Stock trading software development for TradeSmith

Stock trading software development for TradeSmith

Itransition delivered a set of financial technology tools for individual investors to monitor investments, analyze stock behavior, and manage risks. The core product of the ecosystem, TradeStops, has 30,000+ users managing $20 billion in portfolio value.

Case study

Stock trading software development for TradeSmith

Challenge

Our customer, TradeSmith, is one of the largest US-based providers of online investment and market research tools for individual investors and traders. Their products help create custom equity portfolios, monitor the market changes, and make a profit by selling or buying at the right time.

The company’s CEO, Dr. Richard Smith, came up with the idea of launching an investment portfolio management platform, their flagship product today, more than a decade ago. The customer’s major goal was to attract 20,000 active users at first and strengthen the company’s position on the US investment management market.

Itransition’s understanding of the financial market and experience in financial software development became the decisive factor for the customer to entrust the project to our team.

As the project was evolving, the customer was voicing new ideas for additional products, and the project scope gradually expanded. In addition to the investment management platform, Itransition went on to deliver a desktop tool for financial statistics visualization, a mobile application for investment portfolio management, a web portal for cryptocurrency investment management, and other products that altogether form a multifunctional ecosystem covering all aspects of equity and cryptocurrency investment management.

Solution

The solution delivered by Itransition is a suite of web, desktop and mobile applications that process global stock trading data. The software provides individual investors with financial technology tools to monitor investments, analyze stock behavior, and manage investment risks.

TradeStops

The core product of the ecosystem, TradeStops, is a web application for automated investment portfolio management based on the proprietary TradeSmith trading strategies. It helps individual investors make informed decisions based on actual stock data, with their investment portfolios imported from online brokers in one click or created manually.

TradeStops supports almost every US-based brokerage services and the majority of Canadian ones, with new brokerage services added upon users’ requests. Integrated with multiple stock data service providers, the solution allows users to continuously track equities, funds, indices, and options in the USA, as well as get data on equities in Canada, the UK, Australia, and Germany.

TradeStops: All Investments dashboard

As soon as portfolios are built, users can estimate and manage their investments by leveraging tracking, investment analysis, and alerts features. For displaying all investments, Itransition’s team developed a dashboard that includes a set of widgets displaying total gain, daily gain, positions in the green zone, the performance of all equities, portfolio risk quotient, and other metrics. As the widgets got positive feedback from users, Itransition’s team added similar dashboards to other products within the ecosystem.

TradeStops users have access to different sets of tools depending on their subscription plans:

  • The basic plan comes with 200 alerts and manual portfolio tracking.
  • The plus plan offers advanced original algorithms and 300 alerts.
  • The premium plan includes 400 alerts, a portfolio volatility analyzer, a one-click risk rebalancer, and advanced asset allocation in addition to all the features of the basic and plus plans.
  • The pro plan offers an additional tool—Pure Quant—that allows users to create a portfolio from scratch with calculated investment sizes. A user with the pro subscription can choose the source to pick the best stock options from.

Risk management alerts (entry signals, price alerts, time alerts, option alerts, etc.) make part of the solution to notify users on the best investment opportunities.

Today, the system generates over two million transactional emails per month. It is scalable enough to operate flawlessly regardless of the user base size.

TradeStops: Alerts
TradeStops: Risk rebalancer
TradeStops: Position card

The tools developed by our team include:

  • Stock analyzer for analyzing a single stock or an entire portfolio and let users see where their investments stand in relation to their best trailing stops.
  • Volatility quotient analyzer for analyzing the entire portfolio's risks based on the volatility quotients of each position. The volatility quotient acts as a customized trailing stop for each stock within the TradeStops database.
  • Stock state indicator for indicating the position of any stock in relation to the implemented trading algorithms.
  • Position size calculator for calculating the optimal size of an investment.
  • Magic calculator for analyzing single position risks.
  • Asset allocation for showing how diversified users’ portfolios are across different industries and sectors within the market area.
  • Portfolio charts for visualizing the price history for all open positions in a portfolio.
  • Research charts for comparing various trailing stop percentages to the performance of the equity under the research.
  • Pure quant for creating an optimized, risk-balanced portfolio with the help of the algorithm that reviews the performance of selected stock.

To keep the financial data up to date, we delivered Nightly Update Services—a set of services and console utilities that are launched automatically according to a predefined schedule. They get updates from the integrated data providers. Users can launch these services simultaneously on several servers and ensure a multi-threaded re-count of statistics and emailing for faster delivery of alerts when the stock prices go up or down.

