Currensee vs ZuluTrade
Please note that Currensee closed on October 31st 2014. We however feel that this comparison can still be useful for reference purposes and hence we’re leaving it active.
This article compares ZuluTrade and Currensee, two of the largest social trading networks in the world at the moment. Having invested significant amounts of our own money with both networks over the past years, we believe we’re in a good position to compare Currensee and ZuluTrade. In addition, we have accounts with a few different brokers for each of the networks giving us even more information to make a justifiable comparison. You can also refer to our detailed ZuluTrade review and Currensee review for a deeper insight into both networks and platforms. These full reviews include screenshots as well. For the purpose of this article we’ve broken down the comparison into the different aspects of the social trading networks.
The first key difference is that ZuluTrade allows you to try a fully functional demo account first, while Currensee only allows you to use their platform with a “real money” account. Another major difference is that with ZuluTrade you can start investing with $300, while realistically you need at least $10,000 to get started with Currensee.
Currensee also operate as “network only” so you’ll need to sign-up for your broker account with one of their about 10 associated brokers. ZuluTrade offers you the choice of signing up via their own fully integrated broker AAAfx, or via one of over 50 associated brokers. The larger choice of brokers offered by ZuluTrade means you’ll have a better chance to find one in your geographic area or one which allows you to open an account in the local currency of your choice.
Maybe it was because we were early adopters and required accounts in GBP, but the sign-up time with Currensee took significantly longer (and many phone calls) compared to the ZuluTrade sign-ups which all happened online.
When it comes down to the costs of using the social trading platforms and services there’re also some key distinctions between the ZuluTrade and Currensee. On the one hand, ZuluTrade is totally free to join and use, and the only cost to you is the broker spread on each trade which gets executed in your account. This spread will vary depending on the broker you choose. With their own AAAfx broker it’s about 2 pips per trade for EURUSD trades, and it’ll be pretty similar with other brokers.
With Currensee you also pay the broker spreads (which are about the same and dependent on the broker you choose). However, Currensee also charge a 2% annual service fee on the total amount of money in your account. In addition you also have to pay a success fee of 20% of any profits a trader makes for you in your accounts. This fee is based on the high water mark and you therefore only have to pay if they’re successful.
Because of the large amounts of money required to invest with Currensee, you may however be able to get some kind of rebate from the broker when you initially fund your account.
Trader Research Features
Under “trader research features” we consider the information, graphs and tools available to help investors make a decision on which traders to copy and invest in. On this criteria it is our opinion that ZuluTrade has a significant edge over Currensee, because it’s totally transparent.
On ZuluTrade you have complete access to every single trade a trader has done before on the network, as well as any trades they currently have open. Currensee only provides a trader’s trading history with date- and not timestamps. They also leave out the leverage taken on the trades, making the data unsuitable if you want to do your own analysis. You also cannot see any of the current open trades of a trader which is a severe disadvantage, especially seeing some of their top traders leave trades open for a few months.
ZuluTrade also provide a more useful choice of graphs and advanced research tools (such as their simulation tool). The main data provided by Currensee is the previous monthly gains or losses, though due to the high slippage these figures are not always very accurate.
In Currensee’s defence though, they market themselves as a premium network and on the premise that they vet the traders before they’re allowed on the network. Hence they probably do not expect their investors to do much research themselves and while they pick traders from their pre-vetted shortlist.
Below is a list of key features:
|Trader’s trading history||Full history but only with day- and not timestamp (can be exported to Excel). No information on the leverage of each historical trade.||Full trading history with date & timestamps is available in the ZuluTrade interface. This info can be exported to in Excel format for further analysis.|
|Open trades||Information not shared.||Open trades can be viewed from the interface.|
|Performance indicators and graphs||Traders can be ranked using 18 indicators (though a few of these are based on proprietary calculations and not transparent) and 5 graphs available.||Traders can be ranked using 12 indicators and 8 graphs available.|
|Simulate||No tool available.||Online simulation tool allows you to simulate performance of a portfolio of traders based on their historical data.|
|Social Network||Social Network is not integrated with the Currensee investment platform. No visible interaction between traders and investors.||ZuluTrade investors can freely leave feedback and ratings on the trader’s pages. Traders can also leave comments though not many do so on a regular basis.|
Risk Management Features
With “Risk Management Features” we imply the functionality available to assign how much to risk per trader and to protect your account. The approaches of ZuluTrade and Currensee are fairly different in terms of risk management.
On a basic level, with Currensee you start by allocating an amount to invest with a specific trader (e.g. $5,000). From then on whatever trades this trader executes in their account will be proportionally executed in your account based on your allocated investment amount. I.e. if they risk 1% on a trade, $50 will be at risk in your account. If you like you can increase the leverage as well, so if you double the leverage, if they risk 1%, 2% of your investment in them will be risked. To protect your investment you can set a drawdown protection level. E.g. 30% (default) which means that if they lose 30% of your allocated amount in them, all trades will be closed and you no longer copy this trader. Currensee doesn’t recommend you close any individual open trades manually and hence there’re no tools available on their platform to do this. You can do this via your broker account, though once you follow more than one trader it’s impossible to identify which open trades belong to which trader.
