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The era of artificial intelligence: how robots manage capital

The era of artificial intelligence: how robots manage capital
Interview with Alexander Tatarsky, creator of the quantum fund
How well do you know artificial intelligence? Perhaps you have never heard of it, or maybe it’s quite the opposite and robots are already managing your capital.
We were able to interview Alexander Tatarsky — an experienced trader, co-founder and financial director of the Mercury Foundation — a fund that manages capital through A.I.! Alexander introduced us to the concept of his organization and explained the unique idea behind the project.

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Alexander, why did you start trading? How did you start and why did you decide to choose this particular field?
Many people know that the Chinese word “crisis” consists of two hieroglyphs. One means “danger”, and the other one — “opportunity.” I considered a global financial crisis of 2008 an opportunity. That’s when I began my professional career in the financial markets. Before those events, I was always very interested in economics (thanks to my economic education!) and financial markets, but I focused on 2 aspects: first is financial markets as an instrument of global management of peoples and their well-being, second — financial markets as an example of the fundamental laws of nature. I always wanted to get closer to understanding the essence of these processes.
However, until 2008, I was just a curious observer. I read books, watched major events, learned to compare facts. I was running a business that had nothing to do with the markets. The events of 2008 encouraged me to make my first profitable deals. And then I realized that this field is not only about self-development and curiosity — it could also become a source of permanent income. With the right approach, this income can be much higher than in other sectors of the economy. So the choice was made.
What were the reasons for creating an Investment Foundation managed by artificial intelligence?
Anyone who is professionally engaged in money management considers automation at some point. Computers are much more efficient than human when it comes to assets management. Robots are taking over, so it was a logical step for us. From the very beginning, we realized the inferiority of the ready-made solutions on the market and did not even consider using other people’s services. We could use the A.I, and we did. It was actually not even a question, it’s like asking an artist — why are you painting? Because we are the best at managing money.
What is the market share (in particular, on cryptocurrency market) of the investment funds (including funds managed by artificial intelligence) and how do you handle the demand?
If we talk about traditional financial markets, then, according to the latest data, the share of investment funds in the total volume of transactions amounts to 70%. At the same time, quantum funds account for at least 27% of all transactions on US exchanges. As for the cryptocurrency market, they are so riddled with fraud and unrealized projects that we have long since ceased to care about the competitors.
There are many ordinary funds, but 80% of them close in a year and 95% of them — in three. We do not consider them competitors, as we are focused on long-term work. All their clients will eventually come to us. In long-term, the manual traders do not stand a chance against the robot.
Are there any companies similar to yours in the world?
Yes, sure. In our industry, only a few succeeded in achieving the degree of automation that we have. The most successful of our colleagues use qualitatively different algorithms that still require regular manual testing and customization. In most cases, those “algorithm factories” constantly have to adapt to the new market conditions. Our algorithms require human participation only at the development stage. Simply put, in most cases, operators with remote controls always follow their robots, but our robot can walk on its own.
The market offers a huge number of different robots that promise to increase your capital in Forex, binary options, cryptocurrency. How are you different from them? Is it possible to earn money with such robots?
Yes, certainly. If you are good at trading and investing. If you have clear money management rules backed by math. If not, you can only lose. And robots have one more limitation — they cannot bring you the profit all the time. Such robots offer a huge number of strategies, half of which is profitable, and the other half is not. Because a person is ultimately responsible for choosing strategies. That is, it is not the robot that makes the decisions, but the user who sets the trading rules. In some cases, it helps to earn quickly, and in others — to lose quickly. Such robots do not guarantee earnings, they only ensure fast trading. We have a radically different approach. Bruce Lee said: “I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who had practiced one kick 10,000 times”. Therefore, instead of ten thousand strategies, we have been developing only one strategy for several years.
The robots you are talking about are the first level. There are many of them and to me they are useless. Among our competitors, there are funds that trade in traditional markets using second-level robots. There are not many of them, but they all deliver consistently good results. One of the leaders in our industry is the Medallion Foundation, created by Renaissance Technologies. For several decades, their mathematical model has been continuously multiplying their capital.
We consistently implement the same model of asset management, completely removing a person from decision-making process. Development will take a few more years, but even now, our robot is already trading at the professional level. The robot needs a person only for controlling and learning new functions.
Some believe that technical analysis does not apply to cryptocurrency, what do you think about this statement?
