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Ingo Hillen is the co-founder and CEO of sino AG in Dusseldorf, Germany. Established in 1998, sino AG provides brokerage services to professional German traders. In this edition of “5 Questions with…,” Ingo shares the firm’s history, his predictions for the financial markets in 2017 and some advice for trading the German markets.

Note: sino AG and Trading Technologies will be exhibiting together in Stand 4E13 at Invest 2017 in Stuttgart on April 7-8.

How did you get started in trading—and how did you evolve that experience into sino AG?

Ingo: I bought my first shares at the age of 17–two Daimler Benz for a whopping 610 Deutsche Mark. That was the very beginning of my passion for the stock market. After finishing school, I started an apprenticeship with Deutsche Bank, where I met my long-standing friend and partner, the co-founder of sino AG, Matthias Hocke. We began with the setup of what was then called sino Wertpapierhandelsgesellschaft (a securities trading company). It launched in 1998, luckily before the Internet hype. A bunch of people from the trading scene supported us with good counsel and good money. We were initially successful as phone brokers. At some point, a lot of our customers became millionaires. Many of these early customers are still with us.

Looking into the rest of the year, what growth opportunities are you most excited about?

Ingo: Well, heavy traders like our customers depend on highly liquid markets. Unfortunately, turnover of the German stock markets has been dropping substantially for quite some time, so we are always scouting for additional trading opportunities. Naturally, futures trading was always an option. By partnering with Trading Technologies, we’ve become the first TT® platform distributor to clear through a German-based bank. We’re confident that this will provide great value to current and future customers.

What are the top three things your customers look for in a futures trading platform?

Ingo: First, our heavy traders are really amazed by MD Trader®. There is no other tool that displays the market depth so clearly. Secondly, they appreciate having synthetic order types at their command that Eurex, the German futures market, doesn’t offer at all—like iceberg orders, bracket orders and so on. And last, but not least, our traders value the ability to configure automated trading systems with the help of ADL®. And the ease of use, the synchronization of desktop, web, mobile and so forth.

Both Brexit and the U.S. presidential election had a huge impact on the markets in 2016. What will have the greatest impact on the markets in 2017?

Ingo: In general, we have learned one thing during the last year: expect the unexpected! And we will most probably see more of this. The EU and the UK will be trying to avoid the War of the Roses, while France’s right-wing candidate, Marine Le Pen, is knocking on the door of the Élysée palace. And in September, the German Chancellor Angela Merkel will have to defend her office. It’s not only that nobody can anticipate the outcome of these issues, but you have no way of predicting how the financial markets will react. Remember what happened (and did not happen) after President Trump entered the Oval Office.

What insight can you offer our readers for trading the German markets?

Ingo: The German Eurex is one of the biggest markets for futures and options in the world, with over two billion contracts a year on average. It’s a puzzling universe. So, if you don’t want to go bust quickly, you have to focus on a clear-cut strategy, such as news trading, scalping or political markets. You have to test your strategy over and over. And of course, like all over the world, rigorous money management is mandatory. You have to develop your personal expertise—otherwise you get lost early.

And there is one more thing. In Germany, a lot of young traders are trying to make their fortune with CFDs, which is forbidden by law in the U.S. Instead, I think trading mini-DAX futures with TT can provide a similar trading experience, with no issuer risk and fair chances. For these trades, we offer the halfturn for one Euro, and even much less for big volumes.