What is the AT TradeAssistant?
The TradeAssistant is an indicator for placing and managing trades, with a lot of useful information about your trading session, a new or active trade and Level II market analysis. The full set of features are available when used integrated in NinjaTrader’s ChartTrader panel, but it can also be placed standalone on any chart.
The TradeAssistant hands you as much live information as possible, for instance:
- Level II imbalance analysis
- Tape speed and volume analysis
- Automatically setting position size based on stop order and maximum risk
- Draggable SL order before the trade is active
- Automatically calculating TP order based on Risk/Reward
- Displaying real time SL and TP distances in currency and ticks
- Displaying distance to nearby support and resistance lines, drawn by yourself
- Trailing stop (4 different methods including Parabolic SAR)
- ATM Strategy support (can be combined with TradeAssistant’s trailing stop)
- Show previous short and long trade results
- Show real time unrealized Profit/Loss per trade, per Instrument and for the daily session
- AutoTrade & AutoClose
As you can see it’s a lot more than just placing orders!
The TradeAssistant panel
First of all let’s explain the different parts of the TradeAssistant panel.
As mentioned the most comprehensive panel is when TradeAssistant is located in NinjaTrader’s ChartTrader, and it looks like this:
- Instrument Net Change
- Close all open positions for all Instruments or close daily session button
- Daily P/L for all Instruments (includes real-time unrealized P/L during active trades)
- Maximum realized profit for the Chart’s Instrument
- Tape speed with up/down arrow
- Tape volume with up/down arrow
- Largest buy/sell blocks
- Trades below the bid
- Trades above the ask
- Tape buy/sell imbalance with up/down arrow
- Level II buy/sell imbalance with up/down arrow
- Close open position for the Chart’s Instrument or close Instrument session button
- P/L for the Chart’s Instrument or real-time unrealized P/L for an active trade only
- History of Long trades for the Chart’s Instrument (number of trades and total P/L)
- History of Short trades for the Chart’s Instrument (number of trades and total P/L)
- Buy button
- Sell button
- Trade information panel (Entry, SL, TP and alerts like ‘SL too big’)
- AutoTrade on/off button (only visible if “AutoTrade on signal level” percentage is set)
- Trailing method drop/down (only visible if “Trail S/L bars back” isn’t zero)
How to trade with TradeAssistant?
To explain how you can trade with TradeAssistant it’s best to discuss a trade from start to end. It will be a long story, but we hope you’ll read it to the end and you like what you have read. Spoiler: we get out with a small profit 😉
For this example we’re trading the E-mini (ES) on a 5 minutes chart and we’re using 4 indicators:
- AT Hull, 50 periods
- AT DonchianChannel, 4 periods
- AT Parabolic SAR, acceleration 0.1
- AT DMI, 14 periods
The Hull has a nice way of following the price without too much lag, the Donchian and SAR are great breakout and stop indicators and the DMI is good at trend and strength spotting.
Of course you can use the indicator combination you trust the most, but we like this one.
Next to those indicators we’ve added the AT BarTimer and AT ChartMonitor to the chart.
The BarTimer’s “Autoscale chart based on ATR” has been enabled, so our vertical scale is based on yesterdays daily ATR. This guarantees us that small price swings don’t look huge when there’s not enough price range on the chart.
The maximum combined signal strength of the four indicators is 8 (you can also see that in the ChartMonitor compact panel, the first line says “4 indicators (4.0×2)”). We don’t need all indicators at full strength, that will get us in too late. So we want 3 indicator Strong and 1 at least Weak. The ChartMonitor’s threshold is therefore (3×2 + 1 = 7) divided by max 8, equals 7/8 = 87.5%. One strength less would be 75%, so we leave it at 80%.
If you can’t remember how to calculate this, check the “how does it work” page.
We’ve set the Location parameter for both TradeAssistant and ChartMonitor to “ChartTrader”.
Our trading window looks like this:
Next to our trading window we use a plain H1 (60 minutes) window to draw our horizontal support and resistance lines.
Our H1 chart looks like this:
Support and resistance
The TradeAssistant makes a list of PreviousOHLC, DailyOHL and all the horizontal lines drawn on the chart to check them as support/resistance levels.
If we create horizontal lines on the H1 chart we need to set them to global (meaning draw on all ES charts), otherwise they won’t be loaded by the TradeAssistant on the M5 chart.
Horizontal lines we draw on the M5 chart are automatically loaded.
Step by step
Now let’s wait for a possible trade setup. We click AT ChartMonitors ‘All Emails OFF’ button so it changes to ‘All Emails ON’ and wait for an email, or if we’re already expecting something interesting we could stay behind our screen and just wait for an alert.
As soon as a possible setup takes place we can hit ‘Buy’ or ‘Sell’ and look if the trade is doable.
