People occasionally ask us about the origins of the TopstepTrader moniker. Was it something that came to our founder in a dream? Is it an incredibly long and needlessly complicated acronym? Did a team of marketers conduct a focus group and conclude that Topstep was better than X-tremeTRADZ!! fueled by Mountain Dew? The truth is actually pretty straightforward, but also kind of cool if you're an aficionado of trading history.
Topstep History Lesson
As you probably know, before the screens there was the trading floor, where everybody from scrappy locals to big, institutional players gathered daily to discover prices on everything from feeder cattle to treasury bonds. The floor at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) was the epicenter of the futures trading industry.
Here's the father of TopstepTrader himself, Michael Patak, gazing off into the mid-distance in search of the future of the retail trading industry.
On any given day, you would find handsome rogues, such as Topstep's very own Senior Performance Coach John Hoagland screaming at the top of their lungs and waving their hands to buy and sell all manner of financial instruments. (NOTE: The author of this article never traded on the floor and therefore only has the most basic understanding of what went on down there, but this scene just feels right).
Here is Hoag gloating that the trading jacket he wore over a decade ago still fits.
So, what makes a "Topstep" trader?
There is actually a reason for including the above photo that goes beyond nostalgia. If you take a closer look at the tag on Hoag's trading jacket, you will notice that it says "S&P 500 TOP STEP."
This designation means that John T. Hoagland was permitted to stand on the top step (i.e. top tier) of the S&P 500 trading pit at the CME—a place where only the most prestigious locals and brokers were allowed to trade. The top step was prime real estate because it granted the trader unobstructed views of the action. It was also much easier for other traders to hear their orders above the ruckus down in the belly of the pit.
So, there you have it. A TopstepTrader is the biggest, baddest trader on the block. We're still not sure what the equivalent of this would be for the screens, but we'll certainly let you know if we find out.
You can learn more about Michael's adventures on the CME floor by checking out this interview he did for our Limit Up! podcast.