Globally, countless individuals, groups, and companies engage in different forms of investments to grow their money and realise profits. Forex trading is one of the most popular forms of trading as it generates continual opportunities to earn financial gains. This article explores the essence of forex trading and the known scams associated with this form of trading and investment. It also looks at the richest forex trader in the world and other individuals who made their fortunes with forex trading. Read on to discover what forex trading entails and what it takes to understand and benefit from this financial niche.
What is forex trading?
The word ‘forex’ is a combination of foreign currency and exchange. Essentially, this means changing one currency for another and is ordinarily associated with commerce, trading and tourism.
The Bank for International Settlements, a global financial institution for national central banks, recorded a daily forex trading volume of $6.6tn in April 2019. In 2021, analysis indicated that the forex market is worth approximately $2.4qn. Forex, the largest financial market in the world, even outstrips the stock market.
Seasoned investors and traders know how to read and navigate the forex arena and generate profits. If you plan to dip your toes into this dynamic financial pool, you should know:
- The forex market is the globally active platform where national currencies compete and are exchanged.
- Forex traders hedge their investments against international currency rates and the associated risks. This includes speculating on geopolitical occurrences and diversifying financial portfolios.
- The major players in this market are mainly financial institutions such as central and commercial banks, money managers and hedge funds.
- Individual traders make up a comparatively small portion of forex trade volumes. They usually enter this market for speculations and daily trades.
What attracts people to forex trading?
The forex market, as stated, is the largest and most liquid financial market in the world. This alone fuels its popularity among traders. There are also other benefits to forex trading that attract investors and traders.
The invention and advances of the internet made it possible for brokers to bring this asset class home to individual traders. Before online availability and ease of access, forex trading was mostly practiced by institutional traders such as hedge funds and banks. The internet established access to markets and trading platforms and quite literally opened previously closed trading doors.
Small traders can easily enter the forex market. This form of trading doesn’t require a lot of start-up capital, and that makes it a more viable investment option than stocks or commodities. The low entry costs make it possible to open an account with as little as $50. However, with high gains come high risks. Trading forex does not guarantee returns, so traders should be cautious and do their research.
An unprecedented amount of leverage, which translates into amplified returns or profits, enables forex trading with relatively small amounts of capital. You can even get 1000:1 leverage in selected jurisdictions.
Forex trading offers ongoing opportunities to churn profits. This market runs 24 hours a day, five days a week. It’s dynamic and vibrant and presents traders with endless currency pair alternatives. Typically, the major currency pairs – being the EUR/USD, GBP/USD, USD/JPY and AUD/USD – trade between 80 and 100 pips, depending on the lot sizes.
Many individuals use their day-to-day forex earnings to make a living. Low transaction costs make it a feasible investment option. Let’s take a look at those who made their fortunes with forex trading.
Who is the richest forex trader?
The world’s richest people are visionaries who built their empires on sound financial investments and who looked at how they could grow their fortunes.
History records Mansa Musa (1280-1337) as the richest man ever. He was an African emperor and reportedly ruled over half the world’s discovered gold reserves. Some put his fortune at $400bn – more than double that of Jeff Bezos’s net worth. Considering the global economic landscape at that time, Musa’s wealth was unimaginable.
However, let’s turn our gaze to modern times and look at those who followed contemporary investment schemes to further their riches.
Andrew Carnegie, a Scotsman born in Dunfermline, established his wealth on American soil when he immigrated to the US in 1848. He started his career as a bobbin boy earning $1.20 per week and grew his income to $50,000 by investing in and specialising in the steel industry. Carnegie had a net worth of $372bn, which roughly comprised 10% of the world’s gross domestic product (GDP).
John D. Rockefeller also made a splash during the 1800s. This oil baron envisioned technologies that revolutionised oil production. After making his mark on the oil industry, he extended his empire and invested in the railroad sector. At the time of his death in 1937, Rockefeller’s $341bn net worth was estimated to account for 10% of the world’s GDP.
What about those who paved a road to riches with forex trading? Many seek to make their fortunes in this niche, and there are some astounding success stories.
George Soros, born in Hungary, started his trading career when he was still in school. He developed and followed a strategy of taking highly leveraged positions relative to the shifts in currency rates. Through the years he stuck to his method, and in 1992 he made his fortune.
Soros became known as the ‘man who broke the Bank of England’ when he correctly predicted numerous factors that left the aforementioned institution vulnerable. That trade earned him $1bn and he has since grown his net worth to approximately $8bn. He is one of the richest forex traders of all time.
Joe Lewis, who has his roots in the UK, started working at 15 when he helped out in his family’s catering business. He eventually sold this business to invest in forex trading.
Collaborating with Soros, Lewis also hedged his bets against the British pound in 1992 and scooped up a profit of $1.8bn. Estimations put his net worth at $5bn, which earns him a top spot among the richest forex traders of all time.
