Ease of Use
ClayTrader offers a solid service for a relatively low cost, but is that enough to make it worth the money? We take a look at the chatroom, alerts, free and paid content, and Clay himself.
ClayTrader’s founder and CEO Clay – full name unknown – was at Ohio State University studying engineering when he started to become interested in the stock market. In 2005, he sold a mutual fund to get himself started and began pretty well. As the story goes, he had a particular stock going great guns which crashed in the dot com bubble, losing him a lot of money. He feels he was too emotionally invested, the result of which is that now his focuses its efforts on helping new traders keep their emotions in check. This is a good thing to do, but gets tiresome rather quickly in his materials.
Now, he trades using technical analysis and, as much as possible, without emotion. His service has about 4,200 subscribers spread across over 170 countries. In terms of credentials, ClayTrader is a contributor to Investopedia and is ranked #1 by InvestorsHub. Beyond that, the track record is a little fuzzy. That said, the price is right, but more on that later.
The major services ClayTrader offers are: chat rooms, watch lists, and a combination of paid and free educational materials.
Of all the competitor services that teach trading online, this one has its chat room most conveniently broken up into places for different kinds of discussion: under $1 trades; over $1 trades; the lounge for general chat (not even necessarily about trading, but usually about trading); the forum for longer term discussions or for posting information that’s not for immediate conversation (this one tends to only see action once or twice a week); and the newsletter. This is where you can find Clay’s watch list and analysis, situated on the site like a section of the chat room.
The rooms are by-and-large well policed for pumping and bashing, and ClayTrader is the only site that really encourages you to network with and befriend fellow traders. That said, it’s not quite as clear and well organized as the chat rooms for other similar services, especially in its “alerts” – or lack thereof. Whereas in many other day trading and swing trading chat rooms like PennyPro and Investors Underground, the lead trader is trading in real-time with you and posts clearly their positions, Clay and the ClayTrader team will only suggest through the day stocks that may or may not appeal to you depending on your style which they may or may not move on. While it can be nice that they don’t hold your hand as much through the process, instead asking you to apply techniques and decide (and making it harder to just piggyback on their trades), because of the set-up, the alerts can be a little less clear and useful than the average.
Weekly Scans and Daily “In Play” Watch Lists
Probably the most useful aspect of the service for traders of all levels, ClayTrader sends out a weekly newsletter with stocks to watch, general market news and trends, and any other relevant info you’ll need for trading in the week ahead. Called “Power Scans”, the weekly letter is written by Clay personally and emailed out so you get it directly in your inbox, no need to go hunting.
The email contains 6-8 graphs tracking the performance of stocks with notes from Clay talking about past results and predicting possible future trends. While the newsletter can be a little confusing for newbies, the picks are generally pretty good and those still just learning can use it as an educational tool, watching how the picked stocks behave.
Clay’s daily watch lists of stocks “in play” – stocks expected to do well during the trading day – is available in the chat room in the morning before trading opens and usually includes something for everyone, if you know what you’re doing. You’ll also see chatter throughout the day from Clay and subscribers about what’s “coming to” – stocks that start to look good during the day because of market events, breaking news, or anything else that might be reflected in a company’s stock value.
Speaking of knowing what you’re doing, new traders will want to – and very much should – take classes or review materials covering the basics of how trading works, rules, common terminology and analysis techniques, risk management, and so on. ClayTrader offers a variety of a la carte courses you can purchase individually or you can buy into what they call the “university”. For ClayTrader University, you pay a one time fee that gives you full access to all courses present and future, plus live webinars where you can interact with the teacher and your fellow students. That said, the university isn’t cheap and the added benefits versus the regular subscription seem only to be the courses and webinars (as opposed to other services where their premium levels include mentoring and other added features). The upside is, for the standard subscriber, there’s much less of a sense of being upsold in the chat rooms and throughout the site, and you don’t have to worry about the best traders and teachers going off into a private chat room you can’t see.
