Option Alpha’s New Auto-Trading Platform Updates

Important Note: This post will be the central hub for updates on the new platform. It’ll be updated as needed and as new milestones are hit and/or when feedback is requested. The newest updates will be added to the top of the post with older updates pushed lower for reference. We encourage you to bookmark this page and come back often!

October 8th, 2019

Bot Decision Trees

Been a bit since we’ve updated but we as we’ve mentioned earlier, much of the focus for auto-trading has been back-end development. Hence, there wasn’t much to “show” visually. We are now making great progress on the front-end (yeah!) which means we will continue to add more screenshots as we roll out changes.

Today I wanted to highlight the new framework for building bots or automations using decision trees. This framework is super simple, extremely intuitive to use, and will also allow you to create hundreds of possible combinations of blocks. More importantly, we can scale this functionality in automating trading activities into vastly more powerful setups.

Decisions can have any number of possible “Outcomes” or child actions. Each possible outcome has its own “Criteria” to match for it to be chosen (imagine if/else > < etc). The VIX example above is just a simple example of how decision trees will work. In this case, “Low” checks if VIX is below some configurable value (say 15), “high” above another value (say 25). It’s this blend of powerful tech with a simple to use and edit interface which makse the new platform so incredible!

July 16th, 2019

Show #160 Podcast Interview w/ Team

This week we jumped on the podcast with a couple of our leadership team members to answer questions, comments, and discuss the new platform updates. It was a fun, long discussion that I know you’ll find helpful and as always if you have follow up questions let us know! Enjoy the show…

July 2nd, 2019

Questions/Comments Request for Upcoming Podcast w/ Development Team

We wanted to do something a little different this week on the upcoming weekly podcast (Show #160) and bring on a couple of our team members for you all to meet. Since we have continued to get a bunch of requests for updates on the new platform, auto-trading, backtesting, forum improvements, etc. we thought it might be best actually to have the whole gang (or most of them) together to talk about where we are, what we are working on, and what you can expect moving forward. But that’s not all…

With this goal in mind, we are opening up the floor to you all and would love to hear your questions, feedback, concerns, etc. in the comments below. We’ll be recording the new episode with our team in the next few days so please get your questions and comments added now below. On the podcast, we’ll answer as many of them as humanly possible to help give clarity to the new platform.

The goal is simple; give you all, our community of traders, yet another look inside the rollout of the updated website and trading platform we’ve been tirelessly working on for years now. Although we have posted updates to our PRO/ELITE members during strategy calls and updates inside our Facebook Community, it’s time we created a central hub of updates going to continue to reference. This post will now be that central hub you can continue to review and come back to if you want the latest update.

Over the next few days, I’ll come back in here and “backfill” prior updates aggregated from social media posts we did previously so you don’t have to go looking for them ;). Until then, please use this time to quickly add your comment or question in the section below. Remember that all comments go to moderation for me to reply to or approve for the post so please don’t feel the need to post multiple times.

Talk soon and happy trading!

Older Backlog 2019

Consolidated Prior Updates

As promised above, I’m consolidating some of the updates and notes we have sent out previously to members and via social media. Much of this might be a repeat if you’ve been following along but I’m also adding into current context for any tweaks or updates as it stands now. As always, the design and function of the platform are subject to change in the future. Also, the list below is in no particular order.

“Learn” Tab/Section

I described this new framework a while back to members but the new Option Alpha platform is going to be re-organized into 4 main tabs or sections: Learn, Ideas, Trade, Follow. Everything will flow from these main areas which we painstakingly decided on for many months. We went back and forth many times on figuring out the best possible outcome for you all in reducing friction and choice while also not compromising on function and clarity. Ultimately, I’m super excited about this framework for our platform as our entire team feels that it gives you all the best possible navigation clarity and ease of use that we are after.

