The Ultimate Guide to Stock Market Trading Platforms
Starting at the beginning, just what is meant by the term “trading platforms”? Simply put it refers to how the investor accesses the broker’s services. A typical online trading platform for instance may include the ability to review a client’s past buy and sell activities, review their current portfolio, and obviously to request new trade orders to the broker. In addition there may be options to view current stock quotes and real-time market analysis and fluctuations.
Variations in stock trading platforms offered by different brokers can be confusing, so it’s important when investigating brokers that you are considering to evaluate their available platforms closely for the features that matter most to you.
Today’s most common stock trading platforms consist of three main categories:
- Personal contact brokerage – Execution of trading orders and requests for information are conducted via personal phone calls between the client and broker.
- Online stock brokers – internet-enabled brokerages with varying levels of client assistance, available information, trade execution performance, and support for questions or problems. Online trading is a platform conducted on the client’s desktop computer utilizing the broker’s software tools.
- Mobile applications – These applications are mainly extensions of services offered by online stock brokers and provide sophisticated tools for executing trades, tracking stocks and your portfolio in real time and much more.
What Should You Look for in a Stock Trading Platform?
As an online stock investor or day trader there are some very important features that you should expect from a robust stock trading platform:
Simple user interface – If the presentation of information is confusing or lacks ease of use you will not get effective information from the platform, and you certainly won’t be as efficient in use of the available information and tools. If you find it complicated or confusing to decipher a broker’s web site or software tools move on to another choice. Inefficient tools are a good indication that you won’t find the broker’s other offerings any more user friendly.
Pricing – Online trading platforms typically provide low rates to clients for stock trades, and those fees should be readily available to investors utilizing the platform. Any commission structure should also be clear to subscribers to the broker’s platform to avoid any confusion or unexpected charges.
Updates – Some trading platforms provide much more real-time analysis tools in the form of charts available to customers. These tools are critical to successful investing as they can provide such information as:
- Real-time streaming stock tickers that keep you informed of current values
- Charts to monitor activities and trends that may influence your trade orders
- Transaction history – let’s clients track past buy and sell orders and performance
Investment resources – Online investment and business news that keeps you informed on market trends and news such as acquisitions and financial reports that could have significant impact on your buy and sell orders.
Mobile applications – As mentioned above mobile stock trading applications are usually provided through an online broker as an extension of their brokerage services. With the considerable number of investors requiring service when they’re on the go, mobile capabilities have become increasingly important to many clients. When selecting an online broker be certain they can provide the mobile applications that are most critical to your investing lifestyle and are compatible with your personal technology platform (iOS or Android for example).
Financial products offered – Not every platform or online broker provides the same spectrum of financial investment opportunities. These products may or may not include stocks, bonds, mutual funds, commodities, Forex, and futures. Be sure the investment types that you expect to utilize currently or in the near future are offered on the platform you consider.
Speed – Platform options vary greatly in the execution of your trade orders. Calling your broker could mean delays in getting through to place your order and a subsequent lag in the broker actually executing the trade. Online trading lets you get a much faster reaction to your trade order, which is especially crucial to day traders who may execute a buy and sell order of the same stock within the same day, or even within a few hours. Mobile platforms enhance your flexibility even farther through your ability to take action even when a desktop computer is not conveniently accessible.
Accessibility – Here again the difference in platforms is significant in your ability to execute trade orders or get information on a timely basis. If you’re using the services of a personal broker your contact depends on their availability, office hours, etc. Online stock brokers eliminate that issue through being open for business at the touch a mouse on your computer. Many even have the capability to place orders in pre-post market hours so that you can execute trades even when the regular market is closed. Mobile platforms again take the technical lead in their capabilities to connect to your online broker anytime, anywhere.
Service and user support vary by platform, as well – Personal brokers will be available during set hours or by appointment. Online brokers provide varying levels of service but you can select an online stock trader that offers online support 24×7 and may even provide chat support in real time. Mobile platforms can offer benefits for service and support as well simply due to their connectivity advantage.
Each of these features can have a very real impact on your trade effectiveness and therefore your ability to make a profit while utilizing the platform. When considering an online stock broker note the checklist of options presented here, and ensure that those of the most importance to you are provided by the broker’s platform before signing up for services. Additional information is available on internet web sites but use caution in evaluating each of them, as much misinformation may also be presented. One such source of information is StockTrading.net which gives potential investors some suggestions on features you may want to consider in an online stock trading platform.
When selecting the platform that best fits your investment strategy always evaluate the prospective broker’s platform approach carefully. SureTrader is a leading online broker for day trading that can provide you with advanced technical platform offerings for your trades, including a mobile option for traders on the go.
Disclaimer: SureTrader Blog is not intended for U.S. persons. Stock information is not to be viewed as buy or sell recommendations.