The Hype Of Fully Integrated Solutions: What Lies Beneath

The Hype Of Fully Integrated Solutions: What Lies Beneath

For the last couple of years, there’s been a turmoil on the retail FX market. As the big names are consolidating in Europe and the U.S., new brokers are emerging from the Middle East and Asia. Following the shifts in the market landscape, technology providers are also changing their offerings. Many of them promote new large-scale products that are designed to fulfill multiple purposes at once or provide control over several parts of a broker’s platform: STP bridge, dealing engine, back office, website, CRM, and others. Such products are also known as “fully integrated solutions.” The idea is great and the features are appealing, but are these products as good as they look on paper?

How It All Began

The concept of deep integration through various components has been around for a while, but it skyrocketed with the boom of smartphones and gadgets. Having access to the everyday functions of personal computers in your pocket made them invaluable in everyday life. As the software behind gadgets got more advanced, it also allowed interconnection between different applications so you could get the benefits of using them at the same time.

Since then, technology giants Apple and Google have delivered alternative visions of the whole software environment. While Apple thinks about everything from A to Z, Android has a slower, do-it-yourself approach. If you’re using Apple, then the developers have already chosen an application which carries a certain goal. In contrast, Android users can choose from a variety of options to fit their setup.

Inspired by the accomplishments of the industry leaders, brokerage software providers decided to replicate the concepts in their own products.

The Flying Start

As the brokerage businesses expanded, the overall complexity of their systems increased. Each new service, tradable asset, platform, liquidity provider, branch in a different regulation—everything—has to be planned and considered from a technology point of view. That’s where fully integrated solutions came in handy. Nowadays there are products on the market that allow you to control A/B book execution in one interface, aggregate liquidity from several providers on your own MT4 server, and manage your clients within a single CRM integrated with your brokerage website and sales tools. This allows the broker to reduce staff expenses and automate the routine work. For startup brokers, there are one-stop-shop offers, when one provider will handle everything from license to website and liquidity.

Yet with all advantages lying on the surface, some brokers prefer a more conservative, hands-on approach. Why is that?

The Pros And Cons Of Fully Integrated Solutions

ProsСons
Unified control panelComplicated architecture and configuration
Routing of execution flowReduced stability and speed
Extensive list of featuresHigher purchase and upkeep cost
Incorporation of best practices from providerInability to replace the components on the go
Ties broker to a single technology provider

The Pitfalls

One of the main concepts in software development is that the stability of the whole system is inversely proportional to the number of components. The simpler you make the product, the more stably it will perform. This basic rule applies to fully integrated solutions in the best way possible. Most of these solutions consist of several components, and some of them are installed on multiple servers. This brings numerous questions into consideration: overall speed, compatibility, connection issues. Some parts can only be managed by a technology provider, which means that the brokerage does not have full control over its platform. Moreover, maintenance and upkeep of such solutions is much more difficult and costly.

Imagine a situation when the broker bought a set of integrated products from one provider, like trader room + CRM + back office. Everything looked good until his regulator introduced new policy or reporting. All of a sudden, one of the components has to be replaced and there’s no quick solution because the provider did not think through the standalone compatibility of each component. It only worked when everything was provided by one company.

Better Safe Than Sorry

It is often said in the technology market: “Do not reinvent the wheel.” The providers who rely on this point consider their fully integrated products as the “Next Big Thing” in FX technology, but remember that one size does not fit all. Before making a decision, consider how flexible a particular product is, how scalable it is to perform one year from now, and how it will behave when the unexpected happens. These questions will eventually help you to define your own understanding of your needs and help you to improve your business.

Posted by Katya Yun

The Quest To Find Out Who Stole Your Clients

The Quest To Find Out Who Stole Your Clients

Finding paying clients is what usually makes or breaks a retail Forex brokerage company, so many FX companies consist mostly of a marketing/sales department, because acquiring and retaining customers is the most important (and, probably, the most difficult) thing a broker can do to be profitable.

