Matthew Zimberg is the founder and president of Optimus Futures, a boutique futures trading brokerage that caters to retail and institutional traders via online trading platforms and stable data feeds, commodity trading advisors, and algorithmic trading systems. They are an independent introducing broker with multiple Futures Clearing Merchant (FCM) relationships, which allows them to deliver flexibility to their clients.
Matthew has over 18 years of experience in the futures and commodities markets and a deep understanding of low-latency trading systems, advanced technical analysis and methodologies, and trading software development. He also is a big advocate of risk management.
How did you get started in trading, and how did you get to where you are now?
Matthew: I started my trading career right after college, working in every possible position in futures trading—marketing assistant, senior broker, risk management officer and branch manager amongst other roles. After almost a decade in the industry, I decided to start my own brokerage, and my decision was not financially motivated. Rather, I wanted to offer a level of fast, personal customer service that would be integrated into the firm’s day-to-day decisions without all the bureaucracy. All my previous roles and responsibilities helped me shape every aspect of Optimus Futures’ operations on exactly that principle—provide efficient customer service at every step while delivering the best possible trading technology.
What daily challenges do you face in your work?
Matthew: The biggest challenge in the self-directed space is the retention of customers due to the market structure. High-frequency traders (HFTs) and algos dominate the trading arena, and retail customers have to fight against spikes, rapid moves and fast markets. Traders who want to survive in this futures trading arena have to adapt quickly in order to succeed. You must possess strong analytical skills, have fast response time and understand the technology you are using. Trading leveraged futures is a challenging task, and you must understand the environment you compete in. Since we look at each trader as a long-term asset to our company, we do our best to face these challenges together by educating newcomers to the market.
What are your top three requirements in a trading platform?
Matthew: A platform has three elements that are crucial to traders: user interface (UI), stability and execution. Let me elaborate.
- UI addresses the design elements of the platform. Similar to knowing how to open a door no matter where you are, the same attribute applies to a trading platform. It should be completely intuitive in terms of how to use it for buying, selling and reporting.
- Stability is something that most new traders overlook and quite frankly take for granted. They only realize it once they start trading. It is also important to understand that not all platforms offer the same backbone infrastructure.
- Execution does not make a trader good, but good traders cannot succeed without fast, low-latency execution. Whether you are trying to enter or exit a market, low-latency execution is an absolute must.
Any particular projects you’re working on now?
Matthew: We always try our best to ensure our customers understand the platforms we offer by providing comprehensive coverage of each one. For example, we recently launched an entire section of our website dedicated to Trading Technologies where we go over all the features that are important to professional traders as well as details on exclusive pricing, APIs, hosting and more. We are currently in the process of integrating the TT platform as well. Web-based execution is the way of the future, and the convenience of trading from any location is something that appeals to many traders.
How have you seen technology change trading?
Matthew: I started my career right around the time that CME launched the E-minis. Prior to that, we used to take most orders over the phone, and while timely execution was always important, that was not the main focus as most traders did not trade short term. Once the first generation of online traders came on board, I quickly realized that the demands and needs of traders would be very different. I saw entire industries change overnight, and I knew that our industry would experience the same. The concept of value has changed from advice to pricing and speed. I wish I could say that our industry was fast to respond and adapt to these technological changes, but that was not the case. Nowadays however, I can say that both technology and execution have finally caught up. I look forward to the years ahead to see how execution, platforms and traders continue to evolve.