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Coming from TOS, a Little Confused About What to Choose
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Coming from TOS, a Little Confused About What to Choose

  #1 (permalink)
Elite Member
Los Angeles, California, United States
 
Futures Experience: Advanced
Platform: Ninja Trader, TOS
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Coming from TOS, a Little Confused About What to Choose

Hello,

I have been with Thinkorswim (TOS) for about 10 years, trading futures only, but finally decided to try Ninja. The thing is, all the data/brokerage options are a little confusing. In TOS, there are no separate data feeds/brokerages, it is very simple, you just login and use it, and the data for continues contracts goes back more than 10 years.

I am only interested in US Index futures. The reason for using Ninja is to use the Volume Profile and some order flow tools, but not to execute trades. What would be the best option in terms of cost and data quality? In TOS, there is no fee for the data, but it seems that with Ninja, the cheapest data option would be to open a trading account. It is a little confusing.

Thank you very much in advance, I appreciate all the suggestions.

-John.

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  #2 (permalink)
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  #3 (permalink)
Elite Member
Omaha, NE/USA
 
Futures Experience: Beginner
Platform: S5 Trader; Jigsaw; TOS
Broker/Data: Stage 5
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There is volume profile options in TOS - I have had some luck putting that on charts. One thing you won't have with TOS is Jigsaw and I think commissions will be cheaper outside of TOS.

To keep it simple, I went with Stage 5: no data feed charges and excellent customer service.

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  #4 (permalink)
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johny1971 View Post
There is volume profile options in TOS - I have had some luck putting that on charts.

The Volume Profile is one of the main reasons why I want to use Ninja. In TOS, the volume profile is aggregated, so its values and the POC specifically are not correct.


Quoting 
To keep it simple, I went with Stage 5: no data feed charges and excellent customer service.

How is the quality of the data?

Thank you.

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  #5 (permalink)
Market Wizard
Sarasota FL
 
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john5 View Post
Hello,

I have been with Thinkorswim (TOS) for about 10 years, trading futures only, but finally decided to try Ninja. The thing is, all the data/brokerage options are a little confusing. In TOS, there are no separate data feeds/brokerages, it is very simple, you just login and use it, and the data for continues contracts goes back more than 10 years.

I am only interested in US Index futures. The reason for using Ninja is to use the Volume Profile and some order flow tools, but not to execute trades. What would be the best option in terms of cost and data quality? In TOS, there is no fee for the data, but it seems that with Ninja, the cheapest data option would be to open a trading account. It is a little confusing.

Thank you very much in advance, I appreciate all the suggestions.

-John.

I can't give you a comprehensive answer to your questions, but perhaps I can help a little. Years ago I was on TOS, and I understand the difference. Basically, TOS is a complete package deal -- broker, data/charting and trading platform, everything all together for you.

Outside of the self-contained TOS environment, it is a little different, because you don't get everything packaged together.

So, for starters, unless you are willing to pay a hefty separate fee, in order to get access to CME exchange data (which is where the index futures are traded), you must have a brokerage account (you can get a short-term demo data feed from many brokers, but for a two week period. Sometimes you can get another two weeks after that.) When you are with TOS, they are your broker, so that qualifies. But the exchange wants you to have a broker account from someone.

(Actually, the exchange will let you get a datafeed without a brokerage account, but there is a CME charge of, as I recall, $105/month. Plus, if you need to use Ninja Trader, I don't believe this option will be available, since NT also operates a brokerage and the only way to get the NT trading platform is to have a brokerage account with them or some other broker, such as Interactive Brokers or a few others, who have an arrangement with them.)

So we start off with the problem that NT, as a platform for data and trading, is tied to NT Brokerage and a few others. This was not always the case, but it is now. You can go onto the NT website to see who they affiliate with.

