Keener, Rob, Futures (Cedar Falls, IA)
Fidelity Active Trader Services
OVERALL RATING: Excellent
LEVEL: Beginner to advanced.
PRICE: The software costs $650 without the data or trading functionality. Wealth-Lab Pro, with free data and trading functionality, is available free to customers who place 120 trades or more in a rolling 12-month period and have $25,000 in assets.
RECOMMENDED SYSTEM: Broadband Connection, 1 GHz Processor, 512 Mb Ram, Windows 2000/XP.
The number of auto execution programs available is growing exponentially and it's almost expected for a clearing house to be able to produce a sophisticated strategy testing application and execution platform at the drop of a hat. What if you don't want to support the development of a totally new application? You could just buy a sound platform and integrate it into your operational scheme. That's exactly what Fidelity has done with Wealth-Lab Pro.
Wealth-Lab was reviewed about 18 months ago ("Wealth-Lab Developer 3.0," April 2004) and since then a number of things have changed in the Wealth-Lab Pro version. Fidelity has made the ability to trade from signals generated in Wealth-Lab a reality. The trading functionality was missing before but is there in full form now. You can trade portfolios with money management overlays based on set allocations and risk parameters as well as multiple strategies at the same time.
An additional change is the graphical user interface, which has been enhanced and is user friendly and intuitive. There's something to be said for tools that are easy to use and this is one of them. If any questions come up you can just zip to the help feature in the software and the bulk of questions will be answered there. The technical support is top notch and answers quickly, an additional change from the previous e-mail-only support.
The installation was easy enough and the program operates quite well without any abnormal outages or crashes. This is basically what you'd expect but it's not always a reality.
DATA MANAGEMENT Excellent
Wealth-Lab lets you automatically download free end-of-day data from financial Web sites like MSN Money, Yahoo Finance and Wall Street City. The software also supports many commercial data formats including MetaStock, TC2000 and QuotesPlus. Wealth-Lab offers native support for several real-time data vendors including eSignal and Real-Tick. You can access other intraday data through custom protocols.
It is invariably hard to import Ascii data into charting programs, whatever the product. There always seems to be some glitch regarding delimiters, fields, headers and so forth. Wealth-Lab offers a unique Data Wizard that makes importing Ascii files easy. This feature is one of many small but welcome details that underscore the planning and thought behind this product.
CHARTING AND SCANNING Excellent
Wealth-Lab's main claim to fame is portfolio-level simulation, but the software's charting features are rich and fully realized. You can choose among nine charting formats including standard bar, line, candlestick and point-and-figure. More exotic charting modes include Kagi, Renko, EquiCandle and other formats. The accessible menu structure makes it easy to customize charts by font, color, scaling, spacing and text. You can plot over any time interval ranging from monthly to tick data. …