1. ALGOLAB DASHBOARD
a. STATUS LIGHTS If you ever notice the "Connection", or "SYNC" alert indicators at the top of your dashboard page turn RED, then please contact AlgoLab so we can look into the problem.
b. TIME. If you ever notice that the time field on your dashboard page is offset from the current MST time by more than 45 minutes, please contact AlgoLab so we can look into the problem.
c. CLOSED TRADES the "Closed Trades" table as shown on your dashboard page can be inaccurate. For accurate activity statements, please generate an account statement after logging into your account at the Interactive Brokers web site.
d. ALGOLAB TIMING Your AlgoLab trading system is intended to run continuously, unattended using your capital and risk setting (use the Performance Viewer to estimate profit and drawdown risk using various capital and risk settings), as it does with the AlgoLab House account. However, some AlgoLab customers have improved upon the default performance of SuperSystem by "timing" their trading system. Timing refers to "pausing" and "unpausing" the system using your dashboard page in order to possibly avoid drawdown periods. A good example of one account that has been successful is Passtime. Note that in a future update of AlgoLab, you will be able to "subscribe" to another account's settings. But until then, feel free to experiment with your own settings/timing, leave it alone like many do, or manually copy another account's settings.
2. INTERACTIVE BROKERS
a. NEW ACCOUNT SETUP. To make certain that your new IB funded account is compatible with AlgoLab, please follow the instructions posted here when opening a new, funded Interactive Brokers account.
b. DO NOT PLACE TRADES. Do not place trades on your IB funded account using Interactive Brokers trading software TWS or any other platform. When you log into these trading platforms, you will force AlgoLab to disconnect from your IB account.
c. ALGOLAB PERIODIC RECONNECTION. Periodically, the connection between your ALgoLab cloud software and your Interactive Brokers account will become disconnected. This usually happens on average about once every month or so. When this happens, we will need to reestablish a connection which means AlgoLab will log into your IB account. When this happens, you will need to approve the login using your IB Key smart phone application. We will notify you by TEXT when you need to approve a log in.
Most of these risks are very unlikely to happen, and some of them are possibly even less risky than a stock market investment, but we feel it is our responsibility to point these out and make sure each client understands them before starting to trade a funded account with AlgoLab.
When you preview your profit and loss using the Performance Viewer with your capital and risk setting, you will note two metrics: average annual drawdown (Ave an DD), and maximum drawdown (max dd). Average annual drawdown is the average maximum drawdown as a percentage of your STARTING CAPITAL that should expect to happen every year, at some point during the year. Here is an example of a 20% annual maximum drawdown:
Jan 1 account value = $100,000 (starting capital)
May 1 account value = $150,000 (50% return)
July 1 account value = $130,000 (drawdown)
The drawdown is $20,000, or 13% drawdown from PEAK equity of $150,000, or 20% drawdown from starting capital of $100,000. Again me always measure drawdown as a percentage of your starting capital, not from the peak equity prior to the drawdown.
This does not mean that each year will have a drawdown at some point as large as this value, nor does it mean that your actual maximum drawdown wont be larger than this value. It simply means that this was the average maximum measured during the historical backtest which is hypothetical.
The Maximum drawdown is the highest drawdown amount in dollars that occurred over the entire historical backtest. If the historical backtest spans 10 years, then you might expect this magnitude of drawdown to occur at a frequency of at least once every 10 years - but it could be more often, or less often. If, for example, after 3 years of trading your $100,000 AlgoLab account, you earned 100% return and your account was valued at $200,000, then on the 4th year your account suffered a maximum drawdown of $30,000, this would represent only a 15% drawdown of your entire account value. However, we never know when this drawdown period will begin, and it is theoretically possibly for this $30,000 drawdown to start the very second day after you open your account with $100,000 of starting capital. In this case, your drawdown as a percentage of your account might be worth 30%.
Also keep in mind that the S&P 500 stock index lost 50% of it's value in 2008.
2. OPENING PRICE GAPS
A price gap is a break between prices on a chart that occurs when the price of a symbol makes a sharp move up or down with no trading occurring between. It is possible that GAP can occur over a position exit stop which would mean that the exit price of a position could be much less favorable than the stop value resulting in additional "slippage" costs.
Typically these gaps occur on the open after markets close for the hour break each day or when markets open at 4:00 pm MST on Sunday after closing on Friday afternoon for the weekend. If some material news event were to happen while the market was closed, it could cause a spike in price when the market re-opens.
Performance Viewer historical backtests account for these open price gaps, and they are considered a normal risk when trading anything from stocks and bonds to ETF's or futures. Gaps are usually minimal, but they are a risk, so I felt obliged to mention them here.
3. LOCK LIMITS
A lock limit occurs when the trading price of a futures contract arrives at the exchanges predetermined limit price. At the lock limit, trades above or below the lock price are not executed. These days, only agricultural commodities (wheat, soy, soy meal, and corn) observe lock limit rules. Lock limits can occur for multiple successive days, and could result in losses beyond the position exit stop price.
An example of lock limit would be as follows:
Imagine that corn settled at $4.50 the day before a major USDA report. The report was very bullish and Corn immediately moves to the limit up value. Corn would stop trading at $4.90. The exchange will not allow any new orders to buy corn over $4.90. Chances are that corn will not trade for the remainder of the session. After the market closes, if corn settles at limit up prices, the new settlement price will be $4.90. When the next trading session opens, corn will be able to trade between $5.30 ($4.90 + $0.40) and $4.50 ($4.90 -$0.40). If the market still prices corn at $5.00 at the open, it will open up at $5.00 and traders will be able to buy and sell again.
Lock limits are very rare - I in fact, don't recall ever going through a lock limit in all the years I have been trading.
If you are Canadian, your Interactive Brokers account is CIPF insured for up to $1,000,000. This government insurance is not available for American customers.
MF Global futurage brokerage firm declared bankruptcy on October 31, 2011, and the company was liquidated. Losses incurred by customers of MF Global stood at $1.6 billion. In January 2013, a judge approved a settlement that would return 93 percent of customers' investments, with the prospect of additional payouts from the company's general estate. In December 2014, MF Global Holdings settled a U.S. government lawsuit, agreeing to pay $1.2 billion in restitution and a $100 million fine for customer losses tied to the company’s 2011 collapse.
5. MALICIOUS LOG IN
If someone were to obtain your Interactive Brokers account name and password, they would not be able to log into your account via the Interactive brokers web site because access requires the IB Key approval. However, if someone were to obtain your AlgoLab account port number, and password, they could use the AgoLab dashboard to change your trading settings - the most malicious would probably be to increase your capital or risk so that when orders are placed, AlgoLab would be placing orders for far more contracts that normal. Your Interactive Brokers account will automatically disallow orders over a certain limit. Also, you will get a confirmation email that someone has used your port # and password along with details of the dashboard change. If you didn't make the change, then you can notify me, and we can reverse any orders that may have gone through, then change your credentials.