Since I started trading full time in 2008, I’ve been using E*Trade Pro and the Strategy Scanner built into the platform. For those that don’t know, that is Trade Ideas – just an older version of it. In my early days (before I was consistently profitable) I spent A LOT of time playing around and attempting to write scans. For some reason, I thought figuring out my scans was the Holy Grail I was missing. Plus, as most of you know, I’m a bit of a math geek so I enjoyed the work. The problem I always had with every scan I wrote was it just spit out too many damn stocks. Some stocks that showed up on the scan worked and made money, but most didn’t. In fact, the vast majority of them failed. But either way, there were just too many stocks coming at me and no way I could possibly trade them all. In a sense, the scans just completely overwhelmed me. And they were costing me a lot of time and money, so I stopped focusing on them.
I basically concluded that I sucked at figuring out scans. I was under the incorrect impression that I needed them to ONLY spit out trades that worked. I know, silly right? But MANY traders feel this way today. They expect the results to give them only winning trades and think that “the right scanners” are what’s missing from their Day Trading process. If only I could figure out my scans, I would be a consistently profitable trader!
Guess what? It wasn’t the lack of a proper scanner that was keeping me from being consistently profitable, it was a lack of process. I didn't suck at figuring out scans, I sucked at trading! I needed to figure out HOW to trade and what type of trader I wanted to be. You can learn more about my philosophy on what that process looks like in this free webinar: So, you want to Day Trade For A Living?
Let’s jump ahead a bit in my Day Trading Journey. Once I figured out my process, the type of trader I was and the type of setups I wanted to trade, I jumped back into my scans. I was consistently making money, but was trying to figure out how to make more and become an even better trader.
You get to a point in your trading where adding more SIZE doesn’t make sense. It becomes a liquidity and risk issue, especially if you like the crappy small caps like I do. Plus, I firmly believe less is more when it comes to sizing. Learn to hold some freakin’ shares people and stop hyper scalping for $.10 all the time! Sure, there are certain market conditions that make sense for that but not all 252 trading days a year. Sorry for the digression…
So how do you continue to strive to be better? How do you continue to make more money?
For me two ways:
1: You expand your playbook and develop more A+ Setups.
2: You find MORE of your A+ Setups.
While I’m constantly working on #1, due to my stubbornness and “stick with what you know” philosophy in life, what really works for me is finding MORE of my A+ Setups. I’m still only looking for the handful of A+ Setups that I know work for me and my Day Trading process. However, with use of the proper SCANS, I’m able to find MORE of my A+ Setups. I’m able to find more stocks to trade. I’m able to make more money. So, whenever someone asks me the question “Is Trade Ideas worth it?” my answer is always the same: Once you have your process figured out ABSOLUTELY. I wouldn’t trade without it. In a sense, it becomes your A+ Setup trade finder. And one of the best things about it? It just works, non-stop. It doesn't need a bathroom break, it doesn't get bored and start shopping on $AMZN, it doesn't get into a $TWTR troll feud... It simply spends 100% of its time looking for your next trade. Talk about a great trading partner!
Many balk at the price but if you want to make money you have to spend some money. I talk all the time about how Day Trading is like any other profession and it should be treated as such. If you were a professional carpenter and spent your days making money by pounding in nails with a hammer, wouldn’t you own the best damn hammer out there? Wouldn’t you spend the money on that? If you were a real estate agent would you show up to meet your new clients in some old clunker wearing a t-shirt or would you invest in a nice car and clothes? Well, as a Day Trader, you need to spend a little money too. Don’t you want to have the best tools available to help you succeed?
How I use Trade Ideas:
Every trading day I tweet out a list that looks like this:
Many ask where does that list come from? Answer: Trade Ideas. Now, I don’t just throw every single stock that TI spits out onto that list. Rather, I go through each stock as the premarket plays out and decide which of the stocks look good to me. I go through my process where I look at each ticker and decide if it has the potential to set up and check all my boxes for an A+ Setup. A few things I look at as part of my process: float, short interest, what’s causing the move (news versus some pump), catalysts on longer time frames, etc.. If a stock looks good, it goes on the watchlist. Then we watch it trade... From the watchlist above, we found an entry on $I and wow, what a trade! The "over the $18 seller" was called over the mic in GreatStockPix chat. We had awesome bid support come in at $17.90, so our risk was only around $.10 (that's a dime). Talk about some serious "R"!
Once the market opens, I’m running a different set of scans. My top three:
*Show me volume. (Basically, high relative volume)
*Shape into DAILY 200SMA
*BEFORE the HoD. (HoD=High of Day)
I’m not going to go into detail on these three today as that’s not the purpose of this blog. I do want to spend a minute on the “BEFORE the HoD”. PLEASE STOP CHASING STOCKS traders! If something hits your high/low ticker and/or your hod scanner, it’s too late. It already broke the hod and if you buy it now you’re freakin’ chasing. NO FOMO! Sure, watch it for a pullback, but don't chase. Rather, find the stocks that are setting up BEFORE they take out the hod. The hod break should be the NEXT catalyst not always the first. How do you do that? Use one of my favorite TI filters “position in range”.
