Charting on the move is the smart way to trade

Philip Salter
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THE cyberspace race of mobile trading technology continues apace, with GFT announcing the release of an iPad version of its DealBook trading platform. GFT’s iPad offering includes full-screen charting, real-time quotes and real-time news via CNBC. The many and varied ways a spread betting provider can help trading on the move has become a key way companies differentiate their product from that of their competitors, but for traders it can require a slightly different mindset.

Although it has been possible to trade markets using mobile devices since 2005, the pioneers had to develop bespoke mobile platforms customised to each handset, explains Alastair McCaig of WorldSpreads. He says: “Not until the launch of the smartphone did mobile trading truly come of age.” David Jones of IG Index says the iPhone really saw mobile trading move to the next level: “Before the iPhone, mobile trading accounted for less than five per cent of monthly trade volumes – since we launched our iPhone app in 2010 and the iPad in 2011 it has shot up to around 15 per cent and is still growing.” Around 25 per cent of IG clients have used a mobile app in recent months, whether it’s for placing a trade, or moving a stop, or just checking open positions. Joshua Raymond of City Index notes that the percentage of clients trading on their mobiles has increased dramatically from less than three per cent to in excess of 20 per cent, with one in three clients now actively using their mobiles to trade, compared to less than 1 in 10 before their iPhone app launch. Manoj Ladwa of ETX Capital also notes the importance of the iPhone (34 per cent of all visits), although Android browsers have now overtaken Apple (35 per cent of all visits).

David Morrison of GFT notes that mobile trading is now becoming a significant tool in the active trader’s armoury. He says: “Many more traders now use mobile devices as their primary access point for trading than they did 12 months ago – this is clearly an indication that technology has advanced and mobile platforms are no longer supporting acts to web or download platforms.” He adds: “We’re busy people – gone are the days when traders are stuck in front of multiple screens glued to their positions.” He believes clients need and demand the flexibility and accessibility to trade with the same level of sophistication, with the same suite of tools, wherever we are.

Spread betting providers have their money on mobile trading becoming increasingly important. McCaig predicts, with the numbers growing steadily each year, there is no reason why we wouldn’t expect to see 50 per cent of all trades to be made using a mobile device by 2015. Greg White, director of Accendo Markets, says “the recent advances in technology – faster chips, bigger screens, better apps – have made the experience of trading a whole lot easier than before.” Craig Inglis of CMC Markets says right now around 30 per cent of all CMC client trades are via a mobile device. He expects “this figure to keep on increasing throughout the next few years, and with the release of new mobile computers between smartphone and tablets, he expects greater functionality and power in your pocket.”

There are few markets as competitive and dynamic as mobile technology, as Samsung’s surging smartphone sales, released last week, so clearly show. In the words of Bob Dylan: “For the loser now, will be later to win, for the times they are a-changin’.”

White notes: “The fact that the technology is fragmented is challenging, but it’s worthwhile for us making sure we have the right technology and that it’s in constant development – it’s what our clients want.” Although he thinks there are great mobile trading platforms available on the market, he readily acknowledges that functionality has yet to catch up from desktop to mobile. White also points out that mobile signal quality remains a challenge. In fact, he wouldn’t mind betting that the proportion of mobile business would increase significantly if mobile signal strength (3G) was improved. He says this is increasingly significant as the popularity of tablets rises: “This is very much a growing market, and one in which we are keen to continue to make progress.” Despite the challenges, any provider not moving forward on mobile trading technology is being left behind. Jones notes that it is a major commitment at IG, with a 20-man team dedicated to the ongoing development of the various mobile apps.

With the providers doing all the hard work, it is not enough though to simply sit back, plug in and go mobile. Raymond has a word of warning for traders: “While mobile trading can offer substantial advantages, it is important, as with every tool in the trading arsenal, to understand how it can affect your trading experience and psychology.” Raymond says that the psychological aspect of trading is significantly relevant to mobile trading, perhaps more so than other forms of dealing: “While having 24-hour, uninterrupted access to your account has benefits, it can tempt traders to deviate away from their original strategies with trades of impulse.” Failure to counteract the temptation of emotional trades – or worse, inebriated gambles – will cancel out all the benefits of mobile platforms. But if you stick to clear and concise plans, mobile trading could help your account move in the right direction.