
7th ONE € 130,000.00
8th HTX € 120,000.00
9th UYZ € 110,000.00
10th XYF € 110,000.00
11th VTS € 110,000.00
12th ZGE € 100,000.00
13th LDZ € 100,000.00
14th RZX € 100,000.00
15th XIS € 90,000.00
16th ERQ € 90,000.00
17th ZZI € 90,000.00
18th LOM € 80,000.00
19th MER € 80,000.00
20th QDJ € 80,000.00
21st FTA € 70,000.00
22nd PFH € 70,000.00
23rd PMZ € 70,000.00
24th STP € 70,000.00
25th ENI € 60,000.00
26th NTI € 60,000.00
27th LFS € 60,000.00
28th LLZ € 60,000.00
29th ADZ € 60,000.00
30th GED € 60,000.00
31st FEG € 50,000.00
32nd YZF € 50,000.00
33rd ZTY € 50,000.00
34th ILM € 50,000.00
35th XSN € 50,000.00
36th QNR € 50,000.00
37th SPV € 50,000.00
38th STT € 40,000.00
39th NDQ € 40,000.00
40th WWB € 40,000.00
41st UEI € 40,000.00
42nd JBR € 40,000.00
43rd ZOX € 40,000.00
44th CEM € 40,000.00
45th HGD € 30,000.00
46th LZL € 30,000.00
47th DZL € 30,000.00
48th VBU € 30,000.00

 

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

Darwinex Amended trading Hours for Australia Day (26 January 2018)

22 January 2018

Please note the amended Darwinex trading hours for the upcoming Australia Day on 26 January 2018 (all times are in UK – GMT time).  Instrument Trading Hours  FX 22:01 Thu –21:55 Fri   DARWINS 22:01 Thu –21:55 Fri  COMMODITIES   Gold 23:01 Thu –21:55 Fri Silver 23:00 Thu –21:55 Fri Platinum 23:00 Thu –21:55 Fri Palladium 23:00 Thu –21:55 Fri US Crude 23:00 Thu –21:55 Fri Natural Gas 23:00 Thu –21:55 Fri  INDICES […]

Please note the amended Darwinex trading hours for the upcoming Australia Day on 26 January 2018 (all times are in UK – GMT time).

 Instrument Trading Hours
 FX 22:01 Thu –21:55 Fri
  DARWINS 22:01 Thu –21:55 Fri
 COMMODITIES  
Gold 23:01 Thu –21:55 Fri
Silver 23:00 Thu –21:55 Fri
Platinum 23:00 Thu –21:55 Fri
Palladium 23:00 Thu –21:55 Fri
US Crude 23:00 Thu –21:55 Fri
Natural Gas 23:00 Thu –21:55 Fri
 INDICES  
Australia 200* *06:10  – 21:55 
 Europe 50 23:00 Thu – 21:55 Fri
France 40 23:00 Thu – 21:55 Fri
Germany 30 07:00 – 21:00
Spain 35 07:00 – 19:00
Japan 225 23:00 Thu21:55 Fri
 UK 100 23:00 Thu21:55 Fri
 US SPX 500 23:00 Thu21:55 Fri
 US Tech 100 23:00 Thu21:55 Fri
Wall Street 30 23:00 Thu21:55 Fri
*Amended Darwinex trading hours.

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

Our Latest Improvement In … Chart Re-alignment!

19 January 2018

You already know that our incentives are 100% aligned with those of our clients –zero conflict of interest between Broker, Traders and Investors-, and this is something we feel VERY proud of in Darwinex. However, this was true to some extent as some of our tools had risen up in rebellion. In particular, the profile […]

You already know that our incentives are 100% aligned with those of our clients –zero conflict of interest between Broker, Traders and Investors-, and this is something we feel VERY proud of in Darwinex.

However, this was true to some extent as some of our tools had risen up in rebellion.

In particular, the profile of the DARWINs, displayed in the following sections, were slightly misaligned:

  1. Explore
  2. All DARWINs
  3. Any predefined filter
  4. Your Favorites
  5. Public User Profile
  6. A custom filter

Fortunately, the rebellion has not lasted long and we have been able to re-establish order…and alignment everywhere.

Trade safe!