The first and arguably most important tab is the “Learn” section. Education is the foundation of everything we preach and teach here at Option Alpha so it should come as no surprise that we are doubling down on improving this aspect of the platform. We’ve collected tons and tons of feedback and feature requests from members over the past 2 years and have completely re-built the entire Learning Management System (LMS). This custom platform is very cool (actually that’s probably an understatement) and helps you manage your own personal journey through the courses.

No particular order or focus but inside you’ll be able to:

Track your progress on courses with much-needed navigation improvement. Easily pick back up mid-video from where you left off.

Create a “My List” of favorited or saved content to review later on. Easily toggle between tracks, courses, podcasts, answers, and articles.

Quickly find answers to those burning questions neatly categorized by topic. Or search the entire platform easily for specific topics or videos.

We also implemented some amazing “tagging” technology. Anyone can use tags inside the content or comments and immediately you’ll be able to see a categorized list of content with that tag. For example, #short-straddle pulls up these 4 videos right now.

All of the regular functionality you would expect has been upgraded and synchronized as well. Things like transcripts, commenting, following of posts or videos all are done seamlessly with your account.

“Ideas” Tab/Section

This section was actually a rather new addition following our team meetup in Florida earlier this year. Previously we were going to jam some of these sections into “other” spots on the platform. But, we all decided, thankfully, to create a new tab called “Ideas”. And honestly, I’m not sure why we didn’t just think of this in the first place but one of the core complaints we hear from traders is that they “have a hard time finding ideas and trades.” So, why not try to centralize all the possible ideas from the community, or your own scans and backtesting, into a single area for you to review?

The “Backtester” tab is the future version of our Toolbox PLUS software and has already undergone a major overhaul. We’ve added tickers, new and updated data from the recent periods, as well as expanded the list of possible strategies to test to including strategies such as short calls, short puts, long calls, long puts, etc. The biggest overhaul was completely re-coding the software to accept data updates on a more frequent basis. This means we’ll be able to update the databases with new data much quicker than ever before.

And while everything above probably sounds great, what’s really exciting is that everything is now archived so that the best strategies naturally filter to the top if you’re interested. We’ve been able to see this aggregate data on our end for many years now through research reports like the Profit Matrix. But what we are doing now is offering you all the ability to crowdsource this intelligence in real-time.

“Trade” Tab/Section

The trade tab is a beast and would come as no surprise is the area of focus for us right now. With so much possible functionality and security/compliance hurdles to cross; we’re continuing to do some very deep and heavy coding on the backend before we start turning to the design. Essentially, our team has been working non-stop on building the engine and transmission (to use a car analogy) before we get to painting the car. This work is very important and is required so that we can quickly handle more than 160k users logging in and trading at one-time. We want to deliver a high-quality product and we much rather compromise the delivery date than to deliver something that is half baked.

Performance Journal/Stats

One area that has been highly requested is the ability to track your performance and see your own trading stats. It’s been impressive watching our users band together to find a solution for tracking the Option Alpha portfolio. I’ve seen everything from Excel spreadsheets to Google Drive to Miro. It’s no simple task for any options trader.

As I said before, our goal is to reduce friction and provide solutions where there is a need. So we’re doing both. You’ll notice on the screenshot below that we are opening up two new software features: Stats & Journal. The Journal sync seamlessly with your TD Ameritrade account. No downloading CVS files and importing them. Just click Sync and your new transactions flow in. From here you can group, categorize, re-arrange and add notes as you see fit. It’s your trading “journal” and seems to be the perfect fit for what we know everyone needs.

I will also be posting the full OA portfolio publicly, along with historical history, on the new Stats & Journal, which will be updated in real time as new trades are placed.

Note: This is just using a current dummy test account screenshot above so we could test the functionality and tracking of all types of trading strategies. Naturally, I do not trade long call options so we had to create a test account to do testing and tracking like this.

