Sierra Chart Review

Sierra Chart is actually a great “value for money” trading platform. It is one of those hidden gems that most of the retail public doesn't know about. I remember going to the website and being highly skeptical.

I’m not going to lie – the website is pretty amateur looking as if a high school student made it after learning some html in a computer science class. 

Nevertheless, I tried it out and actually thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

Other than the HUGE variety of features, the main thing that I was impressed with was the availability of TPO charting which is essentially a market profile charting technique. This is used primarily by traders basing their trading strategy on auction market theory. It was the only platform I could find that offered an affordable alternative to getting market profile. 

Yes, the site is ghetto looking but I believe it's because a group of very intelligent engineers/programmers made it without hiring a creative mind for the marketing. All the content is there...but they could use a few more images to help visualize things.

The services they are offer are extremely robust - depending on what you want, it could take some time learning all the features. 


Simply put, the out-of-the-box experience looks ghetto, but under the hood it is an amazing piece of software. It's like the girl that on the outside looks meh but all she needs is a wardrobe makeover, a hair stylist and a touch of make up and she is actually super pretty with a smoking body. 

Asset Classes     All

Ease of Use     3 / 5

Charting     5 / 5

Value for Money     5 / 5

Customer Support     1 / 5


Cost

Sierra Chart is not a day trading platform that you can buy. The only option is to lease it.

You will need to add data cost from your broker plus the Sierra Chart package cost in order to determine your total costs to trade. Fortunately, a lot of the popular big broker names provide a data feed at no charge when you set up an account with them.

PACKAGE MONTHLY COST*

#1 $20.00

#2 $9.00

#3 $27.00

#5 $40.00

*Nope - I did not miss package #4...not sure what these guys were smoking when implementing their cost structure. There simply is no #4 package.

All packages offer standard features and trading functionality (even all offer Bitcoin Trading/Data Services if interested). Package #2 is the bare minimum offering just these items. Below are the main add-ons included in the other packages.

In brief go with Package #1 or #5. Try out package #1 if you just need regular platform functionality. If you find you need more historical data upgrade to #3. Or if you want to trade market profile charts go with #5.

I find the value for money really comes from package #5 with the TPO/Market profile charts. Other platforms have excessive costs for this type of charting.


Package #1

Same as package #2 but also has:

  • Real-time and historical forex and CFD data service
  • Support for External Services (these are external data/services provided from other entities such as data feeds from your broker) 

Package #2

Bare minimum - don't see a point in getting the platform if you will just be leasing this package.

  • Standard features

  • Trading Functionality

Pacakge #3

Same as Package #1 but also includes:

Additional Features:

  • Advanced Graph Draw types – bid ask volume bars, price volume bars, candle price volume bars

  • Alerts for chart drawing

  • 8 chart drawing configurations rather than 1

In my opinion, a lot of these additional features are not a make it or break it decision (i.e. might as well stick with Package #1)

Sierra Chart Historical data service

This feature adds additional historical data support to limited historical data provided by external trading services. This depends on the broker but if your broker provides enough historical data then this feature is not that useful to you either.

Package #3 does not therefore seem to provide that much more added benefit from Package #1. Then again its only $7/month more expensive. If you wish to save money, package #1 could be better for you.

Package #5

Comprehensive list of services offered.

Same as Package #3 but includes the following:

  • TPO Chart Study

  • Number Bars

  • Volume Profile Drawing tool

The big selling point for this package is the TPO charts and volume profile charts provided. This option is great if you want an affordable alternative to getting access to market profile charts. MarketDelta which offers leading software in market profile charting costs over $100/month. Sierra Chart was the best option I found without paying sizable fees.

 


Advantages

General

  • Great value for money; low cost yet highly robust platform 

  • 300+ fully customizable technical studies and indicators 
    There is a large amount of studies you can download from their library or even program your own

  • Use simple or advanced alert conditions either on studies or main price chart
    Alerts can play sound, are logged, and an email message can also be sent 

  • Trading DOM with full functionality (most commonly used with futures trading)

  • Single click order entry/modification/cancellation

  • Unlike some other platforms, Sierra Chart allows multiple trading accounts to be connected into the platform at no additional cost. 

  • You can create a trading system for automated trading using an excel spreadsheet.

    There is big learning curve to it and they explain a lot of it on their actual site. You can even set up alerts for conditions met on the spreadsheet that trigger buy/sell signals. 

Charting

  • Historical charts with bar periods from 1 day to 1 year or any specified # of days

  • Intraday charts with bar periods from seconds, minutes, hours, days

  • 18 Different Graph draw types (includes anything from candlestick to Kagi, X-O, TPO)

  • Key Charting Feature: Offer advanced TPO Profile charts (a.k.a. Market Profile) 

    This type of chart is popular in futures trading. I think it is a fantastic charting tool offering deeper analysis than simple candle charts.

    Usually brokers don't offer this type of charting and platforms that do, you have to pay A LOT of money for this. With Sierra Chart it comes with the cheap monthly subscription. 

  • Support advanced trading functionality/strategy

    This function is instrumental in having proper risk management!

    Specifically, can set up numerous order types including OCO/bracket orders. Perfect for autumated trading. You simply set up a limit order for buying/selling and then once hit, SC can automatically set up a stop loss and target for that trade per your specifications. 

    Also supports a Chart DOM which is typically used for futures trading and it has the same functionality as chart trading but no studies.

Analysis

  • Chart Replay - Very easy to replay trading activity of a security. If I was at work I could come home and re-run trading activity for a futures contract to test out my strategy. 

    I also tried out Ninjatrader but with that platform you actually must have it open and running during the day. That is the only way it logs the information for you to replay it back. Sierra Chart is much more convenient in this respect. 

  • Trade Activity - complete activity list of all your trades and it has ability to generate trade statistics/performance reports for any time period and specified filters. 

  • Massive set of chart drawing tools

  • High speed back-testing supported -  even tick by tick

  • Have built-in Excel compatible spreadsheets for containing real time quotes/custom studies/systems. All Excel functions are supported and it offers great flexibility for analysis. 

Disadvantages

  • Overwhelming - the software is so customizable and has so many features that it can be a bit difficult
    to use at first. 

  • With the zillion features they offer, it would be nice to have a more logical flowing site with annotated pictures. A lot of content is already there on the site but can be cumbersome to read and understand without visualization.

  • They should include some video tutorials on their site. Especially for the more complicated and proprietary features of their software. I found some basic ones here.

  • No phone or chat support. They do not actively respond via email support. Primarily you must rely on their forums for technical assistance. Apparently they aren't that nice to users either. They know their stuff, and they don't waste time being polite about it. 

Final Thoughts on Sierra Chart

This platform amazing features and is very cutomizable. However, these guys have not put any money into marketing and making their product known. It is often overlooked due to how antiquated it looks. 

For those that have have been with Sierra Charts I have only heard good things when it comes to the stability and functionality of the platform.  

The customer support sucks. You can figure things out through their site and the forum but you will have to dedicate some time. The functionality is worth it. 

That being said, I would only consider such a trading platform if you actively trade and need advanced tools/charting. If you are just doing basic stock/option trading it's not worth it - just use the interface/platform that comes free with your broker. 

CONSIDER THIS:

If you don't need all that functionality, really the only reason you might want to consider Sierra Chart is its super cheap pricing for TPO charting.  It is really the only platform I've discovered with such a good value on TPO charting. MarketDelta is known for a fantastic TPO charting platform however you have to pay $100+/month which is killer on the wallet. I found a random third party provider offering TPO charting for Ninjatrader but that was $1,000.


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