FTC founder interview: Sergey Shirko

FTC FOUNDER INTERVIEW: SERGEY SHIRKO

We bring to your attention an interview with Sergey Shirko, a trader, the founder, and the manager of the ForexCup Trading Championship. We asked Sergey about the values that FTC offers its participants, his vision of how the community of professional traders should look like, and the future for FTC 2021 winners.

Sergey, please tell us, how did you come up with the idea to organize the ForexCup Trading Championship?

“Hi, everyone! First of all, thank you for the opportunity to talk about FTC. I do have a whole lot to say. The idea came to me when last year I competed in the World Cup Championship of Forex Trading for the first time. Also, I had participated in other similar competitions before that. I like to think of trading as stages of a sports competition, in other words, as an activity with cycles and iterations. The association with the sport is reinforced by the fact that outstanding trading results often require the same physical and mental resources as those of a professional athlete. And I think I know how to take such projects to the next level, given the resources. Fortunately, we have the resources because the project is supported by a sponsor, we do not earn money from affiliate programs, and we do not receive profit in any other way.”

We bring to your attention an interview with Sergey Shirko, a trader, the founder, and the manager of the ForexCup Trading Championship. We asked Sergey about the values that FTC offers its participants, his vision of how the community of professional traders should look like, and the future for FTC 2021 winners.

Sergey, please tell us, how did you come up with the idea to organize the ForexCup Trading Championship?

“Hi, everyone! First of all, thank you for the opportunity to talk about FTC. I do have a whole lot to say. The idea came to me when last year I competed in the World Cup Championship of Forex Trading for the first time. Also, I had participated in other similar competitions before that. I like to think of trading as stages of a sports competition, in other words, as an activity with cycles and iterations. The association with the sport is reinforced by the fact that outstanding trading results often require the same physical and mental resources as those of a professional athlete. And I think I know how to take such projects to the next level, given the resources. Fortunately, we have the resources because the project is supported by a sponsor, we do not earn money from affiliate programs, and we do not receive profit in any other way.”

Speaking of taking the events of this kind to the next level, is there anything you missed in trading championships you participated in? Maybe it’s something you want to incorporate into the ForexCup Trading Championship?

“Sure, I would like the trading community to strive to learn more about them, who they are, what their path has been in trading, to discover their stories, methods, and techniques. I wish people like that would get more publicity and promotion if they needed to. It’s good to learn from the stories of real people because real life and real situations are much more interesting than fictional examples. As a trader, I would like to see more industry leaders with confirmed results that newcomers can look up to. Also, incidentally, this will serve to strengthen the image of the entire trading industry.”

Do you think that FTC may spark the creation of a close-knit community of traders? What do you think this community should look like in its ideal state, and do you observe signs of its emergence now?

“It's probably still too early to talk about it, but it should come out naturally, assuming the project is valuable and attractive to the professional traders. We have already initiated the content production with the help of our standings leaders, and we also help those participants who have PAMM accounts to promote this kind of activity. Thus people who want to participate but don’t feel the power or skills for it are able to join PAMM accounts as a follower and take part in the championship as well. I don't encourage anyone to do that. Moreover, I should highlight that such investments have a very high risk. However, if we consider trading as a sport, such investments pay off at the stage of emotional gain from the process itself. We can already observe the first instances of motivation of this kind among our participants.

Let's move on to the participants. At the moment, there are more than 20 open accounts registered for the championship. In your opinion, what is the main motivation for participants entering FTC 2021?

“There are 26 active accounts, to be exact. The motivation of the participants, I suppose, can come in all sorts of ways. Someone came for the prize, and that is a perfectly understandable goal. Surely, some participants want to prove to themselves that they can show the results at the level of the best traders. Others use the FTC as a platform for promotion, and for some, the championship provides an additional element of excitement in their trading activity. The latter category is especially active in communicating with our support, as these traders most closely follow the updates of the standings. And we as organizers do our best to take this list of needs into account.”

There is not much time left until the end of 2021, and this, in theory, may reduce the enthusiasm of potential participants, who decide to wait until the beginning of 2022 and the new round. What do our championship statistics suggest on this matter, and how can you encourage such traders?

