Trading software are computer programs that traders use to trade and analyze financial products such as currencies, stocks, bonds, and derivatives over a network with a financial intermediary, which can be a broker, market maker, or stock exchange. Investors can use trading software to place trades from any location. Trading software directly contrasts with the traditional floor trading method that employs an open outcry system to place orders.
Usually, brokerage firms provide online trading platforms to their clients either for free or at a discount if they maintain a funded account. The software allows clients to manage their accounts conveniently from any location, and the software may be launched from a desktop, mobile device, or a web-based platform.
Some trading platforms allow traders to purchase third-party software that enhances the performance of the platform provided by the brokerage firm. Key features of online trading software include live market prices, charting packages, news feeds, order placement, fundamental analysis, and technical analysis.
Trading software is a program that facilitates the analysis and trading of financial products, such as stocks, currencies, and cryptos, with a financial intermediary.
Traders use trading software to place trades, execute market positions, and monitor their accounts.
Trading software provides various features such as charting tools, real-time quotes, informational research, and programmatic trading for ease of trading.
Understanding Trading Software
A trading software allows investors to place orders, open and close trades, and monitor trades through their financial intermediaries. As the traditional floor trading is being phased out, most traders now prefer trading using self-directed trading accounts.
The self-directed accounts include all the essential features that traders need to execute trades and monitor their accounts. Some of the features include technical analysis indicators, chat rooms, charts, fundamental analysis data, and other proprietary functions that brokers use to attract new investors to their platforms. Also, the availability of APIs is helping improve the functionality of trading software by allowing two pieces of software to be linked up and function as one.
Trading software can fall into two categories – commercial and prop (proprietary) platforms. Commercial platforms are designed for day traders and retail investors, and they include a variety of features for research and learning purposes, such as maps and news feeds. On the other hand, prop platforms are built for large brokerages to meet their trading style and specific demands.
Common Features of Trading Software
Some of the key features included in trading software include:
1. Order placement
Most trading software allows users to place new orders, including market orders, limit orders, and other order types. Users can also look up real-time prices, track trading statistics for the day, the win rate for the day, and the profit or loss on closed trades.
2. Technical analysis
Trading platforms provide various tools such as interactive charting, chart patterns, and technical indicators to allow users to analyze stocks and check any trends in security movements. Users can also customize certain items in their charts, such as resistance lines, indicators, and sector comparisons, and save the customizations for future reference.
3. Programmatic trading
Some trading platforms include programmatic trading functionality to allow users to execute trades automatically, without the need to click a button manually to perform a certain function. Users are also able to test how the automated trading system performs when given certain commands.
4. Paper trading
Paper trading is a riskless virtual money trading functionality that is incorporated in most trading platforms. Such functionality allows users to test their skills using no-real-money trades before committing actual capital. Users can test various strategies to see what works without risking their real money.
How to Choose a Trading Software
When choosing a trading software, traders should consider the features available to users and the fees involved. Day traders are more interested in trading platforms that offer real-time Level 2 quotes to decide which stocks to trade. On the other hand, options traders are more interested in trading platforms that help them visualize their strategies.
Most brokers allow clients to test out their platforms before opening an account. It allows users time to decide if a platform comes with the required features and compare several trading platforms before making the final decision.
Another consideration that traders make when choosing a trading platform is the fee structure. Depending on the trading strategy, traders prefer trading platforms with low fees if they get access to the required features such as responsive charts, news feeds, technical analysis tools, etc. For example, traders who employ scalping prefer lower fee platforms that do not eat into their small profits.
However, some platforms offer different pricing tiers, where low fees translate to fewer features compared to the features provided in the top-tier levels. Nevertheless, traders can still go with low-fee trading platforms and find third-party applications that they can integrate into the platform through an API or use independently.
Also, traders can sign up for third-party charting services and use them alongside the functionalities provided within their preferred trading platform.
CFI offers the Capital Markets & Securities Analyst (CMSA)® certification program for those looking to take their careers to the next level. To keep learning and advance your career, the following resources will be helpful: