Choosing an Online Broker Trading Platforms for Beginners

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If you want to start trading shares or other assets online, you will need to set up an account with a broker. There are many things to take into consideration when deciding which broker to use (this article lists some of them) and one of them is the trading platform that the broker offers – that is, the software you use to buy and sell shares.

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(There is a list of brokers on our Broker Listing page.)

 

Browser-based platform or integrated platform

There are two kinds of trading platform: browser-based or integrated.

A browser-based platform, as the name suggests, runs in your web browser when you connect to the broker’s website. An integrated platform is a separate piece of software than you run on your computer.

Which one is right for you depends on your trading requirements – there are pros and cons to both options.

Browser-based

A browser-based trading environment suits beginners whose trading volume is relatively small, and whose time frame for holding a position is days, weeks or even months. In other words, someone who isn’t making many intraday trades.

Its advantages are that so long as your computer can connect to the internet, and you have a browser to get to websites, you’ll be able to use a browser-based trading platform to carry out trades.

However, the disadvantage is that compared to an integrated platform, trading through your browser can be slow, and you will have to do more work in terms of opening different browser windows to monitor things, and you’ll have to do more typing when entering in the details of orders you want to execute.

Integrated

Anyone who plans to do a lot of trading, or who is interested in day trading or swing trading, where speedy reactions are important, would do better with an integrated trading platform. This is a software program that you download and install on your computer.

The advantage is that you will get support for sophisticated trading strategies, for example being able to enter orders simultaneously for a number of different stocks. Some let you customise the software to your own needs. An integrated platform is generally faster and easier to use than a browser-based platform.

Among the disadvantages are that you need an up-to-date computer with a fast processor and plenty of disk space, and that the software can be expensive.

 

Stability

Since trading often requires you to make a decision and implement a trade quickly to take advantage of rapidly changing situations, it’s essential that the trading platform is reliable. If it should freeze or crash just as you are trying to enter or close out a position, it could be disastrous. Look for customer reviews and feedback to see if people have any negative comments about the reliability of a trading platform.

 

Usability

The platform you use must be easy to understand and simple to operate, so that you can place an order or close your position instantaneously, and place stop-losses easily. If it isn’t easy to navigate around the software and find the features you need, it will be frustrating.

 

Demo Mode

Many trading platforms let you set up a demo account which lets you practice trading without having to risk any real money. This is a very good way of trying out different trading platforms to see which one suits you.

 

Support

If you are using an integrated trading platform then you need to make sure that the broker you are using supports the software, and is able to offer you help if you need it.

 

You can compare respected brokers on our Broker Listing page.

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