One way to lose your hard-earned clients is if some dishonest competitor gets access to a whole list of your clients — their names, emails, phone numbers, and payment histories — and targets their advertisement campaign at them directly, by emphasizing your shortcomings and their own advantages, even if untrue.

In this article, we will take a look at how MetaTrader 4-based retail brokerages can protect themselves from theft of their clients’ contact details.

Who Steals Clients, Why, And How

Obviously, the beneficiary of your client database theft is your competitor. Nobody would mind extending their mailing list with thousands of emails of fresh traders eager to make a live deposit. Every sales department dreams of an opportunity to get a thick list of leads with full names, phone numbers, and valid addresses.

But how could it happen that your full list of clients that you’ve cultivated carefully with years of honest operations would end up in your competitor’s hands?

First, of course, it could be a server security breach — your website could get hacked, or your trading server’s passwords could be guessed. We will not be discussing this possibility in this article. It is a very broad topic well beyond our interest here. To mitigate such risk, you should hire competent IT personnel.

Secondly, your employees could leak or sell your clients’ personal data to third parties. They say that if you go to a bar in Limassol on Friday night, $1,000 could get you a full client database from an FX company across the street. If your chief dealer or IT guy think that they are under-compensated, they might have an easy time making up that difference.

Finally, your technology partners could “borrow” your clients’ information rather easily. If you installed a plugin into your MetaTrader 4 server or logged into some third-party tool with your manager’s login and password, it would take less than 10 seconds for an untrustworthy IT vendor to sneak all traders out without leaving any traces. Some technology providers might even launch their own retail Forex brokerage division eventually.

Certainly, there are other, less common possibilities, but for the sake of brevity, we will concentrate on the second and third cases.

What Are Brokers’ Options To Protect Their Client Base?

Protecting your clients’ information is a two-step process:

  1. Preventing third parties from being able to steal your database
  2. Making sure that, should the database get stolen, you know exactly who did it

Managing Access

These are some pretty obvious things.

You should make sure that both your employees and technology providers are trustworthy. Ask for references from other brokerages in advance, and make sure you don’t give direct RDP, Radmin, or unsupervised TeamViewer access to your server. Don’t issue MT4 Administrator or unrestricted MT4 Manager credentials for newcomers.

If you ever share passwords with new technology providers, make sure you change them after the job is done — even if their account managers wish you the best, you don’t want to bet your database on the trustworthiness of all their temporary interns or soon-to-be-fired personnel.

Making Punishment Inevitable

Eventually, no matter how paranoid you get, there’s always a chance that some things might slip beyond your attention. “One of the greatest checks on crime is not the cruelty of punishments, but their inevitability” (“On Crimes and Punishments”, Beccaria). One of the most effective ways to prevent theft is making sure that every time it happens, you can find out who did it.

The problem is that there’s probably no way to pinpoint theft of a client base with 100% certainty, but there are many more or less reliable ways to figure it out indirectly.

After the database is stolen, and you know the approximate time when it happened. Of course, you should consult your Windows Event Logs for RDP access entries, you should check MT4 Journal logs to see who used their MT4 Manager account, and check what plugins were installed in that time frame.

But how do you know whether the theft has indeed been committed, and when? Here’s the trick.

Finding The Thief With One Curious Trick

Let’s say that your competitor gets their hands on your database of numerous clients. What do they do? They probably launch an email campaign to let future customers know about their unique proposition. If you add a new fake email to your database every two weeks, when eventually some of the emails receive a message from one of your competitors, you can be sure that the database was stolen after you generated that particular email address, and probably before you made the next one.

