Also see the full list of current Trading Events, including the 2011 Money Show Las Vegas.
Better Functionality On Better Hardware
As usual, large booths by TradeStation and Fidelity/ThinkorSwim dominated the floor of the 2009 Money Show Las Vegas. The major trading software vendors have continued to add new functionality to take advantage of newer and faster home pc's that are better connected to the internet. The folks at ThinkorSwim were showing their full-featured stock and options trading platform which has free CNBC streaming video embedded into the application. For people who like to watch Fast Money or Jim Cramer or just keep an eye on the major news of the day, that's a big plus. And, of course, if you don't watch CNBC, you don't have to turn it on.
Metastock displayed a more modest booth, but their software platform is very big on functionality and continues to impress. It offers a wealth of market data streamed directly from Reuters, one of the biggest and most complete data providers on the planet. If you trade on the news or on obscure fundamentals data, you should definitely take a look.
Tradestation and Metastock also continue to excel in the area of raw data and custom indicators, providing an astounding number of data fields as well as simple-to-use methods for creating custom calculated fields and table calculations (e.g. moving averages and oscillators).
For system programmers, the scripting language from TradeStation (TS Script) is one of the best-featured and it benefits from a huge and devoted developer community. TS Script provides a robust programming and testing environment that can be used to backtest trading strategies and implement automatic trading systems. Hundreds of real-time data fields and pre-made functions are available, and they can be leveraged greatly using familiar programming tools such as variables, looping structures, and conditional statements. Whether you develop the algorithms yourself or use those created by others, this type of system extensibility can make the difference between trading as a hobby and trading for a living.
Scottrade showed off their Options First platform, which is designed for experienced options traders. The software was impressive, and, like most of the bigger brokerage firms, they also provide easy-to-use methods for transferring money between multiple accounts. Many investors consider this to be a very important bit of functionality when deciding on a brokerage/software combination.
Forex trading also seems to be booming as there are at least a dozen Forex-trading platforms competing to offer the best software features and the lowest commissions. This is not surprising since Forex-trading applications are much more simple when compared with trading software for stocks and options. The Forex market is also much less regulated than the other markets, which provides a lower barrier to entry.
Overall the 2009 Money Show Las Vegas was a great way to see what type of software is available for trading stocks, ETF's, options, futures, and Forex. Only at these types of shows can you demo a lot of different software platforms in just a day or two. It's a great opportunity to actually get your hands on the mouse and keyboard to take a test drive. The fact that it's in Las Vegas is the icing on the cake. The town is full of affordable hotels and there's nowhere like it on earth for entertainment. If you get a chance to attend one of these in the future, we highly recommend it.