If you’re a day trader, you probably wouldn’t consider yourself to be a risk-averse person. You don’t hide your money away in stable accounts, certificates of deposit or long-term investments like most do. Instead, you prefer the excitement of making quick trades and seeing your worth grow (hopefully!) every day. But, even if you consider yourself to be a risky person, you can’t afford to not use a stock trading platform to keep up with your trades. Here are the most important characteristics to look for in your stock trading platform.
1. A Great Watch List
Every day trader knows they need to be the most informed person in the room when it comes to current events, macroeconomic market movers, and press releases. To compensate for this dire need, you’ll need the best lists you can find.
Some platforms cover narrow content, while others attempt to cover a wide range. Real-time data and easy-to-use search tools are essentials. If you’re day trading want real-time data that shows you a stock’s volume, average volume, day low, day high and other key statistics. Keep in mind that you should never pay for a platform that does not show data in real time.
It helps if the platform incorporates intuitive features, such as all stocks appearing red while losing and all others appearing green while winning. Above all else, every trader should choose a watchlist that allows the user to export data into Microsoft Excel. No matter what you are doing, you should be carrying out some sort of analysis; Microsoft Excel has the ultimate capacity and efficiency to build out WACCs, DCFs or any other models you were looking to do.
2. Interactive Charts & Peer Group Analysis
Unique to the industry, most trading platforms do not offer peer group analysis. If you’re a day trader, this may not mean a whole lot to you; however, in the long term, this tool becomes essential as you define peer groups and their top performers. Although having this tool is typically a bonus, you get extra bonus points if your research tool allows you to generate research reports.
Interactive charts and those including the ability to incorporate tools for a technical analysis such as exponential moving averages, MACD and RSI also add significant value to the platform. In addition to game-changing technical indicators, your platform should also give you access to in-depth financial statements on an annual or quarterly basis. Your three basic financial statements (Income Statement, Balance Sheet, Cash Flows) should allow you to export data to a spreadsheet where you can conduct an analysis.
3. Minute by Minute News Feed
A real-time news feed allows you to never miss a beat. It is usually the first thing that pops up once you search a particular ticker. You can view the most recent update in a company’s SEC filings and press releases. Depending on how frequently you place trades, you might also benefit if your platform sends you notifications based on ‘market moving’ commentary or essential news in a press release. The best part is these notifications typically occur while or before the stock is climbing.
4. The Best Stock Screener
A stock screener should allow you to search for stocks at any time; even premarket and after-hours sessions. The user should be able to screen based on a number of characteristics including market capitalization, stock price, and sector. You can also filter out stock market gainers and losers on the day. This is my favorite tool when it comes to asset allocation because it makes the process that much easier. SCreeners score bonus points if they allow you to screen for stocks based on technical indicators such as MACD or OBV.
5. Company Calendar
Very similar in concept to that of the most desired financial technologies, your platform should show a company’s latest earnings report, revenue and surprised earnings percentage. In addition, you can also benefit from viewing a company’s most recent stock split, declared dividend, record date, and pay date. This nifty feature typically integrates a company’s calendar alongside its latest conference calls, analyst ratings, corporate governance and much more.