Ask Colin

What amount would you classify as expensive for a computer trading program?

To be brutally frank, I do not think there is such a thing as a cheap computerised trading program. My experience is that the trading task is far more complex than can be distilled into some algorithms for a computer to process. So, to me they are all expensive and I would not like to in any way encourage anyone to buy them.

Instead, I recommend that intending investors and traders learn the basics of the finance industry at Kaplan Education. If they want to learn trading, I am happy to teach them my trading plan through my seminars, camps or videotape (details on my web site).

Computers are useful in many ways to traders and investors:

1. To draw charts and calculate and display indicators for those using a technical analysis approach. For this you need only charting software and I use Insight Trader, which meets all of my needs. To pay more than this is expensive in my view unless you have very special needs.

2. To trade on the Internet and to gather information and research generally.

3. For fundamental analysis, which is usually based around spreadsheet models and scans of comparative data.

4. For keeping records. Good records are essential and computers are a useful, though not essential, tool for this purpose.

May I also suggest that you think carefully about whether you really are prepared to do what it takes to become a successful trader? It is going to lead you into several years of hard work and study. There is more on my web site in articles and Ask Colin pages about this. It takes most people at least ten years to become proficient in most professions and trading is no different. If you do want to do it, I hope I may be able to help along the way.