Semi Versus Fully Automated Trading

Last week we looked at the benefits of using an algorithm to trade versus trading manually. The overall message was that an algorithm will outperform any manual trader as it does not suffer from emotional attachment to a trade and will flawlessly execute its trading plan. In this article we compare semi automated algo trading with fully automated to see the pros and cons of each approach.

But why?…

The first question which you may be asking is why have a semi automated system if you have a fully automated one? Well, the answer is control and preference. A lot of people will find it hard to trust an Algo to do all the trading for them and instead prefer to sit in front of screens and watch as it trades…and probably be tempted to tamper with it as it does so. Although this seems silly, it comes down to psychology. If you are struggling to trust your system then the only alternative is to work with your psychology and find a way to feel in control without interfering with its performance. How do you achieve this? Simply by setting up an extra step in your Algo that requires you to confirm a trade before it takes it.

To leave or not to leave…

Can you sit back and let your system trade for you without interfering? Are you constantly tempted to intervene? Do you adjust your stop or your profit target or skip a setup altogether because you second guess your strategy? In that case its best if you start off with a semi automated solution rather than a fully automated one. What you need is to build a control panel into your Algo so that as soon as it identifies a trade it pops up a box asking for confirmation to take the trade. At least in this instance you will feel you’re in control while still adhering to your Algo.

Easier transition

Can you sit back and let your system trade for you without interfering? Are you constantly tempted to intervene? Do you adjust your stop or your profit target or skip a setup altogether because you second guess your strategy? In that case its best if you start off with a semi automated solution rather than a fully automated one. What you need is to build a control panel into your Algo so that as soon as it identifies a trade it pops up a box asking for confirmation to take the trade. At least in this instance you will feel you’re in control while still adhering to your Algo.

Another important reason for having a semi automated solution is that it is an easier transition from manual trading. Going from manual to Algo in one step is quite a jump. If you are used to being in front of charts, placing a trade, watching it, etc. then you will struggle to have confidence in an Algo where you effectively do nothing while it trades for you. What are you going to do with all of your new found free time? Traders often are trapped into feeling that they need to do a day’s work to justify their earnings.

We are all used to the “hard work” mantra and although we know Trading is totally different from any other business out there, we still approach it as though it’s a conventional business. It is unconventional to earn more in one trade than what most people see in a month especially when you consider that the time you put into that trade may have been minutes or hours rather than a full month’s worth of hours! So if you need to feel like you have “worked” then a semi auto solution may be best.

It’s all about efficiency

Isn’t it strange that we normally look for efficient ways to run our businesses yet in trading, the majority of retail traders still trade in the least efficient manner possible i.e. manually? Considering how sophisticated Algos have become now because of Artificial Intelligence it is baffling that most traders still choose to trade the old fashioned way.

Nowadays it’s possible to automate your entries, your risk management, trade progression and many other aspects of trading. So instead of having to rely on calculating how much to risk on a trade manually, you can create a script that calculates what percentage of your account to risk on a trade the moment you hit the buy or sell button. Let’s say you went long and wanted to trail your stop loss every 10 points or below the low of every bar that moves in your favour then you can create a script that does that and switch it on as soon as you are in the trade. In fact even if you want to do your analysis and trade execution manually, you can hit a button to take over from the moment you enter a trade to manage it to a profitable outcome.

One size doesn’t fit all

The overriding message we want to get across is that when it comes to using Algos, one size doesn’t fit all. The best option is to have a fully automated system which also has semi auto options built into it so that if you wanted to use it in that mode then it allows you to do so without having to build a whole new system altogether. The biggest asset we have as traders is our mindset, so It’s very important to find a system that fits your personal trading style until you are comfortable transitioning to a fully automated trading solution.

At EnigmaSignal, all of our trading is run by Algos so it’s interesting when we come across traders who don’t trust Algos totally and prefer to trade manually. What’s interesting to note is that these manual traders are very happy to have a semi automated solution take over a trade once they pull the trigger. I’m pretty convinced that in several months time these guys will want to fully automate their trades once they see it managing their trades efficiently.

What does a semi auto solution look like?

The screen shot below shows what a Semi Auto Algo looks like. It is taken from our main Enigma Algo platform that we run and we built this feature so traders could choose whether to take the trade manually or to auto trade it totally. The menu allows us to customise any settings for a trade such as stop loss placement, targeting and so on. It also allows us to click a button which says “Auto Disabled” to turn it into Semi Auto mode. All a trader needs to do in this mode is hit the “Enter Now” button to take a trade once it sets up. The stop loss and the trade management will then be implemented by the Algo automatically.

Semi automated algo trading system
In the above image, there is a green bar circled at the bottom right section of the chart. This was a valid long trade which would have been entered automatically or flagged up to be entered manually.

