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How to Choose a Futures Trading System

Jul 18, 2008
Trading futures can be risky business if you don't have a reliable, quality system to back you up. With all the futures trading systems on the market today - including some that could set you back a few grand - how do you find the trading system that's right for you? Here are some factors to check when you're deciding on a trading system.

Look at which markets the system trades

Naturally, this will depend on which futures you're most interested in. In general, though, look for a trading system designed to trade major commodity, currency and stock index futures. This includes agricultural, energy such as oil and coal, softs like coffee and sugar, and precious metals. That said, most trading systems will work better the more liquid the market.

Check out the reporting features

The ability to receive an accurate report and analysis is half the reason to use a futures trading system in the first place. First, make sure you can easily access basics information on the futures. That alone isn't enough, though. You should also be able to view more complex reports like chart patterns and Fibonacci retraces.

Consider the maximum drawdown

Some trading systems advertise excellent profits over a period of several years, but avoid mentioning that their drawdowns may be more than the initial capital invested and could last for longer than a year. Before you settle on a system, take a close look at both the dollar amount of the drawdown and how long it may last.

Steer clear of "curve fitted" systems

A curve fitted trading system is one that's adjusted to fit recent past market data. The problem is these systems have never been traded to show they actually work. They're usually based on short-term, one-off trends that may not be accurate for predicting future trends.

Read the reviews

As with any other important purchase, it helps to check out how satisfied current users are with the trading system you're considering. It will also let you know about any quirks in the system that may not be mentioned in the advertising. Consider not only the trading system itself, but issues concerning the company that created it, such as any extra services they provide and customer support.

Look for a system that's easy to use

If the system you choose is so complex it gives you a headache every time you try to use it, it won't be much good to you no matter how accurate the data it provides. Ideally, you want a system that's completely intuitive. One good way to assess this is to try out the demo version and see how well you can use it without reading up too much on it first. If you find yourself having to look at the instructions just to perform basic operations, you should probably look for another system.

Most quality trading systems allow you offer you a free downloadable trial even an online demo you can work with for a while to see how well the system meets your needs. Remember, though, everyone's preferences are a little different, so look for a futures trading system that works for you, not just one that gets good reviews.
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