Prop Trading Firms – A Traders’ Comprehensive Guide

What is a Prop Firm- Definition

A proprietary trading firm, often known as a “prop firm,” is a financial entity that enables traders to use the firm’s capital instead of their own for trading. Prop firms offer traders the advantages of accessing capital, sophisticated trading tools, and often, educational resources and mentorship. In return for the resources and support provided, prop firms commonly claim a percentage of the trader’s profits as compensation. The specific terms can vary depending on the arrangement in place.

5 Reasons to Trade with a Prop Firm

Trading with a prop firm offers several compelling advantages that can significantly enhance a trader’s experience and potential for success. Here are five reasons why you might consider trading with a prop firm:

  1. Access to Capital: Prop firms provide traders with access to substantial trading capital, allowing them to take larger positions in the market than they could with their own funds. This increased capital can amplify profit potential and diversify trading strategies.
  2. Advanced Technology: Prop firms typically offer state-of-the-art trading platforms and tools that may not be readily available to individual retail traders. These tools can help traders make more informed decisions and execute trades efficiently.
  3. Risk Management: Prop firms often have well-defined risk management policies in place, helping traders establish and maintain responsible risk parameters. This can be especially valuable for traders looking to protect their capital while pursuing profits.
  4. Mentorship and Education: Some prop firms provide training and mentorship programs to help traders develop their skills and strategies. This can be a valuable resource for both novice and experienced traders looking to refine their techniques.
  5. Community: Prop firms will often have a platform for their community of traders. It may be a Facebook group, a Discord channel, or something else. This is a great way for traders to share ideas and knowledge with each other. 

Incorporating these benefits into your trading journey, a prop firm can be a valuable partner in your quest for success in the financial markets. For more reasons to choose to work with a prop firm, check out this article, ‘What Are The Benefits of Using a Prop Firm’.

Finding the Right Prop Firm

How do you go about selecting the ideal prop firm for your trading journey? With so many prop firms in the market, it’s crucial to take the right steps to ensure you’re making an informed choice:

  • Define Your Priorities: Start by identifying your key preferences. Some firms offer higher trading capital in exchange for a larger percentage of profits, while others require a smaller profit share but provide less initial capital. If you are on a tight budget, you’ll want to stick to a low-cost program.

    If you are new to trading, you will want to choose a prop firm with exceptional educational resources that will assist you in your trading. If you have been trading for a couple of years, you might want to try a riskier program, where you will be rewarded proportionately. 

 

  • Shared Goals: Seek a prop firm that resonates with your objectives. It’s essential to feel that you and the firm are working together towards a common goal. This is because, in the case of a good prop firm, this really is the model. The more successful the trader, the better for the firm. If the alignment is missing, it might not be the right fit.

    You’ll be able to get a feel for the vibe of the company by reading the ‘About Us’ section of its website or by checking out its YouTube page. If you don’t get a good feeling that the traders’ success is important to the firm, find another firm. 

 

  • Match Your Trading Style: Ensure the firm’s trading challenges and programs are well-suited to your trading style and daily routine. Take the time to carefully review the terms of the challenge to avoid jumping in too hastily. This could be factors such as holding trades over the weekend, the use of EAs, unlimited time, etc. Different firms offer a variety of challenges, so there’s likely one that suits your strategy.

 

  • Research Reputation: This is one of the most crucial things to do before signing up with a prop firm. Trustworthiness and a solid reputation are key factors to consider. Research various firms to gauge their track record and reputation. Online platforms like Trustpilot offer user reviews and can be a great starting point. 


However, today, it couldn’t be easier to get in contact with fellow traders to hear about their experience with different firms. There are a plethora of Facebook groups, Redditt chat rooms, and Discord groups where you can go and ask questions and speak to other traders. A good start would be to ask them about their experience in general, if the platform is user-friendly, and their experience with payouts. 

  • Customer Service and Platform: Check for the quality of customer service and the user-friendliness of the trading platform. These aspects play a pivotal role in ensuring a positive and smooth trading experience. Fast customer service can make or break your trading experience. A good way to check is by looking for specific reviews on Trustpilot. (You can do this by clicking on the ‘filter’ button and typing in keywords into the ‘search keyword’ bar. Search things such as ‘customer service’ or ‘response time.’) You could also ask traders on the platforms mentioned above. 
  • Make Sure They Have a Risk Department in Place: A good prop firm will have a risk department. The risk department will make sure that traders are trading according to the rules and staying on track. 

Effective risk management is really important in trading. It safeguards traders from substantial financial setbacks. Given the unpredictability of financial markets, even the most informed trading decisions can lead to unfavorable outcomes. Through the application of effective risk management tactics, traders can curb the potential negative impact of their trades, safeguarding their capital and securing their potential to continue trading.

By following these steps and conducting thorough research, you can increase the likelihood of selecting the prop firm that best aligns with your trading goals and preferences.

How Prop Firms Make Money 

As mentioned briefly earlier in this article, the more successful the trader, the better for the prop firm. Now it is time to dive a bit deeper into how prop firms make money.

Proprietary trading firms, or prop firms, generate revenue in several ways. First and foremost, they typically retain a portion of the profits earned by their traders. This profit-sharing arrangement allows prop firms to benefit directly from their traders’ success. Most prop firms offer scaling plans, meaning that the more profit the trader makes, the more the company benefits. Additionally, almost all firms charge a signup fee. 

