Or perhaps you just have a feeling that your nifty trade setup could be a winner, but have no way of testing that out.
Having a system working like clockwork brings many benefits. As well as allowing you to do proper testing and analysis, it will give you more free time and should run consistent to your rules.
The problem is that an idea in your head is no more than an idea. Turning that into a fully-working trading strategy is something entirely different. Unless you are a programming wizard competent in numerous different technologies, the challenges you will face are enormous.
Take for example the process of creating a basic expert advisor. An expert advisor is little more than a piece of software that places trades for you according to a precise set of rules.
Although the trade rules that you have in your head might seem simple and obvious to you, transcribing them into a specification that a software programmer will understand is no easy feat.
Remember, the programmer might not have a deep background in financial trading or really understand what you are trying to achieve.
In the best case scenario, you might get something which, after many tedious rounds of testing and tuning, works to some degree or another.
In the worst case, and what is actually more common is you have paid a lot of money and invested a great deal of time into something that fails to deliver. Not only that, you’ve now given away your prized trade idea.
Thankfully, there are services that aim to solve this problem. These platforms give you an easy way to create your own strategy, whilst hiding away much of the technical complexity.
Here’s an overview of four of the market leaders.
|Runs in platform||N||Y||Y||N|
|“What if” analysis||N||Y||Y||N|
|Outputs source code||Y||N||N||Y|
|Price||$3000||$ 59 / month||$75 / month||$97|
StrategyQuant is a suite of tools that make up a testbed for building trading strategies. You will need to download and install the package to your own computer. The main tool, the builder, lets you create a strategy from the ground up.
You will not need to do any programming, but there are several screens of technical settings to work through.
The builder lets you configure basic parameters like the main symbol, trade direction, and profit and stop losses sizes. You can configure stop and profits either as fixed values or as a percentage of volatility (ATR).
Once that is complete, you can add a set of conditions and include basic chart indicators. You can apply basic conditions to your indicators, like crossovers, that must be satisfied in order to trigger a trade.
In the general setup, StrategyQuant lets you add in specific clauses that the strategy must obey. For example, if you want to close trades over a weekend.
The builder works on a generate-validate model. You tell the builder the data range you want to use to generate the strategy. The idea of this is to keep some data fresh and unused for testing.
Once you have defined your rule set, start the builder running and it will generate a set of alternative strategies based on your inputs. You can review and analyze each of these in more detail in the performance tab.
Once you’re happy with your strategy, you can have the tool generate the full source code for you.
The full package will set you back nearly $3000. That makes it one of the more pricey tools out there. However, this investment might be justified if you need to create many strategies.
Tradoso lets you build indicators and strategies as well, but this tool works in a web browser with nothing to download.
The indicator builder is a graphical tool with simple drag and drop and selections, rather like Excel.
There’s a wide range of standard and custom indicators that you can build out from. It also gives you the basic primitives like logical, date, array and arithmetic operators. It is not limited to predefined rules so there is virtually no limit to what you can create.
The connectivity allows one indicator to be the input to the next. A preview button gives a chart view, which also tells you how reliable the buy/sell signals are. This makes it efficient at doing what-if type testing.
Once your indicator is ready, you can choose a symbol and timeframe and get alerts whenever it detects a trade.
You can also create strategies with Tradoso, and use your indicators within them. The process to create a strategy is also very simple.
You open a chart and insert any required indicators on to it. Then just mark a few example trades, which act as training points. You then click the generate button to create the strategy.
Once you’ve created a strategy, you can back test it as well as do various analyses such as stress testing and blind testing. The optimizer will goal-seek multiple configurations for you and output the best ones as a table and bubble chart.
You can run a strategy, or indicator on the platform and it will track performance over time as well as send you alerts.
Everything runs on the platform with Tradoso. This is an advantage if you want to avoid having to do compilations yourself, rent servers, or worry about expiring broker accounts.
Basic access runs at around $59 per month, with additional levels for more demanding users.
Cleo.one is another strategy-creation platform that is entirely web based. Their system allows you to create a strategy from a predefined set of trading rules.
The rules are all in plain English. It is intuitive, with an easy interface that will be ideal for non-coders.
The rules, for example, can be to buy when the price is up a certain percentage, or when the price crosses a certain moving average. You can also insert money management clauses to protect against downside losses.
After creating your rule set, just click the generate button and Cleo will create the strategy for you and save it. Once saved, a strategy can be thoroughly back-tested. The back test tells you how the system would have performed on a historical data set and gives you a range of different statistics and performance metrics.
Once you’re happy with your new creation, you can run it in paper trading mode on the platform or connect it directly to a broker account. You can also place manual trades as your strategy is running.
Like the other platforms, Cleo has some “out of the box” strategies that you can use and modify for yourself. This is an easy way to get started.
Overall, Cleo seems more geared towards crypto traders, but they aim to expand their system to work with other markets such as forex and stocks in due time.
A basic subscription costs around $55 monthly. There’s a decent range of markets to trade, however the predefined rule base does mean there’s a limit to the sophistication of the strategies you can create on here.
Finally, there is EABuilder, a code generator for Metatrader. This builder is also web tool so there’s nothing to install.
To build a strategy or indicator you simply need to supply some basic rules from inside the login area. Each rule is a condition set on an indicator. The rules include things like price above, below or crossing over or under.
The builder tool has a simple graphical interface with easy tabs and selections that makes the development process straightforward and self-explanatory.
In addition to Metatrader’s indicators, you can also supply your own custom indicators by uploading your own code.
If you’re creating a strategy it allows you to define some basic conditions like stop, profits and money management rules.
Like the other tools, EABuilder lets you add strict clauses as well. For example, if you only want to trade on a certain day or at a certain time it will let you do that. You can add alerting as well using Metatrader’s built in alerting system.
Once finished, it outputs the source code for you, which you can download and install to your local Metatrader account.
Having a small number of predetermined conditions does limit the sophistication of what you can create with this tool. As well, there isn’t an integrated tester or optimizer, which means it’s not really suited for doing “what if” type tests.
Access requires a onetime payment of $97.