ZuluTrade Review (Our Opinion)
Please note that this is the ZuluTrade review summary page with our opinion. You’ll find more detailed reviews of the various ZuluTrade interface features, broker choice, costs and performance on the next pages.
So let’s start the review with some pertinent questions. Can you make money with ZuluTrade? Yes, you can. Is it easy to make money with ZuluTrade? No, some effort and Forex trading knowledge are required. When we started trading on the platform we managed a 15% profit on our portfolio on the first month and lost 30% in the next. But, by learning from our mistakes and applying some rigorous risk management we’ve been managing positive returns since then.
More than any other social trading network and autotrading platform, ZuluTrade is “open” and accessible to everyone. For you (the investor) this is great. There’s a free fully functioning demo (click here to try ZuluTrade demo) and you can start investing with “real money” from as little as $300, £210, 250 Euro, 25,000 JPY or 300 AUD. The sign-up procedure is easy and straight-forward. However, the openness also means everyone can become a trader (also known as “signal provider”) on the network. Signal Providers do not necessarily trade with their own money (they can send signals from demo accounts) and their profiles are not formally vetted by Zulu Trade (i.e. if they say they traded professionally for 10 years, it’s their word and nothing more). I.e. it’s left to the “social network” to police the “trader signal providers” by leaving user comments and voting on their performance. While there is some significant value in this, the user comments are mostly negative and while many are justified, a fair amount are just from people expecting 100% wins and complaining after a provider posts a few negative trades.
While ZuluTrade started as an exclusive social “forex” trading network, they added binary options to their platform in 2015. So now you can choose to trade yourself or copy other traders in either forex or binary options mode.
The amount of “forex traders” to follow and copy is massive (> 10,000), though ZuluTrade does provide you with an advanced search engine that allows you to slice and dice through that list against your preferences. E.g. only show me traders with over 52 weeks history, who trade their own money and have a drawdown of less than 20%. They also have a performance table (see image on the right) in which they rank all “traders”. Until last year they ranked using a proprietary algorithm, “ZuluRank”. While this did improve over time, we saw more than one trader make an appearance in the top 5 in one month (and significantly increase its number of “live” followers) just to make a large loss and drop out the top ZuluTrade rankings the next month. Now the default ranking is by “Live Followers Profit” which seems fairer and more relevant (btw, you can rank on other performance indicators too).
Because the list of traders is very large and new ones are added every day, ZuluTrade recently introduced the concept of UserLists to help you better manage them. You can create one or more UserLists of traders, which is useful if you want to monitor them for a while before you copy them. You can also share your lists with others and view lists created by other investors.
It’s worth noting here that on December 12th 2014 ZuluTrade made some significant changes accordance to EU legislation and with the aim to increase investor protection and reduce systemic risk. From this date EU residents can only view and follow the top 1,000 traders who all need to comply with the following 3 criteria:
- maximum drawdown less than 30%
- average pips per trade profit more than 3 pips
- trader has been sending signals for at least 12 weeks.
The knock on effect of this ZuluTrade policy though has meant that all traders now clearly aim to meet those criteria because they all want to be visible to EU customers. Hence the average quality of the traders to follow has increased for all customers.
The list of binary options traders to copy is currently still a lot smaller and they have much less trading history, obviously because ZuluTrade only introduced this service last year.
There’s also a “follower performance list” where you can view which traders other Zulu Trade investors like you follow and how their total portfolio performs. With one click you can copy the settings of another follower if you like to follow the same traders.
For each “trader/signal provider” you can view a good range of performance indicators and graphs to help you evaluate them. What’s important here to mention is that ZuluTrade is totally transparent. In fact, they share every single trade a trader has done in the past and you can download all the historical trades in Excel as well, allowing you to do your own proprietary analysis (in comparison, some other social trading networks only give you access to the last 50 or 100 trades). While all the information is clearly there and presented in a variety of useful ways, looking for consistent and trusted “Traders” still requires some skill and regular fine tuning. If you’re new to Forex trading it will take quite a few months before you assemble a portfolio of ZuluTrade “traders” you trust and who match your own investment profile and risk/reward strategy.
The choice of brokers you can use with ZuluTrade is very good. Their preferred and directly integrated broker is AAAfx (based in Greece), which allows you to manage your account in EUR, USD, JPY, GBP, AUD, RUB and CHF. In addition though, there’re over 50 other supported brokers, including US, UK, Europe, Russia, New Zealand and Australia based and regulated ones, which allow you to keep your account in these and other base currencies. These other brokers do charge a small commission on each trade from a ZuluTrade signal, while AAAfx doesn’t.
The performance for each broker will be slightly different (mainly because the spreads and ZuluTrade commission they charge differs), though ZuluTrade does review and report the average slippage (i.e. difference between the price the signal provider traded at and what your broker account traded at) for each broker on each “signal provider” page. From our experience with accounts at multiple brokers, these slippage reports are pretty accurate.
Slippage is an important factor with forex autotrading platforms and a key driver of this is how quick the system executes the trades from the traders or trade signals you follow in your own trading account. While some slippage does occur and on very few occasions some trades were missed, we’ve found this to be more a factor which relates to the broker and signal provider choice (i.e. higher slippage with scalpers because these traders look for small quick profits in volatile market conditions), rather than of the execution speed or reliability of the ZuluTrade autotrading platform.
