Today we are going to start our series of interviews with the most interesting people in the FX industry. The guest of our first interview is Nikita Barabanov, CMO of Elite CurrenSea. Nikita has multiple years of experience in digital marketing in the financial industry and is currently working on a number of his own projects. In this interview, we will be discussing the challenges he faced during his journey, how he got to where he is and what are his hopes and predictions for the future of the industry.
Hello Nikita, let’s start with a simple question. What can you tell me about yourself?
My name is Nikita Barabanov, I’m originally from Ukraine. I left Ukraine when I was 17 to study in the Netherlands, Groningen, and 3 years after finished a bachelors in Business Administration. Later I moved to Estonia because I got a job offer from a Forex broker called Admiral Markets. The job was in the marketing department where my friend was working so I immediately got interested.
Did you study marketing at university?
I didn’t study marketing at the university, but I did go through a course. In Admiral Markets I had to learn more about digital marketing and basically get a new understanding of marketing in general. So that’s where I got the professional skills I’m using right now to develop my business.
How did you start your career in FX?
I started as a Community Manager and gradually moved to the position of Marketing Team Leader for on-site and off-site marketing activities, including SEO, PPC, Content, and Media Outreach. At the end of my career at Admiral Markets, I was managing between 8 and 10 people including freelance writers. I was also involved in projects related to educational sections of the website. My goal was to provide value and organic traffic through search engines and also manage the team of specialists responsible for paid traffic, like Facebook and AdWords. I also received a lot of experience through balancing my delegation system, I wanted to do some of the tasks myself rather than give everything to the team members.
What are some of the projects you are involved in right now?
Right now I have several projects going on. I have a company in Estonia which is overseeing some of them, the main example is Elite CurrenSea. I am also doing Forex and CFD marketing for multiple clients on a regular basis as well as working outside of the industry as a marketing specialist in different fields. Mostly I specialize in PPC and SEO as well as unique content creation on both small and large scale campaigns.
When you were making these projects, what were the key points that helped you with the partnership with other co-founders?
When it comes to my projects in the FX industry, it was just a couple of friends I had since Admiral Markets. We decided that after finishing working with the brokerage, we would find time to invest into developing a side project and putting ourselves to test, with a much more smaller budget. Since we had a lot of connections we were able to grow the project organically. Through our networks, we were able to receive multiple opportunities to work on. In the case of Elite CurrenSea, it is quite similar in a sense that I co-founded it with people from Admiral Markets.
A year and a half ago, we decided to devote most of our time to develop a platform where people would learn to trade and get a better understanding in what they were going to be facing in the market. Our team at Elite CurrenSea wanted to accompany these people on their journey in order to help them understand whether or not they would become traders or not. We also made sure that these new traders had realistic expectations about the market, in addition to relevant tools.
This industry you’re talking about, like providing knowledge to traders. It has a lot of competitors, what do you think you were doing differently to make you successful?
Well, Elite CurrenSea far from success at this point and is trying to constantly grow. It is quite difficult to keep tabs on all of the competitors in the FX industry, especially for me, as I’m not a trader myself. I believe that the main advantage of our company or any company in this particular direction is actually the product itself. For example education or trading systems and tools, but from my short-sighted view, what competitors are doing or what we’re doing isn’t quite different from each other. I only value quality service by providing transparency and complete honesty with clients and prospects.
I don’t know about the competition, but for us at Elite CurrenSea, providing value for free is pretty much the core of our business model. I believe that what we do relatively well is that we stay transparent and offer people simple yet effective, reasonably priced tools to trade financial markets and offer support 24/5 sometimes even during the weekends. So we keep it as a small family of traders. Therefore we always remain open to criticism and feedback.
What do you think as a marketer, and specifically as a digital marketer in the trading industry, what is the one thing that prevents you from having a smooth workday?
I think it comprises of different things for different people, depending on the setup they have. For me personally its probably related to growing the company while still being the core specialist in integrating services and technical aspects as well as marketing aspects.
Combining management with all the on-hands work on the website is the challenge I face all the time. This isn’t industry specific, however, if you’re asking about external specific, then it is most likely the fact that the industry is very lucrative, it’s a financial business. Sometimes it has entry barriers and specific customer types I have to deal with. These barriers and customer types make marketing campaigns a little bit more complicated, compared to if you were selling something more generic. But there is nothing to complain because the end result is always better and achieving it isn’t impossible. The price of an error is a lot higher in this industry than others as well, so it’s what always keeps me on top of my game.
I also heard that you conducted a conference in Ljubljana not long ago. Can you tell me about it?
