For even the most sophisticated traders, achieving longevity in the arena of online futures trading is a challenge. Combining a viable strategy with the proper technological infrastructure can be a daunting task. Selecting the best day trading platform for the job is a big part of participating in the futures markets competently and efficiently.
Trading Is Not a One-Size-Fits-All Discipline
When it comes to the trading platform, many alternatives are readily available, each offering unique features and functionality. Simply put, there’s no shortage of options — and they’re not all equal.
The first step in finding the best day trading platform for your particular situation is to conduct a self-inventory. Thoroughly addressing a few basic questions can be extremely useful in identifying your essential platform needs:
What is my trading methodology? Whether you rely on technical analytics or traditional fundamentals to craft trading decisions makes a huge difference in determining which platform attributes are most desirable for you. Advanced charting applications or access to a live news feed are examples of features that may be required to apply your adopted methodology.
How do I place orders? The execution of basic market and limit orders is very different from stop market and stop limit orders. Also, certain trading strategies may require more complex order types, such as brackets, OCOs, and trailing stops.
How many trades per day do I execute? The platform fee structure or round-turn pricing schedule may be greatly affected according to how many trades are taken per day. Estimating your traded volumes ahead of time is useful in selecting a cost-effective alternative.
Which products and markets will I be engaging? The inherent volatility and speed of a market or product must be taken into account. Rapidly moving futures markets, such as gold or crude oil, require unique platform functionality. Various order-entry options and robust analytics are must-haves when dealing with fast-moving markets.
After you have answered these questions in-depth, you will have a good idea of the type of platform most suitable for your specific needs. You can then whittle down the wide range of choices available to a few ideal options.
What to Look for in a Day Trading Platform
In contrast to other forms of capital investment, day trading is an active method of engaging the financial markets. Timelines are compressed, open positions managed aggressively, and strong decision-making is valued at a premium.
The best day trading platform offers robust functionality in the following areas:
Customizable: Trading strategies and methodologies evolve over time. Being able to routinely tailor the platform to better address ever-changing market conditions is a must.
Latency: Day trading is a short-term discipline, where speed is a valuable commodity. Streaming live market data in a timely fashion and having orders filled consistently are critical aspects of staying on the competitive lead lap. Any undue platform-related latencies serve to undermine the effectiveness of the adopted strategy.
Advanced technicals: When it comes to day trading, technical analysis is king. A solid platform needs to be armed with an extensive collection of technical indicators and analytical tools.
In addition to these attributes, affordability also plays a key role in choosing the right platform. The costs involved with futures platforms range from being included in the per trade price to flat fees. Costs can be a significant part of your overhead — be sure that they’re in line with your account size and profitability matrix.
Selecting the Best Day Trading Platform
The last step in selecting the best day trading platform for your journey into the marketplace is to physically try out the software. Most platforms offer a free trial or demo period to give traders an idea of the supported features and functionality. Taking advantage of a free trial is a great way to explore the capabilities of each platform under live market conditions, risk-free.