Buy/Sell button color
The color of the Buy and Sell buttons is also an indication of a good trade. When the combined indicator signal is high enough the Buy button turns green or the Sell button turns red.
If you’ve checked the boxes “SAR Buy/Sell enabling” and/or the “Level II Buy/Sell enabling” in the TradeAssistant settings, the SAR and Level II will also be taken into account for the threshold when the button is colored.
It’s a good idea to select the trailing stop method we want to use for the trade before clicking the Buy or Sell button. There are five options to choose from:
- 1 bar back
- 2 bars back
- Donchian channel
- Parabolic SAR (only visible if SAR acceleration value in the settings is greater than zero)
The number “1” after the trailing method is the number of ticks set in the TradeAssistant’s Trailing offset parameter.
We can always change the method during the trade, but the selection that’s active before the trade will determine the position of the initial Stoploss.
Entry, Stoploss and Takeprofit
In the chart we see a possible (although not really strong) buy setup. When we click the Buy button the TradeAssistant submits a buy limit order at a price 1 tick (as set in the TradeAssistant settings) above a recent high (defined by a Donchian 5 upper channel).
If you want TradeAssistant to submit market orders you can enter a zero in the “Entry ticks” setting, or you can Ctrl-click the Buy or Sell button.
You can let TradeAssistant check the entry price against the support and resistance lines by entering a value greater than zero in the “Offset from S/R” setting. TradeAssistant will then automatically adjust the price to skip S/R levels that are too close (within the number of ticks specified in the “Min distance to S/R” setting). The price will be set the number of ticks defined in the “Offset from S/R” setting above/below the S/R level.
After clicking the Buy button a red and green horizontal line are created for the Stoploss and Takeprofit (only if the ATM Strategy is set to “None”, otherwise the ATM Strategy defines the SL and TP and the lines aren’t drawn).
The red Stoploss line is set at a price defined by either the selected Trailing method or a Donchian 5 lower channel.
The green Takeprofit line is set at a price calculated by the Risk/Reward factor setting multiplied by the Stoploss distance.
The distance of the SL and TP lines in ticks and in currency are shown in a panel below the Buy and Sell buttons. You can select and drag the red SL line, and then the green line as well as the distance numbers will automatically adjust. The same happens when you drag the entry order up or down. You cannot drag the green Takeprofit line.
TradeAssistant does all its calculations based on PointValue and TickSize of the current Instrument, and can therefore be used on every instrument.
Besides the price for the Takeprofit order (green line), TradeAssistant also calculates the position size for the trade.
This is done based on the “Max loss” amount you’ve set; the position size is automatically calculated so that the maximum risk won’t exceed roughly half of the Max loss value. If this is not possible (even with a position size 1) the background of the panel colors red.
Dragging the entry order price or the green Stoploss line will also dynamically change the position size, shown in the panel below the buttons between ‘Entry’ and the limit price.
Evaluating the setup
If we’re not sure whether to take the trade or not, we have several tools at our disposal to evaluate (we could and should have checked these before clicking “Buy”, but sometimes we don’t…).
First of all make sure we don’t get pulled into the trade before we want by a price spike, by moving the entry price to a safe level. Then we can evaluate the following information:
- Level II imbalance
- Tape and Volume speed
- Tape buy/sell imbalance
- BarTimer ATR and average ticks
- Support and resistance levels
Level II and Tape panel
On top of the TradeAssistant, below the Daily P/L and Max profit, is the Level II and Tape panel. This is only available if you have a NinjaTrader Level II (Deep Book) Market Data subscription and you have enabled the “Show Level II imbalance” setting.
We’re referring to this panel as the Level II panel, even though it contains Level II and Tape (Time & Sales) information.
Level II Market Data gives you order book insight and can be a valuable trading tool.To include Level II (Deep Book) you can change your market data subscription at https://ninjatrader.com/MDE
You can see the limit orders and their position sizes, which might indicate a market direction.
But just as all indicators Level II can also fool you; if the Level II data looks great, the trade can still unexpectedly turn against you!
Level II imbalance
The difference between NinjaTrader’s Level II window and the TradeAssistant version is detail.
NinjaTrader’s window gives you full detail about the limit orders in the order book, which makes it difficult to see what side of the market is dominating (especially since the data changes rapidly).
The TradeAssistant Level II panel compresses the data and shows you in one glance the dominating side, how big the percentage difference is and how this changes overtime.
Check if this agrees with the Buy trade we want to take.
The single Level II box on the bottom right of TradeAssistant’s Level II information panel is a compressed analysis of the complete dataset shown in NinjaTraders’s Level II window shown on the right. If you hover the mouse over the box a popup appears with more detailed information.
