Choosing the right forex account manager can be a daunting task. How do you assess integrity and trust, especially in a genre where fraudsters can easily prevail? How do you determine if your professional has what it takes to make consistent gains in the forex market on your account? There are no industry benchmarks that can be used as a helpful barometer. Trading results are always the result of good timing, leverage, and market conditions. So, how do you choose wisely? Hopefully, the recommendations below will help guide you to making a decision that will match up with your personal requirements, but that decision is just a beginning. There are decisions to make regarding your type of account, your risk tolerance, how your trades will be executed, what performance fees you will be asked to pay, and what terms and conditions apply to your account.
For the following list, we have received good feedback on each of the recommended managers depicted below. Hopefully, these recommendations will help guide you to the manager of your choice. As always, previous performance is no guarantee of future success, the reason why you must continue to review and monitor the results of your chosen manager over time. Remember that you are the one in charge, and you have the power to change, if and when a manger does not live up to your expectations.
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The good news is that forex account management is not something new. The concept is as old as investing in various currency pairs for profit, an activity that certainly preceded the advent of retail forex trading in the nineties. Forex brokers have a diversity of clients that keep them on their toes and that expect and get a higher level of service. Large institutional investors with millions to invest will typically devote a portion of their portfolios to foreign exchange. Individual account managers may also participate, as well, looking to diversify their funds under management. Lastly, professional fund managers, the most experienced of this group, will invest primarily in the hope of making substantial returns for their pool of investors. The point is that, like other forms of investment management, forex account managers with expertise in the field have existed for some time and are very experienced at what they do.
There are generally three types of account in this managed forex arena – individual, pooled, and recently added “PAMM” varieties.
This account is exactly what it sounds like – a separate account in your name where a professional trader makes all of the buy/sell decisions on your behalf. Their decisions will be based on the level of risk that you feel comfortable with, a topic that will be discussed at the outset. The one drawback for this type of account is that you have to make your business worthwhile for the expert to devote his time to it. For this reason, there may be a minimum deposit requirement that exceeds $10,000. If this level of commitment is a problem for you, then you may want to consider the other two account types. Fees will be customized, but assessing performance expertise will be difficult. Prior returns will be cited, but there will be no way to confirm them. Client testimonials may help.
In this case, you want to think in terms of a mutual fund, where many investors pool their capital together in a separate fund and then share in the profits after fees and expenses. Brokers that offer these pooled funds will generally have several funds to choose from, each with its own risk/reward profile, fee demographics, and terms and conditions. It is best to read each individual fund prospectus to determine the right fit for your own individual objectives. As for performance, each fund will have a published history for several prior years, but, as always, past performance is never a perfect indicator of what will transpire in the future. The benefit of a pooled fund is that you may enter for less money than for an individual account. Your initial deposit may be as low as $2,000, but there may be a required period for participation before a withdrawal can be made. Check the rules of the fund before jumping in with both feet.
Percent Allocation Management Module (PAMM)
This approach to account management may go by the name of PAMM, LAMM, or even MAM, but each approach uses sophisticated software to allocate gains, losses and fees on an equal percentage basis to each client. These concepts are relatively new and offer another level of fraud protection since you are still dealing directly with your traditional forex broker of choice. Your broker enlists the professional trader, and you execute a Limited Power of Attorney agreement with the trader, which allows him to trade on your behalf. If you are unhappy with performance at any time, then you may terminate the arrangement. There are no “lock up” periods, so to speak. LAMM software also allows leverage to vary by account, and MAM software combines the benefits of both approaches. Prior to the advent of this software, brokers offered (many still do) systems that allow you to “mirror” trades of a chosen expert or select traders to replicate from a “social network” provided by your broker. In all cases, you are dealing through your broker in a transparent mode of operation.
Risk Profiles and Modes of Operation
For an individual account, you will have a dedicated fund manager by choice, but in a pooled approach, there may be a team of experts that manage the trades. Do you want to depend on one expert or a group of experts? There are advantages and some disadvantages to each approach, but you will have to specify the degree of risk that you are willing to tolerate to obtain a specified level of return. These risk options may be defined by ranges of expected results, and performance fees may also vary by level of risk. The manager or fund may also employ specially programmed “robots” to achieve its objectives, as opposed to manual trade driven practices. If you want aggressively high returns, you may have a better chance at those with a single manager. Groupthink tends to offer more conservative and consistent returns over the long haul.
A Word about Fees
Forex account managers tend to manage large amounts of capital and avail themselves of the most efficient ways to access the market. As a result, their transaction fees and spreads may be extremely low and tight, a benefit that most firms will pass along to your account in deference to what are called “Performance Fees”. These fees can vary across the map, depending on the type and risk profile of the chosen fund. The range could be as great as 10% up to 35% and higher. These rates are applied according to a principle known as the “High Water Mark” protocol or “HWM”. Each month, your beginning balance is your HWM. If your balance at the end of the month is higher, then the rate, say 30% for example, is applied to the profit and deducted. The remaining “net” balance becomes your new HWM for the following month. If you incurred a loss, then your previous HWM remains until the loss is recovered. Some managers may also charge an account management fee or a “Claw Back” fee based on some agreed-to formula. You should also check the small print related to distributions. “Lock Up” periods may apply, or distributions may only be processed as of the end of each month. These forced delays are necessary for the manager to unwind any positions in an effective manner. There may also be termination fees, if you decide to transfer your entire balance at any point in time.
Review and Monitoring Issues
A managed forex account has many advantages, but do not think for a moment that you do not have to understand the forex market and all of its nuances. In order to review ongoing performance, you, too, will need to monitor market conditions. When volatility is high, fund managers tend to make better gains. If central bankers are having a high degree of influence on the market, then returns may be mixed across the board. Luck may have a lot more to do with both success and failure under these circumstances. The general rule of thumb when assessing the performance of a forex account manager is to use a two-year time horizon for comparative purposes. Volatility, political turmoil, and economic events typically average out over two years. When you do have review meetings with your account manager or receive your reports from the pooled fund, you will want to appraise them with a critical eye, aided by your own knowledge of the market and what fair expectations might be. If you are not satisfied, do not waste any more time. Make a change. After all, it is your money. You have the final say in all matters.
Using a forex managed account can be an effective way to reap gains in this very fickle market. Having professional traders in your corner is a great benefit, especially if you do not have the knowledge, experience, and time to devote to this trading activity. This approach is also a good alternative for those of us that just do not have the emotional control necessary to weather stormy markets or pull the trigger when a disciplined approach dictates. There are also fraud issues that must be overcome with due diligence at the outset, as well, but the time necessary will be well invested.