Alex Hope picked up his first Forex trading book at the age of 19 and has not looked
back since. Now, at the age of 22, Alex is one to watch in the City. The young trader taught himself everything there was to know about the economy from inside his bedroom, placing his first ever trade with just £500. Now an expert in the UK economy, Alex has come a long way in a short time, currently earning himself a hefty six-figure salary through trading on the Foreign Exchange Market.
What is your background and how did you get involved in the financial markets?
I went to university at 19 to study Sports Science but found this unfulfilling. I wanted to change my course to Economics but I hadn’t done Maths at A-level so they wouldn't let me. So I decided to teach myself! I am a self-taught FX trader.
Can you describe a typical day in your life?
My day starts when I arrive in the office at 7am; I start by studying the charts looking for different currency pairs, then look at different chart patterns before lunch time. Throughout the day I do technical analysis, examining different currencies and different opportunities to profit. My working day usually finishes by about 12 midnight.
You are described as a self-taught trader. Can you explain how you went about this?
I taught myself economics from books, online research and regular viewing of relevant TV channels, such as Bloomberg. In 2–3 months, I managed to teach myself what I would have learnt from a 3 year course.
What areas do you specialise in?
Foreign exchange, currencies and commodities.
You run classes teaching people how to make money on the Foreign Exchange. How did you initially get involved in this?
These started just with a couple of friends who wanted to learn what they could achieve in their spare time and spread by word of mouth very quickly, I never even had to advertise. In the last 2 years I ran these courses regularly, most weekends, however I don't run them so often now. But I do still get requests and try to facilitate these when possible.
What are your top tips for investors hoping to make the most of the FX Markets?
Sell the euro and buy safe haven currencies (US Dollar, Japanese Yen, Swiss Franc).
Has your youth ever been a disadvantage in you career?
No-one has ever acknowledged my age as being a disadvantage and I don't see it as one. People realise I have the same amount of knowledge as someone who has been in the industry for years and I feel I'm given more respect once a dialogue has started.
You are planning to start your own hedge fund, can you tell us a little about what you are hoping to achieve?
My main goal is to be one of the youngest hedge fund managers and I hope to create jobs for other traders within the next 12 months.
Bankers have been having a hard time in the press at the moment. Do you think that their bad reputation is deserved?
To some extent, yes. Certain people at banks are giving banks a bad name by taking on big risks which are not paying off. It’s the public’s money, and so they are affected by these bad decisions and The Bank of England are relied upon to bail them out. The way I work is different, I use my own money not other people’s. The UK economy relies heavily on the financial sector as there is not much manufacturing in this country, it's all gone to the East. As much as people hate banks they do keep the economy alive!
What would you say was the greatest achievement of your career to-date?
Forging a very successful career in the City of London. I grew up only knowing about football and now work at a top company in the city with a world of opportunity in front of me.
What economic changes are you expecting to see this year?
Not a great deal! The Bank of England is going to print more money to stimulate the economy; interest rates are going to stay at record lows of 0.5%, 2012 will be a sluggish year for the UK economy, but not as bad as other European nations as we have our own independent bank. 2012 will be similar to 2011, but will start growing as an economy in 2013/2014.
You are obviously passionate about what you do. Do you think passion is a necessary requirement for going into business?
Yes, to be a trader has to be in your blood or quickly developed as you have to be so on top of the markets. If you have no passion, you won't benefit or do well from these markets, you need to be motivated!
Where do you expect to see the majority of future growth in the UK economy coming from?
A lot of money will be coming in from abroad, because the UK is seen as a safe haven within Europe. As debt levels are not as bad as other European countries, which not many people know, we will have to see how the economy will change in the next year.
What has been the most challenging moment of your career?
My job is exciting every day; each day is a challenge, but because I'm passionate about what I do, I know how to overcome it. I deal with the biggest financial markets in the world, so each moment can be testing, but being a good trader helps overcome any problems.
You seem to have a lot going on at the same time. How do you manage your time?
To a certain extent every day is a challenge. You don’t know what will happen tomorrow in global economy, so it's hard to plan! I need to be next to a screen at pivotal times (morning) and need to be ready to profit from it.
What do you think that the government could be doing to help encourage economic growth in the UK at the moment?
The government need to cut spending, they've already started in the health and education sectors, but it's not enough. By overspending and borrowing from other nations, the UK is creating problems for itself; borrowing money which will just have to be paid back with high interest rates. We need to be able to better manage spending, which isn’t easy, and we need to aggressively look at the less important things to make cuts.
Do you think that the current economic climate is putting people off trying to start their own business?
Yes and it makes it harder psychologically, especially when you're watching the news every day and unemployment rates are increasing, which puts people off further.
More people want to be self employed as wages are decreasing so they don’t want to work for other people, salaries don’t go up with inflation. Many people will need two jobs to have a normal lifestyle when the norm should be only one.
Who do you most respect in the business world?
Warren Buffet, a multi-billionaire who has done well from the stock market. He's a very simple, down-to-earth guy who rarely uses a PC and doesn’t even have a car! I admire his philosophy and it certainly works for him.
What advice would you give to a young person who is just starting out in business?
Research what you’re looking to set up, you must know what to do in that business so research that market and your competitors. You need to know the right time to start a business and judge the time correctly, that’s the most important thing.
In an ideal world where do you see yourself in 5 year?
That's quite a scary thought! I could never have imagined being where I am today when I started out teaching myself about the markets. I like to take every day as it comes. I'm a simple guy who knows, my passion might change in 5 years time so I'd like to keep open minded. Above all, my goal is to stay successful and help other people. I'd like to create a few hundred jobs by then!
Do you feel that bankers deserve the large bonuses that they are often awarded?
No, but banks are reducing bonuses dramatically as well as salaries so the problem is being resolved and the government is also now getting involved.