The Pros and Cons of Using Forex Robots
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Forex robots are computer programmes that carry out a range of automated trading functions, from telling traders when to trade, to placing and managing trades on behalf of their user.
Forex robots can be programmed to trade around the clock and operate on a set of predetermined trading signals, or triggers for action, which are based on analysis of data.
Forex robots may also be known as FX robots or Automated Trading Systems (ATS).
Forex robots can be readily bought online – and it is not hard to see why traders would be attracted to the idea of installing a programme that will automate trades on their behalf, or send trading signals triggered by constant analysis of the market.
However, before purchasing and running a forex robot, it is important to weigh up the advantages and disadvantages of using an automated system, and to recognise that no forex robot can offer the perfect trading solution. In this article, we explore both the pros and cons of using a forex robot.
Advantages of Using Forex Robots
They Can Trade 24/7
Human traders are usually confined to trading within certain periods of their waking day and will usually have other commitments such as family, work and leisure pursuits. Even the most dedicated forex traders will need to take breaks to eat, drink, sleep and get away from their computer screen.
A forex robot can work continuously with no need for breaks, which means they will be watching and acting on the market at all times, so you never miss an opportunity.
They Are Not Influenced by Human Emotions
Forex robots operate on a set of pre-determined rules and they will stick to this no matter what.
When humans are trading money it can be hard for them to overcome emotions, such as fear and greed, and their own biases and assumptions. This can lead them to hesitate, prevent them from taking trades, push them into making the wrong trades or hold their position for too long.
Even when traders have a firm strategy in place it can be hard for them to think critically and objectively in the heat of the moment. An automated system removes the risk that human emotions can bring to trading.
They Can Work Faster and More Effectively
A forex robot can scan the markets, find opportunities based on pre-determined parameters and carry out trades according to its rules, all in a matter of seconds. A human trader doing this manually is likely to take much longer and may miss opportunities, or waste time making decisions or entering an order.
They Can Operate More Complex and Sophisticated Trading Strategies
Robots are much better at multi-tasking than humans, so using an automated system allows traders to have multiple conditions for things like entries and exits, stop-loss orders and profit targets, all operating simultaneously. Forex robots can also monitor multiple currency pairs at the same time.
They Make Backtesting Easier and Faster
Backtesting is the process of testing out possible trading strategies against historical data and using this data to optimise a chosen strategy. Done manually, it is complex and time-consuming.
However, forex robots can download, store and analyse large amounts of historical data, allowing traders to measure the effectiveness of different strategies before applying them to the live market.
Anyone Can Use Them to Get Started With Forex Trading
The easy availability of forex robots means you do not have to be an expert to get one up and running on your computer and start trading forex.
You should always thoroughly research any automated trading system that you are considering buying and try it out on a demo account before moving onto the live market. But using a forex robot can help you to dip your toe in the water, while freeing up your time to study forex and trading in more depth.
Disadvantages of Using Forex Robots
You Need a Strong and Constant Internet Connection
Forex robots must be run on a good computer with a reliable connection to the internet. Any delays or faults in the server could cause glitches or prompt the robot to trade incorrectly.
And like any other computer software, they could also be affected by hackers and viruses.
They Have No Capacity for Human Thought or Imagination
Successful forex traders bring a breadth of skills and knowledge to the table, applying research, analytical thinking, observation, and a certain amount of imagination and creativity to predict how markets may evolve in the near future.
Forex robots can only operate based on how they were originally programmed and their past performance, which can put them at a disadvantage to human traders.
They Are Not Good at Reading and Interpreting Fundamental Data
Forex robots are good at technical analysis, which involves reading historical market statistics and price charts to predict what might happen in the future. But they are not so helpful when it comes to fundamental analysis.
Fundamental analysis is a method of evaluating the value of an asset by looking at external circumstances and influences, such as economic or political events and industry trends.
While a human can keep abreast of what is going on in the outside world and how this might affect the markets, a quick reverse in the market caused by a sudden extreme event could severely affect a robot’s capacity to trade effectively.
They Are Vulnerable to Non-Trending Markets
Forex robots are designed to find positive trends and trading signals in the market and to act on those. This is fine if the market is trending – if the price is generally moving in one direction. But if the market becomes choppy or sideways – when the price movement is horizontal – a robot’s functionality can be affected.
Most Forex Robots Are Scalpers
Forex scalping is a trading method that involves holding currency pairs for a short period to make numerous small profits. Generally, small price movements occur throughout the day and scalpers take advantage of this by opening and closing a large number of positions within one day. The aim is to make small gains of perhaps 5 to 20 pips per trade (a pip is the unit of change in a currency pair).
The majority of forex robots operate on a similar system, setting a target of just a few pips on every position they take.
As well as deciding if this method of trading will be profitable for you in the long term, you will also have to check your broker’s policy on scalping as not all will allow it. And you will need to confirm that your broker's spreads (the difference between the bid price and the ask price) are low enough for your chosen robot to work effectively.
There Is a Risk of Data-Mining Bias
Data-mining bias is where an analyst repeatedly searches sample data until a pattern is found, resulting in undue significance being given to a market event that was perhaps caused by chance or an unforeseen set of circumstances.
In the same way, commercial forex robots tend to pick one backtest (the process of testing a trading strategy against historical data) out of hundreds and present it to the trader as the most likely outcome even though the findings may not have been tested thoroughly enough.
They May Be a Scam
It is important to be aware that forex robot scams are not uncommon, so you should be very careful about who you buy any software from. Even those that are sold in good faith may be badly designed and not live up to your expectations.
Make sure you do plenty of research before making any purchase and remember, if the promises of overnight riches sound too good to be true, they probably are.
As this article makes clear, while there are many benefits to using a forex robot, there are also significant disadvantages. It is no surprise that opinion is divided over the effectiveness of these kinds of automated trading software systems.
Ultimately, it is up to each trader to weigh up the pros and cons before deciding whether a forex robot is right for them. And even if you do decide that a forex robot will work for you, you should be aware that it is almost definitely not the route to quick and easy wealth.
It is tempting to believe that you can simply sit back while an automated system does all the work for you. However, if this was the case forex robot developers would be getting rich by using them themselves, rather than selling them.
A well-chosen forex robot may have a place as part of your trading strategy but you should not depend on it entirely. Successful trading requires human skill and effort that no robot can replace.
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