TopstepTrader Review 2018
Proof you can profit, show you can manage risk and make real money trading futures. These three simple steps explain in short how TopstepTrader works. However, things are not always as simple as they seem. Therefore I analyzed TopstepTraders trading course, products and services. I will reveal all the important aspects you have to know about in this TopStepTrader Review.
The new rules that TST implemented in 2018 are already reflected. I identified some critical points during the analysis process. So I have decided to contact TopstepTrader.
I am excited, that Michael Patak, founder of TopstepTrader answered my questions and revealed some extra information about his story and TopstepTraders brand new product TopstepFX.
TopstepTrader at a glance
Michael Patak founded TopstepTrader in 2012. According to INC500, TopstepTrader belongs to America’s 5000 fastest growing companies. With revenue of 5.5 M in 2017, they currently rank at #1419.
This is a clear indicator, that TopstepTraders products and services are exactly what the majority of traders is searching for.
The concept is pretty simple. Traders who qualify can trade with TopstepTraders capital on a funded futures trading account where they keep the first $5,000 in profits and 80% of the profits after that.
The monthly fee for the challenge with the name Trading Combine start at $150 per month.
Here are some more interesting statistics (based on TopstepTraders website, as of 9/4/18):
So by now, more than 1,500 traders have already succeeded in being rewarded with a funded account. Please notice that you have to be 18 years old to be able to be part of the program.
It doesn't matter if you are a U.S. citizen or if you live in another country all around the world. People from 161 different countries are part of the trading community.
TopstepTrader Review – Products, Services and Fees
In the first step, you can start trading with a free 14-day practice account with $150,000 (no credit card required) or you can enter the challenge of TopstepTrader's Trading Combine to find out if you will be evaluated for a Funded Trading Account.
TopstepTrader's Trading Combine and also the Funded Trader Preparation are simulated accounts where you are trading in real-time while your performance is assessed to decide if you will become a funded trader.
So, what can you trade here?
Only futures are tradeable. With both options, you have full access to trade all kinds of CME Group products like the ES (E-mini S&P 500), NQ (E-mini NASDAQ 100) and CL (Oil).
A full list of tradeable products can be found here. When you become a funded trader, you will also be able to trade products on the EUREX exchange.
Now it is time for more detailed information about the way to becoming a funded trader.
Become a funded trader in 2 steps
TopstepTrader's Trading Combine - Prove that you have what it takes
When you enter the Trading Combine, you will have all the time it takes to reach the goal by trading according to the rules. However, you will have to pay for the subscription every month – from the day you signed up until the month you meet the target, or you cancel your subscription.
At every time during a Trading Combine, it will be possible to reset the balance and the rules of your account for the price of $99.
This reset fee is on top of the monthly payment and will have no influence on your monthly bill.
You will have the choice between starting with simulated funds of $30K, $50K, $100K or $150K.
Depending on your choice the profit target, maximum position size, daily loss limit, weekly loss limit, trailing maximum drawdown and the monthly price will be different.
Another yet important aspect is that the chosen account balance in the Trading Combine determines the starting balance from your funded account once you complete the Trading Combine successfully.
So if you start with a $50K Trading Combine account with a monthly fee of $165, then in case of success, you will get access to a funded account with a balance of $50K.
There are 2 steps you have to accomplish during the Trading Combine:
TopstepTrader Trading Combine Step 1:
Trade at least 5 days (days do not have to be in a row) without rule breach and meet the profit target of your chosen Trading Combine.
This first step is easier to accomplish because the rules are limited to:
- reach the profit target,
- use the correct maximum position size,
- do not surpass the daily loss limit (which is monitored and calculated in real time during the trading day) and
- do not allow your account balance to hit or exceed the trailing maximum drawdown (which is calculated end of day during the Trading Combine).
Example if you have chosen the Starting Balance of $50K
What is step 1 good for?