I will also note for you newbies out there, I don’t just take any old stock breaking the hod. That happens millions of times a day and is NOT an A+ Setup. There’s an entire set of parameters that must also be met: chart pattern, float, short position, volume and most important the stock MUST be in-play for the day. All things TI can help you look for. I can’t emphasize the in-play thing enough on ANY A+ Setup. If no one else is watching and trading your stock, where’s the volume going to come from? Who’s going to continue to buy it AFTER you do?
One other small thing I wanted to note: I could very easily trick down my BEFORE the HoD scan to spit out fewer stocks. However, I use this scanner to keep me engaged in the market especially when things are slower in the afternoon. It’s so easy to get lost in the fog of boredom when things slow down. Rather than watching twitter, Netflix and/or any other distraction, I focus on this scan. It spits out a nice steady flow of ideas. When it does, and I get the chime, I throw the stock on a chart and Level2 and see if I like the setup. If I do, I watch the stock and see if I get a trigger. If I don’t, I wait for the next stock to hit the scan. Just one more small way TI helps me.
E*Trade “strategy scanner” versus Trade Ideas:
I can’t remember the last time E*Trade updated Strategy Scanner. It feels like years ago. Kind of like the last time we got any meaningful upgrades to Pro? Seriously E*Trade, #WTF?! It seems you have no idea how many of your most active customers could care less about Options House. Sure the charts are nice (like the NEW *Pro charts should have been) but where’s the rest? Level2 and countless other tools… For us, it’s ALL about Pro. Sorry again for the digression but E*Traders will understand.
Anyway, for the longest time, I was reluctant to use TI because I thought I didn’t need to as I was already getting it for free with PRO. Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free? But then I started to see something strange. I started to see these ""blanks" in the alerts and filters. Here are some examples:
What was I missing? I had no idea. Well, thanks to the persistence of @Bonpara (btw, if you’re interested in TI and/or bot trading at all, you MUST follow @Bonpara on twitter and/or YouTube), I finally decided to give the new full-blown TI a try. I bought a Surface Pro to run it on because I didn't want to give up any of my trading screen space for it. Guess what? I was missing WAY TOO MUCH. OMG, what a difference! Why did I wait so long? Oh, because I'm too stubborn when it comes to new things. You know, old dog new tricks...
I recently used this analogy to explain it to someone: Strategy Scanner in E*Trade Pro is like your old Motorola Razr flip phone, while the new TI is like the iPhone X. Sure, you loved your Razr back in the day and it did its job. There’s even a sense of nostalgia behind it. But are you still using it today? Of course not! Wasn't she a beauty though?
In my opinion, there is no comparison especially if you’re a consistently profitable trader (or well on your way to becoming one) and you want to fine tune your craft. The additional alerts and filters (like FLOAT) alone are worth the price of admission. See the blank in the top photo below? That's the FLOAT filter you can clearly see in the bottom photo from TI.
It's not just the additional alerts and filters, it's also how much better and thorough the odds maker is versus the old “backtest strategy”. And don’t get me started on the curated channels, Holly and the entire AI thing. That’s for another blog…but they're great too.
I will say this quickly about Holly though. Remember a bit ago I mentioned that one of the 2 ways you can make yourself an even better trader (and make more $) is to develop more A+ Setups? This is where she can really come into play. She already has numerous backtested strategies that make money. Spend a little time studying them and find a couple that you like and follow along. For me, since I’m extremely long biased day trader because that's what fits my Day Trading personality, I’m using her short strategies to expand my playbook.
So, let’s wrap this up:
Do I think TI is worth the money? Absolutely!
Even if you have E*Trade Pro? Again, YES unless you’re still carrying around your flip phone.
Do I think YOU should use TI? That's up to you, but if you’re already a CPT or well on your way to become a CPT, absolutely! I seriously can’t imagine why you wouldn’t.
One last thing before we go. One of the things I love most about TI is how truly customizable it is. You can program it to find pretty much anything you want. Anyone who knows me even a little bit should understand by now that one of my basic tenets of Day Trading is that you’ll never be a successful trader over the long haul by merely following other traders. You have to figure out YOU and find YOUR PROCESS. You must find your edge. Once you find your edge, you can let TI know exactly what that looks likes and it can become your best trading partner. A mirror image of you looking for the same things. Doesn’t that sound a lot better than constantly chasing and following?
And one more last thing: If you're worried that TI is too complicated or you'll never be able to figure it out because you suck at math and/or technology, don't worry. They have some of the best customer service and support I've seen. Just one example of this is the FREE Friday Support Session they host. Not to mention the countless traders in the community of users who are always willing to help each other out. Don't let the technology scare you. Sure, there is a learning curve but it's a lot simpler than you think.