One other benefit…

One benefit of semi auto trading is that it allows you to apply discretion in your trade selection. Although discretion can be a bad thing normally as it means you are just reacting to the market without a plan of action, some traders want to be able to skip setups if they feel there is a valid enough reason to. This may not be a bad idea if your Algo is not sophisticated enough to identify changing market conditions and skip certain setups as a result.

You have to remember that it will take a long time and a great deal of sophistication to create a profitable Algo. It took us over 18,000 hours of development over several years to create the Enigma System that we now have, so it’s easy to understand that most people do not have this amount of time or a large reserve to fund such development.


We still maintain that although we have outlined the benefits of semi auto trading, having a sophisticated enough Algo is by far the better option. In the meanwhile, the semi auto option can be a stepping stone. On the other hand it is also fine to give people a choice rather than force them to adopt one approach or another. The main goal of trading is to make consistent profits, so whether you do this in a fully or a semi automated way, just get going with it. If you are looking for institutional level Algos to complement your trading then get in touch with us at or visit to find out more.

Ready to try EnigmaSignal for yourself? Get started today with our 30 Day Trial for USD $99!

Algo trading whilst I sleep and code. It’s here.

Today is a landmark day. It was the first day that I was completely happy to go to sleep at 10pm and let EnigmaSignal Autonomous Trade (TM) run the account for me. Of course, I had set the parameters. Low risk at $10 a pip. Moderate aggression on trade, conservative stops.

I woke up to two nice little trades but “only” 50 pips ahead. OK sanity check time.
Mmmmmm mmmmmm. That’s the life for me. Algo trading. And chilling.

EnigmaSignal Quant Trader (TM) releases soon after 4th July. We’ll keep you informed.

flatline. verb. fail to increase; remain static.

The headline is the dictionary definition of flatline.  In trading terms, it is about right.  That’s pretty much what most markets did today.  I watched none of them as I was busy coding a few enhancements to EnigmaSignal “Quant Trader” (EQT).  Yes, we have a name for the product.  That’s what we have built, a personal quant trader.  A Quant Butler if you like.  Personally, I’d like it called Joe 90 after a hero of my youth (see video below). Brits and Aussies will know why.  Americans probably not so.

The great thing was EQT kept working for us.  Right now we have two nicely profitable algos coded and we have another 4 ready to go.  All well tested and now running with real money.  Anyway….todays trade of the day comes from our HTF50 trade type.  Thats Higher Time Frame (scenario) 50. 

Long and detailed set of rules behind it, but it delivers. 

Usually 2-3 small losses a day and a nice winner.  With a risk/reward setting for us of 2:1 that means it delivers a consistent 50 ticks a day (25 forex pips).  That’s 6525 pips on an annual basis, which we like very much.  And that’s from one trade type.

I ended up as a late entry trade but still delivered 150 ticks or 75 pips.  A nice $570 profit with a maximum risk of $133.  Quite happy with that as a risk-reward.  Notice the stop chases up the trade.  Fully adaptive to market conditions (and also configurable for aggression levels).

The real key?  Would I have taken this trade?  I don’t think I would in all honesty.  I wouldn’t have taken the two losers either, but they totalled 11 pips so no big deal.  In fact, I wouldn’t have traded today and would have been $570 worse off for it. 

As from 10pm UK time, I will up our individual trade limit to $200k on forex and 4 futures contracts.  Two trades at a time but asking EQT to monitor 10 markets.  Something I know a human cannot do (and neither can a scanner!!). 

As ever, happy trading.  I will keep you informed of progress.

Meanwhile, enjoy Joe 90.

An algorithm must be seen to be believed

The above is a quote from Donald Knuth.  He’s an absolute genius computer scientist, mathematician, and professor emeritus at Stanford University.  Now I have seen our auto trader in operation for a couple of weeks, I understand what he means.  It hasn’t had a losing day in 10 days.  I’m wondering how come?  I was expecting at least one.  BUT I have spent hours tuning it to trade for each contract and the results are starting to look cool.

These are two nice trades here.  The only two today on GBPUSD.
The purple dots are entries on the first trade (it adds to a winning position) with a single exit on reaching the target.  That gave us 92 ticks profit.  The second trade was 2 half position entries (marked in orange) and that gave us a 4 tick loss.

This just ONE strategy.  We have five more under test.  And they can all be configured.  For risk, for risk/reward, for a move to breakeven etc etc etc.  It’s a VERY serious tool.

And just for giggles here is GBPAUD making us 141 ticks.  No more trades here either.  This is set to run in conservative mode also (the other modes are moderately aggressive and aggressive).   Keep watching.

We are now testing indices, stocks and of course (and I hasten to add we don’t trade them) cryptos.  So why do them?  Because some people want to.  Our job is trading what we want and enabling our members to trade whatever the heck they want.

We are very close to release date now.  We are testing with REAL money.  24 hours a day.  When we are confident to raise our own trading to $200k clips of forex and 5 S&P then we will release the product simultaneously on Ninja and Sierra.

We’re excited people.