  1. Make sure that you make those “fake” emails on public email services and not on your company’s domain, as they will be easy to filter out (please note that big email providers like Gmail, Yahoo, and Hotmail all require a phone number for new email registration and don’t allow too many emails to be associated with the same phone number).
  2. Devise believable names. Mehmet Bilgin with the email address: mbilgin79@yandex.com.tr will be less likely to be noticed as fake by thieves than Dummy4 with the email address: fx.dec2015@gmail.com.
  3. Don’t just put those fake clients at the end of your client list, but try replacing your old inactive clients from years ago with your “traps,” so that your defense pattern is less predictable.
  4. Don’t bother checking all those fake emails at once. Take 15 minutes to learn how to set up auto-forwarding from those numerous mailboxes to your main account, so that you can catch those newsletters with no extra effort.
  5. Automate the process in-house or contact your trusted software vendor. Although the steps are rather easy, it could get a bit tedious for one person to manage all these details.

By employing this simple technique, you can easily pinpoint when the database was stolen and recall what happened during that time: was it that extra-cheap agent commission plugin that you installed, or was it that sales intern who resigned after one month of work?

Conclusion

From my experience, so many brokers are oblivious about the dangers of their client database getting stolen. They install server plugins from people they’ve never heard of and give eternal unrestricted machine access to everyone who requests it. At the same time, retail Forex brokering is a highly competitive business that employs quite many people with floating morals who are more than willing to save themselves the effort of extending their client base.

The issue is made worse by the fact that usually it is very easy to make a copy of the whole database, leaving little to no traces, and the victim will almost never figure out when information was compromised. There’s no real way to effectively prevent every chance of stealing because of the way MetaTrader 4 works.

However, by using the easy trick described in this article, a broker can be more proactive in defending its clients’ personal data and finding the wrongdoers.

Posted by Timur Latypoff, Director of Takeprofit Technology

How To Improve A Google AdWords Campaign Of A Forex Broker

How To Improve A Google AdWords Campaign Of A Forex Broker

The pay-per-click advertising in Google AdWords is one of the marketing instruments we are using at Takeprofit Technology. We have found interesting tips that are really useful on the Forex brokering market. In this article you can find some advice about Google AdWords for Forex brokers.

More or less, you should already know about Google AdWords. Here is a screenshot of AdWords advertisements for the search term “open forex account.”

All ads have different sizes, locations, headings, text, and links. The performance of each one is also different. Some of them will bring new customers to your business. Others will just spend your marketing budget.

How To Make The Biggest Advertisement

One of the most basic pieces of advice is to make your advertisement size in search results as big as possible. The more space it takes, the higher the possibility that it will be clicked. This principle works for all spheres, but not all businesses have enough interesting information that can be represented in the compact Google advertisement format. Fortunately, Forex brokerages have a lot of information which can be included in an ad. It can be information about spreads, regulation, minimum deposit, leverage, business models, trading instruments, educational courses, trading platforms, or account types.

You can put essential information in the basic part of your ad, and additional information can be put into extensions. Ad extensions are a type of ad format that show extra information (“extending” from your text ads) about your business. There are different kinds of extensions that you can use to make ads more informative.

Sitelink extensions show from two to six links to your site pages. You can edit the links to make them more compact and eye-catching. For example:

  1. Trading Platform MT4
  2. Deposits & Withdrawals
  3. Trading Conditions
  4. Our Partnership Program
  5. Seminars and Webinars
  6. Free Educational Courses
  7. Free 1-on-1 Training
  8. Sign up for Free

Also, you can add your address as a location extension and your telephone number as a call extension. If you have any testimonials from organizations, you can show them as a review extensions. Any important information that you haven’t managed to put into ad text can be put into callout extensions.

The Smaller The Groups, The Better

When you create an ad campaign there is a “Location” parameter that lets you choose in which countries your ads should be shown. If your brokerage works with different countries, you can choose all of them, or even the whole Globe, but I wouldn’t advise anyone to do that. It would really be better to create different campaigns for each country or group of countries. That way, the cost of a click will be a little bit lower and you will also have separate statistics on each country.

