If you recently started trading stocks, you’re not alone. Thousands of new investors have entered the market due to the coronavirus pandemic and excitement in stocks such as GameStop. Trading brokerages including E*Trade, TD Ameritrade, Schwab and Robinhood have all reportedly seen record new sign-ups. And it’s never too late to begin. While any of these brokers provide a fine starting point, Steve with FloatChecker will focus on TD Ameritrade and its popular trading platform Thinkorswim.
- Why Thinkorswim by TD Ameritrade?
- Download and Install Thinkorswim
- Will Thinkorswim be Discontinued?
Why Thinkorswim by TD Ameritrade?
TD Ameritrade acquired Thinkorswim in 2009 and it’s been the company’s flagship trading platform ever since. You can access the program through either a mobile app, the web, or via a desktop version. Besides the $0 commission-free trading offered by TD Ameritrade, Thinkorswim is loaded with a ton of features to suit nearly any investor. We’ll highlight just a few of these that may be of interest to new traders.
Charting. Seems obvious, but you’ll need easy-to-read and customizable charts to trade. Thinkorswim has you covered. The charts are easy on the eyes and you can add hundreds of technical indicators, such as moving averages and the Volume Weighted Average Price (VWAP).
Free Level II Quotes. Also known as the “Order Book,” Level II data provides a list view of the quantities of buy and sell orders at current prices for a given stock. Some traders like to use this information, along with other technical indicators, to determine how a stock price might move – such as by comparing the number of orders on one side versus the other.
Time and Sales Data. This is commonly known as the “tape.” Time and sales data presents a running account of stock transactions throughout the day and usually includes time of the sale, price, and volume size. Traders can observe the tape to note its speed, volume amounts, and whether the transactions occur on the bid or ask amount to get an idea of how the stock price might perform.
Active Trader Ladder. Located under the Active Trader tab, the active trader ladder provides a highly customizable way to buy and sell stocks. The ladder can be used to easily enter stop loss and limit orders with the click of a button. Day traders may find this very useful to enter and exit positions quickly.
Live Market News. Whenever a stock shows explosive movement, there is a likely a news catalyst behind it. Thinkorswim has a simple tab that provides news from numerous financial outlets.
Watchlists and Alerts. Watchlists are basically stocks which are grouped together based on whatever criteria you choose. You can create watchlists of stocks based on an index (like the S&P 500), an industry group, or based on scanner settings you create. It’s also straight-forward to create alerts for stocks that hit your target price.
Extended Hours Trading. It’s not uncommon for big moves to happen during the premarket or after hours session. Thinkorswim let’s you trade both. And you’ll have access to Level II data, time and sales, charting and other tools.
Paper Trading. Many traders on Youtube and elsewhere recommend that new traders start out paper trading to prove they can first be profitable before switching to real money. Paper trading just involves using pretend or virtual money to enter and exit trades without any risk. The platform provides a simple way to change from your real money account to your paper trading account right at the log-in screen.
These are just a few of the features available to new traders. The platform also caters to options, futures, and forex traders. In addition, you can set up screeners, monitor your positions, and educate yourself with numerous trading tutorials.
Download and Install Thinkorswim
The Thinkorswim desktop version is considered the most robust version of the platform and is available to Windows, Mac, Linux and Unix users. The download link can be found at the following URL:
But because URLs often change, it may be better to search for “Thinkorswim Download” either through Google, Bing or any other search provider. Below is a quick video to walk you through the process of downloading Thinkorswim to your PC.
Will Thinkorswim be Discontinued?
In November 2019, Charles Schwab announced it was purchasing TD Ameritrade for $26 billion dollars in an all-stock transaction. TD Ameritrade had around 12 -14 million accounts at the time the deal was announced, clearly attractive numbers to Schwab. The deal closed in October 2020, but integration of the two companies continues. Naturally, some traders have expressed concern over the fate of Thinkorswim. Fortunately, on its website and in social media postings, TD Ameritrade has announced that the platform is “here to stay” and that the acquisition by Charles Schwab will not affect access going forward. Considering the size of the two combined companies and the popularity of Thinkorswim, it’s hard to imagine the platform will be abandoned.
Charles Schwab may have purchased TD Ameritrade, but the Thinkorswim platform is not going anywhere. The popularity and longevity of Thinkorswim makes it a great place to get started with trading stocks. It probably offers more features than you’ll need, but it can be learned fairly quickly – especially with the help of all the tutorials available online. Please check out the video above to get started downloading the software.