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  • Mt Cook Financial

    Hey Guys,

    I've started a fresh thread for Mt Cook Financial (MCF) to give a bit more clarity on why I trade so much of my own capital there and continue to recommend them, despite their boutique offshore status. I didn't want this key information to be lost in the middle of the old thread because we've got a specific collaboration in mind for later in the year and this information will likely be critical for you guys.

    Will and I have known Jake and Gavin from Mt Cook for several years now. I even stayed with Jake's family while I was in Canada in 2014 and both of them attended the Viper conference in Las Vegas last year.

    Jake is a pioneer of retail forex managed accounts, Gavin founded the ASLAN group (the rebate provider from Donna Forex). What's interesting is that they're actually indirect competitors or ours in many respects, but we continue to do a lot of business with them primarily because we trust and understand how they operate.

    Gavin, I'll throw the floor over to you here, but let me start off by asking a couple of questions that will likely come up:
    1. Why are you regulated in South Africa?
    2. Why do you have a $20k minimum deposit?
    3. Are there any capital protections in place?
    4. Why did you guys decide to start a brokerage?
    5. How many staff do you have at MCF?
    6. How can potential new, or existing clients get in touch with you?
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  • #2
    Thanks for the introduction Nick.

    Please excuse the length of this initial post (I promise I won't always be so long-winded ) however we recognize each trader's broker decision is an important one. I want to share a bit of our story and provide as much insight as possible into our operations and more importantly the ethos that underlies Mt.Cook Financial.

    I first started trading FX in 2002 and as Nick mentioned I founded a company called The Aslan Group (along with my father and my brother) that was one of the pioneers of the cashback rebate industry. We opened shop in 2008 and over the years have had privilege of working with thousands of clients.

    Our philosophies have always been very counter-culture, especially for this industry, as we never sought to measure success by growth. We focused instead on building goodwill through meaningful relationships and dedicated service at the client level.

    It wasn't a fast process, but over time The Aslan Group grew into a strong and trusted brand. Despite never marketing (we didn't even have a website lol) our approach resonated with traders who were tired of gimmicks and were looking for something substantive.

    In late 2013, I was approached to consult on a broker start-up and that role quickly evolved into something more hands-on. I was able to help set the broker's mandate; to help steer the ship, using the same core values that guided Aslan and was given full oversight in terms of operations.

    It probably goes without saying, that the broker was Mt.Cook Financial.

    By design, the path for Mt.Cook has been very similar to what we implemented with Aslan. The owners also have vast experience in the FX industry and we started out by working with a very close circle of clients from our personal networks. We didn't advertise Mt.Cook and actually took measures to narrow our prospective client base; we all understood the virtues of growing slowly and earning trust through actions.

    If this was Aesop's fable, we'd be the tortoise

    At the foundation of Mt.Cook is the principle that our goals and the goals of our clients must be aligned; this made for an easy decision when it came to choosing our execution model. We were well aware that a "B-book" model is by far the most profitable for a broker however we didn't ever want to be in a position where we're ever profiting from our clients' losses.

    This isn't a shot against dealing desk brokers or those who employ a "hybrid" system (switching clients back and forth from A-Book to B-Book). As long as they don't manipulate the feed in any way, or hinder one’s ability trade properly (trading FX is tough enough as it is without a broker working against you), then I have no problem with brokers who run this model.

    For us however, there's comfort in knowing that every single trade that is executed at Mt.Cook is passed through to the market and every single client that opens an account with us, has their broker as a true ally. Even from a philosophical standpoint, we never wanted to be in a position where we were rooting against our clients.

    We are happy to say we are attracting the right kind of clients! Our full book last year was profitable, and in general, our traders at Mt.Cook made money (more here:

    Several years ago, I had the opportunity to take part in one of the very first binary options white labels. It was clear that the profit potential was incredible however, they wanted to leverage the strength of the Aslan brand; my job would be to entice clients into binary options (bonuses, big returns etc). The odds here are stacked so heavily against the clients that eventually the law of averages will transition the capital from most trading accounts to the broker's coffers.