I actually do not care; it is rather a question of how competent is the person who said this. If it works for you, you can use it. I think you will agree that a professional can play even on one string, and the amateur can find a thousand reasons to give up. The only thing I can do is ask in return — what can the market offer instead of technical analysis? Intuitive news trading? Fundamental analysis? Neural network?
Technical analysis is a complex discipline and it takes a lot of time and mental strength to fully master it. It could take a trader 10 years to learn it. Not everyone succeeds, so technical analysis does not work for everyone.
I favor a more specific approach: if it doesn’t work for someone, they should figure out why, because it is working for us quite well.
Where does your Foundation operate?
We advertise ourselves as a global foundation. In today’s world, good business has to be global. Among our clients are representatives of the Russian Federation, the European Union, Great Britain and China. We continue to expand our reach. As for trade, over the next 6 months we will be able to manage capital on all largest exchanges of the world.
Why is there a minimum deposit amount of $ 10,000?
There are several reasons. First, we need funds to maintain client accounts. We do not charge a monthly fee, only a percentage of the profits. Therefore, the size of the deposit has a lower limit.
Second, $10k is not much for our target audience. It also acts as a filter that shows the solvency and how serious the intentions of a potential client are. We do not target the mass market and do not deal with dumping. On the contrary, we provide long-term, high-quality services for those who can afford it.
Third, the robot independently manages risks and simultaneously controls all portfolios. We don’t like it if someone can’t enter the position because the share calculated for him by the robot is not allowed on the exchange due to restrictions.
Are there any differences in the management of different amounts of investment? If yes, what are they and are there any similarities in the management of investments of one quantitative segment?
Our job is to describe all the differences with strict mathematical formulas and test them thousands of times under all possible conditions. Therefore, there is no big difference for us between a 5 mln purchase or 5k purchase. Everything is described, tested, calculated, everything works.
Differences in the management of large capital are even more drastic. The psychological factor in this case becomes critical. The same trader managing a demo account or a million dollar account will behave like two completely different people and make fundamentally different decisions. Our task is to completely eliminate the human factor from the money management process.
What are the chances for new instruments to get into the Foundation’s portfolio? What is the basis of the selection of certain tools? Are there any common priority tools for different segments of investors?
Any promising liquid instrument can be included in the portfolio of the Foundation, and the choice depends on many factors. The robot evaluates and filters the instrument on the basis of special algorithms and determines the share of an asset in the portfolio based on the results of the evaluation. All decisions must be mathematically justified, taking into account the analysis of the maximum possible amount of data. The more data on the instrument we have, the higher the quality of the decisions made and the share of the instrument in the portfolio. The choice does not depend on the category of investor. If the instrument is promising and liquid, all our clients will get profit.
Can you tell more about the terms of settlements between the Foundations and investors?
If someone in our market guarantees you a good profit and even specifies when you could get it, then I in turn guarantee that this is a fraud. We are most interested in customer profits, as this is the only way to offset the costs of managing his account. Imagine the following situation:
The new client opened a 10k deposit and a month later, he had a total of 12k in his account. At the beginning of next month, we will ask you to transfer us 1k as a fee. 11k remains on his account, but a month later, suppose, unsuccessful deals were made and there is 10k on his account again. In this case, we do not require any payments until the deposit exceeds 11k.
Suppose a month later he has 12k again. Then we will charge 50% of the difference between 11k and 12k, i.e. $500. The fact that the entire team of our foundation has long transferred the management of all its assets to our robot could also count as a guarantee. We have a direct motivation to make trading as successful as possible. We do not use the services of other funds or managers. And the second fact is that the portfolios of all clients, including our personal ones, are managed simultaneously.
Can you share the success stories of the Foundation?
We want to implement a demo account for this purpose. We plan to fill it with transactions and statistics from 2017, copied from real accounts, but without disclosing personal data. The demo-account will include a history of the average client from the beginning of 2017.
It will explain how the robot trades and what profit you can expect from it.
Do you believe that private investors, to some extent, are competitors to investment funds? What, in your opinion, is it more efficient and profitable: being a private investor or investing with funds?
No, we consider them not competitors, but clients. The vast majority of our clients already have experience in investing. Beginners often think they are the smartest, that they don’t need to pay someone 50% of the income when they can easily buy and sell themselves. I admit that in the short run a private investor can earn more than a robot — but definitely not over a long period. The robot ensures a stable result day after day, year after year, while people are prone to stress, illness and psychological weakness.
