Deciding which forex trading platform to use is the first thing that many traders have to do. Most forex brokers have their own proprietary trading platform, which means that this decision may play a key role in deciding which broker to use. While most forex trading platforms may seem similar on the surface, all of them have their differences and idiosyncrasies. There are three main factors that you should consider when deciding on a forex trading platform: usability, latency and compatibility. Since it can be disruptive to switch systems and brokers, you should take your time and do your research before settling on your platform.
The usability of a trading platform includes how intuitive it is to use and how easy it is to customize. A trading platform needs to be simple, direct and easy to use. You want your trading strategy to dictate how you use the platform, not the other way around. You will already have many factors working against you and your money, your platform shouldn't add to that. A good trading platform will be able to be modified, extended and customized to suit any trader's strategies. You never want to feel limited by the capabilities of your software, or find yourself fumbling for the correct keyboard shortcuts at a critical time.
Latency is the amount of time it takes for the system to react to your actions and the amount of time it takes the system to report data to you. Latency can be a problem with the broker's network as well as the platform itself. In an extremely fast-paced market, latency is especially hurtful. Scalpers can have their techniques completely invalidated by even seemingly insignificant levels of lag, so it is vital to test out the latency of your broker and your trading platform. For those who hold positions long-term, latency is not as critical an issue.
Compatibility is becoming especially important, but this does not just mean whether the platform runs on PCs or Macs. Cross compatibility also includes the ability to log into your trading platform on your phone or tablet, which can be extremely vital. Since the forex market is open 24 hours a day, it is impossible to be glued to the computer screen at all times. Those who have trading strategies that demand continuous management will find phone and tablet applications practically a necessity. A fast, bug-free and reliable mobile application for your trading platform can radically alter your trading possibilities, especially for traders that may not know where they'll be when news hits.
While it is your strategy and your discipline that will ultimately make or break you as a forex trader, your trading platform is going to become your best friend and closest colleague. Remember that your trading platform's limitations are your limitations. You will need to learn your system well and utilize it to its fullest extent, especially with more complex forex strategies. While the right platform does not assure success in the forex market, the wrong platform will almost assuredly lead to failure.
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