Interview with Art Of FX (Teng Su)
Hi Teng, thank you for spending the time today answering my questions.
I first came across you and your business partner Brian Jimerson in Johnny and Sam’s Invest Like A Boss podcast. As you guys are based just up the road from me in Bangkok, I arranged to meet up with you as I was looking to invest some money.
We had a good informal catch up over some Dim Sum in Sukhumvit Road for 3-4 hours discussing everything from expat life to finance.
Recent experience with FX trading left me a little dubious where I wanted to invest in what appeared to be a very risky investment vehicle. I have put some money into your managed fund though and have seen solid profitable months (see my monthly investment updates), so thank you for that!
I know we’re looking to catch up in Bangkok on my next trip in December 2018, hopefully with Brian too. Looking forward to enjoying some drinks with you guys.
So, thank you in advance for answering my questions and let’s jump into some questions for you, we look forward to your answers.
1. Can you give us a quick bit of background of yourself, where you’re from and where you live today?
My name is Teng Su, I was born in China and grew up in New Zealand and Australia. I’ve been living in Bangkok, Thailand for the past 5 years.
Academically, I have a Sports Science/Medicine background (interesting similar to my background), but since a chance meeting with a retired central bank Governor that evolved into a mentorship over a decade ago, I’ve been a full-time Currency Trader and Fund Manager.
2. Living in Bangkok is awesome, I personally love spending time there, but a few days is normally enough for me. How do you stay focussed living in such a vibrant, exciting and distracting city?
Bangkok is one of our favourite cities in the world. We’ve had so many people who’ve come to visit us both personally and professionally that have absolutely fallen in love with the place. Quite a few have actually even either ended up moving to Bangkok or spending a majority of their year here.
To be fair I’ve seen my fair share of people who’ve become swallowed by it all with the crazy selection of great restaurants and amazing nightlife, but I’d have to say that we’re fortunate enough that a combination of our work, personalities and tastes have kept us away from falling off of the deep end.
We love what we do, and with our work in particular, the sometimes-extreme highs and lows that we experience day-in-day-out, keeps us grounded and forces us to focus enough to prevent us from becoming too distracted by the charms of the city.
3. I first heard about Art of FX listening to the Invest Like a Boss Podcast. Can you outline to my readers what you do?
Art of FX is an asset management company that specialises in trading Currency Pairs, Commodities, CFDs and Indices on the retail spot market.
Our work is similar to a stock trading firm, but our expertise is profiting from the movements of instruments such as Euros, Yen, Gold and Oil.
Depending on a client’s investment goals, risk appetite and capital available, we can either add investors to our large Managed Fund, or individually manage their capital account with a custom strategy to suit their needs.
4. How does the strategy followed by you and Brian differ to your competitors?
As a small firm, we prefer to keep our heads down and work, so I can’t really speak much for our competitors. However, through our broker we’ve learnt that we’re relatively different to their other larger management partners in that we focus on volume over scale.
The thing with the markets that we’re involved in, in comparison to say stocks and bonds, is that instruments such as FX and Commodities have so many more variables influencing price action.
With this in mind, our execution strategy boils down to a high number of trades per session with a relatively small scale of exposure per trade and exiting those positions as quickly as we can, as opposed to making an analysis, entering a single trade and letting it run to either a profit or a loss over the long period of time.
Minimising time exposure also reduces the chance of outside variables from entering the equation and potentially counteracting our analysis. The FX and Commodities markets have so much volume (over $5 trillion USD per day) that liquidity is never an issue, and with the volume that we do (around $1-2 billion USD in transactions per month) our per transaction costs are very low, which allows us to work in this way.
However, this strategy has the major downside that it requires a pretty intensive work schedule. The only thing that makes it work is that we truly enjoy it and have pretty much gotten accustomed to working 10-15 or more hours per day for almost a 10 years. Doing all nighters due to major market events don’t really bother us as much as it used to. Luckily for us the markets are closed on the weekend so we do get time to enjoy life when we get the chance.
5. How much do you guys currently have under management?
As of Q4 2018 we have in the region of $25 million USD and around 200 clients.
6. You have a somewhat unique structure. Can you go into why you went for this structure and location?
Originally when Brian and I met, he was working alone in Texas while I was working out of my apartment in Australia and we were both managing our own separate Funds. We’d have a Skype voice channel open for up to 20 hours a day just chatting and working, and after a very profitable 6-month period we decided to fly somewhere so we could work face to face.
For anyone that’s self-employed, working alone and at home for an extended period of time (and I imagine that includes a lot if not most of your Life Hacker Guy visitors), the chance to not only get a change of scenery, but to work together with a successful well-respected peer is something you don’t pass up.
We chose Bangkok as it was a city that I was familiar with thanks to previous holidays with friends and family, and the Indochina time zone is perfect for trading the most active times of the day (late Asia, Europe and the EU/NY market overlaps).
7. Do you attract institutional level investors or are you aiming at the retail sector? Is there a typical type of person who invests with you guys?
Through our broker we have been referred a number of institutional-level investors thanks to our performance record, but we don’t market to those type of clients directly, and we prefer to work with retail-level investors. We prefer not to over-complicate our lives, and while we very well could go after the Tier 1 accounts, evolving ourselves from a small shop into a more corporate-style operation doesn’t really interest us.
Our average client is an accredited investor (although we do accept non-accredited) from Europe or Asia with an existing portfolio of between $500k-$2m, looking to diversify and put their money into something that’s different and maybe more aggressive than their usual 5-10% per annum holdings.
8. How do you see the business going in the next 12-24 months? Are you looking to grow your money under management or add other services?
We’re quite happy with the level of growth both in terms of number of clients and funds under management that we’ve been seeing over the past few years, and our current setup can easily handle the current rate and more for a few more, without having to expand our operations too extensively. With that said, we’ve also streamlined our workflow enough to be able to accommodate time for adding more services as well.
We’re currently working on launching a client-side Trade Copier service which is designed for people to get involved with us who maybe can’t afford our managed account deposit minimums, or who are learning to trade themselves and want to follow a professional in real-time.
We also run a Trading Room social space, with a chat room, trade calls and screen sharing, that we’re considering expanding the features of in the next few quarters.
My Art of FX Investment Performance
So, as disclosed already I have invested with Art Of FX this year.
My investment with Art of FX since May 2018 is up 10.1% at the time of posting this article, so I am pretty happy with that – 6 months and 10% gain. This investment strategy may not be for everyone as it carries some risk, you need to also have the cash to invest and not need access to it for 3 years.
For more information you can visit the Art of FX website here.