I believe thinkorswim (TOS) by TD Ameritrade is one of the best trading platforms available for the retail trader. It's robust, full featured and offers cutting edge technology and tools. It does have its drawbacks, though. A major one is commission costs, but that's a topic for a different review. The other drawbacks I've discovered relate to thinkorswim's scanning feature.
As my trading has evolved, I have embraced the concept that the market rewards the specialist (#newsomenugget). My primary focus these days is trading stocks that are gapping 3-10% at market open with the following additional criteria applied:
Stock price $5 to $140
Min. avg daily volume 500K
Min. avg true range .50
Float less than 100M
Relative volume of +1.5 or more
The challenge I faced until recently is thinkorswim lacks the ability to scan for stocks using all the above parameters. TOS's built-in Gap Up and Gap Down scans only populate a few minutes after the market opens. This makes it very difficult to develop an actionable watchlist, much less plan a trade, prior to the market open using pre-market levels. In addition, thinkorswim doesn't offer a float study in their stock scanner. I like stocks with a float less than 100 million because they can really move.
In order to find trade-worthy gaps prior to the market open I had to resort to a combination of visually scanning through thinkorswim's Pre-Market Movers watchlist or referencing websites like thestockmarketwatch.com and barchart.com. These resources gave me stocks that were gapping, but I still had to manually check to see if they met my other criteria. This was very time consuming - until I discovered a trader named Josiah Redding.
Josiah is a trader with a very special talent; he programs custom ThinkScripts for the thinkorswim platform, named SWIMdicators, which are available on his website thinkorswim.net. Josiah has developed a host of SWIMdicators that include indicators, chart studies, trading strategies, StockHacker scans and watchlist columns.
The two SWIMdicators I purchased for thinkorswim were the "Low Float Stock Scan" and "Pre-Market Gap Scanners". I won't go into detail as to what the scans entail (you can read all about them here), but each scan features customizable filters to achieve specific paramaters. As a result, I no longer have to go through the tedious and time consuming routine previously employed to develop an actionable watchlist. Most importantly, though, the scans produce stocks with edge that have the potential to really move.
In terms of installation and implementation, Josiah makes the process easy. The order confirmation email I received contained simple step-by-step instructions that even the most technologically challenged individual could follow. In addition, the thinkorswim.net website and Josiah's SWIMdicators YouTube channel host a variety of helpful installation and how-to videos for his custom ThinkScripts.
The Bottom Line: If you're a trader who uses the thinkorswim (TOS) platform and desire greater functionality, you need to check out Josiah Redding's SWIMdicators. They will give you an edge and help take your trading to the next level.