Backtesting and Simulation Software for Day Traders
Several vendors have risen to meet the challenge of backtesting and simulation so day traders can try out their strategies before they lay down real money. This list is by no means exhaustive, nor is it an endorsement of their services. It’s just a good place for you to start your research.
AmiBroker offers a robust backtesting service at a relatively low price. For that reason, it’s a popular choice with people who are getting started in day trading. It also allows users to make sophisticated technical charts that they can use to monitor the markets. One drawback is that you may have to pay extra for the market price quote data, depending on what securities and time periods you want to test.
Cybertrader is Charles Schwab’s product for active traders. Its Strategy Tester feature lets you test your trading idea. Then you can set it into a Strategy Ticker, which follows your strategy while the market is open, enabling you to see how your strategy performs in real time. This isn’t quite the same as paper trading because it isn’t testing how well you would pull the trigger.
Developed by a company called Linn Software, Investor/RT allows you to develop your own tests and create your own programs. It has packages for Macintosh OS X, which makes it popular with traders who prefer Apple computers. Its users tend to be sophisticated about their trading systems and backtesting requirements; this software isn't really for beginners.
As the name implies, MetaStock is designed for traders who work in stocks, although a MetaStock package is available especially for currency traders, and the regular packages include capabilities for futures and commodities traders.
It defines traders as end-of-day (those who make decisions about trading tomorrow based on numbers at the end of today's trading) and as real-time (those who make decisions during the trading day). Most day traders are real-time traders. The company is owned by Thomson Reuters, a major financial information services company.
If you trade options, you may want to check out OptionVue which offers a range of analytical tools on the options markets. The software's BackTrader module, an add-on feature, helps you learn more about options markets, test new strategies, and examine relationships between options and the underlying stocks — really useful information for people working in equity markets.
Tradecision’s trade analysis software package is a little pricier than most retail trading alternatives, but it offers more advanced capabilities, including an analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of different trading rules. It can incorporate advanced money management techniques and artificial intelligence to develop more predictions about performance in different market conditions. The system may be overkill for most new day traders, but it can come in handy for some.
The Trading Blox software system was developed by professional traders who needed to test their own theories and who didn’t want to do a lot of programming to do it. It comes in three versions (and price levels), ranging from basic to sophisticated, and the company boasts that it works with some commercial trading firms. Of course, some of its capabilities may be more than you need when you’re starting out.
TradeStation is an online broker that specializes in services for day traders. Its strategy testing service lets you specify different trading parameters, and then it shows you where these trades would have taken place in the past, using price charts. It also generates a report of the strategy, showing dollar, percentage, and win-loss performance over different time periods. It doesn’t have a trade simulation feature.