    It was a classic cycle/rinse/repeat scenario.

    In hindsight my decision to turn them down wasn't a smart financial move but morally, this was not how I wanted to earn a living.

    This is precisely why I was so excited to work with Mt.Cook, implementing a model that welcomed profitable trading, and alongside a management team that embraced the values we used to build Aslan.


    I don't know if everyone's father is like this, but mine is full of metaphorical idioms lol. In addition to being my Dad he has been my business partner for the last 15 years so I've gotten to hear a lot of them which we now affectionately refer to as "Kevinisms" lol

    Kevinism #1 - "If there's an elephant in the room, you may as well introduce it"

    With Mt.Cook the biggest "elephant", in the eyes of some prospective clients is regulation which is kind of ironic given the value we placed on this subject during the early years of The Aslan Group.

    I used to consider regulation as the highest indicator of a fair/ethical/safe environment for trading but my position on this has evolved over the years. I'm not suggesting it isn't important however we have dealt with dozens of brokers since 2002 (both as a client and an IB) and discovered firsthand that the character of the individuals calling the shots at the broker is a far bigger factor in how clients and partners are ultimately treated.

    If the will exists to lie/cheat/steal/exploit then this can manifest regardless of jurisdiction. Likewise if the will exists to run an honest operation and treat clients fairly, this can also manifest regardless of jurisdiction.

    Obviously it's tough for me to be considered objective on this point and I acknowledge that scammers would typically gravitate towards regions with less oversight; however this issue isn't nearly as black and white as I once thought.

    When Mt.Cook first launched our clients were all "inner circle" (family, friends, close contacts) and we have slowly been expanding outward; "operational freedom" was really important to us. This doesn't mean that we take a lackadaisical approach to compliance; it’s just the opposite in fact, as our policies and protocol on everything from AML to fund segregation, to Risk Management have been designed to incredibly high standards. We deal with top tier custodian and prime banks and run our operation with minimal overhead (savings which then get passed on to our clients).

    We started out initially with a jurisdictive rep authorization license with the FSB in South Africa. This was simply the path of least resistance for us at the time, as we had some gracious help from some close friends of ours there and we happily leveraged that relationship which carries on strong to this day. We have recently picked up an offshore license however, which effectively makes our company “onshore managed”, yet “offshore licensed”.

    Our primary purpose in obtaining this license, was to further our provision of liquidity and credit services to certain clients and market participants. The offshore license itself provides a great deal of flexibility in terms of usage; and essentially covers all aspects of our business including our primary service which is the dealing of intra-day rolling spot currency contracts.

    Those interested can read more about the journey and our rationale in obtaining this here and we will elaborate a bit more below.

    Our long-term plans do include regulation in a more common jurisdiction, however this is more difficult for us, as we do not all reside in the same location. If we were all centrally located in London for example, then pursuing a license in the UK might make better sense, however our team and staff strategically reside in different geographic locations.

    Given our fairly large geographic footprint, having an international model is not only the most efficient structure for us specifically, but we notice that it is becoming much more common in the world we live in today.

    For now, our current set up has served us and our clients perfectly. We understand that some traders feel safety is tied directly to a particular jurisdiction or an external capital protection scheme but we hope that our history and actions going forward will help to bridge these gaps. And if it takes month/years or never happens at all, we will always respect an individual’s views on this subject.

    For those on the fence, we understand, and prefer to let the proof be in the pudding. From the commentary above, it’s pretty clear what Mt. Cook is not.

    We are not ones to put resources towards building a glossy exterior. Instead we direct our focus and capital towards improving liquidity, execution, and providing an optimal trading environment and experience for our clients. Our mandate is simple. Every advantage afforded to us through our structure flows uphill and is passed on to our clients and partners.

    What we are however, is a boutique firm with very high internal standards. We’ve had personal experiences with brokers who are very rigid in their approach but we believe in customized solutions with white-glove service.

