If you have a mastery of the equity markets and a great trading strategy in mind, a funded account from a prop trading firm can get you the capital you need to maximize your profits.
Prop trading firms will give you a substantial amount of money to invest, so long as you abide by their risk management strategies and give them a cut of your profits.
You have to choose wisely, however, as most prop trading firms do not allow stock trading, and some that do may not have their traders’ best interests at heart.
In fact, there are only two prop trading firms that allow equity trading that I can recommend with a clear conscience. If you’re interested in trading other assets, check out my Best Prop Trading Firms in 2023.
I don’t like to be negative, but I’ve also included a review of a prop firm I think you should avoid. There are a lot of similarly bad prop firms out there, so I hope you can see what you should look out for.
Table of Contents
|BEST NEW PROP FIRM||BEST NO EVALUATION||BEST FOR FUTURES||BEST FOR STOCKS||BEST FOR CRYPTO|
|Firm||The Funded Trader||The 5%ers||Topstep||FTMO||Fidelcrest|
|$50K – $315|
$100K – $549
$200K – $949
$400K – $1898
|$6K – €235|
$10K – €385
$20K – €745
|$50K – $165|
$100K – $325
$150K – $375
|$10K – €155|
$25K – €250
$50K – €345
$100K – €540
|$10K – €99|
$25K – €249
$150K – €649
$250K – €999
$1 mil – €2699
|Current Discount||5% off with code “SDGNSI”||Click this link for 5% off!||Click this link for 20% off!||Free retries! *|
|Highlights||80-90% profit splits|
Rapid account options, with 0 min. trading days
Leverage 1:200 on standard accounts
Fees fully refunded with passing of 2-stage evaluation
Rapid profit targets: 8% for Stage 1, 5% for Stage 2
12% max loss, 6% max daily loss
Trade real money immediately & keep 50% of the profits
Meet 6% profit target to get 4x your initial account balance.
No restrictions on trading styles
Leverage 1:30 for Aggressive Accounts
Equity stopout level set at 4% below initial account balance
|Keep 100% of your first $5,000 in profits; 80% thereafter|
Complete two-step evaluation in as few as eight trading days
6% profit target, $1,000 daily loss limit, trailing max drawdown $2,000 for $50K evaluation
Offers funded accounts for both forex and futures
|80% profit split to start, scales up to 90%|
Trade everything from forex to stocks to crypto
Scale-up max of $2 million per trader
Two-step evaluation – Step 1: 10% profit target, 10% max loss limit, max daily loss 5% limit. 5% profit target in Step 2.
Full refund of fees upon passing Challenge
|80% to 90% profit splits|
Trade forex, crypto, CFDs, shares
Earn money during 2nd stage of evaluation
10% profit target, 10% max loss; max loss to 5% for Verification Stage
Offers accounts for beginners and pros
$1 million account w/o scaling
|Get Started||Start Trading with The Funded Trader||Start Trading|
with The 5ers
|Start Trading with FTMO||Start Trading|
My top pick: FTMO – 9/10
FTMO is the industry leader for good reason. They offer some of the highest payouts, great trader support, and the freedom to trade stocks and a number of other financial instruments.
In an industry that has some less-than-honest operators, FTMO stands out for their transparency, integrity, and trustworthiness. They won’t nickel and dime you, they won’t charge hidden fees, they won’t delay profit payments.
They will pay you one of the best profit splits in the business. FTMO starts all traders at an 80/20 split and should you meet or exceed profit targets, they will boost that up to an incredible 90% payout. It doesn’t get better than that.
When it comes time to get your money, FTMO offers the most freedom of any prop trading firm in terms of choosing when and how you get paid. According to their website, the average payouts are processed in just eight hours and they’ve paid out more than $23 million so far in 2021.
Of course, profit payout percentages are a moot point if you don’t make any profits, but FTMO has invested a lot of money in providing their traders with the best resources available. They lead the industry in technological innovation, which is most noticeable in their impressive series of apps that help you analyze and learn from every trade you make.
Should you require more human rather than automated guidance, FTMO also offers account evaluations and performance coaches. The performance coaches are a great indication of how much FTMO cares about their traders. These coaches are trained psychologists that help you master the all-important mental aspect of trading.
