Once upon a time (circa late ‘90s), I decided I wanted to leave the rat race of Wall Street and become ... wait for it... a day-trader. I set up multiple flat-screen monitors. I installed a state-of-the-art, high-speed (56k) Internet connection. Yup, the early days were glamorous. I'd trade the market open, pop into Bergdorfs for some intra-day doldrums shopping, and then bounce back for the close. But then, things started to change.
Maybe it was the sweatpants I was wearing seven days a week. Or maybe it was the bright orange Cheetos residue on my keyboard that was calling for me to get a life. I had let myself go. Why? Trading was lonely. Back then, there was no means of interaction with other traders. The only stimulation was the endless amounts of real-time data flowing through the screen in spurts of green and red.
Finding Friends Beyond a Dog
Thankfully, things have changed since the early days. Today, with the online chatrooms in the thinkorswim platform (Figure 1), I can connect and bond with fellow traders who actually understand that a vertical spread is not a condiment. Nice. But being able to bounce ideas off one another is just the start. What many of our clients don't realize is there are also visual and audio feeds in the chatrooms as well. You just have to click on the “watch” and “listen” buttons in order to trigger the audio and visual streams. Here are a couple of my favs.
Each day that the market is open, we have veteran traders who share market insights as well as platform education for hours on end each trading day. So while you're trading, you can also be learning how to sharpen your skills. These traders expose their trading desktop in the chat so you can see how they've configured their layouts and what tools and features they use to trade the market. They also talk about things to look out for and what pending news might really cause ripples or more major reverberations in the market. Best of all, there's no price of entry for this valuable education. Your Swim Lessons are 100% free.
GLOBAL NEWS SQUAWK
I love this one and often have it running in the background while I'm at work. It's completely silent as long as there is no major news but the instant something major happens, the audio springs to life so I'm always in the know.
Ben Lichtenstein is a veteran trader and he stands in the S&P futures pit in Chicago and talks to our clients through the feed to articulate what he's seeing. Best of all, it sounds like the audio call of a horse race (my other great passion), so it's music to my ears. The value in this content is immense. It's one thing to look at streaming data to try to figure out what's happening. It's quite another to hear Ben issue a cautionary warning to clients that a big-time buyer has just walked into the pits and could mean things are about to really move. Those are the things you can't see in the data on your screen.
Now, I'm not kidding when I say that we spend a small fortune making these cutting-edge features available because we want you to have the tools that may give you information for a more informed strategy. It's how we roll. And since they're free, we just ask that you use them!