Proprietary Trading for Beginners

Read our Advertiser Disclosure.
Contributor, Benzinga
March 7, 2024

Are you interested in diving into the world of proprietary trading? Before you jump in, it's important to understand the basics and avoid common pitfalls that many beginners face.

Proprietary trading is a type of trading where firms trade their own capital instead of clients' money. It offers potential for substantial profits, but it also comes with its fair share of risks. Many beginners are drawn to the allure of generating big profits but often overlook the essential knowledge and skills required for success.

If you're a beginner looking to venture into proprietary trading, it's crucial to have a solid foundation and understanding of the market. Making mistakes in this highly competitive field can lead to significant financial losses. In order to navigate the world of proprietary trading successfully, it's essential to be aware of the common pitfalls and know how to avoid them. In this article, Benzinga explores everything you need to know about prop trading as a beginner.

What is Proprietary Trading?

Large banks and brokerage firms trade on behalf of their clients; that is an important part of the business model. What you might know is that these large financial institutions also go to bat for themselves in the stock market, using their often-massive war chests to trade on their own behalf and try to increase their profits.

The process of a financial institution trading its own capital rather than that of its clients is known as proprietary or prop trading. The thought process is that the firm has a greater knowledge of markets, trends and forecasting to beat other investors and therefore provide a greater return for their stakeholders. Institutions hire experienced traders to prop trade on behalf of the company. 

How to Start Prop Trading

Not just anyone can become a prop trader. Large financial institutions bring in prop traders with the expectation that they will make sound decisions with the company’s funds and grow their portfolio, so it takes time for someone to rise through the ranks and work as a prop trader. 

Here’s how to get started if working for a prop trading firm interests you.

Education

The building block of a career in the financial industry is a strong education in a field related to economics, statistics or business finance. Without at least a bachelor’s degree from a reputable university, it will be difficult to obtain a job as a prop trader. 

Some of the best candidates use multiple fields of study to help their resumes stand out. If you have a good working knowledge of statistics and finance, then you likely have a solid foundation in place to pursue a job as a trader

Gain Experience

Typically, traders with large firms are not hired without experience as an investor on the books. While obtaining your degree or shortly after graduation, start learning on the job with an internship or mentorship. 

Internships are often what you make them, so go beyond making coffee and set two main goals. First, learn as much as you can from people who have a career you would like to have, paying attention to the pros and cons of the job. Second, make personal connections with people in the field who can mentor or hire you full-time to help your future application as a prop trader stand out. 

Research Trading Companies

With a solid education and some experience, you have a great chance of landing a job in the financial industry. Ideally, you will have choices in where to work; researching which firms fit your trading preferences and lifestyle is key to success in your first full-time job. 

Apply and Begin Working

Once you have an ideal firm in mind, use the connections you made and apply for entry-level trading positions. Like any other job, you’ll want to tailor your resume to the position that you’re applying for. 

How Does an Active Prop Trader Work?

If you’re considering a career as a prop trader, the points below should give you some idea of what the day-to-day in this field looks like. While experiences vary depending on firms, locations and experience levels, the main idea of being a trader still stands: you must produce results, whether that takes 30 hours per week or 60.

Daily Prep

Typically, a day begins with your team of traders recapping after-hours trading and discussing potential opportunities for the day. This process involves staying current on happenings in the financial world and having your finger on the pulse of the day’s activity before the opening bell.

Trading While the Market is Open

Traders are usually busiest, as you can imagine, at the start and end of trading every day, as they look to capitalize on market fluctuations. Some prop traders spend a lot of their time buying, selling and talking with their connections to get a feel for what the market is doing at any given minute of the day.

Other traders are more analytical and use their sharp mathematical skills to take in data in real-time and adjust forecasts and models to determine the best possible trades to make at that time. You’ll put your unique trading strategy into place to work on opportunities identified during your morning meeting. 

Daily Recap

After the market closes, the team of traders discusses the day’s activity. As a new trader, this period can be a gold mine of information because you can learn who made successful trades and why they worked, and vice versa for bad decisions. New traders also typically work longer hours because they are expected to stay after the market closes and do the administrative work to ensure all trades are completed and everything is ready for the next day.

Advancement

Moving up in prop trading can happen fast for top performers. The company you’re working for likely values production significantly more than seniority, so the best traders can move up quickly. Typically, the career path starts as a junior trader then moves to a senior trader and eventually a partner, with salaries increasing and administrative work decreasing every step of the way.

Benefits of Prop Trading

If you’re looking for an exciting career and have a knack for numbers and problem-solving, prop trading could be a great choice for your future employment. As long as you are selective about the firm you choose to work for, there are some great benefits to prop trading as a career.

