TradeStation Tools, Data Win Over Sophisticated Investors

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Consumers love to customize. From apparel and accessories to teddy bears and tennis shoes, shoppers want to personalize products.

With TradeStation , they can even customize their online brokerage.

TradeStation Group, based in Plantation, Fla., targets sophisticated traders who seek analytic data to interpret market moves. Rather than offer just a menu of investment tools, the brokerage encourages customers to create their own.

Using TradeStation's technology, traders can customize analysis techniques and track markets in real time based on conditions or parameters they set for themselves.

As a result, investors can spot trends or chart patterns using their own prescribed criteria. They can program the system to search for certain market indicators and send alerts when such indicators occur.

"We want to elevate the craft of investing," said Salomon Sredni, TradeStation's CEO. "Customers can leverage our customizable platform to find trading opportunities."

Rise From Omega

TradeStation -- cited in the Best Online Brokers survey -- started in 1982 as Omega Research, developing software for trading strategy, charting and analytics.

By 2000, it was in the securities brokerage business.

"We're a technology company that happens to be in the brokerage industry because it's the best way to monetize our technology," said Sredni, who joined the firm in 1996 as vice president of operations. "You can track our success -- serving serious traders who are looking for superior technology to get an edge -- back to our roots."

TradeStation's decision to become an online brokerage was met with skepticism from some industry observers. Sredni recalls that "everybody told us we're nuts," but his team persevered with its bet-the-company gamble.

By continuing to develop software for investors to customize their market research and trading strategy, TradeStation carved out a niche in the hotly competitive online brokerage business.

It cultivated relationships with dedicated traders who sought to harness the latest technology to help them invest successfully .

A subsidiary of Japan's Monex Group since 2011, TradeStation offers extensive education and training. Customers can sign up for coaching with a TradeStation specialist. They can also participate in 30-minute morning calls with market mavens who share their experience using TradeStation.

"We can afford to spend time with our customers," Sredni said. "They are active traders, the cream of the crop. We want the top 10% to 15% of the customer base that generates 90% of the profits."

With about 550 employees, TradeStation grows by constantly unveiling new technology.

Sredni embraces "agile software development" principles, which let developers collaborate in stages to forge breakthroughs.

Did It Himself

Some customers develop their own programs and offer them in TradeStation's Strategy Network.

Bruce Tandy, an independent trader in Elmsford, N.Y., has used TradeStation tools for 15 years. Last summer, he designed his own options trading program through TradeStation's object-oriented Easy Language programming platform. He says his program helps options traders act faster and avoid "five to 15 seconds of clicking around to change your order."

Tandy organized a TradeStation user group in 2012 to share ideas with other traders. He likes how the brokerage lets him reconfigure his computer monitor. "It gives me the ability to put what I want on the screen, where I want it," he said.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

This article appears in: Personal Finance , Investing Ideas

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