To confuse things more (sorry), NT Brokerage is an "Introducing Broker," meaning that they don't actually have your account -- if you open an NT Brokerage account, you open an account, through them, with what is called a "Futures Commission Merchant," (FCM) which is your actual "broker" in the sense that they have your money and process your trades. If you go through the steps to open an account on the NT website, at some point you will be confronted with making the choice between two FCM's: PhillipCapital and Dorman Trading (both are fine, by the way.) The way NT puts it is "NinjaTrader Brokerage partners with the following firms to deliver access to the futures markets," which is true, but not entirely clear to the uninitiated . The simpler way to put it would be that "NinjaTrader Brokerage offers to open your account with either of the following firms." If you plan to use the NinjaTrader data/trading platform, you will need to have an account with one of these firms, or one of the few others that NT allows to use their trading platform.

OK, so suppose you pick one of these and then open a brokerage account with them. They will want an initial deposit, I think around $1,000, in order to open the account. You are stuck with tying up this money with them. Any broker will want an initial deposit, which is money lying idle if you are not trading with them.

Now, to finish going down this path, when you have an account with an FCM, you will also have a data provider (data source) and a trading service (network that connects to your FCM and the exchange and gets your trades executed), which may be different electronic entities. If you are using NT, usually (not always), NT itself provides the historical data and the trade service provides current quotes and trade executions. With the two NT FCM's, you will be using either CQG or Rithmic for trade executions and current quotes (both are fine -- and I don't remember which FCM uses which, but it doesn't matter much). I think I recall that NT provides the historical trade data in these cases, but it will also be fine for either. I wouldn't worry much about the quality of the data, especially if you're used to TOS data. (Ahem... see below.)

You may be feeling overloaded now, but let me add one more thing, which is that you can choose different trade data providers (at a significant cost). IQFeed is well thought of, and NT offers their own private-labelled version of it under the name "Kinetick." Do you need it? I don't know, never used them. Other people may have better info than I do on that. There also may be differences in the range of non-price data, such as TICK, Adv/Decl, etc. All that is bundled in TOS, of course. You will need to look into this if you're interested.

You may already know all this, and if so I apologize for taking up your time. But if you don't, these are some of the ways that the world outside of the TOS cocoon operates. I will say that the advantage of TOS is that everything is included and all this complexity is hidden. On the other hand, (1) TOS data aggregates trades and so don't give a true picture of what is happening, and (2) TOS commissions are high (or at least they used to be, I don't know where they stand today, so this may not be right any more.) With that said, it is quite possible to make money trading on TOS; it depends on what you do with it, which is true for any broker, data source or trading tools.

-----------------

I feel I am just piling stuff on, and it may not be helpful. Much more could be said, but would it help? If this is not clear, let me know and I will try to add what I can.

One more thing is that, while NinjaTrader is an excellent platform, there are other good ones as well. But NT is only available through a limited number of brokers. If it's what you want, you don't have many choices. Also, if you're looking for the volume profile and order flow tools, they are (at present) only available for a lifetime license (for a thousand bucks, or 4 easy payments of $299 each https://ninjatrader.com/BuyPlatform )

I don't want to undercut NT here, but in fairness to you, you can also look at other platforms (Sierra Chart is one, which I use) that offer similar functionality (some, including Sierra Chart, don't cement you to one broker. Also, Sierra will let you connect to a CME data feed without needing a brokerage account -- I think they charge $115/month for the CME fee and $35 or so for the platform with Vol Profile and order flow stuff. Others may as well.) But this opens up a very wide vista, way beyond your question and my answer.

Good luck. Once you get your head wrapped around it, all this is all actually much simpler than it appears. But it takes some time to get there.

Bob.

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  #6 (permalink)
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bobwest View Post
I can't give you a comprehensive answer to your questions, but perhaps I can help a little.

I would call that a comprehensive answer. Thank you very much, I really appreciate it!

I plan on keeping the TOS for trade execution, at least for now, so my primary goal, for now, is to find the best data option, but not at the cost of the data quality. And by "the best" I don't mean it in absolute terms, I mean that the volume profile and order flow tools show the correct information.

So, if I understand this whole data/brokerage thing correctly, while I don't need a brokerage account for trade execution, it still might be the best option, because NT brokerage charges only $7 a month for the futures data and I only need to make one trade a month. But even if I don't, they charge $25 a month, which is still about 50% cheaper than any other data feed option.

I am not sure I understood what you said about the volume profile on NT regarding the cost. Why is it $1000? I thought there are free volume profile studies out there, and some paid ones that seem to be less than $1000.

