I am a futures trader and software architect. After years of using NinjaTrader, Tradestation and Multicharts, I got fed-up with the bugs and lack of access to source code to fix the bugs. I developed my own server-based trading platform, which I currently use for my own trading.
I take my same C# algorithms I ran on Ninja and Multicharts and I run them on my server. Also, I feed the trades, generated on the server, back to these retail platforms live, via websocket interface, so I can display the trades on the nice retail platform GUIs. In this way all the serious trading activity takes place on my server, while the GUI and backtesting I mainly do on the retail platforms. I can even execute the trades either on my server or on the retail platform.
The question I have for this community is if there is a product play for serious traders? I am working on putting more of a GUI together to display what is going on in the server, but any feedback on ideas would be very appreciated! One possibility is for a trader to be able to trade in multiple accounts from a single discretionary or algorithmic set of signals. I also know from my own experience that I did not want serious trading to take place on my desktop at home. Putting it up on the server means I can feed a GUI on my smartphone or my desktop, but not risk power or internet outages.
One thing to bear in mind is that there are more vendors in this space than there are end users. I can name dozens of products better than the ones you listed, exhaust all of the functionality that you've described, and do it *very well* (better than what you've described certainly). These vendors have dozens of software engineers who are paid more than you will earn in your first couple of years, sponsor VIP tickets to fanciful galas (and even massages at salons) each fall, and do a very good job of marketing.
The other issue you might want to consider is the attrition rate of your customers. If a majority of retail end users ultimately close their brokerage accounts at a loss, do you feel that your average client will renew his or her license after 1 year?
Because of these two reasons, most vendors crowd to the bespoke end and focus on acquiring 10-150 large clients who need custom work and consultation. If you're going this route, be prepared to spend more time running a business (receiving phone calls from angry customers, marketing your product, running payroll, hiring people, traveling, booking flights and hotels etc.) than actually writing software.
What you might have going for you is to find a niche in cost competition, and also hopefully, incredible luck and perseverance. Between the latter two, I cannot instill serendipity but I can share a reason for perseverance: In my experience, you will make money so long as you throw years of time at a problem and don't forget your original goal. I don't mean to frighten you away but really, it boils down to a question of whether you are prepared to spend years toiling away at a problem, possibly alone, before you turn cash flow positive - for most people, it's "no", and it saves them a lot more pain to give up right now.
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