FTMO also offers a “Trading Academy” for beginning traders that includes access to webinars, video tutorials, and strategy sessions with experienced traders.
Most proprietary trading firms offer pretty good trading platforms these days, and FTMO is no exception. What separates FTMO from other prop trading firms in this regard is that they give you options. Traders can choose from MetaTrader 4, MetaTrader 5, or cTrader.
FTMO also offers an excellent scaling plan. We already covered profit scaling, with profit payout percentages raising from 80% to 90% after you’ve met profit objectives. FTMO also increases your account balance by 25% after every four-month period of meeting your targets. Obviously the higher your balance, the higher your potential for profits. FTMO will increase your balance to a maximum of $2 million.
Finally, let’s talk about costs. Once again, FTMO is at the top of class. Despite all the advantages listed above, FTMO is probably the most affordable proprietary trading firm you will find.
They don’t charge monthly fees, just a one-time start-up fee that is reimbursed with your first profit sharing check. The fee depends on the size of account you are signing up for, starting at €155 if you are aiming for a $10,000 funded account, going up to €1,080 for a $200,000 funded account.
When talking about the cons of trading with FTMO, two things come immediately to mind: demo accounts and the evaluation period.
A lot of traders don’t like the fact that FTMO uses demo trading accounts. Technically, this means you aren’t trading real money. Many prop firms use virtual trading for their evaluation periods, but FTMO is one of the few that keeps you on a demo account even after you’re fully funded.
The virtual funded accounts are tied directly to FTMO’s real trading desks, but they are a little vague about the details. I’m honestly not sure how many of your trades they are making in real life or not.
I’d suspect that FTMO does this for two reasons.
First, using demo accounts probably helps them avoid regulation since they can plausibly argue they aren’t acting as a financial institution. This would save them a lot of money and time that they would otherwise have to spend complying with accounting, reporting, and other regulatory responsibilities that come with being in the financial sector.
Second, it allows them to assess your trades before they are made, giving them one extra layer of risk management. If they are indeed mimicking your trades, one of their in-house traders could double-check the trade before pulling the trigger.
Detractors argue that FTMO really isn’t committed to your success as a trader since they aren’t directly giving you real money. I would argue that their massive investments in trader training and education prove otherwise beyond any shadow of a doubt.
The other issue is whether it affects your mentality as a trader. Will you be overly aggressive if you know you’re not technically trading real money? I can see how you might be tempted, but it really shouldn’t matter to a disciplined trader.
The other complaint about FTMO is their two-step evaluation period. This seems more like a marketing blunder than anything else. The two steps, the FTMO Challenge and the Verification, are virtually the same, with very similar objectives. They could easily combine them and call it a one-step process, which would put them on par with most of the other prop firms.
Technically, it could take you up to 90 days to get funded with FTMO, but depending on your performance you could be done in as few as 20 trading days. That’s pretty close to the industry standard and shouldn’t be a deterrent.
My second pick: Lux Trading – 8/10
Lux Trading’s evaluation process is very trader friendly and pretty unique in an industry full of copycats. You sign up for either a $5k, $10K, or $15K account. Lux gives you a demo account for the amount you selected, and you have as much time as you need to meet a modest 6% profit target.
Once you’ve met your initial target, you’re already playing with real cash. For Stage 2 of the evaluation, Lux gives you the same amount of capital as you initially chose, but now it’s for real. Again, you have to make 6% profits, without time limits.
Once you’ve completed Stage 2, you are already in the big time. Lux will now fund your account to 10x the amount you chose.
That’s right, after just two stages, you will be trading $50K at a minimum. That’s pretty remarkable.
The 6% profit target is also very reasonable. Most prop firms, like FTMO, want to see 10% before you move on, and they want you to meet that goal within a very limited time frame. Lux Trading would rather see you exercise some caution and trade without the constant fear of running out of time.
If it matters to you, Lux already does away with the demo accounts after Stage 1, which is pretty unusual. As I argue above, demo accounts don’t really bother me, so long as I’m getting my profits, but some traders need to know their trades are actually being executed in the market. There’s no doubt about that with Lux. Every trade you make is executed through their broker, Global Prime.