    We place high value in relationships, as this is our life-source. We don’t advertise (I still don’t understand Google Adwords lol) and this may be old-fashioned but I like building connections on an individual basis and growing organically. Since we work primarily with FX professionals (i.e., money managers, signal providers, and those who trade for a living), our relationship with Nick, Will and their team has grown stronger. We’ve gotten to point where our infrastructure is strong enough to open the doors a little wider and become more engaged in this incredible community.

    That leads in nicely to your question Nick on the $20k minimum which we originally put in place as a filter of sorts. There are so many options out there for traders who are new to the market and quite honestly, there are brokers who are FAR better equipped to deal with novice traders.

    We realize that we can't be "all things to all people". If you're an experienced trader looking for an optimal trading environment to work in, then Mt.Cook is a great choice. If you're a novice looking for help to learn forex basic and set up an EA for the first time, then there are much better options.

    With that being said, we have discussed internally and in an effort to accommodate more traders within this group, we have agreed to lower our minimum deposit to $5k USD (or equivalent in GBP, EUR or AUD) effective immediately.

    We love the sense of community that exists here and going forward, our plan is to maintain a consistent presence on this forum and help out wherever we can. There are a total of 9 of us on staff and between Scott, Jake, and myself we plan to drop in here regularly. We hope to meet many of you in person (the VIP event in Vegas last year was fantastic!) and to help wherever we can in your trading endeavors. So please feel free to post any questions/comments in this thread or you can always call us, send us a PM, email, or skype (mt.cookfinancial). We also have live chat on the site.

    Our thanks again to you Nick and Will! We look forward to working closely with this great community of traders.

    Best Regards,


    • #3
      Hi Gavin,

      Who is providing prime broker services for Mt. Cook?



      • #4
        Hey guys/gals, we’ve been getting a number of questions in over email as well as the one above so we wanted to create this FAQ page for reference.

        Jake is the “liquidity guy” so I asked him to do address some common feed related questions we get asked (including the one above breaststroke). This information is quite comprehensive but will hopefully provide solid insight into our feed and structure from the liquidity angle.

        We’ll post some general FAQ under a different heading below

        Feed Related Questions

        1.) What type of “feed” (data stream) is available at Mt.Cook?

        Our feed is best described as “DMA” or Direct Market Access. More here:

        2.) Who are your Liquidity Providers?

        Our feed is a custom aggregation of bank, and non-bank liquidity providers. On the bank side, we include all the usual suspects with the bulk of our clearing through the “Big 5” FX banks along with some specialized LPs on the non-bank side. Overall this process is very dynamic and constantly changing and improving as we never want to rest on our laurels when it comes to optimizing our feed.

        3.) Who are your Prime Banks?

        While we can’t get into great detail when it comes to the specifics of these arrangements, we do work with multiple PBs and PoPs. We can state that the bulk of our book ultimately ends up clearing through one of two venues; JP Morgan US and CITI UK. Our PoPs and sub-primes act as principal on our behalf and extend any credit held with any counter-parties we wish to use to support our liquidity requirements. The current multi-bank aggregation we have built through them, is a mix/balance of both competitive pricing + ample depth.

        4.) What is a DMA feed?

        The official definition is: Direct Market Access (DMA) refers to the ability of a buy-side trading desk to route orders directly to an execution venue without intervention by a sell-side party. The sell-side provides memberships, technology, trade support and credit. STP and NDD, mean that your clearing agent, operates as a true “agent” and not a principal.

        What this means in simple terms; is that the feed is the “raw, real, market”. We typically describe ECNs as the real market, and DMA as the “raw, real market”. This is our own analogy of course, which many may not agree. With DMA, LPs simply stream prices to us, they are aggregated, bridged and usually piped into a GUI for trading (i.e., such as MT4).

        5.) How does this differ from an ECN, or a Market Maker?

        If you compare our feed to a.) a standard ECN, and b.) a market maker, some may see a difference and others may not. It mostly depends on what/how you trade. Here is a general comparison (I stress “general” as these are often complex structures and can vary widely).

