I seem to be spending far too much time thinking about trading, investigating various trading strategies, considering which broker to use, but not nearly enough time actually placing trades.
I could paper trade. But I just can't treat paper trading like I do a real account. On paper I can trade with no hesitation or second thoughts. But when I see the figures moving around in real time on a trading platform it's a different story, I tend to hold back far more. I can however treat a demo account like real money, well very close anyway.
Any opinions on a good demo account? What follows is what I've found so far, it's shouldn't be this hard.
So open a demo account... What am I looking for? I have money to trade but no experience, so I won't be trading on a large scale for some time yet. Therefore I don't want money tied up in a brokers account doing nothing. But I do want to slide into real trading when it suits me. I want access to a broad range of markets, forex (mini lots), futures, index trading so I can trade the ASX200 and the FTSE (could use futures but I'd need mini lots, so not real futs), CFD's so I can take short term trades without tying up large amounts of cash, and direct shares so I can move my buy and hold investments out of managed funds and into shares or the STW ETF. I also don't want to have small amounts of cash spread around multiple brokers,
I am currently with Go Markets, pretty good for forex (MT4 platform and mini lots), mini lots for futures (market made product that tracks the futures) and CFD's. But direct shares aren't held in your name. From their site - "Please note that any stock held with us will be in a nominee account name so clients may not be entitled to all corporate actions." This means no imputation credits. Go also has no ongoing demo once you sign up (unless I'm mistaken of course), I think you can repeatedly sign up for the time limited MT4 demo. But this will give you forex only. Go offers free real time data for forex and "futures" on the MT4 platform. The GoTrader platform for CFD's and shares is 20 min delayed unless you pay. No minimum required to open an account.
So I need a different broker for direct shares and for demo trading.
For direct shares I was thinking First Prudential Markets. They tell me shares are held in my name and I will receive imputation credits. But they use webIRESS as their main platform, maybe I'd get used to it, but I'm not a fan from what I saw of the demo. Plus the platform and data fees are a bit high for a part time beginner trader. They do offer a free platform 'FP online' which is like webIRESS except you have to manually refresh the data. So I guess that would be ok. They also offer another platform called FP Global which looks the same as the Go markets platform, but they seem a bit vague on the details and kept steering me towards webIRESS. $5000 to open an account, $2000 minimum balance.
So I have my direct share trading through FP Markets and access to most other markets through Go. Great, but I started out looking for a demo... Perhaps these companies would provide me a demo account if I signed up and deposited the minimum amount. That is something I can ask. But I hate talking to brokers, "How's the demo going? Ready to put some real money on yet?" They know people like to demo, if they wanted me to demo they'd have it offered up front. They want real money on the trade.
IG markets - They offer cheap access to live data and a wide range of markets. Plus they offer DMA trading and DOM. But they are first and foremost market makers. I've heard many bad comments about IG, maybe just because they are popular and have many bad traders looking for someone to blame, but it's enough to put me off, I wish they were great, I really do. Feel free to try and talk me into it.
GFT - I haven't heard much, they seem to have a nice platform and a running demo with live market data... I can't see how long the practice account lasts though. I want to like these guys too, but they are pure market makers and I get the feeling I'm going to get constant emails or phone calls from them asking me if I'm ready to deposit funds. I know, it's their job, but I still don't like it.
Interactive Brokers - Apparently if you're a professional trader there's nowhere else to be. However, it has also been said that it's not great for people who don't trade often (more complicated setting things up). Plus, because the account is in America I don't think I can do direct shares through them and get imputation credits. But they do offer a paper trading account... but you need to pay for data. $10,000 USD to open an account (if over 21), I think $2000 USD minimum balance. If your account is in AUD then you'd need to give yourself extra margin in the account, it you sit on the edge and the AUD/USD rate falls too low you'll fall under the minimum account balance requirements.
I intend to be a full time trader in years to come, so maybe I should bite the bullet now and go with IB. But regardless of my intent for the future, I'm currently not a regular trader so that's about $5000 AUD sitting in an IB account going moldy. Plus the couple of thousand in Go to trade mini forex and mini "futures", plus more in FP markets for direct shares and CFD's.
I guess if a demo was your only wish and you don't mind paying for data you could say stuff the brokers, pay for a data provider, pump it into NinjaTrader and demo in there?
Anyway, I write too much. I hope I've at least given some lurker out there some ideas on what's around. I just need to tell Go to give me a permanent demo and to give me direct shares in my own name.