FXCM Strategy Trader (Beta!) Launched
The beta test version of FXCM's new Strategy Trader platform has been around for several months now, but you used to have to fill in a form and be approved by FXCM before being able to download it and try it out. That's now changed, and FXCM have made it available for download to anyone who visits the brand new Strategy Trader section of their website, along with a video walkthrough about the wonders of what they now describe as:
The Next Evolution in Automated Forex Trading – An all-in-one automated trading solution, allowing you to code, backtest, optimise and trade from one platform.
This is still the beta test version remember. Personally I wouldn't even dream of letting an automated Strategy Advisor loose on a live account with it at the moment. However if you want to experiment with it on a demo account now is your chance. By the way, FXCM seem to have rebranded what used to be called Strategy Advisors. They are now referred to as Strategy Trader EAs, or stEAs for short. Presumably the EA is supposed to stand for Expert Advisor, just like in MetaTrader?
Amongst the plethora of information now available is one tab whose title suggests it compares the features of Strategy Trader with MetaTrader 4. In fact this section also includes comparisons with TradeStation and Ninja Trader too, although for some strange reason MetaTrader 5 is not included. Possibly that's because FXCM's comparison table doesn't include any rows entitled "multi-currency", "multi-system" or "distributed backtesting", all of which MetaTrader 5 (also still in public beta testing) is capable of supporting. The table does however point out that, unlike many brokers' versions of MetaTrader 4, Strategy Trader doesn't use 3rd party bridge software. Despite the fact that they themselves have been providing a trading platform utilising Boston Technologies bridge to their own MT4 customers for quite some time, FXCM are now at pains to point out that:
No software bridges are used. This decreases the time it takes for you to click to place a trade, to the time the trade executes.
This section of FXCM's site also contains some rather misleading information. It claims that:
Many platforms, like MT4, update price data second by second. Strategy Trader updates prices tick by tick. With Strategy Trader, you could get into trades faster than most MetaTrader EAs used on MT4.
This is even highlighted with a bullet point at the top. It would seem that FXCM's copywriters have never been near an MT4 EA. Possibly they've never been near an stEA either, because this is not in fact the case. I guess you can argue the toss about exactly what constitutes a "tick", but in practice we have found it very difficult to get a simple stEA working reliably with Strategy Trader's tick data. In addition here at the Trading Gurus we have been logging "ticks" from a wide variety of MetaTrader 4 brokers for quite some time now, and I can assure you that more than one arrives per second from time to time!
The comparison table itself is a trifle misleading also. It suggests that MetaTrader 4 doesn't provide ask prices for example. Take a look at the source code of one of our MetaTrader 4 example robots and you won't have to look very hard to find the word "Ask" in there somewhere! Following FXCM's recent acquisition of the ODL group we've been using a wide range of our expert advisors with FXCM's servers, and they have yet to grind to a halt complaining about a sudden absence of asks.
FXCM themselves are bundling some free "robots" with Strategy Trader, and these include "Grid Trader", "After Hours Trader" and "ST Breakout". We haven't had a chance to check them out yet, but rest assured we will be doing that very soon with all our customary attention to detail. We'll let you know what we discover. We'll also be porting more of our own example robots over to Strategy Trader, once we can iron out some of the technical difficulties involved.
For the moment all I will say is that the large amount of florid prose so recently added to FXCM's website hasn't changed our view about Strategy Trader, which we expressed here only a few short days ago. Strategy Trader is now available free of charge to anybody who wants to download it, but:
Our own tests suggest it still has some way to go before it can be let loose with real money as a "Retail Grade" automated trading platform, let alone "Institutional Grade".