High-Frequency-Trading or HFT is a trading technique using sophisticated numerical algorithms implemented on high-end computers that run the trading orders within milliseconds. The term high frequency originates from this. Compare that to traditional trading houses and banks. As a matter of fact, HFT is still a buzz word and still the term is a mystery and extravaganza.
So what really these HFT algorithms do that makes them so rewarding? So lucrative that multimillion schemes had been undertaken to reduce the network lag time between financial hubs in the United States? In 2006, over 40% of trading orders were the work of HFT companies in the London Stock Exchange alone. In 2006 25% of total orders in the Foreign Exchange markets were generated by HFT!
The HFT algorisms evaluate the market within such tiny period of time that human forex traders will never be able to manage with that speed and that precision.
Computer aided trading has revolutionized the formation of major equity and Forex markets ever since the HFT companies have started. The way liquidity was structured before had a clear directional bias. Today, the market liquidity has increased so much due to the volume of the HFT companies that the brokers offer now prices with 5 digits instead of 4. Some MT4 brokers are even offering quotes in 6 digit pips!
The typical HFT strategies include arbitrage, pair trading and trend following. It comes at no surprise since most of forex traders use speculation based strategies to profit with directional bias.
Usually the HTF has a directional input given by either a human analyst or the algorithm is designed to find the trend by itself.
Once the algorithm figures out the “trend” it will apply certain technical indicators to buy and sell currency but the way the humans do. However, the algorithm may open and close hundreds of orders with a high speed in a low price movement.
For example, human forex scalpers work from five minute charts. As opposed to that, many HFT algorithms trade from a ten second chart where it will try to win 0.02 pips or less compared to typical 20-30 pips profit targets of the human traders.
Although the HTF trading had caught the interest of media and academic finance, we must remember that it is not a “holy grail”.
It is a just an automated strategy that uses smaller timeframes. Since the days of 2008 global financial crisis, the HFT trading has also seen huge losses and there was an article by Nathaniel Popper on the New York times that many HFT firms are indeed struggling to even breakeven now days. In 2012, HFT trading gained only $1.25 billion of profit, almost 75% down from the peak from 2009.
Finally, the trading robots. Do not rush to buy one of those scam-robots being painted with extraordinary profits by the robot-selling websites or automated-forex-trading companies.
Do not forget that the HFT companies have a team of forex analysts to correct and re-adjust the HFT robot the way the racers of Formula 1 drive their car and make no mistakes! Those cars aren't designed for casual driving or cruising down the interstate.
Besides, most likely you do not have that kind of financial resource the HFT companies do.
Finally, even if the HFT algorithm you are using is a real deal, you need an experience in analyzing the forex markets. The HFT is not a holy grail but an extra tool to support your strategies and decisions.
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