Once you’ve selected a “trader” to follow, ZuluTrade lets you assign a fixed amount you want to trade per signal you copy. Or alternatively, since 2016, you can also chose to copy the traders “Pro-Rata %”. E.g. 10% means if the trader opens 1 lot, in your account 0.1 lot will be opened. You can also set the “Max Open positions” allowed to open in your account for the trader.
It used to be very easy to blow your ZuluTrade account by getting the settings wrong for one “trader” who may change their strategy from one day to another (and there are many stories on Forums of people who get this wrong). However ZuluTrade did introduce some very useful additional risk management features in December 2012 which allow you to set a maximum loss you’d take in monetary terms for each “trader/signal provider” before your account automatically stops following them and closes any open trades they had in your account. This feature is now called ZuluGuard™ Capital protection, and it also takes into account your overall risk profile based on the short suitability questionnaire you complete when registering with ZuluTrade.
When you follow and copy multiple “traders”, a little bit of skill and Forex trading knowledge is required to work out how much of your capital and account you’re actually risking. To help you, ZuluTrade displays a “Margin Call -o- meter” meter to estimate the chance that your account will run out of money (i.e. you get a margin call). While this is useful, it is still merely an indicator and doesn’t replace the basic money management knowledge and discipline you should acquire to be successful yourself on ZuluTrade.
Compared to the other social trading and trade copying platforms ZuluTrade already had the most advanced set of risk management features for the past few years. In March 2016 they introduced an additional tool called “The Automator”. This works like a personal assistant and it can notify you by email or automatically execute actions when things happen. All of this is based on simple rules which you can add, such as:
- if PnL from Trader XYZ is more than $1,000 then lock profit
- if my equity drops below $1,000 then send me an email
This tool is pretty useful, not just in terms of limiting losses, but also in terms of taking profits. NEVER FORGET that in trading it’s as important to lock in profits as it is to limit risk, and this is the case too when you copy other traders on ZuluTrade.
In terms of the binary options service, risk management is also still important on ZuluTrade . Yes, when you trade yourself, binary options trading is easy to control because you know exactly how much you can win or lose at the time you buy the option. However when you start to copy other binary options traders you again need to consider and carefully review the risk settings. E.g. how much do I risk per trade I copy, how many options can they open and what is my maximum allowed loss.
You can review your account performance online at any time and ZuluTrade also sends daily and weekly summary report e-mails which are useful to keep track of your trading results. They’ll also send you an e-mail when the behaviour of one of the “traders/signal providers” you follow changes. E.g. they change their usual stop levels or are opening many more trades than the usually do. It is however up to you to act on this information since ZuluTrade will not intervene in signal provider accounts. You can however use The Automator tool to automatically close or disable “traders” if certain behavior patterns which you define are detected (e.g. send me an email when a trade from Trader XYZ goes below 100 pips).
The online ZuluTrade trading user interface that lets you close any trades opened by the “traders” you follow in your account manually or open/close trades yourself is basic, though it does the job and is fairly intuitive and easy to use. You can review your historical Zulu Trade performance by provider and per time frame, which is very useful to evaluate who’s been generating the profits and losses in your account.
If you have an iPad, iPhone or Android mobile phone or tablet you can also download the ZuluTrading app which allows you to view your performance, review new traders to copy, close trades manually and manage your risk settings on the go “real-time”. The functionality of these apps has improved significantly since their first releases, and they are a very nice and convenient addition.
The integration with Twitter and Facebook is fairly unique too, reporting every closed trade in your account. However, why you would want your friends and family to know about every trade you make in your account is another question. We’re guessing this is more a way of ZuluTrade to get their brand across the social networks and a nice marketing ploy.
ZuluTrade provides both telephone and e-mail support in multiple languages. We’ve found them to be polite, prompt and responsive (telephone always got through straight away and e-mail replies normally take less than 24 hours). More complex and technical queries are better asked by e-mail than over the phone.
The Zulu Trade user guides are very basic and just focussed on explaining the functionality of the system. The user Forum is very loosely moderated but very active and you’ll get other ZuluTraders helping each other.
Overall, ZuluTrade is an easy to use social trading platform and network with no entry costs and low ongoing costs (only small pip charge per trade). The fact that anyone can become a signal provider may take the open social concept to its heart, but makes it more difficult to find the few ‘professional’ providers on the trading network who deliver consistent results over time. Basic money management knowledge is also required if you want ZuluTrade to become a long term investment platform for you instead of a short term casino game.
ZuluTade review Pros:
- free fully functioning demo account (can easily try without committing money)
- wide choice of traders (‘signal providers’) to follow and copy
- good choice of brokers in different countries (also means choice of account currencies)
- data is fully transparent (all historical traders are shared)
- customer comments directly on signal provider profile pages
- low ongoing cost (spread only)
- no entry cost and low minimum deposit requirements (trade from $300)
- advanced risk and money management features
- good mobile apps
- offers binary options in addition to forex
ZuluTrade review Cons:
- for every successful consistent trader (‘signal provider’) there are also some poor and inconsistent ones
(bit of a wild west because anyone can become a provider though improved since December 2014 changes)
- ‘signal providers’ are not required to trade using their own money (though more and more do)
- money management can be complex for non Forex traders or beginners (but has improved significantly)
- requires regular monitoring until the right mix of ‘Traders’ is selected
This review is based on our experience with a live Zulu Trade account (actually multiple ones) and was first written early 2012. However as with all others we also keep this one up to date when new features get released, policies get changed or our opinion changes based on our experiences (with our live accounts!). Over the next 8 pages you’ll find more detailed reviews of the various features of the ZuluTrade social trading service and platform with some screenprints.
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