There are a number of futures trading platforms available that offer different features and levels of functionality.
Use our checklist below to help you consider the features that are important to you and the functionality you will need.
Online trading platforms – the basics
How much do you have to invest? Some platforms may have a minimum balance that you will need to hold in the account in order to trade.
Access to global exchanges and products
Are you looking to trade on international markets? Check which exchanges and products you can access from the platform. Not all platforms have access to all international indices or products.
Compare the speeds at which the various platforms run – it can be the difference between a loss and gain.
Most platforms offer basic services to help you trade, including charts, tutorials, calculators, guides and glossaries. Consider the value and potential knowledge you could gain by the basic services offered on the platform.
Advanced trading platforms
News service and data streams
Not all platforms offer news services. However, if you need to see global economic releases or comprehensive newswires, along with search and filtering tools, you may need a more advanced platform. Real-time data streams allow you to make up-to-the-minute trading decisions.
Advanced order functions
If you are looking to implement risk management or automatic functionality on your investments, check that the platform allows this. Types of orders you might want to use include spreads, trailing stops and conditional orders.
If you travel frequently or are always on the go, it may be useful to have access to a mobile-friendly platform that gives you the same functionality you would have on your desktop.
Do you need charting, and if so, what kind? Do you want to see intra-day prices, as well as closing prices? The costs vary depending on whether you want a simple chart or historical data with advanced analysis.
Advanced platforms sometimes offer tools, such as custom formula builders, advanced options strategies analytics and other proprietary tools.
Knowing what level of futures trader you are, what exchanges you wish to trade in, and what types of orders you will want to put in place, are good starting points for a discussion with a futures broker.