“I can definitely say that it is the last weeks of the championship that will be the most interesting. I don't need to go far to prove it. Last year on December 12, I was the leader of the 2020 World Cup Championship of Forex Trading with the current result of 126% and ended up in third place with the result of 61%. The winner was Jan Smolen from Slovakia with 113%. Thus, if I didn't open any trades in the last two weeks, I would have taken the winner trophy. The closer we get to the finals, the more emotions the participants will experience, and the more exciting it will be to watch the standings. I don't exclude the possibility that a participant who hasn't even registered now may win.”

What made you decide to get into trading? Do you find excitement in navigating the unpredictable market?

“I think the first thing that motivated me to become a trader was the freedom. If you put some effort and intelligence into it, trading can help you become completely mobile and not be tied to anything. It's also a very highly competitive field, and that fact also helps me keep my gray matter energized, since my very first trade back in 2009. To summarize, the key factor is that the market fits my personality type — I like to analyze, calculate, anticipate the moment and succeed. A friend of mine once said that trading is something between chess and fishing. I really like that metaphor.”

Does your background help you in your trading pursuits?

“Sure. I have an economics degree and my entire career has been connected to the FX industry in one way or another. I mean cooperation with both brokerage and IT companies developing special software for the industry. I think this experience helped me better understand market infrastructure. I would also recommend on this subject the book by Larry Harris 'Trading and Exchanges: Market Infrastructure for Practitioners'. This is a fundamental work for understanding how things in the industry are organized.”

You probably have your trading style established by now. How would you describe it?

“I trade manually, and I have never used expert advisors. If I may say so, I am a momentum trader, meaning I wait for the situation on the market that I understand and usually hold positions for 2-5 days.”

How do you analyze the market to determine the situation and the entry point?

“In spite of the fact that I mainly trade Forex, I primarily rely on my trading on the open interest analysis of the futures market. For this purpose, I use Commitments of Traders (COT) Reports and CME options reports. Also, it's very important to understand the market sentiment, because the market is driven by the expectations of the participants. I use cycles and technical analysis to calculate timings.”

Taking into account that you trade manually, how do you deal with the emotional component of the process?

This is not an easy question because it is impossible to eliminate stress, but you can learn to handle it. I take constant care to stay in good shape, both physically and mentally. A rather strict daily routine helps me with this. Besides, I realized that it is important to have a break now and then. This helps me recover more than anything else.

Is there an environment that you feel most comfortable with in terms of trading activity?

“First of all, I like volatility. Right now, you can open trades from your smartphone on your way to the grocery store. The main thing that gives me comfortable trading conditions is ideas drafted before I enter the market, the ideas that I believe may work in my favor. To get those ideas, every Sunday I try to study the market and prepare for the trading week. I notice that if I don't do that, I make more mistakes. I am sure that it is from the regularly executed business routine that professional trading is built.

We touched on the subject of technology, which greatly simplifies the life of traders, and mobile trading is a good example. How else has the trading domain changed in your eyes over the years of activity? What innovations, in your opinion, have had the greatest impact lately?

Mainly, technologies increase market competition and attract new people and new money in this industry. However, I think this doesn’t change the market itself. With the development of technology, the liquidity providers and market makers got even more resources and began to use more sophisticated methods of making money in the market, and as a result, the average trader became more vulnerable. I guess it goes without saying that the market is a zero-sum game, and one participant's profit is another participant's loss. As for me, not much has changed, сonsidering that I practice the manual trading approach. I still study the experience of traders who are active for 60 years, prominent ones like Larry Williams, for instance. Williams' approach is still relevant today, with some adjustments to reflect the years gone by.

Thank you for sharing your experience with us. In conclusion, let's get back to FTC. In addition to trophies and a cash prize for the winner, what bonuses await the first three finalists?

“In addition to prizes mentioned, we are ready to assist the winners with promotion via our media partners. Also, if any participant feels empowered and willing to share their experience with colleagues, we are happy to facilitate such efforts.”

Can you give a hint of what the next round of FTC may look like, in 2022?

“I can definitely say that it will be bigger in every way. More information will follow after the ForexCup Trading Championship 2021 awards.”