Choosing another starting balance means to have different rules. It is essential to select the right plan carefully. Finally, if you play according to the rules and reach the profit target, then you managed to accomplish step 1 of the Trading Combine.
Trading Combine Step 2:
The TopstepTrading Trading Combine step 2 was formerly known as “TopstepTrader's Funded Trader Preparation.”
Once you finished step 1, then your account will be reviewed once your trade reports are uploaded at 4 PM CT. The more challenging step 2 begins once you received an email from TopstepTrader confirming that step 2 is active.
In Step 2 of the Trading Combine everything starts once again. If you have chosen the Starting Balance of $50K, then:
It is important to know, that you can reset step 2 in the same way as in step 1. If you reset your account in step 2, then you will stay in step 2 of the challenge, and you can reset as many times you want. However, every reset costs an additional fee of $99.
The 2nd step is more challenging then step 1 because with fewer contracts and harder rules you need to archive the same profit target again that you met in step 1.
There are many details that you have to understand before starting. Because if you do not aware of the exact details, you might fail because you didn’t realize before that there is a limitation.
As an example, if you went through step 1 trading 5 lots every time and start step 2 also with trading 5 lots, then you failed step 2 because in step 2 you have to follow the scaling plan.
Remember, you and TopstepTrader will be business partners, and it is in your both interest that you align to the best possible solution. It would be best if you never hesitated to contact them and ask any question you come up with.
When you follow the rules until you will reach the profit target, you will move on to the next step, the Funded Trader Preparation™. This is the last hurdle that needs to be overcome before the funded account.
TopstepTrader Review - The Funded Account
If you passed the 2-step evaluation of the TopstepTrader Trading Combine, then you will be funded and able to trade with real money.
You will keep the first $5,000 of your profits and 80 % of your further profits – and the best of all: There will be no risk for you since you trade on a TopstepTrader account.
Besides this, with a Funded Account, you will have some different general conditions compared to the Trading Combine. The major differences are:
More products to trade with
During the combine, traders are limited to trade futures listed on the CME. Within the funded account it is possible to trade additional products, listed at EUREX, CBOT, NYMEX, and COMEX.
However, traders have now to pay for the real-time data feed. Funded traders are responsible for the data fee cost charged by the exchange.
Moreover, since trading a prop-account means being defined as a professional trader, the fee structure is something to have in mind:
- CME $105.00
- CBOT $105.00
- NYMEX $105.00
- COMEX $105.00
- EUREX $69.00 (Effective 04/01/2018)
So if you decide to trade products form all those exchanges, then you have to pay a monthly fix exchange fee of nearly $500.
Other fees for the trading platform
While the trading platform TSTrader can be used without a monthly platform fee, many other platforms are chargeable. I integrated a full list of all available platforms in this Topsteptrader Review.
During the combine $3.70 were charged per round turn ($1.85 per side). Within the funded trader account, you will be charged commissions and exchange fees depending on the trading platform you use.
Here is an example provided by TopstepTrader:
Commissions differ depending on the products you trade, brokers you use, etc. Make sure to research first because commissions and feed have a high impact on your profitability.
While the trailing maximum drawdown rule was checked at the end of the day during the Trading Combine, now trading the real money account this rules gets monitored in real time.
Once you hit the maximum drawdown value, you failed to trade the funded account, and you will get back to the combine. Keep that in mind! Any rule breach will get you back into the combine again. You cannot reset trading the funded account.
Withdrawals at any time possible
Withdrawals can be requested at any time, and it will take about 7 business days until the payout is made. If the payout is $500 or higher, there are no wire fees. If a payout of less then $500 is requested, then a wire fee of $50 will apply.
Trading with TopstepTrader is possible using their in-house trading platform TSTrader or with one of the other 13 platforms listed below.
Please be aware of the fact, that there are particular limitations present regarding the brokerage (only Tradovate, NinjaTrader Brokerage, Cunningham and Stage5) and data-feeds (CQG, Rithmic, and CTS) you can use.
