“Special FX” Charts – What Are the Best FX Charting Software Packages?

For almost every trader, charting software is a key component to doing business. Forex traders are no exception. Without a good chart, it is impossible for most of us to get our arms around the market’s big picture when determining our next move. So for the forex trader, what is the best charting software?

As with so many pieces of the trading puzzle, there isn’t a single clear answer. Each of us will have different criteria by which we determine the charting software that best serves our FX trading business. However, without a clear idea of what those criteria are we stand a good chance of choosing a product poorly. The following is a strong set of questions I have found it useful to ask when determining which charts to use in my trading:

  1. Which forex broker do you trade with? This might be the single biggest component when determining your charting software. Every brokerage offers charting software (at least, I’ve yet to run into a broker which doesn’t), and some of the software is really quite good. If the broker you are trading with offers a charting package you find unacceptable, you have two primary paths of recourse. You can change brokers (not a big deal, but it is a bit of a hassle), or you can use 3rd party software to chart and continue trading through your current broker.
  2. Do you want to ‘trade on the chart’? Personally, I’ve never found this compelling. Sure, it is convenient to simply click a spot on the chart and enter an order to trigger there, but for precision order entry (which my own trading plan requires) is more of a hassle for me than just typing in an entry through my broker’s standard trading window. But if you are comfortable with a simple point/click/trade functionality and an order entry that is ‘close enough’ really is close enough, this could be a useful feature. Particularly if you trade in an environment which demands lightning quick action, this ability could be a deciding factor.
  3. Price. Obviously, paying a monthly fee for your charting software represents an additional cost of doing business. Some of these premium (meaning ‘not free’) programs are quite good, but usually the only improvement over a free charting package you’ll see is the addition of a few additional technical indicators. Unless your trading system absolutely depends on such a special indicator (or the capacity to program your own indicators, as with Tradestation or eSignal), this additional expense is probably unnecessary.
  4. Trade automation. Prior to the advent of Metatrader and it’s Expert Advisors there were only a small handful of charting software which provided trade automation. One of my favorites (and still is) is VT Trader. The charting software is very good, and activating a simple trading system is not complicated. If you are comfortable (and that is a big ‘if’) walking away from your computer while it trades your money behind your back, either VT Trader or Metatrader can provide good options. (But please, PLEASE let any system you implement paper trade for a while prior to using it real time).

So we can see that one size does not necessarily fit all FX traders when it comes to charting. But here are three packages that I use regularly:

  1. PowerCharts – you can find this software at http://www.dailyFX.com (click their ‘charts’ tab, to find multiple FX charting packages, both free and premium).
  2. FXCM – this is one of my brokers, and the charting package is fine. I have the option to trade on the chart, though I rarely exercise that option.
  3. VT Trader – this is the beefiest of the forex charting packages I regularly use. It has a nice set of indicators (unavailable in the other two I use), as well as the ability to program very simple trading systems.

Don’t take any of these as particular endorsements. There are quite a few FX charting packages out there; you owe it to your own trading business to see what will work best for you, but when you keep these criteria in mind you will certainly find the one which is right for you.

Stay timid!

Timothy

Charting the Course – Business Plan Development & Research

As it is necessary to understand the direction and strength of the wind, before sailing, one must know the contrary winds in business. Charting a development strategy for a large or small business requires detail information about the competition. Too many entrepreneurs launch out with a dream, but never bring it down to the real world where men, women and children make the decisions “to buy or not to buy.” What are the qualities and flaws of the competitive products or services? Where and how are they sold? What are the prices and discounts? Who sells them? The provider’s reputation, financial strength, history and sales staff provide important clues to the nature of competition a product faces. The best ways to research include:

· Search the Internet for information, critiques, or evaluations of your competitors;
· Purchase the product or service for your personal evaluation;
· Find out what potential consumers think about it;

Getting this information requires a bit of work and research. Visit the competitor, interview their customers, sit in a place where you can observe the operation, and keep records. Who’s buying? What are they buying? At what price? Always look for any wrinkles in the competitor’s operation.

Once you have drawn a picture of the competitor, compare your own business plan to that. What advantage does your business strategy, location, products or services have over the competition? In particular, consider the pricing. Can you compete on price? If your goods are higher in price explain why. You may succeed with higher prices, but there will have to be reasons why people will pay more for your products. The aesthetics of the store, the nature of a guarantee, the skills of the sales staff and other features make be an attraction. How does your business compare to the competition? You want to compose your strategy based on the competition. All of this information will give you a clue to the potential you have of beating the competition. If you can beat the competition you have a better chance of being the business to survive.

How to Estimate Sales Forecasting in a Business Plan

Sales forecasting is one of the difficult and time-consuming steps in writing a business plan. This step becomes even more difficult when you are writing your first ever business plan and do not have previous sales experience to guide you. In fact, it is of the key components that most investors and lenders pay attention to. Even if this is not your full plan yet, forecasting sales is still important to develop your business goals and reports. In this article we will discuss a few key steps to help you calculate sales forecasting in a business plan.

1) Identify your market

The first step to begin with is to research about all your competitors that operate in the same geographical market with a similar customer base. Try to find out how big is your overall market and make sure your revenues will grow year by year, no matter if you are new in the market. The first step sales managers usually combine with all marketing and advertising strategies pursuing more accurate and predictable results.

There are three basic methods for forecasting sales in a new start business.

a. Marked based

This method focuses on specific location and number of competitors around you. You should measure how many households around for example, one miles to you, would choose your products over your competitors’. Additionaly try to find out also those of five miles far from you and use distances that will make sense to your location.

b. Value based

The second method would need you to calculate total value for each sales category, or in other words what you business has to sell. Business charts are much more than just pretty pictures; especially when you are putting them in your business plan. You should always create charts with this value based technique to illustrate and evaluate the projected numbers.

c. Resource based

The next important step is measure the maximum revenue your business can achieve given the present resources.This is a great indicator to show to your future investors how your company will produce and sell in case of limited resources available at your hand.

2) Prepare your sales forecast

Once you have the clear picture comparing these three sales forecasting methods mentioned above, it is time to prepare it in a format which any bank manager, or investor, will understand. You should now instill confidence by your explicitly demonstrated ability to analyze and pivot your tactics and strategy and show your reader your assumptions about growth rate. This really gives the investor the ability to assess you the entrepreneur – which is where the decision is going to inevitably end up.