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Inside Darwinex – Performance calculation, explained

24 October 2013

Understanding your Performance

Upon joining, many new movement members reach out stating: “hey guys, my performance statistics are different from Service Alfa (insert here your favourite alternative site to Darwinex) – they’re wrong!”

Whilst occasionally stuff DOES go wrong, more often than not differences owe to the fact that returns at Darwinex are calculated differently from most existing service providers.

Other services calculate performance on changes to account balance, which accounts for realised P&L (closed trades), but ignores unrealised P&L until open trades are closed.

Darwinex performance is measured on changes to liquidation value, which accounts for realised P&L (closed trades) as well as unrealised P&L (i.e. open trades).

This is the most common reason why returns “differ”. The rest of this post explains why we do things this way, and what implications this has.

Other services performance calculation – changes in account balance

Most services track changes to balance, i.e. accounting for

  • Starting account balance
  • Plus minus realised P&L
  • Plus minus cash flows
    • Cash paid in / deducted by your broker (swaps, commissions, etc.)
    • Monies deposited in / withdrawn by yourself

Performance over a given reference period is then driven by the % change in the resulting account balance.

Your Darwinex Performance – changes in mark to market

At Darwinex, all strategies’ Trading Journal reflect daily liquidation values, considering:

  • Starting account balance
  • Plus minus realised P&L: i.e. monies made or lost on closed positions
  • Plus minus cash flows as per above
  • Unrealised P&L: i.e. what-if P&L when closing ALL open positions at the end of every day

I.e. at the end of every day, regardless of whether trades are open or closed, we compute the hypothetical P&L for ALL open positions assuming that they were closed at the then going market price. The resulting account “balance” is called liquidation value for that particular day.

Your performance is calculated on changes to this liquidation value (purists would call this Mark-to-Market value) of equity. Which means, on any day where open positions are held overnight, the inputs into your performance calculation are different from the inputs at Service Alfa. Unsurprisingly, the output is also different!

Unrealised P&L – why do we care about it?

Darwinia rates strategies for DARWIN investor appeal (hence Darwinia): our standpoint is that of an investor replicating, with his own monies, all trading decisions in a strategy.

This makes us care about unrealised P&L as much as we care about account balance: let’s work through an example to illustrate why.

Market movements matter

Trader Ace with USD 10,000 balance opens a 5 lot long EUR/USD trade. For the next 3 days, this will be his only open trade.

This is what happens to the EUR/USD over the timeframe.

  • Trade open at 1.30135 on day 0
  • End of Day 0: EUR/USD is at 1.30115. Ace keeps the trade overnight
  • End of Day 1: EUR/USD is at 1.29250. Ace keeps the trade overnight
  • End of Day 2: EUR/USD is at 1.28815. Ace keeps the trade overnight
  • Day 3: trade is closed at 1.30250

Investor A replicates Ace’s trades with his own monies 1:1, i.e. using the same leverage as Ace. A uses Darwinex and service Alfa to monitor his investment.

This is the performance calculation investor A gets at Darwinex and Service Alfa [1]:

Snapshot EUR/USD TradeSlide Service Alfa
Liq. value  Daily Perf. Balance Daily Perf.
Trade open 1.30135 10,000.00$ N/A 10,000.00$ N/A
End of day 0 1.30115 9,900.00$ -1% 10,000.00$ Flat
End of day 1 1.29250 5,575.00$ -43,69% 10,000.00$ Flat
End of day 2 1.28815 3,400.00$ -39.01% 10,000.00$ Flat
Trade close 1.30250 10,575.00$ 211.03%(5.75% compounded over 3 days) 10,575.00$ 5.75%

Let’s get this straight: both methodologies are “correct”.

BUT: Darwinex performance contains more information than Service Alfa’s calculation – the unrealised P&L that drives changes to liquidation value.

This has implications that matter.

Implication 1: Performance “masquerades”

Investors are always keen for brilliant performance. As always in life, there’s two ways about it: the proper way, and a short cut.

The safe one is to develop trading skills, manage risk with discipline, and work 2,000 hours a year to develop and maintain a unique strategy that delivers risk-adjusted returns. But hey, we know that’s hard work …

So why not take the short cut? If performance equals realised P&L and unrealised P&L doesn’t matter, why not “short cut” mind-boggling balance growth as follows?

  • Trade winning? Close it and credit realized P&L
  • Trade losing? Keep “corpses” in the “unrealised P&L” closet
  • Repeat

Of course, too many losing trades will trigger a margin-call (the worse the strategy, the sooner). Meanwhile, high return, low risk growth in balance will have lured plenty of profitable investors using service Alfa…

Implication 2: Risk management

A more fundamental implication is risk measurement. Measuring risk on volatility in balance leads A to these conclusions:

  • Volatility: low – A’s money “only” moves from 100% to 105.75%
  • Drawdown: A “experienced” no drawdown in this trade
  • Rally: A “experienced” a rally of 5.75% of his money on this trade

I.e. A will completely ignore that his monies moved around 40% over the 2 days of the trade, and that at the end of day 2 he was 6,600 USD worse-off.