        ECNs: * Generally speaking, you can think of an ECN - as a “POOL” of independently aggregated liquidity (that has multiple uses i.e., streaming, RFQ/RFS) - and can be made available through many different platforms to many different market participants (i.e., banks, funds, corporates, institutional, and retail brokers).

        Typically, it is “pre-packaged”, and heavily filtered (not a bad thing). It has solid depth and breadth of liquidity, and functional richness. This "POOL", if going to MT4, then gets bridged (and often times filtered/smoothed further), and is displayed to the end user for trading. Typically, ECN quotes and spreads are more “uniform” than DMA feeds. They can be heavily filtered along multiple points and customized with regard to spreads, speed, delay, tick speed etc...

        Market Makers: *Generally speaking again, with a market maker, your orders are never quoted on the market, simply because the Broker IS the market.

        Typically execution is very good (synthetic), and there are no re-quotes (as your trades are never routed to inter-bank), however, a market maker can still chose to reject orders based on their risk book management and what is happening in the current market on a pair by pair basis (i.e., around news releases).

        When people say that a broker "trades against you", this is typically what they’re referring to. In defense of this model, that's not necessarily a fair statement, as it simply means that they are the "counterparty" to your trades (much more accurate wording).

        While this does create a scenario where they profit from your losses, it does not mean that they are "stealing your money" by any means. There are indeed some dirty brokers who run this model, but that doesn’t mean that ALL market makers are bad/dodgy.

        Many play a very important roll in the industry all the way up the chain from a retail FCM to a bank. Most large retail shops typically are permitted to, and do run various versions of both models or hybrids. New technologies make this easier for brokers to switch between these, and to manage these.

        DMA: *Generally speaking again, DMA is what we refer to as the raw, real, market. Its not "pre-packaged". Its directly sourced and negotiated liquidity streams, which then get both aggregated AND bridged (at once, same place in our case) -> in to MT4 (or elsewhere). The liquidity nodes in our feed are aggregated using xCore, which is a smart order routing and pricing engine.

        Filtering, and processing capabilities are minimal in comparison to most ECNs. Trade execution is instantaneous, and immediate with no last look to price makers, so all trades are final and confirmed as soon as they are dealt. Liquidity is customizable, and the quotes stream in an anonymous, neutral trading environment.

        Others and Hybrids: As if this is not confusing enough, it can get even more complex, as there are some brokers who are so big that they are their own ECN AND Market Maker AND have DMA fees, AND house various private pools and hybrids. They can aggregate different streams of their OWN book (create different DMA aggregates, ECN pools, off-makret pools, and b-books etc...). This essentially means that some of them have the ability do whatever they want with your trading flow (in terms of how its directed).

        6.) What are the negatives of a DMA feed?

        There are pros and cons to each type of feed, and ours may of course may not be for everyone. As indicated above, our feed is more “sporadic” or “raw” (raw, real market) in terms of pricing. Our spreads are often more volatile, and variable as the price streams are aggregated/bridged at source and delivered raw. Ticks and quotes on our feed, are often more “clustered” vs. uniform ECNs.

        Our market open, close, and rollover are often more volatile (with wider spreads) compared to an ECN. Banks quite literally plug in, and plug out of our price engine during these times whereas ECNs often have smoothing capabilities. This can effect execution, and the performance of EAs that trade during these times. For us, DMA is our preferred model, but it certainly won’t be for everyone.

        7.) Which model is best for me?

        This is really a personal preference. In our opinion all of these have their place in the market as well as their advocates and detractors. Our DMA feed has very competitive spreads, in particular on the currency crosses. It is generally designed for depth, and large ticket trading in the real market, requiring good per tier liquidity on fills and exits (this is the primary purpose of our feed).

        ECNs and market makers are generally known as being ideal for small ticket sensitive trading styles where quotes are smooth and uniform. For most however, the difference will be negligible. However it is important to understand that even so, they ARE different, especially when comparing execution from one broker to another.

