From September 2012, City Index selected eight wannabe traders in The Trading Academy. The task was to chance their arm on the financial markets for a £100,000 winner’s prize. Some City Index folks mentored the eight throughout. 

Each week, one trader was eliminated, leaving two to battle it out in front of a live studio audience at City Hall. The reality TV-esque format convinced people who hadn’t thought of trading to open a live account, exposed the lack of innovation in the competitive space, and simplified the concept of trading.

In the words of Paul Cassidy, Global Head of Marketing,

The idea evolved from the fact that the industry was still incredibly niche and that education was a key driver of acquisition. From our perspective the education our competitors were providing was flat, two dimensional and really failed to engage those who were aware of the financial markets but afraid to take the first step.

Funnily enough, the content is nothing new, it’s information and programming, nothing too fancy and interactive (though it is expensive). But it’s well done, and spread in the right places, and that’s sometimes all it takes.

  • Six episodes of the Trading Academy were created, and published on site and YouTube.
  • The site also contains interviews with each contestant, and details in real-time on their recent trades and ROI.
  • The mentors were also video interviewed for the site, which was a good advert for expertise at City Index. They each gave top tips for anyone trading or considering it.
  • The education section of the site was well pitched with a couple of new articles each week, advising traders at different stages in their investment.


Content marketing is great at demythologising. Distilling down an industry with perceived complex workings, using engaging media. Essentially, this is marketing with education, in a way that would encourage viewers to engage with branded content.

A TV production studio was used to create a polished, tightly edited show that kept viewers coming back. It was cross promoted through print and digital ads. 

Each contestant was set up with their own Twitter profile and blog space on the City Index site. The YouTube channel is superbly structured (presumably with an upgraded account) even including a news ticker and a button to sign up for a City Index account.

The competition ran from September 2012 until the end of the year, and there are some impressive results below. Paul Cassidy explains that solid recruitment to the City Index Marketing team has been a key driver in ensuring top quality work.

At the outset of building the City Index Marketing team we had the vision to only hire experts – predominantly from agency and tech start-up backgrounds. The result is a dynamic team that is dedicated to results, best practice and innovation. 


The competition led to the best ever month for account openings, and a boost in organic search rankings. 

  • 20m impressions generated by the #TradingAcademy Twitter feed.
  • 1m views across all content channels. 
  • 67,000 clicks generated by the #TradingAcademy Twitter feed. 
  • A 1443% increase in social referral visits.
  • 81% increase in unique site visitors.
  • 60% increase in PPC acquisition for brand terms.
  • 10% of all site traffic for which Trading Academy was a net contributor.

I’ll leave you with the City Index infographic, for the graphic fans.