For the busy trader, the size of the major stock exchanges is both a blessing and a real headache.
When you consider that the NASDAQ lists over 3000 companies, the NYSE 2,800, Frankfurt has 3,300 and the LSE boasts 2,800, it is no wonder that traders have a hard time sorting the wheat from the chaff.
Sure there are opportunities but when the NYSE alone claims to trade approximately 1.46 billion shares per day, it is no wonder that professional traders have turned to technology to help them cope.
The truth is that no serious trader, whether they are working for a big institution or on their own behalf could possibly cope with the mountains of data that the world stock markets produce.
The $64,000 question is; which types of technology can help the average trader identify stocks with real potential value?
If you are already investing in stocks then the first app you need is a good stock tracker.
Also known as portfolio trackers, as the name suggests, these track your current portfolio and give you real-time information as to your positions.
Now you could be forgiven for asking why you can’t simply do this in Google or Excel and the truth is you could if you wanted to, but the question you have to ask is; where is your time better spent, manually inputting information into a spreadsheet or researching and trading?
Good stock trackers connect up with your broker and update your positions in real-time. Make a buy and it appears in your tracker, close a position and it notes the transaction and calculates your yield automatically.
If you are leveraging your positions then this is an essential item in your tech-stack because you don’t want to find yourself running light when it comes time to settle.
Stock scanners are different from portfolio trackers in that they are designed to identify stocks you may buy in the future.
We’ve already noted the huge amount of individual stocks available on the major markets and truthfully, identifying suitable targets without using tech would be a little like finding the proverbial needle in several haystacks.
Stock scanners are designed to take the strain by searching out potential buys based on a set of criteria that you set out in advance.
Only looking at tech stocks that have experienced a jump in the last two hours? That’s what your scanner shows you. Looking for small-cap companies that are showing above-average p/e ratios? Your scanner will find them for you.
A good stock scanner with a set of well-defined, strategy matched filters can save literally hours of work for the hard-pressed trader and can stop you from missing trades that are only attractive for seconds.
A top-end computer
This may seem a little ridiculous, after all, you are a trader and not a graphic artist, but an extremely capable desktop machine is absolutely non-negotiable for the serious trader.
Remember that you are going to be diving heavily into research, and if you are a day trader then you’ll be wanting information super-quick.
You’ll need resources to run your stock scanner and portfolio tracker whilst you flick between your research browser and your broker site.
Seconds count and what you can’t have is a PC that lags when you switch windows or a laptop that feels like it is about to spontaneously combust when you boot up your scanner.
You are living in a world where an unscheduled shutdown can cost you hundreds if not thousands of dollars so although it seems a bit mundane, get yourself the best computing resources you can afford.
Internet access (and a backup)
In exactly the same way as a blazing fast computer helps you stay up with the competition, you need super-fast internet access if you are going to start riding those trading waves.
When you look at the price of really good compared to reasonably good, the difference isn’t significant but the effect that it has on your trading ability can be unbelievable.
Uncontended lines are a must, and the best speed you can achieve should be a given.
And don’t ever trade at your local coffee shop. Not only are you likely to get poor speeds and find that it drops to a crawl at the most inconvenient points, but you are also at risk from fraud when using public resources.
Even when you have lightning-fast main access, make sure you have a backup plan in case it goes down.
Random workmen digging up your fibre optics may be a rare event but it does happen, and you can bet that it will occur just as you are about to close a winning position.
Think mobile 4g or 5g where it’s available and make sure you test it every so often.
A great trading community
This is kind of tech and kind of human but either way, it’s hyper-important for the trader.
Being part of an online community of traders is an absolute must-have for anyone trying to make their way in the world of stocks.
The first reason you need to be involved with a community is that it adds intelligence to your trades. Imagine that you get one tip per year that pays off massively – that’s got to be worth investing some time right?
You’ll also learn about tips and techniques that traders are using to boost their earnings and given that we all need to keep learning in today’s fast-moving world, that’s never a bad thing.
The third reason you need to get a great trader community is trader burn out.
Burn out really is a thing and one of the ways to combat it is to have a group of like-minded people who support you on your bad days and who you can support when you are doing well.
Having people you trust to rant to or commiserate with makes the solitary life of a trader so much more enjoyable.
Using tech to take the strain isn’t cheating
Using tech to help you manage your trading life makes complete sense.
You can do away with much of the manual drudgery that may be boring but is valuable all the same.
You can leverage tech to identify suitable targets and trade quickly.
And whether it’s going well or not so well you can find an online community that will have your back.
Good luck with your trading and may all your positions be winning ones!