The CEO principle

Biser Varchev is someone who understands how to make money.
By Aneta Nedyalkova

Biser Varchev was born in 1967 in Pernik and graduated in Market Economics and Management from the Economic University of Varna. He did his internship at Merrill Lynch Investment Bank and Board of Directors Trade in Chicago. He moved to Bulgaria and created a chain of exchange offices, which have grown into the financial group Varchev Finance.

How did you get where you are?
My first entry into the industry was 1992-93. Last year we celebrated 25 years of business in the financial markets. It was the first exchange bureau, around Red Square, it has since changed its location but still exists today. With the first £3000 I made, the first time I got money in my pocket, I went to London and paid for a three month training course on trading with foreign markets with financial instruments – stocks, options,indices, forex, currencies and more. And thanks to my beginner’s luck, I came across two guys – Mario and Daril, who are former employees of the largest retail brokerage house in the world IG Index, now called IG Markets. They had already started their own company and were training people. We became good friends. They both got me into the business, after all, they had been employees of a huge company and they had a lot of contacts, knew everyone in the entire City of London. They introduced me to a lot of people and arranged me an internship at IG Markets. IG Markets are the largest brokerage house in the world, both then and now. I spent about a year there.

How did you reach the higher ranks in business?
It happened when licenses for investment intermediaries were authorised in Bulgaria.It’s a tricky one to acquire in Bulgaria. It’s like getting a bank license. It takes a lot of money, millions, and the skills to prove it.
I prepared a lot for it. After London I won a competition to train in the United States. One of the jobs was in New York at Merrill Lynch – the then largest investment bank in the world, and in Chicago – the Board of Directors Trade – the world’s largest futures exchange.

I was very impressed with the fact that you personally developed training programs.
Although I did not intend to develop training programmes, there are many experts who gladly share their experiences in online training courses such as the ones planned by the IBA Institute.

What do you think about the euphoria around bitcoins?
You must be a prophet to see what will happen. I am personally mildly
sceptical that this will be the currency of the future.. They are currently serving the black economy simply because of the lack of regulations. But when they finally do regulate bitcoin trading, what will they offer to the consumer more than a simple banknote?
Rapid payment? Right now, in order to pay off with a bitcoin, you need to wait at least 4 days. A bank will make a transaction for you in 2 days. Banks press governments to regulate cryptocurrency because they are taking their job. If two people pay, peer-to-peer, with bitcoins, they do not pay any commissions. Half of the banks’ business is the commissions. Now banks are planning to create their own crypto currency so they can still take commissions.

If someone has serious savings, where do you think he should invest them?
He has to put his money on something he understands, not on something trending. The most current example is the cryptocurrencies. There is a New York saying : “If taxi drivers start investing there, you run away.
“If you go in the crowd with everyone else, you are in trouble and you have to know this bubble will burst. That’s why big players do exactly the opposite of what the flock does. And if something goes very strongly forward, they are afraid and pull out from the game. There is no such thing as an infinite trend, everything moves in cycles. After all, people who buy a lot sooner or later have to make profits by selling what they’ve bought. The smartest sell first, because selling means prices going down.
Everyone wants to learn how to make money on the financial markets because it looks attractive. Movies like “ The Wolf of Wall Street” intrigue a lot of young people. But the truth is different – the more risk you take, the faster you will go bankrupt. The slower you step, the further you go. Soros summed it up in words which may sound discouraging, but it’s guaranteed you will make money: “If this business is very interesting for you, you probably will not make any money. And if you are dedicated and disciplined, which is equal to boring, you will probably make money.” And that’s just the opposite of movie myths.

Who is your typical client?
Private individuals and companies from everywhere. For around 5-6 years we have had an office in London, therefore, we have many English clients. But they are really conservative and hardly trust anyone. Last year customers from Hong Kong, Israel, episodic customers from France, Portugal and others started calling the company. Apparently our online social networks communications help a lot.
There are also wealthy Bulgarians, who only live on interest, have retired
at 55, and look after their children. Many of them live in Bulgaria, buy themselves a large property in the mountains and appear in the big city once a year.

How many people work for you?
About 80 people in London, Sofia and Varna. Here, in Varna, about 30 people work on different shifts, which cover 24 hours of the day. In Sofia there are about 10-12 people working, mostly IT. There are about 12 in London, merchants, and mainly programmers. And those who control the money that trade on our and our client’s behalf are here, near me.

Are there any women who want to work in this field and how good are they?
In many ways, they do better than men as they are more disciplined. Men sometimes do nonsense, but in our business stupidity means loss. I have heard of almost no case of a woman not respecting the principles and laws that are submitted in advance. The truth is that women are, by nature, less prone to taking risks. They are more cautious. And men are more gambling types. But for certain professions in the financial business, such as risk control, they are ideal. In my company women are the managers. There are, of course, also women who want to trade but they do not stay very long.

Do you have an idol in your industry?
I have. In Forex trading, the biggest player is George Soros, and in stocks trading – Warren Buffett and Carl Icahn.

www.varchev.com info@varchev.com tel. +44 20 3608 6256

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