Trading is the process of buying and selling securities in the stock market with the intention of making a short-term profit. Some traders, known as day traders, only hold stocks until the close of the market at the end of each day; others, known as active traders, may hold stocks for weeks. In either case, trading is distinct from investing, which also involves the buying and selling of stocks and bonds but with the intention of making long-term gains over years or decades.
Trading plays an important function in improving the efficiency of markets, as traders seek out arbitrage opportunities to profit when pricing of a security strays too far from its fair market value. Today, with high-volume, high-speed algorithmic trading by computers making up a majority of activity on the market, some critics have questioned whether so much short-term trading is exacerbating volatility.
While debate continues, it is clear that this type of financial engineering approach to trading is here to stay, and will continue to push the evolution of this field as it progresses beyond its roots on the floor of the stock exchange.
Analysts at financial institutions of all kinds must have a strong understanding of trading and financial markets to guide their investment strategies. It’s particularly important for the quantitative analysts, or “quants” responsible for programming financial engineering tools.
Trading is also an essential part of the work of brokers, who are agents that sell securities and commodities directly to individuals. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, brokers make a median pay of $62,270 per year as of 2019. Though they often start with only a bachelor’s degree, many have masters in business administration (MBA) degrees, and they may need to attain additional licenses and certifications depending on the products they represent.
Yes! Coursera has a wide variety of online courses and Specializations on many trading topics including financial engineering, machine learning, and trading algorithms. These courses are offered by top-ranked schools from around the world such as Yale University, the University of Michigan, and the Indian School of Business.
In addition to being able to access an exceptional education remotely from anywhere in the world, learning online through Coursera offers many other advantages. You will be able to virtually attend lectures and complete coursework on a flexible schedule that fits your work or home life, and the lower cost of online courses compared to on-campus alternatives means that this valuable education can be remarkably affordable.
The skills and experience that you need to already have before starting to learn trading might include a high degree of computer literacy, deep analytical ability, a calm demeanor, and knowledge of business fundamentals that make trading stocks an enjoyable pursuit. When we talk about trading, we use the term for the activity of buying and selling shares in equities. There is the famous line "buy low, sell high." If the value of the shares rises, money is made from the profit between the buying price and the higher price at which it eventually sells. To learn trading, you might also already have experience with economics, finance, and statistics, as much of trading’s fundamentals rely on understanding why stock prices rise and fall. Having work experience on a futures trading platform or a stock trading floor could also be beneficial when you begin to learn about trading.
The kind of people best suited for roles in trading are generally those with an ambition to earn a lot of money and do it by being smarter than others when it comes to picking undervalued stocks to make a profit from. These people might have a background in financial management or stock trading. They may (or may not) have a business degree in business administration. Generally, those who work in stock trading may gain experience in a brokerage firm or a bank with a trading department. Trading involves a lot of financial modeling, so knowledge of financial software and platforms is essential for these people working in the trading industry.
To learn if trading is right for you, it may make sense for you to open a trading account with an online broker and start to research companies and stock movements. You may see information related to a company that others are missing. If you can dig deep to find information that may impact a stock price, you might be able to make a favorable trade. If you like to read online discussion forums about trading and trade tips with others who are passionate about trading to make money, then a career in stock trading may be the right move for you.