        8.) Who bridges your liquidity to MT4?

        Our feed is bridged with the PXM Bridge and xCore is used as the price engine aggregator and SOR.

        9.) Where are your servers located?

        Equinix LD4 (London, United Kingdom).

        10.) Is there a delay in your market watch time?

        No. This is again specific to our feed. Our market watch time only updates / changes if there is a.) a new rate, and b.) if that rate is different from the last.

        11.) Do you accept American Clients?

        Under the US Dodd-Frank Act, unfortunately Mt.Cook cannot accept “retail” US resident clients. Clients resident in the US, who qualify as an ECP (Eligible Contract Participant, often referred to as a "QEP" as well) may be accepted as applicants under certain circumstances. An ECP is essentially a “high net worth” or “sophisticated investor”. Please contact us for full details as it relates to qualifying as an ECP.

        Mt.Cook's USA policy is based on residency, not citizenship (i.e., if you are an American living in Australia, we can accept you. If you are an Australian living in America, unfortunately we cannot).
        Last edited by MT.COOK; 04-18-2016, 10:37 PM.


        • #5

          Is possible to get commision like Nick 2.84 per lot?


          • #6
            Hey guys,

            I just sent Gavin a querie about their reduction in leverage as we head into Brexit. The explanation was so thorough I felt the need to share it here:


            Hey Nick,

            The leverage essentially determines how much margin you need to put up in order to open/hold your positions.

            So currently your account is at 300:1 and you have 14.04 lots open which is using $6,263.08 as margin.

            If your margin is reduced to 50:1 it means that you will require 6 time MORE margin to hold these same positions.

            So at 50:1 you would be using $37,578.48 of your capital as margin and you would have around $145,400 in "free margin" based on equity of $183,000 in your account.

            Suppose you were at 50:1 and you doubled all your open positions (so you'd have 28.08 lots open), it means that your "Margin" would be $75,156.96 and you'd have approximately $108,000 left in "Free Margin".

            Think of Free Margin as your "cushion".

            If your equity ever gets to 60% of your "Margin" amount then your positions will begin closing (this is called the "stop out level")

            So for example:

            As stated above, based on your current open positions and 50:1 leverage, your "Margin" would be $37,578.48.

            Your equity would need to get to 60% of that figure, $22,547.09 ($37,578.48 x 60%) before your trades would "stop out".

            Based on your current equity of around $183,000 that would require a drop of around $160k before your positions would be forced to close.

            Now if you open more positions then that margin amount increases and your "free margin" (ie. your cushion) shrinks accordingly.

            So even at 50:1 you would still have PLENTY of cushion as long as you don't significantly increase your open positions.

            The risk to us on the broker side is that people load up on their positions (using all available leverage) and even though they technically "stop out" when they hit 60% of Margin, it's possible for the price to gap right through the stop out level and leave the accounts in a deficit position which we owe to our LPs (regardless of whether we're able to collect from the client or not.)

            Although it's not fair to directly compare Brexit to the SNB event (which gapped over 2000 pips in some pairs!), even a 100 pip gap could could result in big losses for brokers with fully leveraged client accounts.

            What some people will do is open an account at Broker A and short sterling while opening another account at Broker B and go long sterling.

            If a broker offers 400:1 and doesn't reduce their leverage then he could technically open 40 lots with only a $10k account. If the price gapped 100 pips short, then his equity on broker A will be $50k and his equity on Broker B will be -$30k.

            Broker B can try to collect the deficit balance (Good luck!) meanwhile he withdraws the $50k from Broker A and is $30k ahead.

            ,This is what we have to protect against and the reason why the leverage is being lowered.

            Sorry for the novel but hope the explanation helps. Just hopping on a call here but will be on later if you need me to expound on anything.



            It's this standard of service that I keep banging on about with you guys here and why I've got so much of my own money invested.

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            • #7
              That is a very good explanatory email. Shows good customer service values.


              • #8
                Can we open fix api account with $5k?
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