“Follow” Tab/Section

The Follow section I believe will be where many traders spend their time during the workday when not trading. The concept behind the Follow section has always been to supercharge the community and our individual members by allowing you to connect and share ideas and trades easily. Maybe you’re a super risky long call option buyer (like one of our team members tends to be) and so you naturally want to follow people who do that type of trading. Maybe you prefer covered calls and short puts.

Whatever the case, our goal is to be the platform that helps you connect and share ideas with other traders. There have been many platforms for connecting traders before but what makes Option Alpha different is going to be the integration of community along with these trading tools and auto-trading functionality from one platform. It’s going to be awesome!

Upgraded Forum/Community

High on the list for us was a complete upgrade and overhaul of the current forum software. So we built our own from the ground up which means it’s integrated into everything else on the platform. We’ve also narrowed the discussion channels to the critical few below which can help focus on the right area for posting or commenting.

Membership Pricing/Cost

Pricing for Option Alpha as a whole will change when the new platform is first released. The main 3 membership levels will remain in place (FREE, PRO, ELITE) but the most noticeable change will be the removal of the Lifetime Membership choice. In addition, we will no longer be offering the Toolbox LITE or PLUS software on the basis of a one-time purchase. Naturally, anyone currently in the Lifetime Membership and/or have already purchased the Toolbox LITE or PLUS will be grandfathered in and we will honor our prior commitments and you will not have to re-purchase or be charged in the future as promised when you first signed up.

With the removal of one-time purchase access for software like backtesting and the watch list, the future Option Alpha platform will include tools like backtesting and auto-trading (as well as others we haven’t yet released) as part of the monthly PRO or ELITE membership. In essence, we are moving to a much simpler and streamlined model for pricing. We have yet to determine the exact specifications on which level will include which functionality so I’ll leave that for a future update and we’ll give you plenty of time to review this before launching.

Research Report Pricing

Research reports will be the only remaining area in which we will continue to charge for individual access. For example, as we roll out new research reports you’ll still be able to purchase the ones you are interested in on an a la carte basis and have them added to your profile inside Option Alpha. We feel this is the best approach given that some people may or may not want to purchase research and therefore are keeping them as a separate category so that you can make the choice for yourself.

Brokerages & Integrations

The initial launch will integrate directly with TD Ameritrade only. We’ve recently renewed our agreement with TD Ameritrade yet again to continue our long-standing relationship with them for this launch. This means that you will need TD Ameritrade account in order to connect and trade through Option Alpha. If you do not have one, you will still be able to access the platform, tools, scanners, bots, etc. you just won’t be able to place trades directly on Option Alpha.

We are continuously open to connecting with other brokers in the future though many that have been requested at the current time do not even have a public API available. Tastyworks and Robinhood, for example, both do not currently offer a public API by which we could connect. Interactive Brokers is not and will not be supported until they produce a Web API that can sufficiently scale to a user base as large as ours. If any of this changes in the future, which we expect it might, we’d love to consider adding more choices at that time.

*****

Whoa – that was a lot to digest (and to write out). But I hope this mini-update helped give you some more insight into the new platform from the inside. Option Alpha is built by options traders, for options traders. Period. If we won’t use it, we don’t build it. As always, we welcome your comments and questions below. Just do me a favor and review previous comments before posting one just to make sure we haven’t already addressed the question or topic already. This helps me save time and consolidate the responses for everyone.

About The Author

Kirk Du Plessis

Kirk founded Option Alpha in early 2007 and currently serves as the Head Trader. In 2018, Option Alpha hit the Inc. 500 list at #215 as one of the fastest growing private companies in the US. Formerly an Investment Banker in the Mergers and Acquisitions Group for Deutsche Bank in New York and REIT Analyst for BB&T Capital Markets in Washington D.C., he's a Full-time Options Trader and Real Estate Investor. He's been interviewed on dozens of investing websites/podcasts and he's been seen in Barron’s Magazine, SmartMoney, and various other financial publications. Kirk currently lives in Pennsylvania (USA) with his beautiful wife and three children.