And another long delay to the blog … but its been worth it

Deep apologies.  I have just been crazily busy on the main project for us right now – the Ninja Trader and Sierra Charts ports.  Plus a sneaky bit of trading along the way of course.

Let’s cover off the trading first. That’s easy.  Today was a good day – and its still not over yet as all these positions here are live.  A cheeky little $4000 (£3049) profit on a few positions.  Look below here though and you will see exactly why I am so happy with this trading.

So why am I so happy?  because those positions were all auto traded!!  Yes, AUTO traded. 

I was asleep when the GBP position was taken, which made it even nicer still.  And I was away from my desk when this little puppy was taken too. 

This is EXACTLY as the trade is drawn on screen at the moment (I may change it).  The risk is calculated, the target is.  NOTHING on this chart is manual. 

No trade is taken when we don’t have at least an 87% chance of making the trade work within 4 time periods.  So far in the last 24 hours, we have traded 26 times on an incredibly choppy GBP/USD.  twenty winners and six losers.  Average win is 20 pips.  Average loss 5 pips.  That makes me very happy.  It took trades that I would not have taken, that for sure.  Which is actually good.  Especially on a choppy day. 

Not long now for the release, and frankly I can’t wait.  I think we have something very special here and with only 500 memberships available it’s going to be fun to have a closed community of traders. 

We will be developing new trade types all the while and making it work for everyone.

In the meantime, thanks for you rpatience and apologies I’m not bloggin that often.

When indexes chop, stop.

Being open, today has been a really choppy day on the indexes  I have completely struggled to find an entry that has left me in a trade for longer than 20 or so minutes.  I’ve taken a few S&P points here and there and lost a couple as well.  Basically a break even on the indexes.  A nice day on the Treasuries again for a swift $400 profit.

Days like this happen.   That’s life.  Still a profit but not a good one.  Our new auto-trader (in test for release shortly) would have broken even on the S&P as at the time of writing but made nice profits on GBP/AUD (long).  GBP/AUD is now largely a function of the biggest one-way bet on currencies at the moment – the decline and further decline of the Australian dollar. 

Check this chart out.  This is weekly.  And the price is now in a zone (marked in yellow) where we forecast the price would go as long as NINE weeks ago. 

So where from here?  Goldman Sachs has said it sees the AUD ending the year at 0.72 by year-end.  Well, to be honest, that’s not far off now, is it? We have a row of support at 0.75 on the weekly chart but will it hold?  If it doesn’t then the 0.72 could be this week or next.  That’s a massive decline since February. 

Look at the weekly chart below ….. it says it all.  I’m now shortly going to start assembling a nice long position.  I will start soon (note – SOON, not today).  And with luck the 0.75 level may hold and we can head back towards the 0.79 or higher level,

New trader update – results continue to improve

It’s about 8 weeks since we last mentioned our new 19 year old trader.  Then he was brand new to trading and started off nervously but making small profits every day.  Where are we today?  Well.  Here is his trade screen.  A few tiny losses but a raft of profits. 

You’ll notice the trade summary is from his phone.  Why?  because he trades from the phone.  And he gets his chats from the broadcast unit that we have for all of our traders when they are on the move.  

He started with a $10k account and is averaging 4% per week returns.  That means he gets his money back on EnigmaSignal in just 12 weeks, trading very safely.  What a great way to trade and make a second income?  Way to go Samsung and EnigmaSignal.



Boring day, in NQ for the Long Haul.

‘Twas the day before Non-Farm, and all was still.  Bit of a dull one.  Just the odd 60 points on GBP/AUD.  I’m doing a lot of end of day trading right now.  Perfecting the mechanism for our traders that want to work and make an extra few thousand trading part-time.

My NQ remains long from 6325.  Stop moved to 6528 to lock in just over 200 points.  Will be a nice trade considering I spent 2 minutes entering it and under 1 minute a day managing it.  

Two Hearts

Two hearts, believing in just one mind
Beating together till the end of time

Those are lyrics from a Phil Collins song, for the movie “Buster”, which was, of course,  about The Great Train Robbery.  But it could just as easily have been written about the movements of the S&P and USD/JPY.  These two instruments are highly correlated – in fact, the USD/JPY is almost a proxy for the S&P.  

Have a look at the chart below.  On here you can see the chart shows the S&P500 with the USD/JPY overlayed in blue as a line chart showing the closing price of USD/JPY over the same time period. Notice how they move very closely together.  

Why is this useful information?  Two reasons.

First off, be very careful if you see a chance to trade both of these at the same time.  You could double your profits of course – but your losses will go the same way.  Be patient and trade the chart that looks the best.

Secondly.  If you have a smaller account and trading an eMini is a little rich for you at $50 a point, then trade a smaller amount of USD/JPY.  You’re going to be able to get in on the moves, but with a lower level of risk.  And there is nothing wrong with that.  Consider it a way to build up your account until you are ready to trade the eMini or just keep trading forex. 

Either way, EnigmaSignal will give you high-quality trades.  And plenty of them.