Apex and Topstep are two prop firms that operate funded trading programs. They allow traders to win a funded account that can be used to trade the financial markets. The market focused on by Apex Trader Funding and Topstep is the futures market. Before we go any further, let us examine what a funded trading program is about.

Apex VS Topstep Funded Trading Programs

What is a Funded Trading Program?

A funded trading program is a form of agreement between two parties: a proprietary trading firm and a trader. The proprietary trading firm will first test the trader. The test determines if the trader has the skills and abilities to trade and earn profits consistently. The test is carried out on a simulated account, meaning the trader will not be trading with real money. Once a trader is successful in the test, he will be awarded a live account that the proprietary trading firm funds. The profits made by the trader on the funded account will be divided between the trader and the proprietary trading firm.

However, when the trader violates rules incessantly or accumulates excessive losses, the agreement will likely be void. As a consequence, the trader will lose the funded account. If the trader still wants a funded account, he/she will have to go through the test process again.

One crucial thing about funded programs is that most focus on the forex or the futures market.

Apex Trader funding

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Apex Trader Funding is a proprietary firm that operates a funded trading program. The company was founded in 2008 by Darrell Martin and has grown since then; the company has provided funds of more than $100 million to traders for trading. Once a trader completes the evaluation phase, known as the Apex challenge, he wins a funded account.

The Apex firm provides traders the best opportunity to be awarded a funded account. This is why the evaluation is made straightforward so traders can achieve the profit target without worrying about myriad unnecessary rules. This way, traders can have a better chance of successfully getting a funded account and trading profitably. The program is perfect for those that lack the capital or do not want to risk their savings to trade.

Once traders are awarded an Apex-funded account, the first $25,000 profit solely belongs to them. After that, the subsequent profits are divided between the traders and the firm in a ratio of 90:10. The trader gets 90% of the profit while the firm gets the remaining 10%. This is one of the most generous profit-sharing formulas in the industry.

Topstep funded trading program

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Topstep is another proprietary firm that runs a funded trading program. It was founded in 2012 by Michael Patak and is regarded as one of the fastest-growing companies in the United States. This is because the products and services of Topstep seem to be what many traders are looking for.

There is also an evaluation phase, like with Apex Trader Funding, known as the Topstep Trading Combine Challenge. Whereas the Apex Challenge has one step to be eligible for a funded account, the Trading Combine challenge has two steps. These two steps must be completed successfully for a trader to qualify for a funded account. Once traders are awarded a funded account, the first $5,000 in profit is theirs. The subsequent profits are divided between the traders and the firm in a ratio of 90:10. The trader gets 90% of the profit while the firm gets the remaining 10%.

Rules of the Evaluation Phases: Apex vs. Topstep

The Apex Challenge Rules and Targets

  1. Meet the profit target: there are different account sizes that traders can choose from when they sign up for the Apex Challenge. These account sizes come with specific profit targets. Traders are expected to meet the target attached to their chosen account size. 
  2. Trade for a minimum of 7 days: traders are expected to log at least seven days of trading to be eligible to win a funded account. The trading days must not be consecutive but must not be less than seven days.
  3. Do not hit max loss: a trailing threshold is a marker for the acceptable limit on the losses a trader can incur. If traders do not hit their maximum drawdown during the 7-day trading, they are eligible for a funded account.
  4. Your account should not be accessible to another person, as this will be fraudulent. As a result, the account will be closed irrespective of the progress made.

The Topstep Trading Combine Rules

  1. Meet the profit target: Like Apex, Topstep has different account sizes with specific profit targets. Traders must achieve the profit target attached to the selected account size.
  2. The minimum number of trading days is 5 for step 1 and depends on the consistency rule for step 2.
  3. The trader must take note of the daily loss limit and ensure not to reach or exceed it.
  4. Traders must only trade the products allowed by the firm, and trading must be done during permitted periods.
  5. It is not permitted for a trader’s account balance to reach or exceed the trailing maximum drawdown of the selected account size.
  6. Each account has a maximum position size allocated, and traders must not trade beyond that. In addition, Topstep has a scaling plan, and traders must abide by it.

