Interview with FTMO’s Founder: Otakar SuffnerRaffaele
Who are you? What’s your background?
Hi Raffaele, thank you for the opportunity to be interviewed for the funded-trader.com. My name is Otakar Suffner, 29 years old, I was born and raised in Prague. Even though I believe there is no need for a university education to be a good trader or a businessman, it certainly helps. I have a master’s degree in Economics, which I obtained from a major Prague University. I also studied in South Korea for some time (Seoul Nation University). I have always had a passion for sports, when I was growing up, I played tennis quite well, but I wasn’t good enough to make a living from it. Nowadays I do sports 3-4 times a week, mostly just fitness, focusing on (calisthenic) and kick-box. After 11 years of relationship I married my first girlfriend, if it ain’t broken, don’t fix it, right?
Can you tell us a little bit about you as a trader? (Intraday or multi-day?)
I started to be addicted to trading about 8 years ago. I initially started on Futures, but I moved to Forex / CFDs, because it allows you to have more freedom with your position sizing, especially when you have a smaller account. Back then, I did not have such options as I do have now. Beside the currencies, I strongly believe that for example Dax is better to be traded on CFDs rather than on Futures.
I am very statistics-based person, I believe in numbers which do not lie, unless you make a mistake in the formula. I like to know probabilities, which I can use to create trade ideas. My view on the market is that it is mostly random with some tendencies, which keeps repeating all the time. To illustrate this, let’s imagine that you throw a coin, the long-term probability is 50:50, but when you throw just 10 times the ratio between tails and heads could be easily 7:3. I trade probabilities with at least 65% in my favor, but I always know that the outcome of the trade is random. It costed me lot of money and nerves to realize it. To execute on such a probability, I use simple price action. The most important things in trading are proper Risk Management – “there is always another trade”, track record keeping and knowing when to stop.
The beauty of trading is so diverse. Personally, I do not understand and believe in pure technical based systems. I just think it can’t work, but sure it can. One of our in-house traders, my friend who I know for a long time, just made 420 % in January. He trades well consistently for a long time, but this result is incredible.
What is FTMO today and what will it be in, let say, 2020? Will you add Futures as well to The Challenge?
FTMO today is like 2% of what it can be. The plans are huge. We are working hard to open a branch in Hong Kong, which is a well-known financial center and a gateway to Asia. My personal dream is to open an in-house trading rooms in multiple locations.
By the 2020 we might apply for a central bank license. With that license, we would be able to create a fund based on FTMO Traders and accept deposits from third parties.
What’s the biggest achievement you have had from FTMO thus far? And in your life?
I am truly grateful that thanks to FTMO, I met co-founder Marek, with whom I share same values, plans and he has become one of my best friends. You don’t meet such a like minded person every day. It is going to sound like a cliché, but I am very proud that the FTMO is 100% credible business. We always pay in full to all our commitments and traders. We always deliver what we promise. I am glad that FTMO is changing from a small Prague based firm to a respected company.
It is important to mention that FTMO is a younger brother of the same Czech/Slovak project called Ziskejucet.cz, which does absolutely the same as FTMO. However, FTMO was launched in 09/2017. The Czech project was launched in early 2015 and it is very well known and is well respected in traders funding. Before we found an investor, we were offering accounts of 2000 USD. The beginning was extremely tough and expensive.
I cannot probably name any achievement that I am particularly proud of, but I am grateful that I am confident and a very persistent person who believes that we can overcome any hurdle.
How do you see the future of trading? More and more small proxy traders or will the robots take over? 🙂
Before I answer this question, you must first think about why markets exist in general. Markets are here mainly not to make money on speculations, for this reason we have horse races. Markets are here to allow businesses and individuals to exchange currencies in order to facilitate trade more effectively and to hedge. As traders, we are blinded by the flashy indicators and price action and we tend not to see the real reason why markets exist. During my studies, I was lucky enough to work in a huge firm which is physically trading corn. In 2016, we were buying crop to be harvested in 2019 and already hedging the bought harvest using futures contracts.
Several times, my boss came to the office and told me to buy a huge position of corn futures contracts just because the corn was cheap in his eyes. As I was buying, the price went up. My boss had absolutely no knowledge about the technical analysis, SR levels etc. He did not care whether he is buying against the double top. This firm is just a needle in a haystack.
