Interview with the Head of Trading at HiWayFX - Alexander Chepurko

Alexander Chepurko is the Head of Trading at HiWayFX and is responsible for managing the execution and transmission of client orders and holds a seat in the Risk Management Committee. He also has a part in informing and educating our clients with his research and expert analysis of the currency markets. Alexander develops strategies that give excellent insight on how to read the markets to both new and experienced traders alike.

Alexander was formerly head of a Commodity Trading Advisory and managed its proprietary trading fund and risk management operations primarily in the futures markets. Later on he worked as Head of Dealing at Forex Club in New York, where he lead a team of dealers and established the department for a new regulatory framework from the NFA. Afterwards he was tasked with building up Forex Club’s Cyprus office where he worked as Head of RTO, managing the routing of client orders and the firm’s liquidity providers. Today, he utilizes his diverse experience at HiWayFX by providing clients with a fast and reliable trading system while also developing trader coaching initiatives.

What is your professional background?

I started out in a small commodity trading firm in the New York area where I did a lot of hedging in the futures market. We basically hedged physical diesel fuel with futures and options contracts on the CME. This was a really fun place to be because I just got my Series 3 license which required lots of knowledge about the physical commodity market and how futures and forward contracts work, so doing it in real life gave me a sense of purpose about my job in finance. I did so well with our hedging that we started a Commodity Trading Advisor and managed the firm’s own money and offered risk management services to others like farmers and fuel plants.

I really got into the Forex business when I got a job at Forex Club as the head of its dealing department right on Wall Street in New York. At this time all of the biggest Forex companies had an office on Wall Street, just down the street from the NYSE and I thought it was the best environment ever. While equity and futures trading all went electronic at that time, all of the forex brokers still had real dealing desks so there was still a sense of community there. I got to manage a team of dealers and bring the firm in compliance with many new regulations from the NFA for the Forex industry.

As the Forex business moved into the electronic age a lot of new and interesting firms came up and I started in HiWayFX with an awesome group of Forex veterans. We all pretty much came from the same background of old-school brokers and we wanted to try something different. Since we had a much better grasp of software and technology, we started with a streamlined ECN-model for all customers that gave really tight spreads, fast execution, and at the same time we made the cost of entry really low; 20 Dollars or Euros to open an account. I think this is truly a formula which disrupted the old Forex business and gave clients a big edge in their trading.

Who are your target audience?

We like to attract discerning traders who are tired of shady brokers pushing them to open accounts but will then give them re-quotes, wide spreads, and generally poor trading conditions. Our spreads and conditions are simple; we provide professional grade terms to a diverse group of traders. This means a scalper who wishes to use his EA with a $20 account can do so with HiWayFX and get fills in milliseconds. It also means larger traders who wish to trade the news or swing trade can do so with $20, or $1,000. We are deposit agnostic, so whatever your deposit size or skill level is, you will have the best terms possible with our trading technology.

Why should a trader choose HiWayFX over another broker?

HiWayFX provides such a level playing field to all manner of clients because of our dedication to providing superior trading technology. The reason why a beginning trader has problems with other brokers is that they either use old school tactics, like requoting or slowing down their execution, or they are too expensive to provide a decent platform.

HiWayFX develops all of our execution and trading technology in house, and we are constantly innovating to provide the average trader with professional tools like ECN accounts, money management accounts, trading signals, and personal support. This is how we are able to keep the costs down for our traders while they are getting better service than other brokers provide.

What advice do you have for someone who is just starting to trade in the forex market?

The best advice any insider can give to a beginner trader is that they should be wary of the old guard in the forex industry. These brokers have been around for a long time but mainly profit by making the lives of their clients difficult; again, re-quoting, slowing down their execution, and withholding client money.

