Thanks for reading today’s update of Top Step Trader
On July 31, 2015 TradingSchools.Org published a highly positive review of Top Step Trader.
From the months of August 2015 through December 2015, TradingSchools.Org was paid a commission on sales for all referred traffic from TradingSchools.Org to TopStepTrader.com. The total amount paid to TradingSchools.Org was $2,150 and two frozen pizza’s.
During the five months that TradingSchools.Org was a paid affiliate of Top Step Trader, I received a steady stream of complaints from individuals that had participated in the paid combines that Top Step Trader offers to customers. During this 5 month period, I came to realize that I was the “unofficial complaint department” of Top Step Trader. The numerous complaints compelled me to withdraw myself as a paid marketer for the company. On January 1, 2016 all of the affiliate tracking links were pulled from Trading Schools. However, the original review (highly positive) has remained published for the general public to read.
If a person is researching Top Step Trader on any of the search engines, then it is nearly impossible to not read the original review.
In retrospect, it was definitely a mistake to allow Trading Schools to essentially become an advertising platform for Top Step Trader. The prospect of earning a steady stream of affiliate income clouded the nagging questions that my readers and myself wanted to know. And those questions are glaringly evident…
- Since 2010, how many people have purchased a combine?
- How many were able to achieve the goal of receiving a funded trading account?
- What are the typical earnings of those that have received a funded trading account?
- Is Top Step Trader a viable path towards becoming a full time professional futures trader?
- Why won’t Top Step Trader publish more detailed statistics of the combine participants? In particular, the unsuccessful.
- Is Top Step Trader a legit opportunity, or is it a platform for suckers?
- Is Top Step Trader really a “Prop Trading Firm”?
Since Top Step Trader refused to provide me with useful statistics regarding trader performance, I was compelled to create a question and answer survey. On April 22, 2016, I published a survey that attempted to leverage the heavy amount of traffic that Trading Schools receives from those interested in the Top Step Trader trading combines. The survey attempted to answer the above questions. The following are the results of that survey, some general thoughts and observations, as well as interesting comments from those that participated in the survey.
The Top Step Trader Survey
In total, the survey generated 205 responses from individuals that had supposedly purchased a trading combine. However, I eliminated 41 of the responses. Why did I eliminate some of the responses? In some situations, individuals completed a survey and then submitted the survey. After they submitted the original survey, they then attempted to complete a new survey and then submit a second survey. All of these individuals were eliminated from the response pool. If they were willing to submit two surveys, then I felt there was a very good chance that they probably were not telling the truth, at least at some level. I wanted the pool of respondents to be as clean as possible.
The pool of respondents was whittled down to 163 respondents. These were all very clean respondents. All had taken the time to complete each and every question, and they had taken the time to write some very personal messages and viewpoints. This remaining pool of 163 persons, I would consider to be highly relevant, and highly credible.
The following set of numbers is a data table of those 163 Top Step Trader combine purchasers. This table is a breakdown of whom and how much was spent by each participant.
[table id=38 /]
As you can see, the total spend on trading combines, among these individuals was $186,795.
The average spend per customer at TopStepTrader is $1,145 per person. It appears that once an individual spends about $1750 dollars in combine fee’s, they then begin lose interesting in further spending.
How many people failed to receive a funded trading account?
Out of the 163 individuals, 79% or 129 individuals were never able to actually pass the combine and the funded trader preparation. These individuals represent $147,705 in spent combine fee’s, but were never able to receive a funded trading account. This estimation is based upon simply multiplying 129 individuals by the average spend of $1,145.
Some of these individuals gave accompanying responses that I found interesting…keep in mind then since most failed, then we can expect a heavy number of complaints.
TopStep nothing more that a wolf in sheep’s clothing with nothing to offer and gives traders a way to lose their accounts before ever trading a single live contract. What a shame and disgust TopStep is to the trading community.
Stop profiting with the underfunded wannabe traders… Just admit that you make your money providing a platform were a novice trader can train and “feel” the market and not blown away real money! But admit that like in the real trading only a few (almost no one) will achieve the goal of being funded and make money with it! Stop putting dreams and lies in the ones that are trying to find a way to provide for their family!
I think the Top Step organization should look at the stats about how many people are making it and staying funded, and ask themselves if they think it’s a fair and moral business model. And if the numbers prove that it’s not, then they should look in the mirror and ask if this is really what they should be doing with their life. If the numbers prove that it is a fair and moral business model, then publish them. Let us know what’s really going on.
Lower the fees, take off the 10 trading day limit (rule) and make it 30 days! Otherwise, this is just a scam! Also, bring back the 1 free Combine after you failed the Funded account!
What is my opinion? I think its completely normal for someone to be upset. Its normal and logical that if you spent $2,000 on combine fee’s, and you failed, you would be upset. Trading is a much tougher game than people realize. Most will fail. In my opinion, I was a bit shocked that “only” 79% failed. I actually expected it to be much higher. Honestly, I thought that 95% would of failed.
Those that actually received a funded trading account
Out of the 163 persons that attempted to pass the combine and the funded trader prep, a total of 34 individuals were able to receive a funded trading account. The account sizes of these funded trading accounts are irrelevant. Instead, the only relevancy is the maximum draw down that is allotted for each funded account. The average maximum draw down for those individuals that received a funded account was $2,000.
In addition to a maximum draw down that averaged $2,000, if a person has a daily loss of $1,000, or a weekly loss of $1,000, then they will automatically lose the funded trading account.
As many are aware, or might not be aware, the maximum draw down is only relevant for the first 10 days that a person receives the funded trading account. If a person failed to make any profits during the first 10 days of having the funded account, then the person loses the funded trading account. And so, there is a huge amount of pressure to make a profit during this very short window of time.
