Unger Academy Trading Hero: Interview to Petra Ilona Zacek – World Trading Champion 2018

Unger Academy Trading Hero: Interview to Petra Ilona Zacek – World Trading Champion 2018


I’m half Czech, half Slovak, currently I live
in the United States. At the moment and historically I have spent
about 15 years of my career, basically my entire working life, I spent on the trading
floor taking care of institutional clients and because of the potential conflict of interests
I wasn’t allowed to trade any of my money whatsoever. So that was managed for me that after I retired
about three and a half years ago, I moved with my pro athlete husband to desert in Arizona
in States and at that time I had to retire therefore and I was able to start trading
the family trust money, so this is approximately 3 and a half/4 years when I started trading
my own life. So we have a quite extensive wide family trust,
so the family trust has diversified portfolio: real estate, it has collectibles, it has equities
meaning stocks and small part of that trust I dedicate actually to commodity futures market
and in theory within that I do trade anything that is liquid enough to accommodate my size
so it doesn’t really matter the most 45 liquid futures I would trade. I use 2 main execution platforms, I use CQG
which is, you know, institutional platform actually, a lot of investment banks use it
for execution, they are a platform of choice for people of CME and other exchanges and
at the same time I use also Interactive Brokers because some platforms you can do some things,
some platforms you can do other things. On the broker side, I use my main broker Straits
and obviously Interactive Brokers as such. Straits is hooked up to CQG and subsequently
to Genesis which is Trade Navigator where all my algo systems actually reside. It’s funny to say that I actually attended
the Trading Master Class in 2017, but I actually considered going already in 2016 because two
of my trading buddies who I was collaborating with at that time and we are collaborating
actually until today, they did go and unfortunately I didn’t have enough time to actually go and
make it, so once I actually came to the Trading Master Class in 2017 it really had a major
impact on me and I think it’s for many people like that. For me personally, it was the most important
thing, or a few important things, but one of the most important things I discovered
was that Tim, Kevin, Andrea, Michael and Kurt they are actually human, they are not necessarily
Superman or, you know, aliens so I found out that they are normal guys and that made it
more real to me that I could actually trade, not the same as they do, but I could be
successful as they are potentially, so it helped me, and secondly I was actually able
to fix my setup, meaning when I went to the trading class to do the master class my setup
didn’t allow to actually take two positions in algo which were opposing each other. So, let’s say, taking short and long position
in S&P, it was impossible to do from the perspective from my broker and because I came into the
class, I was able to sort it out and I am capable of doing that and this was, you know,
this is a big issue for a lot of people and this helped me actually solve a lot of things
from setup perspective. So Andrea’s programs I did attend Unger Academy
before I went to the New York Trading Master Class. Yes I think so, I think so, that’s the name
yes so I actually have part of my portfolio which is algorithmic and it was
quite useful for me to get deeper in that, even though I am not an IT coding person,
like a specialist, and on top of that I actually use in my discretionary trading, I sometimes
use the algo for testing beforehand, when I’m testing some ideas it actually speeds up my
analysis and it gives me a little bit more of an additional layer to tell me that
I am on the right path what I’m trying to say potentially with those trades. Yes absolutely yeah this is exactly. I am not using algo like other pure algorithmic
traders but it definitely gave me an additional additional edge and this is all you need, really you
need an additional edge for your trading. I think I learned new ways to construct and
analyze and looking at algo, because everyone is different in terms of systematic trading
everyone uses the analysis differently like, I know Kevin in his book he uses the algorithmic
setup and how he constructs systems, how he goes step by step. He does it differently than Andrea, Andrea
does it differently. So everyone has its own style so it’s very
useful when you learn that, because you can actually come up with additional ideas about what
you can do or learn to do it differently more efficiently sometimes. I actually did extensive homework before I
went to the trading master class, this is just why I prefer to know what people are
about because when you are in client business this is Alpha and Omega to know basically
what the people are about. So I did homework on Andrea, I did homework
on Kevin, and I spoke to my buddies who attended the program
the year before and one of my buddies actually recommended that I do specifically this particular
program from Andrea because I will be fully up to speed with his approach and it was really
helpful so this is what’s the main reason why I did it. About ten to fifteen percent roughly of my
trading is algorithmic. Just pays for the monthly bills, you know
it’s just trading away, I don’t really need to attend to it and on top of it as I mentioned
before, I really use to view the algorithmic systems for additional layer for analysis. I would definitely recommend Andrea’s programs,
any of them. Even though I might not have taken all of them. The main reason why I would do that is because
Andrea’s a real trader. He’s not someone who is from academia or he’s
just a guy who goes to expose and tries to sell something. He has a proven track record, he has won the championships several times, repeatedly, so there are so many charlatans in finance where
they try to sell you something and they pretend knowing, you know, everything. They have the answer to everything, but this is
not how Andrea is. Andrea is the real deal, he has shown that
he knows how to use those markets and he actually can be very successful with it. So I think that’s the main reason why people
should do this program because he’s a trader. In the 2018 World Cup championship I won the
championship with 258% returned, I also did compete in the 2017 Q4, the shorter one, the
equity’s championship where I ended up sixth. So I did that one first and then I went to