In this case the information tells us:
- The green Level II 1% message means that there’s a 1% imbalance in favor of limit buy orders
- Detailed popup tells us:
- The average Level II is 0% (neutral)
- The number of bids and asks (sell limit and buy limit orders)
- The total depth used for calculation
What we like to see is that the imbalance is in agreement with our Buy order. So preferably positive and/or increasing, so we want the 1% to go up.
In the same panel is also the compressed tape information.
Where the Level II data is about limit orders which might or might not be executed in the future, the tape consist of every real order execution. So the number of tape buys and sells is of major importance. And just like with the Level II data; the imbalance is important.
NinjaTrader’s tape window gives you all trades which makes it impossible to see the imbalance. TradeAssistant’s panel shows the percentage imbalance and how it changes overtime.
The single T&S box on the bottom left of TradeAssistant’s Level II information panel is a compressed analysis of the complete dataset shown in NinjaTraders’s Time & Sales window shown on the right. If you hover the mouse over the box a popup appears with more detailed information.
In this case the information tells us:
- The green T&S 2% message means that there’s a 2% imbalance in favor of buying
- Detailed popup tells us:
- The average Time & Sales is 0% (neutral)
- The number of bids and asks (sell limit and buy limit orders)
Also check if this agrees with our trade; we want it positive and/or increasing, so we want the 2% to go up.
Tape and volume speed, large orders and bid/ask overpricing
The last thing to check is the tape speed and volume and the number of big orders (trades with a large number of lots/contracts).
And whether there are orders executed below the bid or above the ask (which means traders want in or out desperately).
This info is also a part of the puzzle that’s coming out of the Time & Sales data and is shown at a glance in TradeAssistant’s Level II panel.
The two boxes on the top are tape speed and volume. These only show trading interest.
The middle row shows respectively Large volume block trades, trades below the bid price and trades above the ask price.
For a buy order we would like to see everything green, meaning:
- more large buy trades than large sell trades, and higher buy block sizes
- no (or not too much) trades below the bid
- more trades above the ask then below the bid
BarTimer ATR and ticks per second
Something to consider is also if there’s enough price movement. We already made sure we don’t get fooled by exaggerated charts, because we made BarTimer set a realistic vertical scale by enabling the “Autoscale chart based on ATR” setting.
But you can also check BarTimer’s ATR value and its tick speed. The ATR shows you the average price move per bar and can be an indication how long it might take to reach the Takeprofit price. Since the ATR is 2.75 points (=11 ticks) and our Takeprofit is 38 ticks (as shown in the price panel) it will probably take at least 3 or 4 bars if price goes straight up. So if it takes more than somewhere between 15 and 20 minutes, we have to watch for an exit.
Support and resistance levels
One of the most important things to check are the support and resistance levels.
If we’ve entered a number of ticks in the “Offset from S/R” setting, TradeAssistant will have adjusted the entry price to a “safe” level automatically. But maybe we disagree with that, because sometimes that sets the price too far away.
In any case we want to make sure that:
- we don’t enter nearby a strong S/R level
- we have enough room for our trade, so the next level is further away than our Takeprofit
In this case the next S/R level is nearly the same as our Takeprofit, so that’s a good level to ‘pull’ the price to. Maybe our Takeprofit should be place a little bit lower, but we’ll see how it goes.
To trade or not to trade
After considering all this information we can decide if we want to pull the trigger.
Thanks to TradeAssistant’s compressed Level II analysis we were able to decide that in a few seconds.
Remember: not all information has to be perfectly aligned; it’s just a helping hand and can give confidence or doubt about the trade. In the latter case: skip the trade and wait for the next setup!
If everything looks good we set the entry price to our preferred level (if we moved it earlier).
If the price moves against us before the buy limit order was triggered, the order will automatically be cancelled as soon as the price reaches the green Stoploss line. And if the price reaches our entry order and it gets executed the TradeAssistant will create a Stoploss and Takeprofit order on the green and red lines.
As you can see we’re in and now we have to manage the trade.
Hopefully you’re still with us; it’s a long explanation, but it shows in detail the steps to take and tools to use.
Bare with us a little longer until the trade ends!
Trade management is different for every trader. Some traders like to “set and forget” the trade; either it reaches the Takeprofit or it hits the Stoploss. Others like to add to their position as long as the trade moves in their favor (“scale in”), and some like to “scale out” of the trade to secure some profits.
For this trade we monitor it while it’s active and we plan to exit when it’s turning. The “turning” moment is a gut feeling since a trade rarely moves up in a straight line, so we have to accept some minor pullbacks. But during pullbacks we will keep our eyes to the Level II panel, and close it as soon as we loose confidence. Let’s see what happens.
The unrealized P/L message shows us:
- a close trade box
- the active trade’s position size (1 contract)
- the unrealized P/L (nicely in the green for now)
- the total time in the trade
During the first 8 minutes everything looks great and the Level II info stays green. The “Add 1” button is green, because we’ve checked “Level II Buy/Sell enabling” and Level II is all green.