Of the 34 individuals that received a funded trading account, the average earnings was a negative $900 per person. What does negative $900 actually mean? This is the average earnings after combine fee’s and data fee’s were removed from any trading profits.
The average would of been much more negative, but one individual reported that he earned $20,000 and then withdrew his funds and closed his Top Step Trading account. Remove this one outlier, and the numbers become even more stark.
Why did he close his Top Step account if he was achieving such success? Simply, to avoid the high fee’s and deductions. Top Step trader pays 80% of profits and so a person can avoid those fee’s by withdrawing the earnings and then opening a simple retail account. Another reason is the high monthly fee’s of being a CME defined “professional prop trader”. Anyone trading a funded account with Top Step is responsible for paying average exchange fee’s of $85 per month. This can be avoided by opening a simple “non professional” retail trading account.
What is my opinion? Looking at the hard data, the vast majority of people earn nothing the first ten days of trading with the live account, and then they promptly lose the funded trading account. They are then sent back to the combine, which of course costs more fee’s.
Considering the abysmal failure rate of those that were actually able to “succeed” and receive the elusive funded trading account, you have really wonder if there is any real opportunity.
Of those that received a funded trading account, many gave comments that I found interesting…
Top Step is only willing to risk only a token amount during the first 10 days of having the funded account. It was silly of me to think that I could make it with only 10 days. In total I spent $6,000 in combine fee’s and earned nothing. I should of just started with a simulator and then once I had proven myself, then I could of just opened an inexpensive retail trading account
$700 spent, did not earn anything. I felt pressured to make money in the first 10 days of my funded the account so I over traded and hit my weekly loss limit. my own fault
I have spent around $700. I took $5000 as a withdrawal, and then lost the funded account.
To fix the topsteptrader scam they need to do 2 simple things. 1. remove the trailing draw-down all together, then a trader can actually have time to grind it out and build an account balance with the natural eb & flow of trading, without having to be near perfect during the first part of the trading account (also the time when you are most likely to be grinding it out, being conservative and having ups and downs). 2. Don’t take trading capital off the table after 10 days, to me this is the biggest fuck you they have. I can’t understand why they would do this. As a conspiracy theory consider that they don’t actually fund traders for the first 10 days and have you on a demo account (appearing to be a live account). If you are successful then they have to pay you out your profits (no problem to then as they were going to give you $1500 risk capital anyway). And if you are not successful in the first 10 days (which the majority who come through their system won’t be the first few times around) then you go back to combine and pay them some more, and they don’t have the “real” cost of you losing on your “live account”. To be honest having 4 live accounts and failing they really dont seem to give a fuck that you fail and lose their capital, they are very uninterested in you failing, why is that? Because they aren’t actually risking anything.
If you’ve lost big money trading in the past, then this can be used to slow the bleeding process. Once funded, get your money back from paying those fees, then close the account, and just trade on your own!
The trailing stop loss is complete bullshit. Get rid of it! Its only there to help you fail and send you back to the combine.
Is Top Step Trader really a professional “Prop Firm”?
In my opinion, as we take a hard and close look at the survey results and the hard numbers, we have to really ask ourselves…what exactly is Top Step Trader? It certainly is not a traditional prop trading firm. A traditional prop trading firm seeks to maximize the investment fund by leveraging the talent of the trading staff. A traditional prop trading firm also is accountable to investors, and those returns are usually published to future prospective investors.
Instead, Top Step Trader appears to make no returns from the traders that receive a funded trading account.
In a traditional prop trading firm, as a trader improves performance, then the trader is given more, and yet more of the firms capital to risk. However, Top Step is the exact opposite. With Top Step Trader, they are willing to only risk 10 days and about $2k maximum during those 10 days. Once the 10 days are up, if the trader has made nothing, then Top Step Trader closes the funded account and sends the person back to the combine. To pay yet more fee’s.
Most people do not seem to realize that during the 10 days of having a funded trading account, if they have only $100 in trading profits….then on DAY 11, they have a funded trading account worth only $100. On day 11, all the rules change, the draw down rules no longer apply. If on day 11 your account is $100, then you only have $100 to trade. Having only $100 in your trading account is not a very promising future.
What exactly is Top Step Trader?
Top Step Trader has been offering trading combines for about 5 years. The biggest question is WHERE ARE THE SUCCESS STORIES? Sure, every month there is a newsletter that describes a few individuals that were able make a couple thousand dollars. And that’s great. But is there anyone out there that has been able to consistently make a full time living trading with Top Step Trader? Does this person even exist? Valid questions.
In my opinion, what is most disappointing is the awesome amount of money that Top Stop Trader takes in from these paid combines, and yet they are willing to risk nearly zero on funded traders. The Trading Schools survey revealed that $186,795 dollars was taken in from paid combines, where is this money going?
Where is the money going?
In the next several days, I will be publishing a Part B to this blog post.
The Part B will be taking a closer look at the Top Step Trader business model. In particular, I will be revealing the following information:
- A best estimate of how many people are taking the combine each month
- An “off the record” conversation with an ex employee of Top Step Trader
- Revealing information from companies that provide essential technology to Top Step Trader
- An estimate of how much Top Step Trader is spending on advertising each month
- An estimate of how much Top Step Trader is spending each month on employees, rent, technology, etc.
- A general overview of the business model
Wrapping Things Up
Well that’s it for today. For those that participated in the survey, I wanted to thank you for your participation. This information will hopefully build a more accurate picture of Top Step Trader.
Thanks for reading and don’t forget to leave your comments below.