Paul Tudor Jones
Strictly speaking, Paul Tudor Jones didn’t make his initial fortune with forex trading. He turned down a chance to study at Harvard Business School and started working as a commodity trader after graduating in Economics from the University of Virginia.
In 1987, he shorted the market crash and walked away with more than $100m. After this, he went on to establish the Tudor Investment Corporation, which concentrated on interest fluctuations in the forex market. Today, he has an estimated net worth of $7.3bn and joins the ranks of the richest forex traders in the world.
Stanley Druckenmiller was a financial manager for George Soros for more than 10 years. He was also the lead portfolio manager of the Quantum Fund.
This Pennsylvania-born American holds degrees in English and Economics and also worked as an oil analyst for Pittsburgh National Bank. He later established his own firm called Duquesne Capital Management. Druckenmiller’s net value in 2022 was $6.8bn. Apart from trading, he also advises forex traders.
One of the wealthiest forex traders in the US, Bill Lipschutz made millions during the 1980s when trading at Salomon Brothers. His trading journey started when he was at university and invested a $12,000 inheritance.
Today, Lipschutz’s net worth is not known, but he is considered to be one of the world’s top five forex traders. He offers a simple nugget of advice to prospective traders and believes that they should focus on the losses as they drive overall successes. He also maintains that those who make profits with forex trading are those who know how to exploit the markets when they are only right between 20% and 30% of the time.
Other prominent forex traders
Ref Wayne, a South African trader, dropped out of school and started his forex trading career. At the age of 19, he was a millionaire by navigating online investments and identifying the right opportunities in this vibrant and ever-changing market. He has an estimated net worth of $500m.
Nelisiwe Masango, a director of Bear Run Investments, features among the forex trading millionaires. Sandile Shezi, a young man who started trading at the age of 12, also tops the millionaire-status charts with a net worth of roughly $2.4m as of 2022.
As can be seen from these success stories, it is possible to make money with forex trading. You should, however, keep your eyes open for scams.
Scams in forex trading
Forex, being the largest financial market with more than $6tn traded daily worldwide, offers huge opportunities to generate profits. The internet and technological advances opened this market to everyone, including scammers. If you’re considering forex trading, keep your eyes peeled for tell-tale scam indicators.
Forex mutual fund (PAMM) scams
The percentage allocation management module (PAMM) is based on the hedge fund model. Before engaging, make sure:
- The fund managers are qualified and regulated individuals, as many are not.
- Profits or returns are realistic and not amplified to lure you in.
- You know what fees you’re expected to pay. Compare these with others in the market to identify scams and exorbitant commissions.
Expert Advisor/trading robots scams
Expert Advisor (EA) modules or trading robots are handy automated trading tools. It’s important to know that these only automate manual strategies and they cannot generate unlimited profits. So, look out for:
- Promises of endless profits, which are often encapsulated in phrases such as ‘guaranteed profits’. These automated solutions cannot warrant continued profit generations.
- Unique trading software only offered by a specific broker. These scammers lure you in with promises of free software when signing up with a ‘recommended’ broker.
Trading signals forex scams
Traders use these signals, generated through technical and fundamental analyses, to identify and take advantage of opportunities in the market. However helpful, keep your eyes open for:
- Inflated accuracies, such as more than 90% accuracy, which is simply unrealistic.
- Free signals with recommended brokers. Remember, sites often earn commissions by recommending and referring traders to a specific broker.
‘Promised land’ scams
New forex traders often look for instant magic and profits, and scammers exploit this. They present ‘promised land’ schemes of unlimited profits around the clock. Never go with a broker or company that offers promises. Forex trading is a conscientious process of identifying opportunities, analysing current geopolitical situations, and taking advantage of the best trading positions.
Guaranteed return scams
These scams are easy to spot. Typically, they entice prospective investors to join a certain broker or service and make fixed-period profits. This isn’t possible because the forex market is a fast-paced, ever-changing environment. All traders experience fluctuations in profits and losses, which cannot be predicted. Experts will tell you that it’s impossible to generate fixed profits in this market.
Forex trading is a vibrant market that offers great opportunities based on its high leverage power. Visionaries and risk-takers have honed their trading skills and made their fortunes.
The coming of the internet opened the forex market to the world, but also created a platform for scams. Prospective and new forex traders should tread lightly to avoid these pitfalls. It’s also important to be patient and do thorough research before deciding on a specific broker or service. Keep an eye out for red flags, and remember to:
- Educate yourself on the various markets. Knowledge is a powerful tool in forex trading.
- Devise a strategy and stick to it. Set profit goals, risk tolerance levels, methods and evaluation standards. Ensure that you trade within these set parameters.
- First, use a demo account to practice trading.
- Always keep your finger on the pulse of market influencers such as political impacts.
- Know your limits and stick to them. Do not chase losses, and stick to what you’re willing to risk on each trade.
- Leave your emotions out of your trades. Decisions based on feelings and what-ifs lead to failure.