I had an interesting conversation with a client in my office yesterday. He had just paid $5,000.00 for trading education (in foreign exchange in particular) and had come to me (not the education provider) for some clarity on the techniques he was being taught. This article is a paraphrased editorial of the conversation that we had.
In trading education there are two sorts of providers; external education providers (no ties to a brokerage house) or education firms that are an internal or external unit of a broker. Each has positives and negatives and this article will discuss some of this and seek to make recommendations.
External education firms are generally work this way; "come to us for trading education - we will charge you X amount and teach you certain things, which we will not discuss now, but here are some testimonials.
Broking firms generally work differently. Education (or frequently "coaching") is provided for free and the broker then expects you to trade with him.
Recently, several firms have bridged the gap and are external education firms, owned by a brokerage, that charge for the education, but still push you to trade with them.
Education firms have the benefit that they only make residual income (by selling further "advanced" trading courses) if their students are satisfied. The risk for these firms is that the education they provide is of not a "value for money" which would encourage their students to buy the back end courses. The weakness in these firms is that they usually teach within a bubble and do not often have educators with real world trading experience. It is the old adage, those who can do, those who can not teach.
Brokers who educate on the other hand generally have brokers doing their education. The lessons may not be as structured, but they are coming from experienced market professionals who are in the market day in testing their methods. The negative with this sort of education is that the broker may be encouraged to educate on "high frequency trading" which enhances his or her personal revenue, through the client over trading their account.
In the middle, the hybrid strategy, you obviously get the best and worst of both worlds. Hybrid educator customers have the luxury of paying quite significant funds to learn from a market professional who still may be encouraging the client to over trade their account.
So, what is the answer?
First, a bigger question is whether the client wishes to actually learn how to trade, or instead wishes to invest in the market. If the client wishes to invest, they should try a managed or mutual fund, or else seek out a good broker who they trust.
If the client really does intend on learning how to trade, I would suggest that the best strategy is to find, again, a broker that they trust and open an account with them, using the money they would have spent on education. Make it clear that this is the relationship that you wish to have so the broker is under no uncertain terms that education from him or her is required.
And as when finding any other professional service (Doctor, Lawyer, Accountant), nothing will ever beat a referral.
Hamilton Rhodes is an Australian based brokerage business that provides research, education and coaching on equities, futures, CFD's and foreign exchange.
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