How Do Prop Firms Make Money? (2024)

Proprietary trading firms (prop firms) are entities that engage in trading financial instruments using their own capital. They are known to employ skilled traders who make trades on behalf of the firm. A key question that often arises is how prop firms generate revenue and sustain their operations. This article delves into the inner workings of prop firms to unravel the various methods they employ to make money.

What is a Proprietary Trading Firm?

A proprietary trading firm is a company that uses its own capital to speculate in financial markets, typically across multiple asset classes and strategies. These firms engage in various trading activities, seeking to profit from fluctuations in the prices of financial instruments. Prop firms often employ teams of experienced traders with the skill and expertise to make informed trading decisions.

How Do Prop Firms Make Money?

Prop firms employ a variety of strategies to generate revenue and grow their capital. These strategies often revolve around the core principles of capital preservation and risk management while seeking to generate returns that exceed the market benchmarks. Some common methods used by prop firms to make money include:

Trading Strategies Used by Prop Firms

Prop firms typically employ a range of trading strategies to profit from price movements in financial markets. These can include:

  • Arbitrage: This involves taking advantage of price discrepancies between different markets or securities.
  • Market Making: Prop firms may act as market makers, providing liquidity to the market by buying and selling securities at bid and ask prices.
  • Trend Following: This strategy involves identifying and following trends in the market, buying when prices are rising and selling when they are falling.
  • Event-Driven: Prop firms may also trade based on specific events such as earnings reports, economic data releases, or political developments.

Risk Management in Prop Trading

Risk management is a crucial aspect of prop trading, as it helps firms protect their capital and minimize losses. Prop firms employ various risk management techniques, including:

  • Diversification: By trading across multiple asset classes and strategies, prop firms can reduce their exposure to any single market or security.
  • Position Sizing: Prop traders carefully determine the size of their positions based on their risk tolerance and the potential for profit.
  • Stop Loss Orders: These are orders placed to automatically close a position if the price reaches a predetermined level, limiting potential losses.
  • Hedging: Prop firms may also use hedging strategies to offset potential losses in one position with gains in another.

Fees and Charges for Prop Traders

Prop firms typically charge fees and commissions to their traders, which can vary depending on the firm and the trader's experience and performance. Some common fees and charges include:

  • Desk Fee: This is a monthly fee charged to traders for using the firm's trading platform, technology, and resources.
  • Commission: Prop firms may charge a commission on each trade made by their traders.
  • Profit Split: In some cases, prop firms may take a percentage of the profits earned by their traders as a form of compensation.
  • Training Fees: Some prop firms offer training programs for new traders, which may come at a cost.

It is essential for traders to carefully consider the fees and charges of different prop firms before choosing one to work with.

Advantages of Trading with a Prop Firm

There are several advantages to trading with a prop firm, including:

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  • Access to Capital: Prop firms provide traders with access to capital that they may not have on their own, allowing them to make larger trades and potentially earn higher profits.
  • Professional Support and Resources: Prop firms often have experienced traders and advanced technology and resources that can help traders make more informed decisions and improve their performance.
  • Opportunities for Growth: As traders gain experience and prove their profitability, they may have the opportunity to advance within the firm and potentially become a partner or fund manager.
  • Shared Risk: Prop firms share the risk with their traders, as they are using their own capital for trading. This can provide a sense of security for traders and allow them to take on more significant risks.

Disadvantages of Trading with a Prop Firm

While there are many benefits to trading with a prop firm, there are also some potential drawbacks to consider, such as:

  • High Competition: Prop firms often have a rigorous selection process and may only accept a small percentage of applicants. This means that traders must be highly skilled and competitive to be accepted into a prop firm.
  • Limited Autonomy: Traders working with a prop firm must adhere to the firm's rules and guidelines, which may limit their autonomy in decision-making.
  • Fees and Charges: As mentioned earlier, prop firms charge various fees and commissions, which can eat into a trader's profits.
  • Potential for Losses: While prop firms aim to minimize risk, there is still the possibility of losses, and traders may be responsible for covering any losses incurred.

Tips for Choosing the Right Prop Firm

If you are considering trading with a prop firm, here are some tips to help you choose the right one:

  • Research and Compare: Take the time to research and compare different prop firms, looking at factors such as their track record, fees and charges, and trader reviews.
  • Consider Your Goals and Preferences: Think about your trading goals and preferences and choose a firm that aligns with them. For example, if you prefer a specific trading strategy, look for a firm that specializes in it.
  • Evaluate the Training Program: If you are a new trader, evaluate the training program offered by the prop firm to ensure it meets your needs and provides value for the cost.
  • Understand the Terms and Conditions: Before signing any contracts or agreements, make sure you understand the terms and conditions of working with the prop firm, including fees, profit splits, and risk management policies.


