From the October 01, 2011 issue of Futures Magazine • Subscribe!

Cutting the cord: Mobile trading 101

Finally, considerable weight needs to be given to any issues of security. It already was stressful to lose a phone just from the hassle of replacing the contacts, but now with financial information on it, the stakes are even higher. Fortunately, many brokers have security features built into their apps to prevent unauthorized activity and some phone carriers have capabilities to offer additional protection.

Most trading apps now require a trader to enter some sort of authentication whenever he or she opens that application. "Even if a trader were to lose his phone, the trading app still requires a password every time it is opened. So, not only would somebody have to find the lost phone, but they also would need knowledge of the trader’s user ID and password," Sherrod says.

Miller says brokers have this feature in place to protect traders, even if it can be annoying at times. "We’ve had customers become quite annoyed that they have to enter their passwords each time they access their account from a mobile platform, but we’ve told them that we can’t allow them to auto-login because there is too much risk involved in not requiring some sort of security feature," she says.

Hedging your platform

In addition to security features from brokers, some phone carriers offer an additional level of protection. "If a trader saves that password on his phone and that phone is lost, there are phone companies that can wipe out the entire memory remotely. Traders should check with their phone carriers to see if they have that functionality," Cusick says.

Just because you always may have a mobile device with you doesn’t mean it’s always going to work. Carrier coverage can be spotty in places or occasionally go out completely. Having a plan for when that happens is essential if you intend to trade from a mobile platform. "We always recommend [that] a new trader use a desktop platform, have access to the web-based platform and then offer mobile trading as an added option. Should anything ever happen, the trader then has three different trading options on top of access to [his broker’s] trading desk," Miller says.

Traders usually have been some of the quickest adopters of new technology, especially if it will give them an edge in the market. Before completely jumping in, though, Miller suggests you make sure you fully understand anything you add to your trading arsenal.

"Traders need to spend the time on the trading platform to understand all the ins and outs of whatever platform they’re using, mobile or not, so that they don’t have so many hurdles in front of them when they begin live trading," she says. "When you open an account and get ready to make a trade, you should know that software backwards and forwards so that you can’t make silly mistakes that might cost you money. Trading is hard enough as it is, don’t complicate things further by not understanding the software you’re using to do your trading."

Mobile trading opportunities definitely have the potential to expand the trader’s world. With a few considerations you should be able to leave your trading desk safely and not have to worry about your positions. Just one request: When you’re out for dinner with people, leave your phone in your pocket. Just because you can watch your positions from anywhere, doesn’t mean you should.

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