Like many retail traders, you start out with Etrade, TDAmertrade, Schwab, etc. and learn their trading software, dabble with some money, and then if you really start to get into it and do well you wonder if there is better software out there. I did just that..
Bring in Lightspeed Trader. This trading software checked a couple boxes for me that I was looking for. For one, it had a Mac OSX version that many leading trading platforms did not offer. This is somewhat important, but not a deal-breaker for me as I could always run Bootcamp/Parallels to use Windows software. I was looking for the fastest and best executions, along with level 2 and book information. Charting was secondary, as I really enjoy Thinkorswim’s charting platform for most of my needs anyway.
Lightspeed Trader is one of the many platforms in the Lightspeed suite of products, all backed by Wedbush Securities clearing house. At first, the platform takes quite a bit of learning to understand and customize so that you can get the most out of it.
The charting software I would give a 6/10 and it is likely the least performative area in Lightspeed Trader. They work and you can do what you need with them but they are no where near the grade and standard that Thinkorswim has put out. Maneuvering the charts, adding studies and drawings are a bit cumbersome, although they are possible.
As for executions, Lightspeed is a direct market access broker, so you do NOT have the broker working against you when you are trading, thus you can have much better fills. This is very important for high volume traders who constantly depend on great fills and executions. This broker lives up to their name, they are lightning fast to say the least. Executions get 10/10, none better that I know of.
Trading options and stock on Lightspeed trader is very nice once you get the hang of it. You have the option to set up hotkeys to really speed up the process which is nice. They also provide an option for Hot Buttons which is the same as Hot Keys except for buttons–predefined actions set via hotkeys/buttons. The one downfall of the platform (for me) is that it does not allow futures trading, and that actually requires you to open a separate account (at a $25K minimum) to trade. This was a bit of a turnoff to me, since I enjoy trading Futures as well. Nonetheless, the platform is very solid and proven for trading stock/options and if you’re a day-trader it would be at the top of my list to be looking at. 9/10 on Trading.
Fees & Commission
As with many direct market access brokers there are fees for market data at the speed and real-time manor that you receive it. For Lightspeed they charge a $100 platform fee per month, however commissions are deducted from that so if you spend $100+ in commissions the platform fee is waived. Also for extra book and level 2 data it is priced accordingly on their website at www.lightspeed.com. I chose the per share fee structure, which charts 0.004 cents per share with a $1 minimum if you’re trading < 100 shares in the transaction. For high volume traders this is a huge value with cheap commissions. Also you get paid for adding liquidity, which also cuts down in your commission cost. Overall, you can't ask for much better fees/commission in this level of brokers, so I give them a 9/10 in this area as well.
Overall, there are a couple trading platforms to consider in this space, depending on what your goals are as a trader. My top 3 to consider would be 1) Lightspeed , 2) Tradestation , & 3) DAS Trader. Each of these have comparable fee structures, as well as direct market access brokers. Each require $25K minimums for margin trading, as does everyone as they are required to. Tradestation has multiple plans and pricing structures that are NOT outlined very well on their website, so I recommend calling them to get a full detail explanation. Overall Lightspeed trader got the green light for me, and I’ll be actively updating the blog in the future with any new things I find.