So, back to your question, I believe that we will see more robots executing trades, but I do not think that any robot will outperform an experienced trader with intuition and experience. However, the nature of markets will stay the same, because the volume from speculators is relatively small to what large institutions trade to facilitate their businesses.
Some people say that Trading success is due for 80% to the right psychology, would you agree? What’s FTMO training approach?
From my point of view, lets exchange the word psychology, which is too broad, with discipline. You must have discipline in order to follow your risk management, execution and positions sizing. I’ll give you an example from my own trading. Sometimes when I start a trading day with 3 – 4 losses in a row, I lower my position size because I am afraid of losing money. As soon as I lower position size, good trades start coming, which are not enough to cover previous losses. Everyone knows that, right? For this reason, the positions sizing is so important.
The performance of the FTMO company is very closely connected to performance of its traders. We are lucky that we have partnered up with a performance psychologist called Nikola, who obtained a master’s degree in Sport Psychology in Scotland. Her services are completely free for FTMO funded traders. She knows how to strengthen discipline through various exercises so that traders can benefit from it.
Who are the traders that enrolled in The Challenge in 2018 and have succeeded to get funded? What’s the “secret” of those who perform well and obtain funding?
To be honest, there is absolutely no connection in the case of profession or age. Our capital is managed by CEOs, mothers on maternity and people with absolutely common professions. In some cases, our clients are wealthy individuals, who are not interested in the trading capital. They just want to pass the Challenge, use our applications, receive account analysis and start trading their own account. In many cases, these clients lost unbelievable amounts of money in trading, mostly because brokers wanted them to see trading as an easy endeavor. The truth is that trading is very, very difficult. Our Challenge gives everyone a reasonable boundary, in which their trading style should fit in.
As you probably guess, most clients are men, but surprisingly, women have higher success rate. What is interesting is that the highest success rate falls on traders from India. The general success rate fluctuates around 5-10 %. The key to success, as you probably guess, is discipline and strong work ethic.
What is your own key to success? I, for myself, believe that only a content and healthy person can be a profitable trader: my performance improved drastically since I returned in Italy (from London) to my family and friends, and have an active outdoorsy lifestyle.
Firstly, I don’t see myself as a successful person. There is just so much to do and so many things which can be improved. Nothing from what I have achieved, I have achieved alone, there would be no FTMO without Marek and other colleagues. I was lucky enough to be raised in a safe country where I got educated. I am grateful that I am healthy, these things should not be taken as granted.
Raffaele, we probably share the same passion for a healthy living. I also like to study our inner self, meditation techniques etc. However, some of our traders are very far from living a “healthy lifestyle” and yet they perform well ?. So, I will stick to my previous answer, the key to success is strong work ethic and discipline.
I guess that your trading has improved, because back home in Italy you just feel better. Trading must be done only when your mind is razor sharp and in an environment where you can focus. If the outdoor lifestyle works for you, just stick to it, but I think that some people would be just stressed out from regular exercises.
If trading can be taught and learned in just 4 months, why isn’t everyone we know a profitable full time trader? The 1 thing you would recommend traders start doing today so to get better results tomorrow?
The basic principles of trading are simple: follow your plan, stop trading when you hit your daily loss etc., but who can do it, right? Most people learn it the hard way by losing money. They change the self-destructive behavior only when the pain is just too big to bear and there is no way around but to follow the plan. Many people just don’t want it bad enough and they stop or realize that trading is not for them, which is also good. Our performance psychologist is here to shorten the painful learning curve as much as possible.
I think that I might disappoint your readers, but I would recommend traders to base their trades on probabilities.
People unfamiliar with the world of trading believe it’s a nest full of snakes (Hollywood movies don’t help..), I’ve had very positive experiences so far from very nice and enthusiastic people: what can we all do to improve on this?
When we launched FTMO, we were really surprised on how much negativity is there about Forex trading. People having no experience with us were doubting our company and we were not quite prepared for that, because our initial Czech project is popular and we are not really used to negativity.
I don’t want to end this interview on a pessimistic note, but in general, people like extreme stories, extraordinary successes or miserable failures. People who are unfamiliar with trading will usually get to read some mainstream articles related to financial crises, greed or lavishness of Wall Street traders. What we can do is to do the best we can and do it in a way we would like to be treated by other people as well.
Thank you so much and have a great day!
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