The growing amount of misinformation surrounding forex robots is making it increasingly difficult for the average retail trader to distinguish whether or not they are an effective means of getting exposure in the forex market. This misinformation is due largely to the fact that the internet is saturated with content from robot developers more interested in lining their pockets, than growing your trading account.
I should point out that this article is by no means an attack on the forex robot community, rather it is an unbiased perspective aimed at educating traders so you can make more informed decisions when entering the markets. By the end of this article you will know some of the important pros and cons of robots as well as ways to filter the good from the bad developers.
The developers of robots focus on a few key selling points in order to market their product effectively. These selling points have clear advantages and disadvantages and I will focus on these to help you distinguish whether or not robots remain an effective investment vehicle for yourself.
Access to markets
Forex robots provide traders access to markets 24 hours a day 5.5 days a week. Since most retail traders do not want to spend that much time in front of the computer, this is an effective way to capture more opportunities and potentially increase profits. It also allows trader’s access to a greater variety of currency pairs, more than they would be able to analyse and trade themselves.
Although they can generate more opportunities, robots do have their limitations. Robots limit which broker you use as most robots aimed at the retail community will only run on MT4. The opportunities you are then able to take are limited by the spread your broker offers for that particular currency pair, (some robots will not take opportunities if the spread is too wide). For this reason it is recommended that you chose an MT4 broker that uses and electronic communications network (ECN) feed, as the spreads are typically tighter. Another limitation of robots is the fact that they are typically run off your computer as a virtual private server (VPS), this means that they need exclusive access to your trading account and require you to keep your computer running and platform open to get continued access to the forex market 24/5.5. Usually you will have to run two trading accounts if you wish to do your own discretionary trading as well as the robots.
Built in strategy
One of the biggest challenges facing new traders is developing an understanding of the market, and then building a strategy around that understanding. This can take years and thousands of dollars to develop. Robots remove the need for traders to build a strategy or even understand the market. Assuming the robot is profitable; this may provide traders with a more cost effective way of entering the market, increasing their chances due to the robot having a superior strategy.
It should be noted that in order for the robot to be effective the owner will still have to ‘tweak’ it for optimal results. In this situation it would be beneficial to have some understanding of trading or the forex market so the parameters can be set as optimally as possible. In my opinion, it is up to the vendor of the robot to provide its customers with continued support and instructions on how to optimise the robots settings for best results.
You should also take into account ‘who designed the robot?’ was it designed by a respected company with years of market experience, or an IT guru with internet marketing experience. The long term effectiveness of the strategy of the robot will be dependent on this factor.
Trade order execution is paramount to your trading and ultimately profitability. Robots can be better with regards to order execution due to the speed with which they think and act across multiple currency pairs. This provides a distinct advantage over typical discretionary trading, as more trades can be executed sooner, increasing exposure and potentially profits.
There is some disparity between demo and live trading with robots, due to execution of orders further illustrating the importance of the broker you choose to run your robot with. As was said above an MT4 broker using an ECN as opposed to a deal desk would be optimal for results.
Forex robots remove the need for the owner to think when engaging in a trade. One of the three pillars of an effective trading system; psychology, is what prevents traders from turning a winning strategy into a successful and profitable system. The owner simply turns the robot on, enters parameters specific to their risk and trading profile, and the robot does the rest. This is one of the most attractive features of a robot, leaving the trader to tweak the system based on statistics and profitability rather than emotion.
Forex robots can come with built in money management profiles that can be customised to meet the traders risk profile. Most new traders enter the forex market with little or no understanding of money management, so having a robot with a built in money management system puts them at immediate advantage than if they were to begin trading on their own. The money management employed by the robot is especially important and consideration should be given to this when choosing a robot.
Although this isn’t a point highlighted by robot developers when typically talking about the advantages and disadvantages of robots, I think it’s important to highlight that this is one of the key reasons robots can fail. There are so many variables in the forex market giving rise to changing conditions it is hard for robots and their developers to keep up. Robots for example a robot cannot detect when there is thinner liquidity giving rise to sudden sharp price movements, or breaking news causing volatility. As humans we can make ourselves aware of these factors and adjust our approach immediately.
When there are so many variables affecting currencies at any one time giving rise to market change and volatility, it seems almost impossible that a piece of software could possibly factor in all these changes to remain profitable and the strategy valid. Because of this robots are inherently designed to fail. This problem can be corrected if the robot is constantly updated and the strategy refined to adapt to changing market condition.
The last point to consider is cost. With robots, like anything in life, you get what you pay for. More expensive robots are likely to have more research and development behind them. While a support team will help you get setup and customise the robot to your settings, as well as provide you with updates. The less expensive variety has online manuals, placing the onus of tweaking the settings of the robot on the trader.
When considering the price of the robot, remember what it is you are buying and the costs associated with the alternative. The alternative, is spending thousands of dollars and hours educating yourself about the forex market and then, trading by yourself with no guarantee of success.
As you can see above, forex robots are not a sure road to success in the forex market. They have their obvious advantages and disadvantages, but in the end it is the job of the trader to take into consideration these points and question whether it still represents a viable way of getting exposure in the forex market.
It is important to note the reason forex robots have gained so much popularity is because there is a lucrative in selling them. The marketing teams behind robots sell hopes and dreams, which for the most part is what the average retail forex trader desires. They represent an easy solution to tradings biggest problem, making money.
If you take anything from this article, let it be the fact that it is essential to have at the very least a basic understanding of the forex market and trading before engaging in any sort of trading, even through the use of a robot. If a trader is going to use a robot I would suggest doing your homework and finding out the following: who made the robot, their experience in the markets, years developing robots, support staff if any, do they help you optimise the robot, live trading account results, as much information about the strategy and money management system as possible and how many markets it covers. Once you have this entire information look at the costs. If a company can’t provide you with this information they aren’t worth your time or money!
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