Account Sizes Comparison and Analysis

This Table shows the various account sizes available in the Apex-funded trading program:

Account SizeNumber of contractsProfit TargetTrailing thresholdPrice of Challenge
$25K4 (20 Micros)$1,500$1,500$147
$50K10 (20 Micros)$3,000$2,500$167
$75K12 (24 Micros)$4,250$2,750$187
$100K14 (28 Micros)$6,000$3,000$207
$150K17 (34 Micros)$9,000$5,000$297
$250K27 (54 Micros)$15,000$6,500$517
$300K35 (70 Micros)$20,000$7,500$657

This Table shows the various account sizes available in the Topstep-funded trading program:

Account SizeNumber of ContractsProfit TargetDaily Loss LimitTrailing Max DrawdownPrice of Challenge
$50KFive contracts$3,000$1,000$2,000$165
$100KTen contracts$6,000$2,000$3,000$325
$15015 contracts$9,000$3,000$4,500$375

From the two tables above, it is clear that Apex has more options than Topstep in terms of account sizes. For example, Apex has seven (7) different sizes compared to Topstep’s three (3).

When the challenge prices for similar account sizes of $50K, $100K, and $150K are compared for both firms, it is evident that Topstep’s prices are higher.

Also, in terms of the number of contracts, Apex still has the edge as it offers more contract sizes than Topstep. Furthermore, Apex allows its traders to trade up to the maximum position size. The system used by Apex caps the positions of its traders, which means trading more contracts will not cause a trader to forfeit the account. However, it is the opposite with Topstep, as trading beyond the max position size means rule violation, thus leading to account closure; the maximum number of contracts is limited by a rule called “the Scaling Plan,” Apex does not have a scaling plan penalty, but Topstep has, and traders must be aware of that.

The profit targets are the same for the three similar account sizes, while there is little difference in the trailing maximum drawdown. The daily loss limit is present in Topstep but is absent from Apex.

Comparing the Consistency Rules of Apex and Topstep

Apex does not have a specific consistency rule as the firm tries not to ‘choke’ traders with too many rules. The firm wants traders to be free to use trading plans and strategies that suit them. Traders are also expected to develop a certain level of consistency in their trading because that is what Apex is looking for. The firm is looking for traders who can trade consistently and generate profits without violating rules. Traders should never take the lack of a specific consistency rule at Apex for granted because violating any primary rule will still lead to failing the challenge.

Unlike Apex, Topstep has a specific consistency rule known as the Consistency Target. It is seen in the second step of the Trading Combine. It determines the trader’s ability to earn profit consistently and manage risks simultaneously. For example, the consistency target expects traders to ensure that their best good day is less than 40% of their total profits.

It is such that if the best day (day of making the most profit) of the trader is up to or more than 40% of the whole profits made for a particular trading period, the trader is expected to keep on trading until the best day is below 40% of the entire profits.

Reset in Apex and Topstep

Apex and Topstep understand that their evaluation tests can sometimes be tricky for traders due to their impatience or nervousness. This is why both firms have the option of resetting so that traders can get the chance to try again.

Whenever traders fail an evaluation account at any of these two firms, they can take advantage of the reset and start from where they stopped. They get the exact account size with a new account balance, profit target, and all the other features. The reset comes with a fee at both firms. However, the prices differ as the reset at Apex goes for $80, while the reset at Topstep costs $99.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Apex vs. Topstep

Pros and Cons of Apex Trader Funding

Pros of Apex Trader

  • The Apex challenge has only one step that traders must pass before becoming eligible for a funded account.
  • Apex does not have daily drawdowns, which is a big plus as other firms tend to have daily drawdowns.
  • Traders are allowed to have multiple accounts as long as it is under one login detail.
  • Apex has one of the most generous profit-sharing structures in the industry at 90:10 in favor of the trader.
  • The first $25,000 in profits a trader earns belongs to him/her.
  • It does not take long for traders to get funded once they pass the Apex challenge successfully.

Cons of Apex Trader

  • Apex withdrawals are limited as they can only be done once a month
  • The trailing drawdown during the Apex challenge can pressure traders and trigger mistakes or rule violations.

Pros and Cons of Topstep

Pros of Topstep

  • The first $5,000 in profits belongs solely to the trader
  • A generous profit split of 90:10, with traders getting the larger share while the firm takes the remaining.
  • The minimum number of trading days is 5 for each step, which is relatively short.
  • Withdrawals at Topstep can be made multiple times within a month as long as the trader has earned sufficient profits.

Cons of Topstep

  • It has daily drawdowns in addition to the trailing max drawdown, which might make it more difficult for traders to navigate the Trading Combine.
  • Topstep has a limited number of account sizes that traders can choose from.
  • Signing up is a bit steep compared to other firms’ costs.
  • It is difficult to calculate the total expenses due to some additional fees that show up later.

Final thoughts

Apex and Topstep are two of the leading proprietary funding firms, with thousands of clients participating in their programs worldwide. They are both excellent options if you are looking for a trusted prop firm where you can win a funded account. However, you must be interested in futures trading or be a futures trader because the two firms only deal in futures trading.

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