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The Turtle Traders

The Turtles
2 minute read

The story of Turtle Traders begins in 1983 with Richard Dennis and his friend — another trader named William Eckhardt. Richard was uncomfortable about being showered with praise for his skills and wealth, since he believed that anyone could learn to trade with some training. This position caused debate between Eckhardt and Richard, with Eckhardt believing it was impossible to teach people so easily, and that their skills were quite special.

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This led to an interesting situation. To settle this discussion, they decided on a sort of experiment. They would take on a group of interested new traders, and see how they did. They took out ads in the back pages of daily newspapers, reading as follows:

“Mr. Dennis and his associates will train a small group of applicants in his proprietary trading con­cepts. Successful candidates will then trade solely for Mr. Dennis: he wouldn’t allow them to trade fu­tures for themselves or others. Traders will be paid a percentage of their trading profits, and will be al­lowed a small draw. Prior experience in trading will be considered, but is not necessary. Applicants should send a brief resume with one sentence giving their reasons for applying to: C&D Commodities”

– Wall Street Turtles™ (Link.)

This name Turtles came from a trip Dennis took to Singapore. He decided he would raise the traders like the Singaporeans had raised their turtles, that’s how they became known as the Turtle Traders.

Over a thousand people replied to the ad. It may sound like a large number, but when you consider the offer’s contents it’s a moderate number. This was probably because many people found it difficult to believe that such a good offer was not some kind of scam. A test of mostly true/false questions about trading and intense interviews followed.

At the end of all this searching in 1983, he picked about a dozen students. Some students came from financial industries in some way, but many did not. They ranged across class and background, including a bartender, a Caterpillar salesman, and a designer of Dungeons & Dragons. One of the main criteria for selection was how well they understood calculated risk.

Dennis and Eckhardt taught these students over a 2 week period. They taught them how to trade all major instruments. After this they received a million dollars of Dennis’ money to trade with. They had to sign an agreement to not disclose the trading secrets as well as not compete with Dennis after the training. The Turtles also agreed to taking 15% of the profits, with Dennis getting the other 85% (since it was his money at risk). Dennis repeated the same process the next year, making another class.

This leads to an obvious question: how did they do? One of the former students, Russell Sands, spoke on this. He says that in the five years following the training, these two classes earned over $175 million.

Not only was this a success, it answered the question about nature versus nurture that Eckhardt and Dennis had argued about. When it came to trading, nurture had triumphed. Trading successfully did not depend on inherent traits. Anyone with the desire to learn how to trade can do it with the help of someone with appropriate knowledge. These results match the Earn2Trade mission. We welcome you to follow in the footsteps of The Turtle Traders, and come learn to trade.

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