the annual one. I did start with $10,000, this is the minimum
of what you can start in trading futures, I think Forex is, I think 7,5 if I’m not mistaken
and I ended up with $35.800 at the end of the year so it was mainly discretionary approach,
partially I use one algorithm system in the competition. Obviously I was, well I don’t know, maybe
other people are not, but I was concerned that it’s gonna bother me and I will not be
able to sleep, you know, and I will be nervous and the main thing what I was concerned about
it, it doesn’t really change how I trade and what I do in the main portfolio, in the trust,
and this is the main reason why the Q4 2017, the shorter one, I wanted to test how I’m
gonna react, what this is gonna do to me and what it is gonna do to my portfolio overall. I found it, I’m very fortunate, I don’t really
have these issues that I can’t sleep if I have too much risk on, or other stuff which
on one side this is good because you don’t have nerves and you don’t get upset, on the
other side, I have to have certain red flags in my systems, in my portfolio set up to tell
me I have too much risk on. So I’m quite diligent on monitoring my risk
profile just because I know that I could be too exposed. So, because I didn’t feel any changes related
to my trading and to my portfolio as such with the Q4 2017, I felt comfortable doing
the 2018. Because the account is so small the Commission’s
don’t really make any difference in the big picture at least in my case. Bottom line for me, there are no differences. The reason being, because I treated the competition
account as an integral part of my overall portfolio, meaning I simply push trades into
the competition account which I would normally do in my main trust, in my main account and
just I subtracted that position from my main account portfolio so I didn’t do that particular,
let’s say, if I was supposed to do, I don’t know 20 contracts, I would put part of the
contracts, like 3,4 maybe 5 depending, into competition account, everything else would
be in my main account. So there was no difference the only difference
was that I had to then, you know, execute in two accounts, it was just like a small
slice of the overall cake literally. Well not really in sense of the championship,
I think. It was an amazing experience in terms of you
learn to deal with things you would never encounter in your normal trading life and
I found it very useful because it made me grow a lot. The only thing what I would probably do differently
is attending the Trading Master Class a year earlier because it would save me, you know,
one year of my life this is the only thing. So before I went to New York, before I went
to Trading Master Class, I never ever considered participation in the championship. I just simply didn’t think this is even possible
for me to do that, to master that or being able to be successful and I have to admit,
unless I think that I have a chance to be really, you know, in the top, it didn’t make
sense to me to even contemplate attending. It was just additional work which I didn’t
want to do. The participation was actually one of the
conditions of Michael Cook collaboration. So he said if he’s gonna collaborate with
me, the condition, one of the conditions was that I have to participate in the championship
the next year. So it’s all his fault, all his fault that
I actually participated and then I won. I think, at least this was very important
to me, because I had to get through that journey and it took a while for me. People need to spend time on figuring out
what they are about. Meaning are they intraday trader, are they
medium-term trader or a long-term trader? Is it easier for them to trade based on technical
indicators, is it easier for them to be fully algorithmic traders because this is what they
are about, this is what they are talented to do or are they more prone to make a decision
on day trading based on, you know, economy or whatever they are about? Once people figure that out then you need
to go out and find the best person in that particular trading style and then learn from
them what the trading is about, because if you are an algo trader and you go and learn
trading from someone who is a long term trader, who trades economy and these several things
you are not gonna enjoy it, you’re not gonna like it, you’re gonna be feeling pushed into
it, it’s not gonna be you. So just figure out who you are and find someone
who is really really good in that and then learn from this person. Maybe people should be basic, meaning not
trying to overdo it ,like you know, some people they think the more screens they buy the better
they get in trading. It’s not true, I have a very basic set up
and I don’t need ten screens to make it happen to trade. It actually means if you have too many brokers,
too many systems, it actually means that maybe you are doing something wrong, because maybe
your set up is not correct. Your set up should be very easy and very fast,
it should be very convenient. And probably the second thing I would I recommend
to people is, don’t do it yourself by yourself, go out, find people to talk to, to collaborate
with. I know a lot of people are like I don’t like
to show them my ideas, you know, I can’t share… well I don’t believe that there are people
who invent something that hasn’t been already considered or invented, so literally if you
don’t collaborate you are limiting yourself because when you collaborate with more people
you can do more work at the same time. You can divide the analysis between each other
and you actually can see a different angle. So for example, I was collaborating from 2014,
I was collaborating for over two years with 103 people based on teachings of one of the
very successful traders and we were analyzing the same ideas, the same approach for almost
3 years and at the end of the day when we were then taking trades, it was shocking to
all of us that we basically were taking trades in different commodities and in different
timing. So the fact that you work with someone, doesn’t
really mean that you are going to be doing the same trade at the end, but it’s gonna
speed up your life it’s gonna speed up the analysis and you’re gonna be faster in that. This is really important because you don’t
want to come up with something ten years later, you want to do it now, you want to make money
now. So, I think, this is probably what I would
give people as an advice, because a lot of people think they shouldn’t be talking about
their ideas to other people.