If you’re taking your very first steps as an online trader then you’ve probably already come across trading platforms, but you may be wondering exactly what they are and how they work. A trading platform is basically a software program enabling users to place futures trades through their broker online. Once upon a time trades had to be done by traders calling their brokers who then called their people on the exchange floor. However online technology now makes it possible to do all of this from behind your laptop. This is how it works…
When you open your account with a commodity broker, you’ll start by downloading their trading platform. Then when you have it downloaded you can log in with your user name and password after which you can view your account and place trades provided you have the necessary funds. As soon as you get online you’ll see for yourself just how quickly and efficiently the platforms work. Most of them are easily navigable and usable, but they may differ in their presentation with variable quotes and charts available from one to the next.
Some platforms for instance offer simple daily charts with limited indicators, while others let you see all the info you could possibly wish for — though maybe too much for some users. You may be able to download some of them for a trial period to trade with play money, which will allow you to get used to the system and see which one is right for you.
When you get stuck into trading you’ll start to work out what suits you best. You should be able to get real time account information whichever platform you opt for. This will give you current positions along with the profit or loss on them all, not to mention your account balance and how much you have available to use for futures margin when you trade. Some brokers like offer free real time quotes on futures and options markets, like Sucden Financial on their Smart platform, which may suit you more if you want all the info. Others only offer them for a fee. Some also let you back test trading strategies, while others have only limited capabilities.
So test drive them all and find out which works for you, so then you can get on with trading and earning a nice profit whichever platform you go with.