The TradeStops portal is integrated with the following services:

  • SIX—open-high-low-close prices, corporate news, bank holidays.
  • EDI—data on securities, corporate actions, and pricing.
  • EDGAR Online—companies’ and billionaires’ quarterly reports, financial funds reports.
  • XE—exchange rates.
  • Pinnacle—consolidated end of day/intraday stock trading data, as well as information on important corporate events and transformations.
  • Plaid and Envestnet | Yodlee—data on portfolios and equities of broker accounts. This integration ensures the synchronization of users’ broker accounts with TradeStops. We integrated the solution with both services because Plaid and Envestnet | Yodlee support different broker accounts.
  • A custom Salesforce-based CRM system—user subscriptions and payment management.
  • TradeIt—orders for buying and selling equities issued directly from TradeStops.

As the solution depends on integrations with third-party data providers, Itransition’s specialists researched the option of making it vendor-agnostic. Previously, in order to switch to another data provider or work with several providers simultaneously, the customer had to create an additional system level that would translate data from any provider into the system’s format or set up custom APIs to perform particular operations, such as creating a portfolio or a position. To easily add and change data providers, we launched the proprietory TradeStops API, a uniform entry point into the TradeStops suite.

Other technologies

After the launch of the TradeStops platform in 2008, Itransition continued with stock trading software development to extend the suite. We delivered a set of apps and tools for monitoring the financial market and managing investment portfolios:

2013
  • Right Way Charts—a Windows-based desktop tool for visualizing financial statistics. The tool serves for creating customized charts on equities, combining multiple data sources in a single chart, placing automatic data labels, exporting images in a variety of formats, saving selected charts online, etc.
  • Portfolio Tracker—a B2B portal for managing, exporting, and visualizing financial portfolios. The portal enables creating and managing notifications according to predefined criteria.
Adding regular positions in Portfolio Tracker
2018
  • Ideas by TradeSmith—a web app for the US stock market analysis. It allows users to search for stocks according to the selected parameters, displaying stocks optimal for investment.
The Ideas dashboard
  • Crypto by TradeSmith—a SaaS tool for identifying cryptocurrencies investment opportunities and managing the created portfolio. It helps users understand whether it is reasonable to invest in cryptocurrencies at a given time.
A single cryptocurrency position
2019
  • Cycles by TradeSmith—a web-based application that performs market time-cycle analysis for individual investors. The application identifies the time of market ups and downs and provides insights into individual stocks, cryptocurrencies, commodities, etc.
Cycles dashboard
  • TradeStops Mobile—a mobile app providing access to the latest financial market news and enabling investment management on the go. It helps users create portfolios to monitor the equities of their prioritized companies, following relevant news, and getting a snapshot of the global financial market.
Investing strategies and news
Triggered alerts and the stock watchlist

Technologies

The system architecture is represented by a web part, which consists of multiple web servers, and a database. The web apps are built with the ASP.NET MVC framework along with HTML, CSS, jQuery, Knockout, and Vue.js, which form the presentation layer. The mobile app is Xamarin-based. Microsoft SQL Server was utilized as the database management system. We chose Highcharts and Highstock to implement interactive charts.

TradeStops and Crypto by TradeSmith are built with Knockout. For other products that were developed after them, Itransition’s team chose Vue.js as it turned out to be simpler to integrate and more flexible than Knockout. For this very reason, TradeStops and Crypto by TradeSmith are currently being migrated to Vue.js.

As all the apps and tools belong to the same functional domain, Itransition’s developers actively use shared components in their stock trading software development with an eye to uniting all of the customer’s products into a single platform in the future. Using shared components cuts down the development time, simplifies the software support, and enhances the suite’s performance.

Process

Itransition is TradeSmith’s exclusive technology partner responsible for every task, including business analysis, development, QA, and DevOps. In total, 30 specialists are working on the projects, including frontend and backend developers, developers responsible for R&D and integrations, a mobile app developer, a DevOps engineer, QA engineers, a business analyst, and a project manager.

There is a set of activities that our team performs to deliver new features:

  1. A/B testing to get early user feedback. For example, when we released the brand-new version of the position card, we offered users to choose between its old and new versions. Some users decided to go back to the old one. We collected their feedback and analyzed the aspects they didn’t like in the new version. After that, we tweaked the new version according to the users’ suggestions and disabled the old one.
  2. Heatmaps to analyze the way users interact with the system. For all new features, we utilize Crazy Egg to analyze users’ journeys. After processing the results, we understand how we can optimize the existing UI.
  3. Surveys to analyze user experience. End users answer specific questions on how they interact with the products and how convenient it is to perform market operations with particular tools.
  4. Webinars to demonstrate the functionality ready to be deployed in the production environment and answer users’ questions in real time.