Instead, traders should research brokers who are run by a team of forex trading veterans interested in attracting clients with excellent trading conditions, and want to have them as clients for a long time. Brokers like HiWayFX will give you the chance to succeed faster than with a broker who is interested in you failing. When you have a reliable trading platform and unquestionable execution it takes out a huge variable in your learning curve. This way, your success depends upon your own skills and patience and not on whether or not your broker is cheating.

How different is the forex industry today from 3 years ago?

3 years ago the forex industry was not the wild west of 2008 and before, but both traders and regulators were beginning to catch on to the tricks which were going on before there was any oversight. At that time clients began to understand that they did not have to stay with one of the huge brokers because they had no other options. These brokers’ businesses actually started doing worse because their ways began to get outdated. Many people left jobs with large brokers to start new firms that would disrupt the forex business, much like the startup industry in Silicon Valley. So you had new brokers come up that essentially had all of the years of experience from established houses but that were able to start from scratch and make trading systems for a new age.

This meant that clients of the old brokers could finally trade with a modern system that gave them fair conditions and execution that was just as fast as prime brokers were providing at the time. Now you have an environment where the old industry has had to reassess and in some cases even close down their business if they could not compete with the better services that were being provided. The outcome of all this was to improve the standing of all traders because competition created more fairness for them.

Where do you see HiWayFX products and services going in the future?

There are a few things we have in the pipeline that we hope will get our clients really excited. The first product we want to get out is a personal advising and mentoring service available through a live trading room right in the client cabinet. This isn’t just for beginners who are trying to learn how to trade but also any experienced trader who is serious about their trading but who is generally doing it in isolation.

The beauty of online trading is that you can do it anywhere and at any time, like at home and after work. But the downside is that you are missing the same lively environment that professional traders at banks and funds are in. If you have the opportunity to do your home trading in an environment similar to a trading desk with a professional coach and other traders, then you are not working in a vacuum and you have colleagues whom you can get advice from and bounce ideas off of. Our goal is to provide live market analysis in a chat room environment and be available for the entire London and New York sessions. Traders would be able to continuously ask questions about the market, get up-to-the-minute news, and even get personal assessments of their trading and risk management strategies.

What’s your view on the economy? What are the implications on the currency, equity and commodity markets?

We’re still in a divergent macro-economic situation that has been evolving since the US economy has started to gain steam. We think this still means a stronger US Dollar for the foreseeable future, albeit in a more gradual trend than we saw in the first quarter of this year and the end of last year. At the same time this means commodities are very volatile and will likely continue to fall, because of the fact that the commodity market is priced in US Dollars. Oil and gold will also be very volatile which means there are more opportunities to make money in different markets. You won’t have to rely only on one or two currency pairs now, there are tens of different crosses and commodity CFDs which can provide real opportunities.

What are your personal thoughts on how the financial situation is affecting the forex market?

The forex market has probably been most affected by what traders are trading the most. Before the EUR/USD pair was by far the most popular instrument because it was liquid and plenty of market analysis and commentary is always available on it. After the last cycle of the Greek crisis and US Dollar appreciation it has become apparent that EUR/USD has become increasingly difficult to gauge. Maybe this is because a lot of institutional money is in this instrument and it could be due to the effects of European quantitative easing.

Now we are seeing much more trading of crosses, oil, and gold. These instruments are seeing more trending than the basic pairs like EUR/USD and USD/JPY because the Euro and the Dollar look more and more alike. So when there’s no divergence between these two currencies you will not see that much movement in them.

What are your present issues and challenges?

The main area we want to improve to the maximum is the servicing of our diverse client distribution. We want to have the traders with $20 accounts who are testing out our services just as much as the traders with some thousands of dollars in capital. A challenge to a company like ours is being just as fair to the trader with more capital, because we cannot discriminate based on the level of money invested. We don’t have a premium tier or a VIP service for this reason, because a broker with these services is already implying that their other customers will get less service. The most important thing is to have the basics running perfectly; things like execution speed and liquidity so that you are providing the best spreads for all of your clients. This should take care of most of a client’s expectations so that we can support them and give them added value for the long term.

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