The Trend

Web Based and DMA Trading Platforms



The retail trader is faced with a choice regarding trading platforms. There is the traditional web based trading platform which is basically nothing more than an order entry screen to a broker. Then there is the direct access platform that provides traders direct access into the marketplace. If you are a long term swing trader or a buy and hold investor type, the traditional web based trading platform should fit your needs. However, if you are an active trader, using web based trading platforms could make things more difficult. Your executions may be slower, you may have a difficult time getting your exact price and you may miss opportunities due to speed and the lack of ability to route orders. Despite these disadvantages, web based trading platforms offer many advantages including lower monthly costs, a smaller learning curve to understanding the platform and the ability to trade from anywhere with an internet connection and a web browser. Web based trading platforms are good for beginner investors as a “bridge” to a direct market access platform. This goes for stock, options and futures web based trading platforms.

The good news is that active traders have a choice of both direct access and web based platforms. Direct market access platforms have changed the trading game forever. The unfair advantages provided by direct market access platforms for active traders are multiple. In fact, the differences between these two platform types are very dramatic, although they both have their place in an investor’s arsenal. What are a few of these unfair advantages direct access trading platforms provide?


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First and foremost is speed. Orders transmission and execution speeds are measured in milliseconds. Beating the next guy into the market is critical for several trading strategies. Among these strategies is tape reading and scalping. Getting the best position possible in the order queue can mean the difference between profit and loss. Next, direct market access trading gives the trader control over where his order gets executed. You can choose what ECN, exchange or market maker to direct your order. This is particularly critical in the option trading marketplace. Options are occasionally mispriced by a particular exchange creating opportunities for savvy traders with access to routes that will ensure they get executions at the best available prices. If you are uncertain of the best route, most direct access trading software will seek out the best execution venue at the particular time. Cost is another advantage direct access provides traders. Direct access trading platforms usually charge per share, making many trades cheaper than the traditional per trade commission structure of online discount brokers. This is particularly true for active traders who tend to trade in smaller lot sizes, but do so much more frequently.

So which type of platform is best? Only you can answer that question after evaluating your needs as a trader or investor. If you are a casual investor, the ease of use and web access will steer you toward a web based platform. If you are more serious about trading, the execution speeds, order routing control, and potentially lower commission costs could make a DMA platform more suitable to your needs.

This article is provided for educational purposes only and is not considered to be a recommendation or endorsement of any trading strategy. The author is not affiliated with Lightspeed Trading and the content and perspective is solely attributed to the author.

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