Also, funds, compared with private investors, have more compelling ratio of risk and return. At some time, a private investor may gain the same profit as a fund. However, the fund will achieve the same profit with much less risk. My money is controlled by a robot, although I believe in my capabilities as a trader.
Does the Foundation have an affiliate program?
Yes, we have an affiliate program, and at the same time, we are interested in collaborating with specialists for mutually beneficial cooperation. For example, we could consider providing service for the service for really good experts in design, advertising and marketing. If you have such specialists, let them send me their proposals and CVs. See contact details on our website.
What kind of future do you see for ordinary investment funds and funds like the Mercury Foundation?
It is clear to me that the share of funds managed by robots will grow steadily. Most likely, in a couple of decades only old-timers will manage money manually.
Robotization applies to all spheres of life and investment has already come into play. For example, the head of Japan’s Government Pension Investment Fund — the world’s largest pension fund — believes that artificial intelligence will soon completely replace asset managers. And I fully agree with him.
And the largest hedge fund Bridgewater Associates is developing a decision-making algorithm that can replace all management personnel over time.
How do you look at the cryptocurrency market from a global perspective? Will the Bitcoin climb to 20,000$ again? And what will happen to the altcoins?
If we talk about the long term prospect, like 3–5–7–10 years, then I’ll say that today we see the early stage of the cryptocurrency market. Over time, its capitalization will be measured in trillions of dollars. The best projects of this field will become an integral part of our lives. Many of them will become new Google, Facebook, Apple and Amazon.
However, this will happen gradually. In order to become a mature sector of the economy, this market will have to go through many challenges. It will face issues of legislative regulation and technical problems. The scaling and bandwidth issues of most networks are still relevant, as well as legal issues. Most states are just beginning to explore the risks and opportunities associated with these technologies. And the promotion of such technologies is still very dependent on states and supranational bodies. If we talk about the short and medium terms, the prospects are not very bright.
I think that in the near future the bitcoin will certainly not reach the 20,000$ mark. We are witnessing the strongest bear market and must act accordingly. The time for positive medium-term forecasts has not yet come. The industry was severely overcrowded in 2017. There was too much hot money, many economically unfeasible projects and excessively high expectations. The market will need time to stabilize and consolidate. Most likely, we are in for a rather complicated and dangerous period of instability in the market. Obviously, this will be accompanied by some cleansing of the market from weak, incompetent and unclaimed participants.
This is a necessary stage on the path towards development. I think that 80% of altcoins known to us will depreciate and disappear in the next year or two for objective reasons. It will be a time of natural selection. However, strong players will only strengthen their positions in the market. Unfortunately, there will not be many of them. Therefore, in the near future, all investors will need to take a good care of the management of their portfolios. Despite the rather grim short-term and medium-term expectations, there will be some positive developments on the market. Some cryptocurrencies are likely to exceed their all-time peaks next year. And some will just look stronger than the market. This will be enough to generate profitability even under such difficult conditions. Therefore, the main task for the near future is to manage risks in a competent and very conservative manner and select the best ones on the market for investments.
From a professional point of view, what would you wish to partners of our club?
Depends on their goals. If they invest for the sake of emotions, then I wish them good luck and health. If they do it to earn money, I advise you to consult with professionals. This applies not only to investments, but also to any area of life. If you want the task to be solved as accurately as possible — always contact the best professionals available. And always keep learning. Your knowledge is your most reliable asset.
What books would you recommend for beginner traders?
If you decide that you are ready to turn trading into your profession, then start eagerly exploring everything available to you. Everything about financial markets, about macroeconomics, about psychology, about analysis and forecasting. Do not forget that money management skills play a huge role here. Ralph Vince will help you figure it out. Even if your analysis of the markets is very good, you will lose everything eventually if your money management skills are subpar. Now is a great time to learn, you have hundreds and thousands of books available on all aspects of this profession. Someone will enjoy the works of John J. Murphy or Jack Schwager, someone will learn from William D. Gann or Robert Prechter. And remember: knowledge is more important than capital!
We thank Alexander for such a detailed story about the Foundation, as well as for his sincere desire to share his opinions and forecasts. If you want to entrust the management of your funds to the Mercury Foundation, type “I want to invest in the Mercury Foundation” in the personal messages of the group.
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