Sterling Trader Pro Review
Interested in giving Sterling Trader Pro a try? This platform is widely known by day traders and features many interesting tools and features. Is Sterling Trader Pro the platform you want? Before you buy, read our thorough review and decide for yourself.
About Sterling Trader Pro
Sterling Trader Pro, developed by Sterling Trading Tech (not a brokers but a trading software developer), is one of the two most popular direct access trading software for trading stocks. It is widely used by active individual day traders, proprietary trading firms and institutional traders.
Its closest competitor is DASTrader Pro, developed by DAS Inc. These two are neck and neck in terms of features, performance and functionalities.
While you can trade options and futures with Sterling Trader Pro, at its core, it is designed primarily to trade stocks and that is what the majority of its users are using it for.
This review aims to give you an objective overview of the key features of Sterling Trader Pro. All the information provided below comes from first hand experiences trading with Sterling Traders Pro.
How Much Does Sterling Trader Pro Cost?
Platform Fee (Monthly)
Sterling Trader Pro is offered by most direct access brokers, at a price. The monthly platform fee can range from $100 – $300 depending on the broker. However, most of the brokers will waive this platform fee for you if you trade more than 300,000 shares per month with them.
Data Fees (Monthly)
In addition to the platform fee, you also have to pay for data fees (such as Level II data). You can choose not to pay for Level II data if you already have it from other sources and only want to use Sterling Trader Pro to execute your trades, in which case all you need is the Level I data (much cheaper than Level II).
Sterling Trader Pro Features
1. Layouts and Linked Floating Windows
Sterling Trader Pro provides highly customizable layouts. The floating windows feature allows you to create pretty much any layout you can want. The screenshots below are some examples of what these windows look like in Sterling Trader Pro:
Level II Order Entry
Level I Order Entry
Level I Simplified “Quick” Order Entry window, very useful to be used with other charting software
Times & Sales
Trade Monitor – tabbed window where you can monitor and manage your orders (filled and open orders)
Trade Summary – your trades for the day
Position Summary – your positions (closed and open)
Each window is standalone and “floating”, you can arrange them on different monitors any way you want.
You can link various windows. When you change the ticker symbol in one window, all linked windows will automatically sync up to display the relevant information of the same ticker.
The downside to such flexibility: it may take some time for you to go through the many settings and sub-settings to find the exact layouts you want.
Here’s an example layout that includes two different ticker symbols, each with its own linked windows. This layout allows you to watch and trade two tickers at the same time without one interfering with the order.
You can have other windows such as Trade Monitor, Trade Summary, Position Summary etc. arranged on a 2nd monitor, assuming you are using a multiple-monitor setup for your trading.
2. Execution (Direct Access Order Routing)
This is where Sterling Trader Pro shines.
You can choose from a long list of ECNs and exchanges to execute your trades. Routing can be changed on the fly depending on the ticker you are trading or your order type (market order, limit order, stop orders, etc.).
- Standalone Level II (color coded) windows integrated with order entry.
You can key in orders and execute trades on multiple tickers at the same time. The order entry of one ticker doesn’t interfere with any other tickers you are watching and trading.
This is essential for active traders who watch and trade multiple tickers at the same time throughout the day.
- Quick modification of open orders. This is unique to Sterling Trader Pro.
You can simply right click on an open order and change the size and/or the price on the fly, without having to cancel the order and replace it with a new one. Many traders find this very useful.
- Hotkeys: Sterling Trader Pro offers the most comprehensive hotkeys in the industry. You can program pretty much any hotkeys you need, and it’s rather straightforward to do in Sterling Trader Pro.
- API available for more advanced traders to integrate with 3rd-party or custom applications.
Sterling Trader Pro’s charting, while adequate, has limited capabilities. It does come with plenty of commonly used technical indicators, studies and drawing tools, but it lacks in ease of use, flexibility and depth.
It pales in comparison to what other charting software such as Thinkorswim, TC2000 or eSignal can offer.
