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All Futures Trading Platforms Aren’t Equal

March 8, 2024 | By

For about 20 years, software platforms have served as avenues to the marketplace for futures traders. Today, no matter if you’re dealing in commodities, equities, bonds, or currencies, you conduct your business mostly online.

Fortunately for active traders, staying in tune with almost any market is a routine task. Aside from internet connections, computers, and brokerage accounts, all you need to secure market access is one or more futures trading platforms.

Three Must-Haves for Your Futures Trading Platforms

When selecting a trading software suite, it’s important to realize that not all are created equal. Nonetheless, the best futures trading platforms excel in order entry and charting and feature customizable functionality.

1. Charting

In the contemporary futures marketplace, it’s difficult to overvalue the relevance of technical analysis. The study of price action is the go-to analytical base for many active traders worldwide. Subsequently, the pricing chart has become an essential tool.

The vast majority of platforms provide their users some form of charting application. Though these programs may differ significantly, it’s critical that the following three elements are included:

  • Multiple chart types: Charts come in all shapes and sizes, each with a specific purpose. At the very least, a charting platform needs to support OHLC, line, candlestick, and volume charts.
  • Indicators: If you have any experience at all in technical analysis, then you know that there are literally thousands of indicators available online. A powerful trading platform provides access to a comprehensive library of public domain and proprietary indicators.
  • Low latency: The pricing chart takes exchange-direct data and places it into a visual context for the trader. It’s vital that this task is executed in real time, free of any undue latencies.

An ideal charting suite offers low latency market data as well as a collection of chart types and indicators. If it doesn’t, the utility of each chart is severely limited.

2. Order entry

The job of a futures trader is to buy and sell contracts on the open market for profit. Accordingly, almost all futures trading platforms are equipped with order entry capabilities. These items typically come in the form of depth-of-market (DOM) ladders, chart traders, and basic entry applications.

When it comes to order entry, being able to enter and exit the market in a host of unique ways expands strategic possibilities. At a minimum, your trading platform should provide the following order-entry options:

  • Advanced order types: Having OCO, market, limit, stop, stop limit, and stop market orders at your disposal is valuable in optimizing trade execution.
  • Automatic trade management: Managing open positions in the live futures markets can be a challenge. Advanced trade management devices, such as trailing stops and multi-brackets, can help lock in profit while limiting risk.

In futures, executing trades with maximum efficiency is a primary driver of profitability. To do so consistently, you must have a trading platform that is equipped with the proper order entry capabilities for the job.

3. Customization

The elite futures trading platforms give the user an opportunity to fully customize the application of order types, charts, and indicators. In addition, there will come a time when a trader will want to build a personalized platform function. To accomplish this task, the platform is best equipped with at least one of the following:

  • An intuitive, easy-to-learn programming language
  • Access to third-party software developers
  • An adaptable technical framework for strategic integration

There’s one thing that all great futures trading platforms have in common: They let the user fully customize the trading experience. If you’re a market newbie, this may not seem important. But as you develop as a trader, it’s likely that you’ll want to tailor the platform to your preferences.

Need Help Choosing a Futures Platform?

If you’re interested in learning more about futures, options, and more, a consultation with a StoneX broker is a great place to begin. Featuring a unique cross-section of experience and industry knowledge, the StoneX team stands ready to help make your journey into the marketplace a successful one.

Download the eBook: Futures and Options Strategy Guide

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