Choosing TSTrader will be the easiest way, but if you consider using a different platform, you should contact TopstepTrader to evaluate the best possible solution suiting your needs.
Free in Trading Combine
Free in Funded Account
ATAS (OrderFlow Trading)
TopstepTrader education and coaching plan:
TopstepTrader offers free trading education, performance coaching, and squawk radio.
You can join other traders in the interactive chat-room to discuss your ideas and experiences. Beside this, you will have access to:
Performance Coaching Plan:
Another essential part of the program is the so-called Performance Coaching.
In this, you will have a monthly one-to-one-session with your Performance Coach who analyzes your trades and your mistakes, which offers you advice and guidance.
Your coach enables you to improve your skills even faster by identifying your strengths and neutralizing your bad habits even quicker.
The Performance Coaching Plan includes the following:
A monthly subscription to this additional plan will cost you another $195 per month during the TopstepTrader Trading Combine, while it is completely free once you are a funded trader.
TopstepTrader also offers Squawk Radio being hosted by Eddie Horn, a trader with more than 25 years of experience.
This broadcast show is highly interactive and provides the listeners with perspectives on the markets, insights from respected professionals, interviews with experienced traders and continual updates.
TopstepTrader – Costs and Refunds
The most difficult challenge is to calculate the overall costs using TopstepTrader. In my opinion, it is tough for beginners, to understand the total costs.
One of the reasons is that the fees are not listed in clear cases on the TopstepTrader website.
However, I found any information I was looking for using the online help center.
TopstepTrader is not hiding information, while some of them are hard to find either.
Trading Combine fees:
The price per month for TopstepTrader's Trading Combine is clear and listed. You will pay per month:
Those subscription costs recur every month until you either cancel your subscription or reach the funded account.
Reset fee during the Trading Combine
$99 per reset during the Trading Combine: Within your trader dashboard you have the option “reset account.” Using this function your Trading Combine account will set back to the starting point.
This is being used in the case that a trader fails to trade by the rules. Traders who reset while being in step 2 of the Trading Combine, will stay in step 2. The fee is $99 per reset, and it is on top of the monthly fee.
Exchange fees for funded traders
Once you trade the funded account, exchange fees apply (per month):
- CME $105.00
- CBOT $105.00
- NYMEX $105.00
- COMEX $105.00
- EUREX $69.00 (Effective 04/01/2018)
Platform fees during the Trading Combine and for funded traders
Some trading platforms cost money during the Trading Combine, others are free during the Trading Combine, but cost money using the funded account and others cost something in any case.
The trading platform TSTrader is always free of charge concerning the platform fee. Check out the trading platform section within this TopstepTrader review to see more details. Here are some impressions:
Withdrawal fees for funded traders
Once you are a funded trader, you can withdraw your money at any time. However, a fee of $50 applies if you decide to pay out an amount smaller than $500.
Sample business cases
3-month membership for the Trading Combine with a starting balance of $50K, using 2 resets, never reaching the goals and using the TSTrader trading platform:
- Membership cost: 3*$165=$495
- Resets: 2*$99=$198
- Trading platform: $0
- Exchange fees: $0
- Total costs: $495+$198=$693
- Gross profit: $0.0
- Net profit: -$693
6-month membership for the Trading Combine with a starting balance of $50K, using 6 resets, reaching the goal, being a funded trader for 2 months with a profit withdrawal of $3,000 using TSTrader trading platform trading CME futures only:
- Membership cost: 6*$165=$990
- Resets: 6*$99=$594
- Trading platform: $0
- Exchange fees: 2*$105=$210
- Total costs: $990+$594+$210=$1,794
- Gross profit: $3,000
- Net profit: +$1,206
12-month membership for the Trading Combine with a starting balance of $50K, using 20 resets, reaching the goal, being a funded trader for 8 months with a profit withdrawal of $10,000 using NinjaTrader license trading CME and CBOT:
- Membership cost: 12*$165=$1,980
- Resets: 20*$99=$1,980
- Trading platform: $890 (lifetime license with $100 rebate for TopstepTrader users)
- Exchange fees: 8*$210=$1,680 (2 exchanges, 8 months)
- Total costs: $1,980+$1,980+$890+$1,680=$6,530
- Gross profit: $10,000
- Net profit: +$3,470
Please understand that there are hundreds of potential calculations. The three mentioned above are only samples based on the pricing structure during the TopstepTrader review process.