Of course, Ace could argue that the trade worked out just grand, with a profit of 5.75%. But what if A was leaving for a Himalaya trekking trip and asked Ace to close any open positions at the close of day 2? Boy that would have been ugly!

Summary: why?

Calculating net liquidation values requires us to source & maintain the mark-to-market price database for all the assets you ever traded, and that’s not a small & cheap database to populate, host and maintain.

Further, the way performance is calculated on the BASIC and the DARWINIA statistics is slightly different, as Darwinia is a lot more analytically involved. You will occasionally see a few decimal differences between one and the other, as they are updated with different precision and time frames… but they’re not wrong.

But then again, that’s the only way to create D-Leverage, no DarwinIA, no DARWINs, etc. If it requires us doing things differently from service Alfa – so be it!

 


[1] For simplicity, we’ve ignored swaps & any other overnight charges.

Last News
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ESMA leverage on DEMO trading accounts as of July 26th

18 July 2018

New ESMA rules are around the corner and we want you to be prepared. Between July 24th and 25th, we’ll start modifying leverage conditions of assets on demo trading accounts. This way, as of July 26th, you’ll be able to check out how new ESMA conditions affect your demo accounts and be prepared for the […]

New ESMA rules are around the corner and we want you to be prepared.

Between July 24th and 25th, we’ll start modifying leverage conditions of assets on demo trading accounts. This way, as of July 26th, you’ll be able to check out how new ESMA conditions affect your demo accounts and be prepared for the leverage transition on real accounts.

Note that this only affects demo trading accounts. Transition to ESMA leverage restrictions on real trading accounts will follow the announced roadmap.

Darwinex Amended Trading Hours (US Independence Day)

27 June 2018

Please note the amended Darwinex trading hours for the upcoming US Independence Day holiday on 3 & 4 July 2018 (all times are in UK time).  Instrument 3 July 2018 (Tue) 4 July 2018 (Wed)  FX 22:05 Mon – 22:00 Tue 22:05 Tue – 22:00 Wed   DARWINS 22:05 Mon – 22:00 Tue 22:05 Tue – 22:00 Wed […]

Please note the amended Darwinex trading hours for the upcoming US Independence Day holiday on 3 & 4 July 2018 (all times are in UK time).

 Instrument 3 July 2018 (Tue) 4 July 2018 (Wed)
 FX 22:05 Mon – 22:00 Tue 22:05 Tue – 22:00 Wed
  DARWINS 22:05 Mon – 22:00 Tue 22:05 Tue – 22:00 Wed
 COMMODITIES    
Gold* 23:01 Mon – 21:59 Tue 23:01 Tue – 18:00 Wed
Silver* 23:00 Mon – 22:00 Tue 23:00 Tue – 18:00 Wed
Platinum* 23:00 Mon – 22:00 Tue 23:00 Tue – 18:00 Wed
Palladium* 23:00 Mon – 22:00 Tue 23:00 Tue – 18:00 Wed
US Crude* 23:00 Mon – 22:00 Tue 23:00 Tue – 17:45 Wed
Natural Gas* 23:00 Mon – 22:00 Tue 23:00 Tue – 17:45 Wed
 INDICES    
Australia 200 23:00 Mon – 22:00 Tue 23:00 Tue – 22:00 Wed
 Europe 50 23:00 Mon – 22:00 Tue 23:00 Tue – 22:00 Wed
France 40 23:00 Mon – 22:00 Tue 23:00 Tue – 22:00 Wed
Germany 30 07:00 – 21:00 07:00 – 21:00
Spain 35 07:00 – 19:00 07:00 – 19:00
Japan 225* 23:00 Mon – 18:15  Tue 23:00 Tue – 18:00 Wed
 UK 100 23:00 Mon – 22:00  Tue 23:00 Tue – 22:00 Wed
 US SPX 500* 23:00 Mon – 18:15 Tue 23:00 Tue – 18:00 Wed
 US Tech 100* 23:00 Mon – 18:15 Tue 23:00 Tue – 18:00 Wed
Wall Street 30* 23:00 Mon – 18:15 Tue 23:00 Tue – 18:00 Wed
 CRYPTO    
All Crypto Instruments  22:05 Mon – 22:00 Tue 22:05 Tue – 22:00 Wed
*Amended Darwinex trading hours.

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

Turkey General Elections on June 24th, 2018

21 June 2018

On Sunday June 24th, 2018, the first  round of general elections will be held in Turkey. If you plan to stay in the market during the weekend in pairs related to the Turkish lira (USDTRY, EURTRY y GPBTRY), please make sure you post margin / equity in your account as volatility is expected to increase […]

On Sunday June 24th, 2018, the first  round of general elections will be held in Turkey.

