What is Trader Tech Talk?
Trader Tech Talk is a resource, for traders and programmers—for traders who want to learn programming, and programmers who want use their skills in the markets. I’m offering help, insights, mentoring and coaching, ideas, books, and tools, programming services, but it’s all centered around writing automated trading systems.
How long have you been a programmer?
I’ve been writing code for about 20 years. I’ve worked in the auto industry, robots (real ones), healthcare, international trade, and a variety of other industries. But writing good code has always been extremely important. In the last several years, I’ve turned my attention to automated trading systems (or trading robots) and exploring how to process large amounts of data, and turn patterns into profits. This has been the most exciting kind of programming I’ve done.
What kinds of programs have you written?
I’m working on three things right now; first, a couple of Expert Advisors written in Metatrader; that’s the common currency trading platform that allows for programmed strategies. The second thing I’ve been working with is the JForex platform, which uses Java for of its strategies. I’m quite excited about that as well. Lastly, I have a trading platform call AmiBroker which has a different kind of programming language, but has some devoted programmers that use it.
What excites you most about trading systems?
I think back-testing and running through the analysis of the performance data of a trading system is just thrilling. Once you have some test data from a trading system, you can analyze percentage of wins and losses, average win or loss size, number of consecutive wins and losses, drawdown and some of the more quantitative numbers like R-multiples. By studying these numbers, you can get a feel for how well your system will behave in the wild, and even more important – how to know when the system is broken.
How did you come up with the name Trader Tech Talk?
I went through several ideas until I came up with the right one. It’s a technology discussion place for traders, where traders “talk tech”. The site will grow, and we will add more features and make it more interactive.
What advice would you give to traders?
Start simple; don’t try to pile every feature of your trading system into the first version of the program. Go slow, start simple, get a feel for how the automated system trades and then start tweaking entries and exits, stops, and profit targets. Also, I’d say that every trading system is going to “miss a few trades” that you might have taken manually, and every system is going to “take a few bad trades” that you would never have taken as a discretionary trader. The most important thing during design is how it performs in aggregate. When you change the rules for how it decides to enter the market, it affects all of the trades, not just one that you might be concerned about. The proof is in the report at the end.
What advice would you give programmers who want to trade?
Learn as much as possible about the markets. Be flexible in how you code something. Some tools you are used to using don’t work so well in financial systems. For example, if you are used to having exact data to test against, that won’t work with back-testing data in the markets. You’ll find that even if your strategy is fantastic with historical data, you’ll find that in the real world, the strategy does something you didn’t expect it to. You need to be flexible and able to spot problems quickly.
Who do you follow in the trading world?
I follow Rob Booker, and I’m also a big fan of John Person; I’ve found his strategies to be very adaptable to automated systems. More recently, I’ve become a huge fan of Howard Bandy and the books he’s written. Many of the books I’ve bought were recommended by or written by guests on the podcast. I try to read about a book a week, some of them trading books, and many of them entrepreneur books (Seth Godin, Guy Kawasaki, Dan Miller).
What can we expect from you in the coming months?
My podcast comes out twice a month for a few months, and then I will switch to every week; I post to my blog a couple times a week, and I’m working on a programming book for traders. We have big plans for the web site as the go-to site for trading system developers, so that’s in the works as well.
What’s one difficult thing you have had to deal with in trading systems?
In automated system development, one thing that happened was that I spent weeks on a trading system, only to realize that in testing, the code had assumed the spread was one pip, and when I went to test it on a demo account, it lost every trade.