With ZuluTrade it’s up to you to assign per trader how much, in terms of lot sizes, you risk when a trade they execute in their account gets copied in yours. This can range from 1 micro lot per trade to multiple lots per trade and some basic knowledge of lot sizes is required. The higher the amount, the more money you’re risking. ZuluTrade does provide a range of useful features to allow you to manage the risk more closely. E.g. you can limit the total number of trades a trader you copy can open at the same time, limit the maximum drawdown amount of open trades, limit the maximum amount of capital to risk per trader, etc. When one of your risk ‘guards’ are triggered you can decide whether to automatically close the trades opened by that trader and/or whether to stop copying them going forward. At all times you can see and manage the ‘real-time’ open trades of each trader in your account, and if you like you can close each trade manually yourself early (in profit or in loss).
While the risk assignment approach of Currensee is certainly easier to comprehend for complete novice investors, we’ve found the lack of controls to monitor open trades and positions to be a severe limitation (especially since from experience you cannot put total faith in their traders based on their historical risk levels and they may end up increasing risk significantly by adding to losing positions, something which would be more obvious if open trades could be monitored).
The main driver for performance is obviously the quality and success of the traders available for you to copy and follow. Currensee only allows you to follow traders (Trade Leaders) which they pre-vet and the list is limited to about 20 (click here to view their current trader selection). Some of these traders also require you to invest a minimum amount of $5000 or more, meaning you need a fairly large account to diversify your investments. ZuluTrade on the other hand is totally open and everyone can become a trader (or signal provider), even using a demo account. Hence there certainly tends to be a larger amount of high risk traders on ZuluTrade. However the choice is also much higher (>10,000) and some of them use “real money” accounts as well (click here to view the choice of ZuluTrade traders).
Both networks also incentivise the traders for being profitable. ZuluTrade only pays them commissions for months in which they made a profit, while Currensee pays them 15% of the profit they make on the capital you allocate to them.
We have found no justification in our experience trading on both networks to say that Currensee’s list of pre-vetted traders are any better than some of the successful traders you may find on ZuluTrade. Yes, the average quality will certainly look higher on first glance, but this is also to do with the fact that Currensee remove poor performing traders from their list (i.e. we’ve seen some of their most copied traders leave the network after posting one or two massive losing months). With ZuluTrade a little more effort will be required to find successful ones, though the information they provide to you about their traders is fully transparent and they don’t necessarily hide results of previously poor traders.
While the performance is ultimately down to the traders you select there’re however some other factors which impact your results as well. One key one is the slippage, i.e. the difference in price you get when the trades are executed in your account from the price the trader got. Here we have noticed some fairly significant difference between the networks. In our accounts over the past few years we’ve noticed a significantly lower level of slippage (and trades not executed) on ZuluTrade compared to Currensee. Following even traders identified as ‘High to Medium Correlation” on Currensee (which are supposed to mean lower slippage) we noticed quite a few trades not being followed each month and sometimes slippage of 10 pips or more on single trades. While in theory slippage can go in your favour, normally it will go against you because of the way the trades are opened. While some slippage does occur on ZuluTrade too, the amounts are much less, and often about 1 pip average per trade. ZuluTrade also openly publishes a slippage graph for each of their traders which show how much slippage occurred in the accounts of people following this trader at the different brokerages.
Both social trading networks offer web chat, e-mail and telephone support. With Currensee, the telephone support numbers is only a US one, while ZuluTrade provides a lot of local support number (even though they get through to the same centralised support centre). Because of the large amount of deposit and investment required, Currensee do assign you a support person to help you at the off-set, so you can use a single point of contact which is useful.
ZuluTrade vs Currensee Summary
While Currensee markets themselves as a premium service for serious investors (with additional costs and large deposit requirements) in our experience these extra costs are not really justifiable. The choice of their pre-vetted traders is not better than some of the top performing traders you can find on ZuluTrade. In addition, the slippage we’ve experienced is much higher on Currensee, meaning the results you’ll experience are nowhere near those reported in their Leaderboard interface. In addition, the lack of transparency with Currensee makes it very difficult to do your own analysis on traders to copy. The fact that it’s also impossible to view or manage the individual trades opened by traders in your account means you have to fully trust their traders and be in it for the long run (or until your drawdown protection level is hit). However the poor quality of the traders on their network over the past 18 months makes it very difficult to justify this approach.
While ZuluTrade on the other hand is certainly more anarchic and requires some basic knowledge of Forex trading, their social trading network is completely transparent. Not only do they provide you with all the historical and real-time data of the trades executed by the traders you can follow, they also allow you to discuss these traders (the “social” aspect), put you in full control on how much to risk and how to manage any open trades. Yes, it’ll take some effort to look for good traders which match your risk profile and there’re definitely a large number of poor once there you need to avoid, though you are at all stages totally in control.
We also like the fact that with ZuluTrade you can start by trying their free fully functioning “demo account” (click here) while with Currensee you’ll need to invest and risk a large amount of capital before you can assess the performance of their social trading platform.
The simple fact of social trading is that unfortunately it’s not as simple as investing some money in the top ranking traders and sit back and watch your money roll in (and this is true for ZuluTrade and Currensee as well as ALL other networks). If you want to make some money you have to be realistic and understand that some time and effort need to be invested when selecting the traders you’re going to copy and that you need to regularly follow up on your investment. Therefore we have a higher preference to use a network which is totally transparent and gives us the tools to take full control of our investment, than one which doesn’t.
In case you want to try ZuluTrade, you can start with their demo account first. With regards to Currensee, you can ask one of their sales reps to show you an online demo or browse their review on this site, which includes screenshots of the interface as well. In addition we also have some very detailed and useful ZuluTrade tips and Currensee tips which you can refer to and which hopefully will help you select profitable traders to copy and manage your risk appropriately.