We all know that the tools don’t make the trader. A caveat to that though is that while much of the success of profitable traders comes from within, every profitable trader has a small set of tools that they absolutely couldn’t trade without. They might be software, hardware, or something completely unrelated to trading, but I guarantee you they’re there. I use a ton of resources to gather ideas for trades and execute on those ideas, but there are seven tools about which I can confidently say, “If I didn’t have this, there would be a direct negative impact on my profitability.” These are those seven tools:
1. DAS Trader Pro:
DAS is the best trading software out there. I’ve used Thinkorswim, Tradestation, Sterling, Scottrade Elite, Etrade Pro, and even some custom software. By far, DAS is the fastest, most reliable and most versatile. I have created custom buttons to buy/sell at specific spots like on the bid or on the ask with a marketable limit order, buttons to guarantee I’m adding liquidity, buttons to guarantee I get the best price while simultaneously getting the best chance of a fill by routing to specific routes, and even buttons to scale out without ever changing the share size box.
On top of that the level 2 montage is the fastest I’ve used and the charts are very reliable and clean. The top list is a great way to scan for ideas intraday and when used in conjunction with the news feed I can quickly see why a stock is moving without ever leaving the application. Overall I love DAS, even though in the past it’s been very buggy. It’s come a long way and the newest version is truly awesome. I wouldn’t be able to trade without it at this point.
StockFetcher is by far the most awesome stock screener/scanner out there. I have used it literally every single trading day for probably five years now. Its simplistic language allows you to write complex scans with ease and if you’re a technogeek like me you can really leverage the power of it by creating scans that use variables and functions to identify stocks with very specific patterns and characteristics that only you will find. If you know nothing about coding, there is a 160 page user guide right on the site that will take you step by step through everything it can do. I use StockFetcher to scan for ideas every single night and it has consistently been an excellent return on investment. Plus, for only 8 bucks a month it doesn't take long to pay for itself for the next 1,000 years.
Finviz is an incredible resource for gathering information on stocks and quickly determining what a stock is capable of when you’re under pressure to make a quick decision intraday. I almost always have a Finviz tab open in my browser so that when I see something moving and am trying to determine risk/reward, I can throw the symbol into Finviz and quickly check its float, short interest, average volume and other characteristics.
It’s also great for screening, allowing you to find ideas based on hundreds of characteristics from descriptive things like what a stock’s IPO date was to fundamentals like debt to equity ratios and profit margins, and technical items like where it sits relative to its moving averages or what its price performance has been over a set time period. I also use Finviz often for determining what type of news moves a stock, since it aggregates news from multiple sources and highlights any large percentage changes in the stock price so you can quickly scroll through the list of news items and match a huge candlestick on a chart with the news that caused it, in a matter of seconds. I use Finviz literally every single day I’m trading and it’s an invaluable resource.
4. Twitter with TweetDeck:
Most traders I know use Twitter. Not as many use TweetDeck though. TweetDeck is a small web application that you connect your Twitter account to and set up columns to alert you to when certain content is posted on Twitter. I have it running constantly, and I have alerts set up for users I feel provide valuable and actionable content so that the moment they post something it will pop up a notification on my screen with the tweet. It can send desktop notifications from the browser, which allows me to react lightning-fast to news items that are posted on Twitter which, in this age of social media, can sometimes be faster than the major news sources. I also follow a few bots with TweetDeck to alert me to stocks that are popping or have executed large block trades. As far as Twitter itself, I use it every single day for gathering ideas and interacting with knowledgeable traders. Without these two tools my trading would suffer greatly.
Tradervue is the market leader in the trade analysis space and I’ve used it since it was very new. With thousands of users, it not only allows you to study other traders’ publicly shared trades, but more importantly allows you to analyze your own trading performance. With support for dozens of brokers you can simply export your trading data from your broker into a CSV file and upload it to Tradervue. Once you’ve uploaded it, you can tag your trades, add notes or comments, and look at statistics like reward to risk ratio, average win vs average loss, win rate, profit factor, and countless others. You can look at your results by tag also, which means if you trade a group of specific setups and tag them according to the type of trade it was, you can differentiate between which setups work and which don’t, and why.
Tradervue allows you to dig deep into your trading performance to identify issues you would never see without the aid of statistical analysis, and it does it all for free if you upload less than 100 trades per month. If you want to analyze more than that, you can pay for the silver or gold membership which will open up support for even more reports and statistical figures as well as give you unlimited trade uploads. Tradervue has helped me to identify problems and patterns in my trading I never would have noticed otherwise, and that has translated into higher win rates, better reward to risk, and more money on the bottom line.
Next, enter the Evodesk. As a trader I spend hours upon hours in front of the screen and when I’m not trading I’m often working on one of my side projects which usually involve some type of application or website development. Maintaining my health is extremely important and the $900 I spent on this desk will likely add years to my life. It’s fully motorized and has four presets so you can store whatever heights you want. I have a height for standing, a “bar stool” height and a sitting height. I alternate back and forth between them at various points during the day but you wouldn’t believe how much better it makes you feel to stand up for a majority of the day! If I ever had to go back and work a 9-5 job and I wasn’t allowed to have a standing desk it would be a total deal breaker for me.
If you want to spend a little more you can even deck your Evodesk out with monitor arms, cable management trays and even a sound system. Plus, they’re made with 100% recyclable wood and the attention to detail is awesome! Don’t forget a good standing mat though. I have this Uline industrial mat which I flip upside down and stand on the soft and squishy gel side!
Finally, we have LazyFA. This app is just plain awesome. Actually, it's what you're reading this blog post on! LazyFA is a stock market research and analysis tool that allows you to visualize financial data in order to speed up the process of analyzing stocks. Being able to visually see the trends over time on the income statement, balance sheet, or cash flow statement, for example, can speed up your determination of whether or not an investment is even worth looking at. For conducting fundamental research, you won't find a better way to save yourself from reading hundreds of pages of SEC filings and news reports.
LazyFA can even look for red flags and detect potential fraud automatically. It does this by automating various accounting and fraud prediction models and looking for abnormalities in the numbers over time. If you're the type of trader that wants to know what you're actually buying, or if you need a quick way to determine if a company is profitable, burning cash or manipulating their earnings, this tool is definitely worth the money. I built it because I needed it myself, so it's built by a trader, influenced by dozens of experienced traders and investors, and backed by some of the best technology available. Without it I'd be flying blind!
I hope this gives you some insight into the tools I couldn’t trade without. If you’d like to learn more in depth how I use these tools, feel free to drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Til next time, happy trading!