For many traders and investors in the modern trading environment, the trading and charting platform is a key element in decision making. Whether traders are deciding which stocks or funds to invest in or trade, whether to go long or short in these markets, or the price at which to enter trades, they tend to rely significantly on their trading platform.
Practically all the trading platforms in our review are web based, but many are increasingly becoming mobile based as well. The UK market is generally behind the offerings provided by our US cousins; most UK online brokers offer rudimentary charting platforms. However, the top providers that head our list for platforms and tools are attempting to provide a more advanced service, akin to what is on offer in the USA.
Barclays Stockbrokers tops our review of platforms and tools. Only IG comes anywhere close to challenging Barclays Stockbrokers for the top spot in 2017.
The charting experience at Barclays Stockbrokers provides an impressive 152 different indicators, from simple moving averages to the rarer Elder Ray Bull Power. Furthermore, 15 drawing tools are accessible, from basic trend lines to Fibonacci Arcs. If traders are not keen on performing their own charting analysis, there is a handy technical analysis section on the summary page with third-party support and resistance levels, short-term and longer-term technical trading views, momentum indicator analysis, and automated bullish/bearish and overbought/oversold signals.
The IG trading platform and tools are a close second to Barclays Stockbrokers, with an impressive offering as IG has shifted its award-winning spread-betting platform across to its online stock-trading accounts.
The IG trading platform provides nine optional indicators for charting, including Fibonacci retracements and extensions and trend lines (which are customizable). Furthermore, you can access 21 technical indicators with adjustable parameters. Price alerts can be set on indicators and can be further customized, whilst economic calendar alerts are also available. The alerts can be displayed on the trading platform or can be received via mobile push or email. New orders can be executed from the chart, whilst open positions and working orders can also be viewed on the chart.
Without question, the standard set offered by Barclays Stockbrokers and IG is what their competitors should be striving for.
TD Direct Investing finished a distant third on our list in 2017. Clients can select between three different chart types as well as add display events (earnings, dividends, splits) and conduct multi-security comparisons. Charting also includes 11 different charting tools, but an absence of chart drawing tools is somewhat disappointing
Beyond its standard platform, TD Direct Investing does offer a more comprehensive Advanced Trading Platform as an extra paid-for service (free for clients that trade 10 or more times per month). This platform has built-in dashboards with heat maps, charts, stock information, portfolio panels and news, including the ability to customise your own layouts.
For a deeper dive into all three of these brokers, read our full-length individual broker reviews. You can also utilise the broker comparison tool to compare features side by side and narrow down your choice. Lastly, if the broker offers you the opportunity, I recommend testing out the platform before making a final choice.