  • Potential salary: If you can rise through the ranks and become an effective prop trader, the possibilities for compensation are excellent compared to other careers in finance. 
  • Teamwork: Because everyone on a trading team is working toward the same goal of increasing the company’s bottom line, there is typically a positive office environment of smart and high-achieving people.
  • Level playing field: Most prop trading firms promote based on performance — not seniority. If you’re getting started in your career in finance but you’re confident in your skills as a trader, prop trading may provide you with the opportunity to move up faster in your career. 

Take the Next Steps to Begin Prop Trading

If you're ready to take the next steps to becoming a prop trader, check out some of the best proprietary trading firms below.

Apex Trader Funding

Try Apex Trader Funding to get qualified in as little as 7 days, keep 100% of the first $25,000 you earn, coordinate with Rithmic and Tradovate and scale to the account types that work best for you. There are no caps on your payouts, and you can learn everything you need about each asset directly fromt he platform.

Plus, there are no daily drawdowns, and you can even trade on holidays or during certain off-market hours.

Trade the Pool

Founded in 2022, Trade the Pool using reputable risk management tools and ensures that traders have a place to trade that serves both parties rather well. 

  • Works for day traders, swing traders and prop traders
  • Support professional trader who need another place to work
  • Offers trading for stocks and CFDs
  • Offers support for inexperienced traders
  • Provides unlimited buying power
  • A 14-day free trial
  • Offers over 12,000 stocks and ETFs to trade
  • Educates users
  • Subscribes traders to several resources
  • Provides space for traders to hone their skills

Founded in 2022, Trade the Pool using reputable risk management tools and ensures that traders have a place to trade that serves both parties rather well. 

FXIFY

FXIFY is a new proprietary trading firm that offers access to up to $400,000 for those who pass the site’s assessment. With profit shares as high as 90%, you can scale your account up to $4 million. You can try the One-Phase or Two-Phase assessment, but make sure to review the terms and conditions of each assessment before beginning so that you know you’re taking the right path. 

Trading is available on MT4 or MT5 and assorted trading platforms through the firm’s partnership with FXPIG. There’s commission-free trading and access to stock indices, forex, precious metals, etc. Plus, you get relatively tight spreads, no trading restrictions, customizable leverage and more.

You can even use expert advisors or other automated strategies to get the best results. Traders with FXIFY also get instant payouts, no consistency rules, unlimited trading days and a 125% refund on the assessment fee with the first payout.

  • Quick trader funding after your evaluation
  • Quick account setup
  • Powerful educational tools
  • High profit shares (up to 90%)
  • Several account styles
  • A simple platform that’s easy to use

SurgeTrader

Turning to prop trading is a good way for you to learn, invest and grow your career. You can also make money if you know how to trade well and work well with the platform. Reach out SurgeTrader at any time for more information on prop trading.

  • Quick trader funding after your evaluation
  • Quick account setup
  • Powerful educational tools
  • High profit shares (up to 90%)
  • Several account styles
  • A simple platform that’s easy to use

Turning to prop trading is a good way for you to learn, invest and grow your career. You can also make money if you know how to trade well and work well with the platform. Reach out SurgeTrader at any time for more information on prop trading.

The Trading Pit

At The Trading Pit, you can entire the funded trading space with help from up to $5M in funding and up to an 80% profit share. The process is simple, you can look into multi-asset trading of:

  • CFDs
  • Futures
  • Crypto (coming soon)
  • Stocks (coming soon)

There are also multiple account styles, including:

  • Lite—3 days of trading minimum, 90 day challenge periods, $1,000 profit target
  • Standard—3 days of trading minimum, 90 day challenge periods, $2,000 profit target
  • Executive—3 days of trading minimum, 90 day challenge periods, $5,000 profit target
  • VIP—3 days of trading minimum, 90 day challenge periods, $8,000 profit target

All you need to do is pass the challenge for your account type, and when you do, you will become a funded partner with $5 million in funding where you will keep 80% of your profits. With simple rules, easy setup, real learning tools and quick payouts, it’s easy to access the prop trading industry from your desk.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q

Is prop firm good for beginners?

A

Joining a prop firm can be beneficial for beginners in trading as it offers a supportive environment and access to resources and capital. However, it also comes with challenges such as rigorous training, performance expectations, and potential financial risks.

Q

Are prop traders profitable?

A

Prop traders must be profitable to keep their jobs. Since the sole purpose of hiring prop traders is to make money for the company, if a trader is ineffective then they likely won’t last very long. Most prop traders have the know-how to effectively trade and increase their company’s bottom line.

Q

How much do proprietary traders make?

A

Prop traders who are just starting out can expect to make over $100,000 in their first full-time role. From there, it’s all dependent on how much someone can produce because advancement is tied to production and bonuses make up a large percentage of salaries.

About Sarah Horvath

Sarah is an expert in the insurance, investing for retirement and cryptocurrency space.