I still remember the day I launched my automated trading – sitting tight in front of the screen waiting for something to happen. And then suddenly it is already a month since the launch. Time really flies!
Over this month, I actually learned quite a few interesting things that many you will find useful.
TradeStation Second Login
First trouble I ran into was that once the automated trading went live the account is logged in 7/24 from my trading server. So, if I need to develop new strategy or code on TradeStation I have to remote login to the trading server. That is not a good idea because bad coding and human mistakes can interfere with the live automated trading strategies. It turned out TradeStation can provide you with a second login id. The trick is to use this 2nd id only with the sim account so that it does not interfere with the real trading account.
As long as you do not need real-time data on this 2nd login, there is no extra data fees. I now work happily on my laptop with TradeStation this way. It is a very nice discovery.
Fills are Not as Bad as I Thought
Since I am converting my existing models developed on my proprietary platform into TradeStation, I thought latency is going to be an issue. I am pleasantly surprised that it is not the case. Fills are timely and no real slippage.
It makes sense though.
First, the day trading strategies I converted to TradeStation so far are not my HFT ones. They are slower and just need reasonable execution speed. In the past, internet stability and speed were big issues. Hence people like me did highly customized work with co-location servers near / at the exchanges. From the results so far, those concerns are no longer an issue.
Second, infrastructure has improved so much that order routing at retail brokerages are now much faster as well. So, unless you are really into HFT space, retail day trading in this era is pretty level with the institutions.
Latest Generation Computers are Overkill
TradeStation and many other retail trading platforms used to require serious computing power just 5 to 6 years ago. That is no longer true thanks to the improvement in hardware over the past few years.
You can just pick up a cheap 2nd hand computer with Windows 7 Pro for trading for as low as $300-$400 Canadian dollars. It is less than $300 US dollars. The most important thing is to get a quad core CPU so that Windows can run smoothly alongside your trading platforms.
I am converting next set of trading strategies now and plan to incorporate that by end of April. For the first set of trading strategies, I ended up having a complete framework ported over to EasyLanguage. This time, another framework will have to be converted too. I plan to release all these useful code libraries in near future. I just need to figure out how to do it properly.
For example, I don’t see a decent set of functions providing information like holidays and FOMC meeting schedule on any trading platform. But it is critical to know these things even for a normal trader. This is a fundamental tool for building reasonably robust trading strategies yet it is nowhere to be found.
Maybe all the pros are keeping these tools to themselves. Just kidding.