Yea we had a conference at the end of September 2018. The conference was mainly about trading methodologies that Elite CurrenSea teaches. With the help of another analyst Mislav who is doing live service for us by sending signals and trading analysis, we were able to conduct it without a hitch. During the conference, we dedicated 70% of the time to explain how trading tools work and why we believe in them and why we use them for our own purposes.
We showed actual results of the trading systems, the importance of choosing a broker and understanding how the industry works. For the last part, we had some time for recreational activities like drinks and snacks. It was just for people to wind down and chat with each other and build connections. Trading can be a very solitary activity and people are always eager to meet somebody who is pursuing the same goals in their lives.
The event was quite large because about 100 people were attending, which was a great success in terms of uniting people and displaying the creators behind the digital content. We liked helping people come together and get the stress off. All in all, it was in order to help them become more confident in themselves as traders.
So one would say that this was a marketing campaign, and this leads me to the next question. What’s the difference when you make marketing campaigns for yourself and for the broker?
Oh “laughs” the budget of course. The methodology is more or less the same in a sense that the goal of the campaign should be determined enough that it becomes achievable. It all comes to specific media and tools that are used to make the campaign successful. In offline campaigns, more attention is needed to promote the seminars and activities that will be taking place during these events.
In a sense, offline campaigns are easier because people are aware of the product and will know that they will experience it first hand. People in this industry are more willing to go on offline events to just meet all the other people and find out how they are doing their trading. It’s actually cheaper to generate attention to these campaigns as well. If we go into details it also comes down to building a clear message online, so people can understand the core value of the event.
The 21is century is a digital haven. There are always new players coming to the industry so what would be your advice for beginner marketers?
Find the person who is good at it and try to make them your mentor. Follow them in their work and don’t be shy to seem uneducated or inexperienced. Don’t worry about seeming foolish in your assumptions, as long as you can voice your opinion and hear some feedback, that would be a great shortcut to learn something new. In my experience, starting out with an unrelated degree was a challenge, because it kind of put me into a mode of learning and looking for information online. There are so many articles you can read online as information. Unfortunately it is disguised as practical, but in all honesty, you’ll understand that they don’t really teach much the moment you put them into practice.
Its most of the time an overload of information that you don’t know how to use because implementing them requires money. It’s best to just start your own project, like a website or a blog. Better do it for something you are passionate about. Always try to find time to develop your skills even if you have a full-time job. Your own project probably the best place to test your knowledge and make mistakes in order to learn as quickly as possible.
So failure is one of the key points where people can learn more about the industry?
Oh well like in everything in life “laughs” failure can teach you more than success, but it doesn’t mean that you should be thinking about it. Don’t be obsessed with being overly predisposed about failure. This industry can provide you with a fast way to fail for sure because you can launch some kind of a project, put some money into it and the next day it may be gone. In that sense, you don’t need to wait too long to see your mistakes. In a way, it’s quite good to have such a fast pace in the industry.
Other things just include to maintain a healthy diet, exercise, get enough sleep so that you can always be on top of your game. Get your basics straight and maintain a strong mentality, then anything will become possible for you in the marketing world, as long as you’re ready to sacrifice your time for it.
What do you think about the future of the industry?
My view on the industry right now is that it would be useful for it to get a little bit more of a fresh blood and perspective on modern events within it. Getting less uptight in terms of the way the information is presented would also be a big plus. Because the new generation is getting ready to become more financially independent and I think that the financial industry is missing a little bit of the progress that other industries like the tech industry are having.
For example, the way digital information, like educational material, is presented on their platforms is completely different. Simplifying it would be a great addition for the industry because it would make it a lot more accessible for the young traders. All of this is only possible with more honesty and transparency from the companies’ side. This is my insight for the future and where the industry should be heading, especially when it comes to new regulation like ESMA. Brokers are forced to explicitly show the results to their clients and decrease the leverage on the products.
I believe that some of the ideas are actually beneficial for the common trader. However, it depends on how they implement it. As long as they make it easy for potential customers to understand the risks and complexity that comes with the lifestyle of a trader it would be a success.
Traders need to understand that this industry is not for everybody. With this knowledge, companies will be able to retain more customers and have a lot more dedicated ones because they will be aware of what to expect.
What about your personal side? Do you have any hobbies?
I like good movies, going to active types of vacations, skateboarding, surfing, mountain climbing, I enjoy traveling as well because it helps me meet interesting people, I usually do it with Airbnb to have more people to meet. I really enjoy electronic music and alternative as well, I usually go out with friends to these types of concerts to have fun. One of my hobbies is also reading, but I’m quite slow at it, I try to find time to read fiction and non-fiction to develop myself and get a better outlook at the world.
Thank you so much for answering all the questions it was very interesting to hear your insight.
Thank you for the interview, goodbye.