My Account

02 Aug My trading setup

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I've gotten many emails over the years regarding specific questions about my setup, what platform I use, etc. So I thought it best to give you guys a complete rundown of everything I use on a daily basis. Please understand, that just because I use this-or-that doesn't mean it's the only way to go - in fact, there's nothing wrong with trading with only one monitor, or even your tablet, if it suits you and your trading style.

Computer
In the office, I have a Dell Precision T1650 Intel Xeon 3.50GHz PC, with a 64-bit Windows 7 Professional operating system which does nicely. No, it's not the absolute fastest machine on the planet, but fast enough for what I need.

Monitors
4 Dell Widescreen 24-inch monitors are mounted in a grid format on 2 Visidec stands. The Visidec stands are nice for being able to adjust to any type of tilt or rotate I could need, also they have a really wide base which distributes the weight a lot better than most (as they are currently setting on a glass table).

Platforms
It's always a good idea to run at least two different platforms simultaneously when trading due to occasional data dropouts or platform crashes; I always glance occasionally at quotes from two different data providers to make sure they match, otherwise you might be starring at a quote that is actually not accurate.

One the top-two monitors I have ThinkOrSwim and on the bottom two I have Silexx Obsidian, which is actually my order-entry platform, since it ties in with our current broker (Merrill Lynch).

Charts
One the top-left monitor: I have 9 sections of 5 min charts with daily pivot points, on the major market indices. The top row is: EUR/USD $DJI $SPX, middle row: $NYA, $COMP, $RUT, bottom row: TLT, VIX, $TICK. This gives me a quick overview of what index is lagging or leading and can result in trading opportunities on stocks which are part of the laggard or leader.

I use the $TICK chart a lot for timing short-term entries. For example, if I'm looking to enter a short term trade, I'll wait till the $TICK is an oversold/overbought position outside of its normal range - in the opposite direction I want to take my trade. This tends to give me a little push away from my entry which allows me to move my stop closer to break even. (This is mostly used for very short term futures trades).

The bottom-two monitors: These have the entire portfolio, order book, a few quote boards and some level 2 screens along with 4 more small charts which have 5min charts of the futures and dollar. In the fund, we sometimes do intra-day hedges using futures, so it’s important that I keep them open (along with the trading DOM) open all the time.

Connection
Ok, this one is kind of a big deal and something I didn't really know a few years ago but learned the hard way. My connection used to have a much faster download speed than upload speed - something like 40mbps download and 5mbps upload. When I switched to a direct connection (which basically has the upload and download speeds the same) I noticed much better fills as related to the quotes I was seeing on the screen. In other words, I was seeing my charts being updated a lot faster than my orders were being executed! Now granted, it didn't really make that much of a difference unless I was doing intraday trading, but I still like the piece of mind that I'm not seeing a price that I cannot get filled because it has already passed.

Misc.
A notebook, calculator, surge protector (a must) and a cool little CB radio so I can talk to some of the other people in the office completes the setup.

I hope this answers all the questions about my setup. If anyone has any other thoughts, questions or suggestions, please don't hesitate to drop me a line.

Happy Trading!

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