Lux also offers some of the best scaling opportunities in the industry. Once you have a funded account, if you hit 10% profit over a minimum of 29 trading days, Lux will double or more than double your account. Start with the $10K evaluation package and you can have a $1 million account in just five stages. Ace that stage, and they’ll reward you with $2.5 million to manage.
Lux is confident enough to give out so much capital in part because they support their traders with a lot of valuable resources. All Lux Traders have free access to Trading Central, an independent market research firm that has won numerous awards for its analyst research and automated analytics. Lux also offers the services of its own Risk Management Desk to help you navigate the drawdown limit, which can be a difficult task for first-time prop traders.
It goes without saying that I’d only recommend reputable prop firms, but Lux is a rare company. There are not a lot of prop firms out there that have as solid a reputation in the trading community as Lux Trading. They are universally trusted by traders due to the clarity of their trading parameters, helpful support team, and prompt payouts.
Lux has some pretty high enrollment fees, especially if you compare them to FTMO. The fees are completely refunded when you pass the evaluation, so in the best-case scenario it doesn’t matter how much you put down upfront.
And even though the enrollment fee is on the high side, it is also one time only, which is really rare for a prop firm that doesn’t issue time limits as part of your evaluation.
Lux also lags behind FTMO in profit payout percentage. While FTMO starts out at 80% and will bump you up to 90% if you meet certain targets, Lux pays out a steady, unspectacular 65%.
Lux defends their payout percentage by pointing out that, unlike FTMO, they are actually putting their real money on the line with every trade. Since they’re taking on real market risk, they should be entitled to a higher percentage of the rewards.
That’s a valid argument. I think if it really matters to you that your trades are actually executed, a few percentage points is the price you have to pay. Would you rather get 80% of your earnings on fake trades or 65% of your earnings on real trades? The choice is pretty simple to me, which is why I listed FTMO as my top pick.
A final drawback with Lux is that their trading parameters are pretty strict. While you only have to earn 6% to pass both stages of your evaluation, you have to do so with a 4% drawdown limit. That means you have to trade very cautiously.
Again, Lux defends their limits because they are actually giving you real money, and doing so much earlier in the process than most prop firms. You can be trading real capital in a matter of weeks, but you’ll have to be very careful with it.
It also helps that you don’t have a deadline to meet in order to pass your evaluation. You can be much more particular about which trades you make. Lux wants patient, cautious, successful traders, and their drawdown limit is their way of making sure they get exactly that.
Lux Trading is a great choice if you want to trade equities with a funded account and prefer low profit targets and an evaluation without any time limit. Their fees may seem a bit high, but with manageable targets and excellent trader support, Lux Trading makes it relatively easy to graduate to a funded account and get your fees refunded.
To start your journey towards receiving $2.5 million in trading capital from one of the most respected prop firms in the business, visit Lux Trading here.
One to avoid: Maverick Trading – 0/10
Maverick Trading has been in the proprietary trading business for a long time, so they must be doing something right, but they are so vague about their fee structure that I don’t trust them enough to give them a try.
Maverick has a six-step “application process” that provides basic info about the company. It wasn’t until step four that I discovered Maverick Trading requires you to put up $5,000 of your own money as risk capital when (if) they give you a funded account.
That revelation was made after I had already read some basic info and an FAQ, watched a five-minute video, filled out a page-length trader profile, and was about 30 minutes into a second informational video.
During the next step—the fifth if you’re keeping track—they also talk about membership fees and a sign-up fee. Of course, they still don’t say how much either fee is.
By the time they mentioned the existence of these fees, I’d already spent almost two hours on their application process, plus significant time navigating their website trying to find the relevant information on my own. And I still have no idea how much I’d have to spend to join their proprietary trading company. That’s ridiculous.
On Maverick Trading’s website they say that costs of joining their program will vary based on your experience as a trader and how much guidance you need. An article that features an interview with the Maverick CEO states that you have to pay $7,000 for the training necessary to get a funded account to trade stocks and options. That’s a lot! And that’s not the end of it—you also have to pay $199 per month.
There’s also a significant time commitment. In order to qualify for Maverick’s funded account you must complete their instruction program, pass several proficiency tests, submit a written trading plan to the company, and prove your strategy over two months of trading.