As for Sierra, I have been looking at them too. It seems that there is more stuff for NT out there in terms of indicators and support, but I am not sure. Maybe I need to try both.

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  #7 (permalink)
Market Wizard
Sarasota FL
 
Futures Experience: Intermediate
Platform: NinjaTrader, Sierra Chart
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john5 View Post
I would call that a comprehensive answer. Thank you very much, I really appreciate it!

I plan on keeping the TOS for trade execution, at least for now, so my primary goal, for now, is to find the best data option, but not at the cost of the data quality. And by "the best" I don't mean it in absolute terms, I mean that the volume profile and order flow tools show the correct information.

So, if I understand this whole data/brokerage thing correctly, while I don't need a brokerage account for trade execution, it still might be the best option, because NT brokerage charges only $7 a month for the futures data and I only need to make one trade a month. But even if I don't, they charge $25 a month, which is still about 50% cheaper than any other data feed option.

I am not sure I understood what you said about the volume profile on NT regarding the cost. Why is it $1000? I thought there are free volume profile studies out there, and some paid ones that seem to be less than $1000.

As for Sierra, I have been looking at them too. It seems that there is more stuff for NT out there in terms of indicators and support, but I am not sure. Maybe I need to try both.

Regarding NT volume profile etc, I was thinking in terms of some fairly new functionality they recently added to the lifetime license. The $1,000 is what they (NT) charge for that license, but I was wrong to be thinking just in terms of that option. There are excellent, much lower-cost VP and order flow indicators out there for NT. I'm not sure why I wasn't thinking of them.

Sierra Chart is amazingly full-featured, but be warned that it has a steep learning curve. After you've gotten used to it, it's very good.

You probably will find more indicators for NT than for anything else. You will also get very good support on this forum. Part of the reason is that NT just left out a lot of functionality and so others filled it in. Since you're an elite member, you can find a wealth of stuff in the FIO download section. Also, look for work by Fat Tails and gomi, who have contributed both free and low-cost add-ons, all excellent. If you do a search for their names you will find threads devoted to their material. There are also a lot of vendors out there, but I would particularly check out the gomi stuff first.

Good luck.

Bob.

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  #8 (permalink)
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Favorite Futures: Futures
 
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bobwest View Post
There are also a lot of vendors out there, but I would particularly check out the gomi stuff first.

Good luck.

Bob.

Yes, I've found his stuff quickly. Thank you!

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  #9 (permalink)
Elite Member
Omaha, NE/USA
 
Futures Experience: Beginner
Platform: S5 Trader; Jigsaw; TOS
Broker/Data: Stage 5
Favorite Futures: ZN
 
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Data and Investor RT

@john5:

The data with Stage 5 has been fine. Any issue I have seems to have come from my internet provider. For instance, they were at my home this past Friday and told me my signals were not in balance. So, while my particular situation will not allow me to give my unequivocal support, it seems the data from Stage 5 via GAIN Capital (my FCM) is fine. Keep in mind, as my IB Stage 5 hasn't ever lead me to call GAIN for anything. Note, if you have a bunch of moving parts and they each have different masters, then it could be difficult keeping it all together as one, eg, could blame the other. Just an observation.

Also, for VP I would check out Investor RT - it like Sierra has a steep learning curve but could be worth it. Have you seen FT71's morning Trader Bites on you tube?

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  #10 (permalink)
Elite Member
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Futures Experience: Advanced
Platform: Ninja Trader, TOS
Favorite Futures: Futures
 
Posts: 23 since Aug 2013
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johny1971 View Post
@john5: Also, for VP I would check out Investor RT - it like Sierra has a steep learning curve but could be worth it. Have you seen FT71's morning Trader Bites on you tube?

Yes, I have seen FT71's stuff on YouTube. I have also looked at Investor RT.

Is there a particular Volume Profile feature in Investor RT/FT71's setup that GOM's or Rancho Dinero's Volume Profile doesn't have?

P.S. What is the minimum deposit for Stage 5 and how much historical data do they give you? I've looked on their website, but it doesn't seem to have this information.

Thank you.
-John.

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