Virtual trading for a real job

Interns at the virtual trading website, TrakInvest, believe that the experience at the website may help them in job market


Bobby Bhatia, founder and CEO, TrakInvest. Photo: Abhijit Bhatlekar/Mint
Bobby Bhatia, founder and CEO, TrakInvest. Photo: Abhijit Bhatlekar/Mint

Mumbai: For the last two weeks, Alexandru Dicu, a management student at the National University of Singapore, has been analysing companies, checking fundamental ratios and tracking parameters such as their return on equity and earnings per share.

He has also been monitoring top traders, researchers and bloggers for investment news, and even executing dummy trades on TrakInvest, a virtual equity trading platform, using dummy cash.

A new intern at the firm, Dicu believes the experience at TrakInvest may also help land a job. “The job market is very tough in Singapore and Hong Kong,” he said. “Chances of getting picked by an employer gets enhanced being a TrakInvest user.”

Dicu is one of the 500 students from top educational institutions and professional brokers who have been engaging with TrakInvest to test the efficacy of the virtual trading website that is in its beta stage, and hopefully get noticed by real traders too.

Singapore-based TrakInvest Pvt. Ltd was conceived by private equity veteran Bobby Bhatia who said he got the inspiration from gamification, or integrating gaming elements such as scoring points and competition, which he is now applying to trading.

The start-up also plans to integrate social media with an “extensive research database to facilitate informed trading decisions by investors, and retail investors in particular”, said Bhatia.

Using algorithms, for instance, the system throws up names of leading performers and friend suggestions for other users. “By adding them as friends, other users will be able to see and replicate trades and trading patterns of the top performers,” Bhatia says.

With offices in Singapore, Hong Kong and India, TrakInvest is set to launch its portal this month and “aims to add 30,000 users by December”. Most of the services are free till date but TrakInvest may charge a subscription for premium access to research and some of the advanced features on the website, said Bhatia.

TrakInvest has a few peers in the market such as Moneybhai of Moneycontrol and Khelostocks.com. However, it is different since it allows “only original names to prevent users from taking any step which would mar their market and social standing”.

Both Moneybhai and Khelostocks do not insist on original user names.

Second, most virtual trading websites have not integrated social media with their research databases, Bhatia claimed. “Using original names will ensure user authenticity, and leading performers can exhibit their trading talent to potential employers. Till date, TrakInvest has been able to secure 50 sponsored internships for students who will be top performers according to the algorithm,” said Bhatia.

The website also allows linking of one’s TrakInvest profile with LinkedIn.

TrakInvest has tied up with Thomson Reuters Corp. that will help users access research reports for at least 12,000 companies across the US, India, China, Hong Kong, Australia and Singapore. “The research reports from Reuters will be backed by contextualized news and Twitter feeds,” said Bhatia.

“TrakInvest is an important client for us. As per our policy, we will not be able to comment on our clients,” spokeswoman from corporate affairs department of Thomson Reuters said.

TrakInvest has also partnered with Religare Enterprises Ltd to offer brokerage services to its users for doing real trades. Religare did not respond to emails sent on 21 October.

Not all are enthused with Bhatia’s idea. “We usually test the candidates on their ability to read charts, their ability to forecast and knowledge base. Judging a candidate on the basis of a virtual portal can be just one of the criteria,” said Vinay Agrawal, executive director for equities broking at Angel Broking Pvt. Ltd.

Agrawal added that experienced traders may not be spending time on virtual portals. “Mostly students or people who are new to trading usually spend time on such portals. Virtual trading platforms allow them to learn how to trade without hurting them monetarily.”

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