Using a software package to select and time your investments can be a great help to most investors but with so many software packages available and all sorts of confusing claims from producers, choosing the right trading software can be an extremely difficult decision.
In this article Sean Dostal, from online investment shop www.moneybags.com.au, outlines what trading software can do for you, the types of packages available, and provides some tips to help you find the right package for your needs.
There are many different investment styles, but successful investors share a few common characteristics - they are disciplined, organised and can remove their emotions from the investing process. Having the right tools at your disposal will help you acquire these characteristics, and one of the most important tools is the right investment software package.
What will Trading Software do?
Trading software can help improve your investing by:
Presenting complex information visually - Humans process information better through images than streams of facts and figures. Charting software displays share price data in charts to help you easily see trends, areas of support and resistance, and allows you to gauge whether a stock is overbought or oversold.
Testing and implementing a trading plan - Disciplined trading requires you to set rules about when to enter and exit the market, and how much money to commit to each trade. Investment software will help you build and test your trading plan to manage this process, and take the emotion out of trading.
Saving you time - Scanning tools let you scan over 1500 stocks on the ASX for opportunities based on your criteria.
Don’t touch the blackbox
At Moneybags.com.au we only sell ‘toolbox’ software. As the name suggests this allows you to construct your own trading plan using your own criteria.
Some other companies promote expensive trading systems or software based on proprietary systems which claim to deliver massive returns in only a few minutes per week. These are called ‘blackbox’ systems and in the opinion of many investment heavyweights, usually do not justify their price tags. Markets continually change, and no system will consistently work across all markets or for all personalities.
Our advice is, rather than looking for the magic solution, spend your time and much less money to educate yourself and develop a trading plan suited to your own personality and investment requirements.
Which software is right for you?
Of course which package you choose is going to depend on what you need it to do. Our experience in selling a wide range of investment software has enabled us to put together the following guide to point you in the right direction.
Step 1 - Decide which features you need
Software programs can offer hundreds of different features so we start by looking at the key components:
- Charting/Technical Analysis Software Displays historical share price data and indicators in a graphical format. This allows you to see emerging trends and price patterns, support and resistance levels and overlay indicators on a chart. These indicators are particularly useful for short to medium term traders looking to time their entry into the market.
- Scanning Software Quickly scans the entire sharemarket using your stock selection criteria to find possible trading opportunities. May use one or both of fundamental (financial) or technical (price and volume analysis) criteria to find stocks.
Step 2 - How experienced are you and what is your investing style?
One size does not fit all with investment software. To find the package best suited to your needs now and in the near future, you will need to consider your experience and style of investing. We classify software according to an investor's experience level:
- Beginner You have a basic understanding of the stockmarket and are looking for a tool to more easily display information and organise your trading.
- Intermediate You have been educating yourself and trading for a reasonable period of time. You have a trading plan which incorporates a consistent strategy to enter and exit trades, and manage risk for each trade
- Advanced You have a detailed understanding of trading, and a rigorously tested trading system which you have back-tested against many different types of markets and use consistently to make trades. Some advanced features you may be looking for include customised scans and build-your-own indicators.
The vast majority of investors fit into either the beginner or intermediate experience categories and should not be fooled into thinking that they need all the bells and whistles of the complex and expensive packages available.
And style of investing:
- Passive Investor You typically buy and hold shares for periods of 6 months or longer and look for stronger returns than bank interest. You don’t have the time or desire to get too involved and typically make decisions in consultation with a financial advisor.
- Active Trader You typically buy and sell shares within a 1 day to 6 month period. You actively monitor and adjust your portfolio and aim to generate a significant income from trading.
- Day Trader You typically buy and sell shares either on the same day or within 2-3 days. You spend a significant proportion of your day in front of a computer screen, and make revenue through small profits on large numbers of trades.
Most software packages are designed for active traders. This style is best suited to self-directed investors looking to build their wealth through share trading without spending their lives in front of a computer screen.
Step 3 - What else will I need?
- ASX Data Feed To use any investment software, you will need a data feed. These come in a number of formats including historical data, end-of-day data, snapshots, real-time data, and fundamental data. After the first year an annual fee will generally apply, for advice on your data requirements please contact us.
Step 4 - Pick your package
The following table was created from a critical assessment of the strengths of each package using the criteria above. We suggest using this as an initial guide, then following the links on the right to find out more information and select the package that best suits your needs.
* Quoted prices are current at 11 May 2011 (Australian dollars including GST unless otherwise indicated) and are based on packages available from Moneybags.com.au which include 12 months data.
To find out more information about any of these packages and data feeds please visit www.moneybags.com.au or call 1800 010 141.
Moneybags.com.au has been a specialist retailer of investment education products and tools including books, courses, software, data and newsletters since 1999. Products are carefully selected based on the quality of the information contained and value for money. All of the resources mentioned in this article are available for sale at Moneybags.com.au and can be found on www.moneybags.com.au or can be ordered over the phone on 1800 010 141.
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