Unfortunately, some firms intentionally set exceedingly challenging trading challenges, primarily with the aim of profiting from participants’ failures. There have been instances where firms faced collapse due to their over-reliance on participants failing these challenges. The problem was that an excessive number of traders successfully met the challenge criteria, catching these firms financially unprepared.

Scaling Plans

Scaling plans at prop firms operate as a pivotal element in traders’ growth and risk management. These plans are designed to allow traders to increase their trading capital over time, aligning with their demonstrated skill and consistent performance. As traders prove their consistency and success, they are progressively allocated more capital. 

This enables them to take larger positions and amplify their earnings. Scaling plans serve as a win-win scenario, allowing traders to access more resources for their trading efforts while simultaneously assisting prop firms in diversifying their trading strategies and risk exposure.

Below are a few examples of the maximum capital allocation that prop firms give;

Prop Firm Costs

Prop firm program costs are extremely variable and rely on a few different factors. The cheapest programs are slightly under the $50 mark, but they can go up to thousands of dollars.   

One of the factors that has the biggest impact on the price is the capital allocated by the firm. Cheaper programs will grant traders with less capital, whereas more expensive programs will give traders more capital to trade with. Meaning they can earn higher profits.

Another factor that can influence the cost of a program is the level of support, training, and resources offered, as more comprehensive support often comes at a higher price. 

Below are a few examples of prop firm programs that cost $50 or less. All of these options are recommended for beginner traders or traders who are using a prop firm for the first time. This is because the risk of losing your money is less. Once traders are familiar with a prop firm and are more confident in their skills, a larger account is recommended so that they can generate larger profits and pocket more money.

Risks of Using a Prop Firm

As mentioned earlier, it is absolutely crucial to choose a prop firm that is legitimate and trustworthy. If you take one thing from this article, let that be it. When you choose a firm that is not set up properly and does not have its traders’ best interests at heart, one of the following two things could happen;

  1. The firm could go under –  This leaves traders high and dry with no access to the profits they earned. This can happen very quickly, giving traders no warning. 
  2. The firm could fail traders for no apparent reason – If the prop firm does not have the capital to pay out traders, they can start failing traders and giving very vague reasons as to why. 

Best Strategies for Prop Firm Trading

There are many different strategies for forex trading; below are the 5 best trading strategies to employ when working with a prop firm.  

  • Trend Following

Trend following, a relatively uncomplicated trading approach, has proven to be effective for traders in prop firms. This strategy focuses on initiating long or short positions at the inception of a confirmed trend. The objective is to maintain the trade for an extended period, opportunistically adding positions until the trend weakens or market conditions evolve.

To ensure consistent success, this strategy demands the establishment of stringent rules. When executed correctly, it has the potential to deliver substantial returns and impressive risk-to-reward ratios.

  • Swing Trading

Swing trading is a popular trading strategy that involves profiting from the price swings or “swings” in financial markets. Unlike day trading, where positions are opened and closed within a single trading day, swing traders typically hold positions for several days to weeks. 

This strategy aims to capitalize on short- to medium-term price movements, which can be influenced by technical and fundamental analysis. Swing traders look for opportunities to enter the market based on chart patterns, trends, and other technical indicators, often in alignment with the broader market trend. Effective risk management, including the use of stop-loss and take-profit orders, is crucial for successful swing trading.

  • EA Trading

EA (Expert Advisor) trading, often associated with the MetaTrader platform, is a form of automated trading in the forex and financial markets. Expert Advisors are computer programs or algorithms that execute trades on behalf of traders based on predefined rules and criteria. These algorithms can be programmed to analyze technical indicators, price patterns, and other market data to make trading decisions. 

EA trading allows for automated, systematic, and emotion-free trading, making it popular among traders who want to minimize human errors and emotional biases. While EAs can be powerful tools for executing trading strategies, they require careful development, testing, and monitoring to ensure they align with the trader’s goals and risk tolerance. It is vital to check that your prop firm of choice allows the use of EAs and what the terms are. 

  • News Trading

News trading is a trading strategy that revolves around capitalizing on market movements triggered by significant news events and economic releases. Traders who engage in news trading closely monitor economic calendars and news sources for events like interest rate decisions, economic data releases, or geopolitical developments that can impact financial markets. 

When a relevant news event occurs, traders swiftly enter positions based on their predictions of how the market will react. This strategy can be highly volatile, as markets can experience rapid and substantial price fluctuations in response to breaking news, presenting both opportunities and risks for traders. Effective risk management and staying well-informed are crucial elements of successful news trading.

  • Scalp Trading

Scalp trading is a high-frequency trading strategy that focuses on profiting from small price movements within very short timeframes, often just minutes or seconds. Scalpers aim to make multiple small trades throughout the trading day, capitalizing on tiny price differentials. 

This strategy relies heavily on technical analysis, with traders using various indicators and chart patterns to identify entry and exit points. Scalping demands quick decision-making and precision, as it involves rapid execution and tight risk management to capture small profits while minimizing potential losses.

Final Thoughts 

In conclusion, the benefits of trading with a prop firm strongly outweigh the drawbacks. Trading with a prop firm can boost your trading in a way that trading independently can not. If you are considering trading with a prop firm, it is vital to conduct research using the tips aforementioned to make sure you select a firm that is legitimate and reputable. 

In addition, make sure the prop firm is suitable for you; it can cater to your trading style and lifestyle, and all the fine details (such as payment and location) work for you. To learn more about prop firms and how to choose the best one for you and your trading style, check out this article, ‘10 Questions To Ask Yourself Before Choosing A Prop Firm’.


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