In conclusion, prop firms generate revenue through various trading strategies and risk management techniques. They also charge fees and commissions to their traders for access to capital and resources. While there are advantages to trading with a prop firm, such as access to capital and professional support, there are also potential drawbacks, such as high competition and limited autonomy. It is essential to carefully research and evaluate different prop firms before choosing one to work with and ensure that it aligns with your trading goals and preferences.

How Do Prop Firms Make Money? (2024)


How Do Prop Firms Make Money? ›

Prop firms fund traders to earn a share of their profits, which constitutes a major part of their revenue, and may also gain income through subscription, joining fees, and selling educational courses.

How much do prop firm owners make? ›

In conclusion, the income of prop firm traders can vary greatly depending on several factors such as experience, performance, and the size of the firm. On average, a junior prop trader can expect to earn anywhere between $50,000 to $100,000 per year, while a senior trader can make upwards of $500,000 annually.

What percentage do prop firms take? ›

The percentage of profits that a prop firm takes can vary, but it is usually somewhere between 10-50%. So, for example, if a trader makes $10,000 in profits, the prop firm might take a 30% cut, leaving the trader with $7,000.

What are the negatives of prop firms? ›

- Traders in prop firms often have limited control over the firm's capital. They may need to deposit their own money as collateral or risk management. - Additionally, payouts are subject to the firm's rules, which may restrict a trader's access to profits.

How profitable is prop trading? ›

Unlike when acting as a broker and earning commissions, the firm enjoys 100% of the profits from prop trading. As a proprietary trader, the bank enjoys maximum benefits from the trade. Another benefit of proprietary trading is that a firm can stock an inventory of securities for future use.

What happens if you lose prop firm money? ›

Proprietary trading firms often provide evaluation accounts where you prove your trading skills. Usually, you pay a one-time fee to enter this “challenge.” If you lose money during this evaluation, you won't owe anything beyond the initial fee.

How many people fail prop firms? ›

Around 10% pass

According to FTMO statistics, only about 10% of traders are able to pass the funded account challenge at any account level. This means approximately 90% of aspiring funded traders fail the evaluation and are unable to gain access to the firm's capital.

What is the failure rate of FTMO? ›

There is estimated to be a 90% fail rate of traders that take the FTMO challenge. The reason behind this is due to traders chasing the profit target with a time restriction in place.

Are prop firms a pyramid? ›

There is a very slim likelihood that they will succeed if the prop firm does not have their best interests in mind. Actually, one could compare the 95% of prop companies to a pyramid scheme. They either set you up to fail or compensate you with other traders' losses.

Is Prop firm worth it? ›

In my experience, trading with prop firms like True Forex Funds has been incredibly profitable. Over the past 1.5 years, I've seen substantial gains, and their support and spreads have played a crucial role in my success. Definitely worth it!

Why is prop trading illegal? ›

The Volcker Rule is one of the more controversial pieces of legislation to emerge from the financial crisis. Attached to the Dodd-Frank Act, the rule was intended to limit banks' ability to make speculative investments that do not benefit their customers.

Do prop firms give you real money? ›

Sure, the firm may replicate successful trades of the funded traders on the firm's real account. But, again, those are trades made by the firm itself with its own capital. And in general, prop firms insist that they are not financial institutions and do not provide financial services.

Which prop firm has the lowest fees? ›

Top Best Cheapest Prop Trading Firms
  • 1) Funded Trading Plus.
  • 2) FTMO.
  • 3) TopStepTrader.
  • 4) Fidelcrest.
  • 5) LuxTradingFirm.
  • 6) OneUp Trader.
  • 7) FTUK.
  • 1) Funded Trading Plus.
Apr 4, 2024

How much capital is needed to start a prop firm? ›

How much money do you need to open a prop firm? Starting an online prop firm can cost as little as $10,000, while starting a traditional prop firm can cost up to $1 million.

Can you make a living with prop trading? ›

Prop traders can operate under their own rules-based system using the fund's capital, not money from outside investors. Prop traders also get to keep a large portion of their profits, which brings up the next primary perk: compensation. Prop traders often get a base salary, a cut of the profits and performance bonuses.

Can you make a living trading for a prop firm? ›

Also known as “prop trading,” it offers higher earnings potential much earlier in your career than jobs like investment banking or private equity. It's arguably the most merit-based industry within finance: if you make millions of dollars for your firm, you'll earn some percentage of it.

What is the profit split for prop firms? ›

Profit share: Frequently ranges from 50% to 90%, depending on the firm's policy. Trading capital: Can scale up based on the trader's performance. Trading guidelines: Including restrictions on instruments, maximum positions, and strategies.

Can I start my own prop firm? ›

Prop trading firms are less heavily regulated than regular brokerages and broker-dealers. However, if such laws apply, you must still properly register your business and get licensed. For example, in the US, CFD trading is prohibited, and you can only offer prop trading of exchange-traded securities.

How much has FTMo paid out? ›

And finally, the most important number: total payouts in 2021! In the past year, our FTMO Traders received an outstanding $29,000,000 in payouts. It is a truly incredible number and congratulations to all the traders!

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