I would give the same advice for your services and special offers. Don’t mix all of them into one campaign. For example, let’s say you want to attract clients from Europe, China, and India. You have three types of ads. The first focuses on the minimum deposit, the second on the low spreads, and the third invites people to attend a free training session. According to these conditions your campaigns can look like this:

Clean Regularly

There is no way to block non-target audiences from clicking on your ads, but there is a very useful tool called “Negative keywords.” It tells Google not to show your ads to anyone who is searching for phrases you have tagged as negative keywords. For example, there is a rather popular search term “binary options trading.” If one of your keywords is “trading,” AdWords will show your ads for this term. If you are not providing binary options, this would lead to a flow of non-target traffic on your site.

Negative keywords also take care of your reputation. If you don’t want your ad to be shown for the terms “Forex scam” or “Forex fraud,” put words like that in the negative keywords. When your campaign is launched, you can check what search terms were used in Google by people who clicked on your ads. If you see that some of the search terms are not relevant, you can move them to negative keywords.

The last piece of advice for today is the following: if you want to benefit from Google AdWords, you should take care of every cent that you spend on it. You should always try to get more relevant clicks for a cheaper price. Otherwise it will be quite difficult to benefit from this instrument in a such a competitive market as retail Forex.

I hope this advice will help to make your campaigns a little bit more effective. In one of the next articles, I will write about possibilities for Forex brokers in the Display network of Google.

Posted by Katya Yun

How We Develop

How We Develop

This October our company, Takeprofit Technology, formerly known as Timur Latypoff Technology Lab, will be two years old. It has already been more than two years since we started the development of our first product, a liquidity bridge for MT4.

Developing The Most Reliable MT4 Plugins

Developing our products has taken a lot of work, and we are still putting a lot of effort into making sure that our plugins are reliable, fast, and capable of solving real problems that Forex brokers face. All of the source code changes we make are automatically saved in our version control system, so over these two years, quite a lot of statistical data has piled up, and I thought it might be interesting for our current and future clients to take a quick glance at some beautiful charts about our product development process.

Below is a cumulative chart that shows how our major products grew over time.

As you can see, Klondike bridge is by far our biggest project in terms of source codes lines, more than twice as big as our Ashira virtual dealer. To be fair, its development started half a year earlier than Ashira’s, and during its development we learned many things about the MetaTrader 4 Server internals, which had been taken for granted by the time we started working on the dealer. Also, you may notice that all the lines are still growing — although all the products are very mature and many brokerages have been successfully using them in live environments for a long time, we keep finding ways to make improvements and add new features, providing free updates to all of our clients.

Over the years, we have been putting all robust plugin development practices and patterns into a set of helper projects.

Also, it is notable how our “Common” projects grow: over the years we have been putting all robust plugin development practices and patterns into a set of helper projects upon which all of our products are based. Thus, all of our solutions have common features such as automatic deadlock detection, plugin crash recovery, extended logging, real-time server health monitoring, and many other things that you rarely (if ever) see in our competitors’ products. It has become a tradition that after installing any of our products, they automatically detect faulty third-party plugins, and we contact their developers with suggestions on how to fix the newly found issues in their plugins, in order to protect our new customers. Below, you can take a look at a weekly activity timeline by product.

Developer Productivity

In a similar way, we can dissect the data to see how our developers fared. In the two pictures below, we charted how many lines of code each of our programming colleagues added in total and how source code editing activity was distributed along the overall timeline.

The data above only include changes in code files we created from scratch (specifically, only files with the following extensions: .h .cpp .cs .py .lua .def .js .ini .html .bat .cmd .rb .md .less .scss .mq4). Of course, we don’t include third-party libraries that we use, like QuickFix or Boost.

Hopefully you can now see how much work we do to develop our products and keep them feature-complete and up-to-date, and how excited we are to share some internal details with you.

Posted by Timur Latypoff, Director of Takeprofit Technology

Окно обратной связи Free Trial