Estimating the overall real costs upfront is impossible. Please do also understand that some of those fees would also apply trading futures with a regular broker.
TopstepTrader – Pro and contra
TopstepTrader – My personal summary
There is surely no doubt about it that it is a great and unique opportunity to become a funded trader. Trading without any personal risk with TopstepTrader's money and keeping the first $5,000 of the profit and later 80 % of the money one will make is an interesting idea.
I like the free simulated trial account for 14 days that may give you an idea if you can reach the goal to move on. Especially the fact that there is no credit card needed during registration is positive.
However, to become a funded trader is challenging. Nobody will know before how long it may take to fulfill all requirements and if he will ever succeed in the end.
Also, this means that you can never be sure for how long you may have to pay the monthly charge. The fastest trader needed only 15 days to become a funded trader. This is the absolute optimum and far better than the average.
While it is hard to find some detailed information on the most prominent pages of the website, I was able to find any details I was searching for.
So TopstepTrader is transparent but could do a bit better providing more info about the overall costs with some examples.
The in-house solution TSTrader is a robust platform for beginners because it’s the most cost-effective. It is well organized and has enough features to get a better understanding of the TopsteTrader program during the free trial.
However, there can additional costs apply using other platforms. Furthermore funded traders are treated as professionals which leads to higher exchange fees.
It is crucial to realize, that the scaling plan will become active in step 2 along with some other additional rules. This does not stand out that clearly but I assume, that it will be mentioned once you start with step 2 during the Trading Combine.
It rapidly becomes clear that you can't get anything for free here. TST aims to find the best of the best traders to trade their money. This is easy to understand, and we would all do the same as managing directors of this company.
Unfortunately, nothing is known about the exact ratio between Trading Combine participants and funded traders. I estimate that similar statistics as in day trading are achieved here. It is possible that one in ten will become a funded trader.
In my opinion, TST is particularly suitable for people who are consistent and want to test with little risk whether they are made for trading or not. If you find out after 2 months that it has not worked, you have only invested a small amount of risk capital.
However, it is crucial to consistently end the program when you realize that trading is not for you.
Failing with TST also indicates that this type of trading is not right for you. As I mention it in many of my posts, trading success is especially about preparation, trading by the rules and having sufficient funds in your account.
TopstepTrader focus is the second part, trading by the rules. The rules are very tough, and like trading a regular account, a rule break will hurt you.
During the Trading Combine with additional costs for a reset. Moreover, while trading a funded account with a capital reduction in your account, plus a potential downgrade back to the combine.
So what is the master plan?
There is no master plan, but a no-risk or low-risk approach would be the only correct way
- So you either skip this program or you subscribe to the free 14 day trial (no credit card required) and trade by the rules from day 1.
- If you manage to make money trading by the rules during the first 14 days, consider accepting the challenge. If you fail, look elsewhere.
- If you take the challenge, then you should never try more than 3 times to qualify for the funded account, because 3 failures are a clear sign that this is not right for you
TopstepTrader is the #1 of all funded trading account programs I know of. The company has a long history and well-developed products.
The challenge is hard but fair. The prices are high but manageable. The traded products are high risk, but the risk is within the trading account funded by TopstepTrader.
Finaly some funded trader feedback statistics
Source: TopstepTrader statistics
TopstepTrader, The Chevron Logo, Topstep, TopstepFX, Trading Combine, Funded Account, and TSTrader are all trademarks of TopstepTrader, LLC.