Some traders also look to close the trade within a certain number of minutes, which is why the total time in trade is a nice thing to have. We expect the trade to last about 20 minutes.
Now it’s much too early, so let’s leave it running.
When the trade is almost nine minutes we see a change in the Level II; the number of Large block trades and the Tape imbalance turn red.
We decide to stay in the trade, but we want to trail closer. So we change the trailing stop to ‘Trail SL 1 bar’ which immediately adjusts the trailing stop and sets it 1 tick below the previous bar. Now we’re at least break even.
We also move the Takeprofit a little bit lower, since we want it below the blue dashed resistance line we drew on the H1 chart.
A few minutes later the price has gone up further so everything looks good again. The red numbers for the Large block trades and the Tape imbalance are gone and we let it run.
From 9 minutes until 13 minutes in the trade everything runs smoothly and the price is approaching the resistance line.
At 14 minutes in the trade the TradeAssistant’s price information panel shows that the distance to the Takeprofit is now only $87.50 and a message appears above the chart telling us that an “SR level is within 8 ticks” (our blue dashed H1 line).
Maybe it’s time to close the trade, but the “Add 1” button and the Level II info is still green and we think it might jump up to the resistance level.
There’s not enough room from the current price to the resistance level, so we’re not going to add to our position.
Although everything’s green it is time to be careful, so we decide to pull up a Tick chart and synchronize it with the M5 trading chart. We want it to have approximately 60 second bars.
To do that we need to add an AT ChartMonitor and an AT BarTimer on the Tick chart and set the ChartMonitor to Publish/Subscribe mode ‘SubscribeSymbol’ and the BarTimer to a 60 seconds threshold. We also need to set the ChartMonitor on the M5 trading chart to Publish/Subscribe mode ‘Publish’, after which an ‘ES Chart’ button appears above the compact combined signal box. After completing these steps we can click the ‘ES Chart’ button and the Tick chart’s period is automatically set to 420 ticks (averaging 60 seconds per bar).
As you can see price retraced 5 ticks during the time we used to set up the Tick chart (of course we should have done that before our trade, but hey, this is an example!). Selling has definitely become stronger, so now it’s time to think about if and when to close the trade.
Closing a trade
You can close a trade in TradeAssistant in several ways:
- Close 1 lot/contract at market by clicking the “Close” button
- Close partially by manually submitting a sell limit order at a specific price on the chart with ChartTrader (when your trade is a buy, of course)
- Close the whole position at market by clicking the “x” in front of the trade’s unrealized P/L
- Close all positions for all Instruments at market by clicking the “x” in front of the Daily’s P/L
This is always a difficult decision. Closing the trade now secures a profit of 16 ticks (almost $200 and half of our intended Takeprofit). But our SL is already set to a profit of $112.50 (minus commissions) as shown in the price information panel, and the resistance line looks like it could break because of the yellow and green PriorDayOHLC lines above it. The tick chart seems to have a tiny support at 3949.0, so again we decide to let it run.
Turns out to be the wrong decision, within seconds we get stopped out with $108 profit.
As you can see in the red boxes in the Level II panel there’s almost -30% tape imbalance, 178 more large sell blocks than buy blocks and 44 trades executed below the bid, so downward pressure is building up. It’s a shame that we didn’t close the trade earlier, but we managed to get out with a small profit.
What would have happened afterwards? Of course nobody knows upfront and anything can happen, but in this case we see that there was no reason to stay in the trade; the small uptrend even turned around in a possible downtrend later on.
Eventhough we haven’t reached our Takeprofit it was still a reasonably good trade.
The AT TradeAssistant is a very valuable tool for every trader. It integrates Level II information analysis with trading tools and statistics and makes it possible to setup trades before they’re executed by simply dragging the Entry and Stoploss lines. Trade setup and management is done fast and easy.
And there are a lot more features not used in this trade, like:
- enter a trade with a market order by Ctrl-Click the Buy or Sell button
- semi-automatic trading by Shift-Click on the Buy or Sell button.
This lets TradeAssistant wait until all signals and Level II indicators are in agreement before the buy or sell limit order is automatically placed,
- full-automatic trading by entering a signal threshold percentage and clicking on the “AutoTrade” button
- adding to an active trade or partially closing an active trade
- trading with NinjaTrader’s ATM Strategy
- AutoClose active trades based on Max Loss
- closing a daily session so it’s not possible to trade with the same Account until the next day
- using TradeAssistant as trade information only tool
- working with multiple TradeAssistants on multiple charts
The AT TradeAssistant is a tool that definitively should be in any trader’s toolbox.
Always use a paper trading account to get used to new indicators and tools.
NinjaTrader has a great “Replay” function; practice, practice, practice!