Clay is a good teacher and his technical analysis is solid. In terms of learning the basics, he can definitely give you the information you need, especially if you’re interested in intra-day, news-based momentum and swing trading. Mostly, Clay and the team work with small-cap stocks, but occasionally you’ll see them dip into medium- and large-cap stocks through options. The trading he does most is great for those with less capital who might have to worry about the Pattern Day Trader rule (so, most new online traders).
In terms of content, he focuses heavily on not letting your emotions get in the way. It’s a hurdle he personally faced and he’s made it something of a rallying call for his site. His promotional materials lead with the slogan, “No Emotions. Just Charts.” Letting your feelings get involved in trading can be a problem for a lot of new traders and should certainly be addressed, but sometimes it can feel a tad heavy-handed.
Free Educational Tools
As well as the paid, formal courses, ClayTrader provides a lot of great free online content. This is great both for those hungry for information about trading and those considering buying into his service and courses. Since they don’t offer any refunds (as they will tell you often), you want to be sure this is the service for you before dropping any major dough.
The two primary free resources they produce are the Stock Trading Reality Podcast and the ClayTrader YouTube Channel, both of which are well put-together. For the podcast, Clay works with a friend named Chezz and they regularly bring in guests to cover specific topics. The YouTube channel, on the other hand, is by and large Clay and includes his video blogs that double as the ClayTrader site’s blog, which can be searched by topic if you’re looking for a particular bit of information. Say what you will about Clay, but he is certainly prolific.
Subscriptions and Pricing
In terms of offerings, ClayTrader has just one subscription service – Inner Circle. This gives you access to the chat room, watch lists and free content, but not to any of the paid courses. They also offer the ClayTrader University program for a whopping $1,997, or individual courses priced between $59 and $397 if you’re just looking for something specific or not ready to buy into a bigger program.
Inner Circle, at only $99 year, is much, much cheaper than all other competitors offering anything remotely similar. That’s less than a month of many similar programs. With that comes a little bit of a drop in quality – the chat room in particular doesn’t always quite measure up – but for the budget-conscious, it’s a big plus.
The individual courses are a good option too, since you can choose just the ones you’re interested in based on what it is that you want to learn. Clay provides high quality education, overall, whichever one you choose. This could be a great service to add to a package at one of their competitors if you felt like you wanted another angle or explanation of something.
Unfortunately, the university is, to us, just too pricy and doesn’t offer enough to justify the high price tag relative to others.
How Does It Compare?
The pricing is unbeatable for the chat room and, while the chat room may not be quite as high quality as some other chat rooms, it can be great for networking and getting some trade ideas. It’s also nice that they encourage that. Education is really the star of the service here and Clay offers great free educational tools and, if you find you like his style, paid courses as well. It’s missing some of the alerts and clarity of other, pricier services, but for what it is, ClayTrader is solid. If you find you like it after poking around, we’d recommend trying the $99 annual subscription and, if you find you love that and want more info, you can always add more later.
This service is probably best for those who know a little about trading but aren’t too advanced yet – absolute newbies may find it a tad daunting, and those who know the ins and outs may find the focus on education tiresome, but Clay and company generally provide a top notch service.
Pros and Cons
- Clay is knowledgeable and offers a wealth of high-quality free and paid educational content
- Lots of free content means you can assess the service before buying in
- By far the most budget-friendly option on the market
- Encourages networking and bonding
- Lots of new content on a regular basis
- Minimal upselling
- Good for intra-day and swing traders as well as day traders
- Work with risky penny stocks
- Alerts less clear than others
- Chat room a little lacking
- Clay not always actively trading live, as many others in his position do
- No refunds
- Personally, I find Clay grating. It’s not his fault, but it’s true
- No full name name, no public track record of successful trading, no date given for when the service officially started (it definitely dates back to at least Dec. 2013, but beyond that, it’s unclear). Why the shroud of mystery?
When it comes to ClayTrader, we recommend the Inner Circle program. At just $99 per year, you don’t have much to lose in exchange for access to a very solid site and a great community of fellow traders.