This is no surprise though. Sterling Trader Pro is built for robust execution, not for charting. Many traders use Sterling Trader Pro primarily for executing trades. For charting they use other providers. Thinkorswim (100% free), TC2000 (paid) and eSignal (paid) are among the few most popular ones.
You can set the Sterling Trader Pro charts to show your executed trades. This can be useful for you to review your trades and improve your entries and exits. There is no charting for options in Sterling Trader Pro.
Here are a couple of more chart examples:
4. Other Features
- News feed. Sterling Trading Pro comes with a run-of-the-mill news feed. See the screenshots below.
The news feed window with all news headlines
Or you can filter the news by specific ticker(s)
News feed with reading pane
- Alerts. The alert tool allows you to set some simple alerts on the tickers you want to trade based on the last price, bid or offer.
- Exchange Alerts. This is a tool you can use to monitor if any of the stocks you are watching has been halted by the exchange.
- Watch Lists. You can create as many watch lists as you want, sortable by various filters of your choosing.
- Scanner. Sterling Trader Pro’s scanner is very limited, with only a few filters (52-wk High/Low, Day High/Low), it’s almost useless. Check out Trade Ideas if you want a more feature-rich scanner.
5. Option Chains and Order Entry Window
Sterling Trader Pro is capable of trading both the directional options and some complex options spreads.
Option chains example
Option order entry window
Brokers Who Offer Sterling Trader Pro
Some Popular Direct Access Brokers that offer Sterling Trader Pro:
Is Sterling Trader Pro a Good Fit For You?
Sterling Trader Pro is designed to be a robust execution platform for VERY active day traders (and institutions), those who trade several 100s of thousands shares per month. And it is designed PRIMARILY for trading stocks. Most traders at a direct access broker choose either Sterling Trader Pro or DAS Trader.
If your trading style is mainly swing trading, then Sterling Trader Pro is an unnecessary overkill.
Not for Options Centric or Futures Centric Traders
Sterling Trader Pro is quite capable of trading options and futures, but If you are primarily an options or a futures trader, Sterling Trader Pro is just not the right tool for the job, not to mention the rather high monthly platform fee.
1. Integration with Interactive Brokers
Interactive Brokers, who doesn’t offer Sterling Trader Pro, currently allows integration for their institutional clients only where they can execute trades through Sterling Trader Pro instead of using IB’s own platform.
For IB’s individual traders who don’t want to use IB’s own (quite inadequate) trading platform, the closest choice is the DASTrader Pro, developed by DAS Inc.
2. A Common “Setup” for Many Day Traders
- Charting: Thinkorswim, TC2000, or eSignal
- Execution: Sterling Trader Pro (or its closest competitor)
3. Connectivity Issues or What Not
Many individual traders using Sterling Trader Pro may have, from time to time, experienced connectivity issues, such as dropouts and periods of delays in Level II data. This often occurs on days when markets are experiencing extremely higher than usual spikes in trading volume.
The fact is that, often times, this has more to do with these traders own circumstances (computer setups or internet service providers) that, when exposed to unusual and sudden spikes in trading (data) volume, may have caused some data bottleneck. It actually may not have much to do with Sterling Trader Pro itself.
This happens to traders using all kinds of trading platforms, including Sterling Trader Pro’s closest competitor DASTrader Pro.
Final Thoughts on the Sterling Trading Platform
It’s very likely that most active day traders are already using either Sterling Trader Pro or DAS Trader Pro.
And indeed, if you are a new trader aspiring to become an active stocks day trader and make a living doing so, you can’t go wrong with Sterling Trader Pro because that’s what you’ll probably end up using anyways.
- Direct access to all popular ECNs and exchanges
- All common order types (including server-side stop orders)
- Open orders can be easily modified on the fly
- Comprehensive, programmable Hotkeys
- Easy to use short locator tool for hard to borrow shares (depending on your broker)
- Mobile trading app: it includes a mobile trading app
- Monthly software fee and data fees (can be a burden for new or low volume traders)
- Lackluster charting
- Limited scanner
- No native Mac version, only for Windows