This article was written in partnership with IG, the world’s No.1 CFD provider (by revenue excluding FX, published half yearly financial statements, June 2019). All views expressed in the article are the independent opinion of DollarsAndSense.sg
Desmond Leong is the founder and CEO of The Forex Army (TFA). The Forex Army is a platform for forex traders from all over the world to come together to trade the foreign exchange (Forex) markets in a structured manner in their proprietary live trading room using their institution-grade trading strategies.
Desmond is also the CEO of Everest Fortune Group. While The Forex Army aims to help retail traders, Everest Fortune Group aims to help institutions. Everest Fortune Group is an award-winning research house that specializes in combining fundamental and technical analysis to accurately forecast the Forex, Indices, Commodities and Energy markets. Serving more than 10 of the largest brokers and 35 major banks worldwide, the team behind Everest Fortune Group pride themselves on using cutting-edge research that includes many proprietary models including time-tested ones such as Elliott Wave, Fibonacci, Correlation and Chaos theory.
Backed by a team made up of CFA, CMT and CFTe qualified members, along with a wealth of experience having previously advised the trading desks of the largest banks and hedge funds in the world, the team behind TFA and Everest Fortune Group are experienced professionals.
In this month’s edition of #myfirsttrade, we sat down with Desmond to pick his brains on what it’s like to run two different companies in the trading space.
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DollarsAndSense (DNS): We start off every interview with this question. Can you still remember your very first trade, and how it ended up performing for you? #myfirsttrade
Desmond Leong (DL): My first trade was actually done by a robot (EA) on MT4. I bought it online because of the amazing results it showed, which according to my calculations based on a $1,300 account, would be a million by the time I graduated from university. Well, I can’t remember the exact outcome, but let’s just say that I graduated university with a study loan I barely cleared off!
DNS: When did you start The Forex Army and what encouraged you to start it?
DL: I’m not a smart guy. I didn’t even know I took my PSLE. When I got my grade of 207, the first question I asked was what was the maximum score. I barely scraped through Secondary School and Junior College but somehow made it to Nanyang Technological University (NTU). It was in NTU when my interest in Forex really blossomed, partly because I knew I was running out of luck with grades and needed something that levelled the playing field between a First Class Honours student and me. True enough, I made it through university and couldn’t get any of the top Management Associate jobs upon graduation.
I then started off my career at a broker where I was in charge of acquiring and educating new clients. There, I was exposed to the sheer amount of traders who were losing money and hungry for quality trading education. Many traders spent thousands of dollars to listen to “experts” and end up in the same state, or worse.
I decided that if I really wanted to learn how the big players made money, I had to learn from the best. So I moved to a technical research firm. There, I learned what institutional-grade technical analysis was and realized that 99% of stuff on babypips and FF must be taken with a pinch of salt.
This inspired me to start The Forex Army in 2016, when I realized that there wasn’t a proper place for people to discuss trading in a structured manner guided by proper professionals. Most of the discussions occurred mainly around forums and Facebook groups where the structure was a mess with many people posting different images of the same currency pair, using different time frames while discussing similar horizons, and you wouldn’t know whose advice to take.
DNS: What made you decide to go full-time into The Forex Army? Did you always see yourself becoming a professional trader and starting a company that focuses on helping other traders with their trading obstacles and goals?
DL: You know that book Cashflow Quadrant by Robert Kiyosaki, the guy that wrote Rich Dad, Poor Dad?
That made me realise I want to be either a business owner or an investor (the right side of the quadrant). But then I figured, why not be both? Run a business that specialises in investments. So I decided to pour all my time and effort into building The Forex Army and Everest Fortune Group. It was honestly a crazy idea but amazingly, we’re now doing exactly that. We have a great business that helps huge institutions with their research and trading, and we have also gotten better at doing our own investments.
It has always been a goal of mine to help other traders with their trading objectives and obstacles. I remember an aunty coming up to me and showing me her account – she was an admin assistant in her 60s and lost almost 300k of her life (and retirement) savings in trading, guided by the many experts she found at babypips and on Instagram. I figured if I was going to teach people how to trade one day, it would be free and in partnership with brokers you can trust.
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DNS: The Forex Army is centered around trading together with other like-minded traders, through a real-time live trading room as well as a Facebook group. How important is it for traders to be a part of a wider community of traders for them to bounce their ideas off and gain trading insights?
DL: A live trading room is as useful as the people who are in it. Hence, a live trading room made up of unprofitable traders would be of little use.
My advice is to find a trading room with proper, profitable traders who have verified trading records. Find a trading room that has the technology to support proper trading discussions. It’s not enough to discuss about EUR/USD, you need to have other information available such as the time horizon (short term, day trading, swing trading, long term trading), time frame (M15, H1, H4, etc.) and more.