So let’s do the math. If you pay $7,000 to start, put up $5,000 of risk capital, and it takes you three months (at $199 per month) to get funded (which is probably optimistic) that’s $12,597 out of your pocket. For all that, Maverick Trading will only initially fund your account for $25,000.
Maverick Trading justifies the high cost of their program by hyping their training and educational resources, but it still seems extremely expensive. You’d probably be much better off buying Maverick’s trading strategy book on Amazon ($24.99) and using your own brokerage account to trade your remaining $12,572.01.
Again, I never followed through with Maverick because I was so put off by their lack of transparency. Maybe they are somehow worth it, but I doubt it. A trustworthy proprietary trading firm tells you up-front exactly how much you’ll be paying to access their training or start your evaluation.
Until they are more forthcoming about their fees, I’d suggest you stay away.
Choosing your prop firm may be the most important decision you make in determining your success as a trader. I’ve given you two excellent choices above, but it’s important to understand how I made my selections so that you can make the best choice for you.
With only a few legitimate firms that permit equity trading to choose from, I wasn’t as rigid in awarding points for each category, but I stuck to the same criteria. If you want to see a more detailed explanation for how I generally make my picks, you can read the methodology in my article on the best overall prop trading firms here.
Here’s my standard criteria for judging the best proprietary trading firms:
Factor 1: Profit splits
What percentage of the profits I’ll get probably shouldn’t be my first factor in choosing a prop firm. After all, profit splits don’t mean anything if you aren’t given realistic opportunities and the proper support from your prop firm. But it is hard not to get excited about the best-case scenario. I want to know that if I beat the market, I’ll get the lion’s share of the rewards.
Factor 2: Scaling opportunities
I also want to know that if I can consistently beat the market, my prop firm will have enough confidence in me to give me even more capital. Most prop firms are pretty good about this. Of course they are going to reward their best traders.
I don’t necessarily look at the maximum scaling amount, as that is rarely attained. I’m more interested in how and when I can step up to the next level of funding. That means looking at what profit targets I have to meet to make the next step and what time frame I’m given to meet those objectives.
Factor 3: Trading parameters
Trading parameters are critical and can very often be the difference between failure and success. Some prop trading firms put such strict limits on your trading style that it becomes very difficult to turn a profit.
Even good prop firms have strict trading guidelines in effect in order to manage their risk. Their money is at stake, so they get to make the rules. Before you sign up for any prop firm, read the fine print and make sure that you can adapt your trading style to meet the parameters. For most prop firms, even a momentary breach of the rules forfeits your account.
I also look at profit targets to make sure they are not prohibitively high.
Factor 4: Affordability/value
As you can see by FTMO and Maverick Trading, there is an enormous disparity when it comes to prop firm pricing. Maverick charges 25x more as a one-time fee for a $25,000 funded account than FTMO does.
It’s not all about the price tag. Maverick would argue that they charge more because they offer a premium training program, so you also have to look closely at what you’re getting for your money. That means figuring out how much support and education you’ll receive and how much value your prop firm adds.
Factor 5: Tradable assets
This is especially important to you equity traders because many prop trading companies severely limit which financial instruments you can trade. Many just trade forex. Obviously, as an equity trader this would leave you out in the cold.
I prefer firms that offer a variety of tradable assets. Even though I trade with a very limited focus, I like to have possible options should I change strategies in the future.
Factor 6: Educational resources
You can learn a lot about a prop firm based on the quality of their trader education programs. Prop firms that are hoping to develop long-term relationships with successful traders spend a lot of money to guide those traders and keep them abreast of market developments.
Factor 7: Customer service
Customer service is another factor that’s a good litmus test for a prop firm’s commitment to its traders. Good prop firms invest in knowledgeable customer service reps to help guide their traders. Even experienced traders can be overwhelmed by a prop firm’s rules, so having someone you can instantly reach out to in a moment of confusion can prevent big mistakes.
Remote trading can feel like a solitary profession, but when you join a prop trading firm, you’re joining a team. After all, when you make money, they make money.
Your new trading team should, first and foremost, be a firm that you trust. They should also give you all the necessary tools, support, and capital to help you reach your true trading potential and maximize your profits.
FTMO and Lux Trading are two legitimate, very highly regarded prop trading firms that will give you every chance to succeed.