The development is based on the Scrum methodology with daily online meetings. It provides the customer with a clear vision of the project flow while allowing us to gather regular feedback and adjust project workflows to new requirements.

R&D activities

To minimize risks and increase the profitability of users’ investments, the customer challenged Itransition with creating a research and development team. It consists of two financial analysts and two developers. Together they elaborate new analytical algorithms for automated trading along with optimizing risks, tracking investment profitability, and increasing the chances of profit. When developing new tools, Itransition’s researchers test them on real broker accounts.

DevOps enablement

Initially, the project was deployed on the customer’s SVN servers. We have moved to Bitbucket, leveraging the benefits of Gitflow and a version control system. We moved the project to virtual machines on the hosting provider’s side (Ntirety), so now adding or replacing a server takes just two hours instead of a week. When the customer launches marketing campaigns and expects an increased server load, we can quickly add several new servers to cope with it. We used Jenkins to set up CI/CD workflows for faster feature delivery and timely analysis of user feedback.

Besides, we automated certain routine tasks, such as adding new stock symbols to the system (market capitalization, open, high, low, price-to-earnings ratio, etc.), which previously could only be added manually. To facilitate this workflow, we have created scripts and integrated them with Jenkins, so that L1 support specialists could add the symbols without involving developers in the process.

Itransition’s team also automated the delivery of changes to staging environments to cut down the developers’ manual work. Now the developers get access to an updated environment right after the QA engineers complete automated tests.

Itransition’s DevOps engineer set up Zabbix-based system monitoring. Apart from enabling the monitoring of the servers operation and log errors, we implemented more than 100 business rules that constantly check if the system corresponds to the defined standards.

Support services

To serve thousands of investors, TradeSmith decided to launch a customer service system that would allow users to report any issues with the solutions and get instant assistance from support managers. Itransition’s specialists suggested integrating Zendesk, enabling:

  • An easy way for users to create issue tickets via a contact form on the website and track their status.
  • A single space for the support team to instantly view and process user requests, and track the time spent on resolving issues to further optimize the customer service.
  • Links to FAQs and articles prompted to users as soon as they start typing the issue description, which reduces the number of registered tickets.

Itransition’s specialists also configured and upgraded the database server software, evaluated the database performance, established and maintained backup solutions. We also gather parameters for the company’s internal audit and create the security baseline checklist that includes requirements for server operation, software monitoring and backup, access and authentication, application and code development specifications.

If the monitoring system logs an error, it sends a notification to Itransition’s support engineers. We provide 24/7 support services, so any problem gets fixed right away. It takes us from 5 to 15 minutes to detect an issue and start working on it.

QA & testing

To ensure the solution’s stable performance, Itransition’s QA team carried out functional testing, mobile testing, integration testing on third-party services and data providers, as well as cross-browser and cross-platform testing. Bug fixing resulted in nearly 100% successful tests after the final release of TradeStops. To cut the testing costs, the QA team developed 2,500 automated tests run daily.

User adoption

To improve usability and facilitate users’ interaction with the products, Itransition’s UX/UI specialist implemented the following features:

  • Hints and tips
  • Main tabs and buttons
  • Video guides to analytical tools
  • An interactive ‘Getting Started’ guide

User onboarding is powered by WalkMe. Through this service, new users get to know the solution features by following a step-by-step guide. The built-in hints describe the product components in detail and explain how to use them. Users can go through all the introduction steps or skip them. When new features are deployed to the solution, users get informed about the updates through pop-up notifications.

TradeStops: alerts-related tips
TradeStops: portfolio-related tips

Results

Itransition’s team took up stock trading software development and delivered an investment portfolio tracking and management ecosystem for TradeSmith. By offering analytical tools, real-time stock data monitoring, and an alert system, the delivered solution allows individual investors to keep up with the stock markets and adjust their investments smartly while avoiding risks and boosting gains.

Shortly after the solution’s launch, TradeStops attracted over 30,000 active users. The total value of portfolios managed via TradeStops exceeds $20 billion. Itransition continues collaborating with the customer, working on enhancing and supporting TradeStops as well as delivering new products.

Our experience with Itransition was very positive and extremely professional. Itransition is a very reliable company capable of foreseeing our development needs. There were several occasions when the final product came out in a way that actually produced a better solution than we had planned for. Besides the product, we received a long lasting technology partner.

Richard Smith, PhD

TradeSmith, USA