Being part of a larger community of traders is important, but what’s key is being around the right bunch of people, equipped with the proper tools, guided by the right principles to discuss trades. You’ll notice at TFA that we focus a lot on proper structure. A quick search for “best MT4 trade manager” and you would find us on the top of the list on Google and YouTube, mainly because of what we have built. Our live trading room and trading tools were actually meant to equip us in our own internal trading discussions. However, they have become so popular because these products were built with the aim of helping traders (rather than marketers).
DNS: You previously advised the trading desks of banks and hedge funds. How do you think your past career experiences shaped you to become who you are today?
DL: It shaped me entirely. These guys are the top echelon of traders in the world and you can’t smoke them in any way. If you say you’re bullish on EUR/USD and also USD/CHF, they would shoot you down immediately and not take you seriously because those two currency pairs are negatively correlated (when one goes up, the other goes down).
You have to know the relationships between every asset class in the world and how they affect each other. It’s not enough to just trade. You have to look at many other things. For example, are we risk on or off for the day? What about the US Dollar index? Are you using USD/CHF and USD/SGD as a proxy and what are the correlating levels? You start to see markets as a big jigsaw puzzle where every part may affect one another. To really be on top of your game and above the rest, you need to understand these different markets.
DNS: After successfully building The Forex Army, what encouraged you to start Everest Fortune Group?
DL: What encouraged me to start a B2B arm was simply from the demand that came. With our high quality of analysis, we started to differentiate ourselves really fast. We rose to the top spot on the largest social trading sites like TradingView and we were approached to start doing quality, actionable analysis for many brokers and institutions.
DNS: With your experience in helping other traders overcome their trading problems and see greater success, what advice would you give young, aspiring traders that are hoping to become full-time traders like yourself?
#1 Don’t just look at technicals and ignore the fundamentals. Both are important.
#2 Find a strategy that suits your trading style. For example, if you can’t sleep at night with an open position (like me), then find a day-trading strategy. I’ll start you off in the right direction – learn Fibonacci retracements and Fibonacci extensions properly. Learn correlations and how different currency pairs are correlated, it can better help you filter out a lot of bad trades.
#3 Trade management is key and finding the entry is just one part of the equation. You have to find your stop loss, your breakeven level, your partial profit level, your full profit target, your idea invalidation level (where you admit you’re wrong and move your take profit to entry), your cancel level (where the trade setup becomes invalid) and your trailing stop level (if possible).
#4 Please don’t trade blindly. A strategy that gives you a fixed stop loss and allows you to take profit each time is questionable. Not every trade setup is the same. For example, a strategy could say buy with a 50 pips take profit target every time the 20/50MA cross. However, there could be strong resistance, such as a 10-year-high, 40 pips away. In such a scenario, perhaps you need to consider adjusting the take profit target to 30-38 pips rather than strictly follow the strategy. You can check out our trade management page for more information.
#5 Trading strategies are not binary. It is never just a straightforward yes or no. Think of trading strategies as strategies with varying degrees of quality. For example, an average trade setup could come with a low risk of 0.5%, while an excellent trade setup could carry a higher risk of 1.5%.
#6 Let the law of large numbers work in your favour. Risk less than 3% on each setup. For example, if you risk 10% on each setup, and have 4 straight losses, you’re going to have a hard time making it back and playing catch up, especially with revenge trading on your mind.
#7 Win/Lose rate is not the most important for a strategy. Imagine if I win 30% of my trades and lose 70% of my trades – is that bad? Most people would assume it is bad and shrug off the strategy immediately. What if I told you that each time I win, I make 10% per trade, but each time I lose, I lose just 0.1% per trade. Suddenly, the strategy becomes the holy grail. So don’t get blinded by the hit rate.
#8 There are many educators out there and my honest advice is to exercise discretion with their courses. Most of the time you have to shell out thousands of dollars to learn from these people. Ask them for their live trading record and if they’re really confident, ask them for a 110% guarantee (extra 10% for wasting your time). I’ve done this before and it puts the onus on me to ensure that at the end of it, you would have learned and benefited enough that you wouldn’t ask for a refund. There are always people looking to sell you dreams at the cost of an arm, leg or iPhone. Be slow and wise when spending your cash.
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A Community Is As Useful As The People And Tools It Provides
When we spoke with Desmond, what stood out was his views on how a trading community should be and what is required for a trading community to be useful for its members. With social media platforms such as Facebook today, anyone can kickstart a trading group that allows members to share their trade ideas, performance and insights with others. However, what makes a trading group stand out would be the quality of the conversations, analysis and tools provided.
Besides being a part of a community with like-minded traders, there are other ways for you to learn more about trading, you can learn about developing your skills as a trader to support your trading journey.
Trading platforms like IG frequently hold trading webinars and seminars, with the aim of educating their users and demonstrating how to use IG’s platform, tools and features. You can also stay updated on market news that could affect your trades and get trade ideas from the analysts at IG.
Like many trading courses that offer a free session, IG allows you to open a demo trading account, where you can practise trading with $200,000 virtual funds, gain access to exclusive educational content on IG Academy and test strategies on the go with their free and award-winning mobile apps.
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