A day trader buys and sells stocks, shares, commodities, and other types of investments for a profit within the same trading day. Traders usually invest in instruments they think will have increasing value over time, but they can also invest in those with decreasing value. Day traders like to make money by taking advantage of small price fluctuations instead of buying and holding investments, hoping that their price increases overall.
Day trading has been around since the 1800s; however, it became popular during the dot-com boom when people could buy shares on margin (which means investing with money you don’t have).
Today, day traders use split-second computer programs to execute their trades automatically with very little human intervention. Trading has become more combative than ever, and would-be day traders of Australia need to understand how it works before they start spending money on equipment and training courses.
Get a computer
Becoming a day trader requires you to have a decent computer that meets the following minimum requirements:
- Dual-core processor 2.0 GHz or faster
- 4 GB RAM
- USB ports for your trading equipment (optional)
- Monitor capable of at least 1280 x 1024 resolution with 24 bits colour display
Day traders usually have multiple monitors to see all their charts and brokers side by side. It would be best to consider buying extra monitors, too, since they help keep distractions away from the main trading screen.
In addition, day traders use specialised hardware such as tick readers, market data software and network cards that improve their response time while trading.
Before you begin day trading, check if your computer meets these requirements or needs any updates or repairs. You’ll also need a safe place for your equipment where it won’t be disturbed as your reactions are measured in milliseconds.
Get market data
Market data is the information that tells you how much an investment is worth at any given time. It includes things like share prices, commodity prices and currency rates. Financial websites provide up-to-date market data that’s free.
Financial websites also offer financial news stories, stock quotes and other resources that day traders use to stay on top of the market. Many day traders also subscribe to real-time news feeds that provide breaking economic news results as they happen. This way, they can quickly act on their investment decisions before things change.
Get trading software
Day traders use specialised programs known as trading platforms worldwide to buy and sell stocks, shares and other assets in fractions of a second. They ensure that everyone is quoting prices simultaneously, so no one has an unfair advantage. You’ll need to use your trading platform along with your internet connection (and possibly extra hardware) to make trades online through a broker who will charge you commission for doing this work for you.
You can also find free trading, but you have to watch out for scams and know what kind of service the software is designed to provide before you download it. Since many day traders’ strategies rely on real-time information flow, it’s crucial that they only use trusted sources for this data.
Get broker accounts
A brokerage account enables you to trade stocks online from anywhere globally, which gives you a lot of flexibility as a day trader. You need to open up an account with at least one broker and fund it so you can practice trading securities like stocks, shares or options on futures contracts.
The minimum account size is usually about $500, but some brokers require more depending on the type of asset you want to trade and how much money you plan to use. Most traders suggest using about 10-20% of your total capital for each trade.
Get yourself approved by ASIC
Australia isn’t known for its strict financial industry regulations, but even countries without much oversight have a governing body regulating day traders. The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) is the federal regulator responsible for keeping financial markets safe from fraud, dishonest behaviour and other types of abuse.
ASIC must approve you before trading as a day trader to demonstrate that your business meets specific standards.