More and more people are discovering that trading in stocks and other financial instruments online is far easier than they thought. It’s also flexible – with worldwide coverage and mobile internet you can set off traveling and yet still buy and sell shares and manage your portfolio. All while relaxing on a beach, sailing somewhere or waiting for your meal in some exotic location.
Many people beginning to trade online have never traded shares in the off-line world and in a way this makes life much simpler. Stockbrokers have now moved online and they offer user-friendly platforms from which you can carry out your trades and also do much more – for example researching stocks that you are interested in.
So the first step to trading online is to decide on a stockbroker and to open an account with them. The online platforms mostly deal with users who are what the trade calls “execution only”. This piece of jargon simply means that the users are not looking for advice and are happy to make up their own minds, so all the broker has to do is execute the trade – hence the name. Needless to say, with all the money-laundering regulations, there are various forms to fill in but the brokers try to make these as quick and easy as possible.
You usually deposit some money into your account to enable you to trade. If you want to buy and sell stocks directly, then you need to have quite substantial amounts of money in your trading account. However you can take advantage of price movements on the stock exchange without having to buy the stocks directly. What’s more, whereas if you own a stock and it goes down, you’ve lost that money, there is a way to make money on the stock market both when prices go up and when they go down.
This may sound too good to be true and it does all depend on whether you have correctly predicted that prices are going up or down. Nevertheless, it’s quite possible and many people do it everyday. One of the easiest ways to do this is through what is called “spread betting”. This is a highly regulated form of stock exchange trading in which you don’t buy the shares themselves. Instead, you take a view on whether a share is likely to go up or down in the future. You can do test demos with all types of online trading like stocks on sites similar and to CMC Markets.
If you think it’s going up you “buy” a position to indicate this. If the stock rises by say 20, you can then close that position and take your profit. If you think that the stock is going down, you take a “sell” position and if the stock drops by say 30, you can close the position and take your profit.
This can be a way for people without very deep pockets to trade on the stock exchange. Similarly, it can enable them to take positions on forex (foreign exchange) movements by taking a forex buy or sell position – for example, the euro against the pound.
It sounds a lot more complicated than it actually is! The best way to find out more about spread betting is to try it. Brokers will understand if you want to put a small amount into your account and trade very cautiously at first – and this is a sensible thing to do. They also offer ceilings and floors to your trades, and you would be very wise to use these as they are insurance against losing a great deal of money. Which is possible – so do be cautious!