If you plan to stay in the market during the weekend in pairs related to the Turkish lira (USDTRY, EURTRY y GPBTRY), please make sure you post margin / equity in your account as volatility is expected to increase heading into the elections and upon Sunday’s market open. Although we are not planning to introduce changes to our margin requirements, please be informed that Darwinex reserves the right to change margin requirements as we move closer to the elections and depending on the outcome.

Should we decide to introduce any changes to our trading conditions, we’ll  contact you via email, blog post and social media as soon as possible.

Please do not hesitate to contact us at info@darwinex.com should you need assistance.

Darwinex Trading Hours for ucomping Bank Holiday in Australia (11 June 2018)

7 June 2018

Please note the amended Darwinex trading hours for the upcoming Bank Holiday in Australia on 11 June 2018 (all times are in UK time).  Instrument Trading Hours  FX 22:05 Sun – 22:00 Mon   DARWINS 22:05 Sun – 22:00 Mon  COMMODITIES   Gold 23:00 Sun – 22:00 Mon Silver 23:00 Sun – 22:00 Mon Platinum 23:00 Sun – 22:00 Mon Palladium 23:00 Sun – 22:00 Mon US Crude 23:00 […]

Please note the amended Darwinex trading hours for the upcoming Bank Holiday in Australia on 11 June 2018 (all times are in UK time).

 Instrument Trading Hours
 FX 22:05 Sun – 22:00 Mon
  DARWINS 22:05 Sun – 22:00 Mon
 COMMODITIES  
Gold 23:00 Sun – 22:00 Mon
Silver 23:00 Sun – 22:00 Mon
Platinum 23:00 Sun – 22:00 Mon
Palladium 23:00 Sun – 22:00 Mon
US Crude 23:00 Sun – 22:00 Mon
Natural Gas 23:00 Sun – 22:00 Mon
 INDICES  
Australia 200* 08:10 – 22:00
 Europe 50 23:00 Sun – 22:00 Mon
France 40 23:00 Sun – 22:00 Mon
Germany 30 07:00 – 21:00
Spain 35 08:00 – 19:00
Japan 225 23:00 Sun – 22:00 Mon
 UK 100 23:00 Sun – 22:00 Mon
 US SPX 500 23:00 Sun – 22:00 Mon
 US Tech 100 23:00 Sun – 22:00 Mon
Wall Street 30 23:00 Sun – 22:00 Mon
*Amended Darwinex trading hours.

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

Important announcement re swaps

31 May 2018

Please be informed that starting on Thursday, 7 June 2018, Fx and XAUUSD swaps will be charged in triple size on Thursdays (instead of Fridays). Below you can find a brief summary of the different swaps charges for different assets.  Instrument Swaps   FX Daily at 17:00 NY City time (in triple size on Thursdays)   […]

Please be informed that starting on Thursday, 7 June 2018, Fx and XAUUSD swaps will be charged in triple size on Thursdays (instead of Fridays).

Below you can find a brief summary of the different swaps charges for different assets.

 Instrument Swaps 
 FX Daily at 17:00 NY City time (in triple size on Thursdays)
  COMMODITIES
Gold Daily at 17:00 NY City time (in triple size on Thursdays)
Rest of Commodities Daily at 17:00 NY City time (in triple size on Wednesdays)
 INDICES  Daily on market close (in triple size on Fridays)
*Since Thursday, 7 June 2018.

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

Amended Trading Hours due to US Memorial Day & UK Spring Bank Holiday (28 May 2018)

22 May 2018

Please note the amended Darwinex trading hours for the upcoming US Memorial Day & UK Spring Bank Holiday on 28 May 2018 (all times are in UK time). Important: as explained in our Help Section, if you open / close an investment in a DARWIN that has an open trade in an asset which market […]

Please note the amended Darwinex trading hours for the upcoming US Memorial Day & UK Spring Bank Holiday on 28 May 2018 (all times are in UK time).

Important: as explained in our Help Section, if you open / close an investment in a DARWIN that has an open trade in an asset which market is closed (see amended trading hours in red below), the transaction will not be carried out immediately,  the investment will show up in your investor platform once it has been executed by our system when the index/commodity resumes trading on Monday night.

 Instrument Trading Hours
 FX  22:00 Sun – 22:00 Mon
  DARWINS  22.05 Sun – 22.00 Mon
 COMMODITIES
Gold* 23:00 Sun – 18:00 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 22:05 Sun – 22:00 Mon
 Europe 50 22:05 Sun – 22:00 Mon
France 40 22:05 Sun – 22:00 Mon
Germany 30 07:00 – 21:00
Spain 35 07:00 – 19:00
Japan 225*  22:05 Sun – 18:00 Mon 
 UK 100* Closed
 US SPX 500* 22:05 Sun – 18:00 Mon
 US Tech 100* 22:05 Sun – 18:00 Mon
Wall Street 30* 22:05 Sun – 18:00 Mon
*Amended Darwinex trading hours.

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