Saturday, November 20, 2004

Tools of the Trade

My trading system depends on 1-5% pops in stocks over the course of a few minutes to a few hours. I average about 5 trades a day and usually achieve profitable results in at least four out of five trades. Key to my success, apart from the underlying methodology, are my tools of the trade that open the doors of speed and accuracy in the placement of my orders. Don't think of day-trading without the proper tools, as even with market orders, the speed of your entry falls directly to your bottom line and it does so time and time again.

My primary trading platform comes from my broker, Interactive Brokers. It is lightening quick and as accurate as I am in entering orders. In other words, the only mistakes are mine alone. My back-up is Schawb and their Street Smart Pro platform. Even with their newly discounted fees of $9.95 per side, Schwab is still about twice as expensive as IB. At 1200 trades a year, those commission dollars add up.

I use a cable broadband connection, backed up by a Sprint PCS PC card. As it should be, the back-up is rarely used and even when called in off the bench, it's only in for a play or two before the cable connection is back on. The Sprint card's speed is about half-way between dial-up and DSL. Good enough for a back-up.

Now the fun part: I trade off of two notebooks, an Apple 17 inch Powerbook which runs the IB platform on a UNIX base and a Sony Vaio running both IB's Windows platform and Schwab's Street Smart Pro. The Mac has a half of gig of RAM, the Sony one full gig. Both machines are about 18 months old, but still adequate, no, make that perfect, for my trading. They both run off of an Apple AirPort Express wireless network and all of the above packs up in about 15 minutes and converts effortlessly to two carry on briefcases for travel. The Sprint card allows me to connect the Sony to the Internet and thus, puts me in business anywhere and any time I am in range of a Sprint PCS tower. In other words, just about anywhere and any time.

My software is a mix of store-bought and proprietary technology that forms the soul of my trading system. 'Nuff said about that.

How much does all this cost? Or asked another way, with 4 out of 5 wins, making 1-5% on average per trade and making about 25 trades a week, who cares how much it all costs?

In summary, my trading system is built on and around top-of-the-line technology; speed, reliability and accuracy. There are days when I don't even know if the market is up or down, I'm just standing by, managing my trades, waiting for my triggers, looking around the net and trying to keep sharp. Ergo, this blog.

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