Without the institutional level support, like what I usually get for my affluent clients, auto trading is not without its issues. Although my experience over the past few months is in general very positive. There are things that everyone who try to auto trade through retail brokerages must watch out for.
When everything is working fine, your automated trading strategies just do what they are supposed to. You can do whatever you like during the trading hours. If there were trades taken, Tradestation automatically SMS the trades to my cell. So I don’t even need to do end of day checking right after market close if I am busy then. I can simply do that later knowing that everything is already taken care of.
Well, this is where hiccups happen and you just have to intervene.
From my experience deploying trading strategies, I know the most important thing is to make sure the platform is running smoothly. Hence I make it part of my routine to check on the health of the trading computers and the platforms before the start of a trading day to make sure everything is working correctly. I now delegated this task to my assistant. Eventually, I will introduce self checking and reporting to the trading servers so that we know if there is anything going wrong when the expected reports do not arrive on time.
Over the past few months, it happened twice that somehow Tradestation was not able to reconnect to its brokerage server. It is not the fault of the Tradestation software though, as we tracked it down to massive outage at the ISP. We rebooted the ISP modem and restarted the servers quickly these two times with no impact on my auto trading at all.
However, there was once that we have a much more serious issue.
Tradestation crashed right after the opening without me knowing.
And on that particular day I know the automated day trading strategy should take on a position but I never received the confirmation on my cell phone. So I messaged my assistant to look into this and found out Tradestation crashed into a limbo state.
Even after restarting the server, Tradestation cannot go into auto trading due to the fact that there is an open position mismatch. I had to manually open the position myself through the magic of remote access. Then I was able to activate the auto trading. The rest of the day Tradestation worked fine.
I have no idea why the platform just crashed. There are many reasons why it crashed the way it did. What I am more concern about is how to ensure such incident does not happen again in the future. I am still working on this.