The revolutionary MetaTrader 4 gave forex traders unprecedented control over trading strategies and timing. Automated trading systems could be implemented, but the platform was restricted to currency traders only.
Equity, bond and options investors were shut out of using MetaTrader 4 despite a surge in popularity. When would stock market investors gain access to this powerful platform? The release of MetaTrader 5 answered that question in 2010.
MetaTrader 5 is the most recent software release from MetaQuotes Software, the Russian firm behind the trading platform. Unlike its previous incarnation, MetaTrader 5 allowed equities and commodities to be traded alongside the usual forex components. Connection times improved and new indicator tools added. Sounds like a must-have program, right? Unfortunately, that’s not the case.
MetaTrader 4 and 5 might look similar, but they aren’t backward compatible. MetaTrader 5’s programming is written in an entirely different language. MetaTrader 4 software is written in MQL4, but MetaTrader 5 introduced the brand-new MQL5. MetaTrader 4 users have entire libraries of Expert Advisors (which are analytical and trading process automation tools) and other robots, and these became obsolete on the MetaTrader 5 platform.
Naturally, users didn’t want to rewrite or re-purchase robots that worked perfectly fine on the MetaTrader 4 platform.
In the United States, finding a reputable broker that offers MetaTrader 5 is harder than finding a Yankees fan who hates Derek Jeter. Though it opened up to equities, MetaTrader 5 traders represent a very small percentage of the platform’s users. Even the big currency brokers Forex.com and OANDA exclusively support MetaTrader 4. To find a home with MetaTrader 5, you’ll have to venture outside the borders of the United States.
MetaTrader 4 is the dominant version of the trading software, but MetaTrader 5 does have some improvements and upgrades. Most prominently, the platform is no longer just for currency traders. MetaTrader 5 added two additional order types and is now open to stocks, bonds, futures, options and forex trading. Popular features like hedging, Expert Advisors and automated strategies can still be used.
Partial orders are now available on MetaTrader 5, along with the six different order types. Eight technical indicators and 13 graphical objects have also been added. MetaTrader 5 adds 12 extra timeframes, so research can be done more extensively than ever. The MQL5 community is available 24/5 on the new embedded chat feature and emails can now be sent with attachments.
There’s an economic calendar that shows important dates and data releases, but one of the biggest new perks in the ability to transfer funds between accounts. You can send money between your forex and stock trading accounts without logging off. Improvements and new features are plentiful on MetaTrader 5, but the lack of backward compatibility means MetaTrader 4 is still the primary platform. Stocks, options and futures trading is a big step and could open the door for more in the future.
MetaQuotes Software has begun to nudge clients toward MetaTrader 5. The platform is technically superior to MetaTrader 4, but the best forex brokers are hesitant to purchase new licenses and traders don’t want to lose the programming language with which they’ve written so many robots. A tug-of-war is underway and MegaQuotes has increased the pressure.
Support for MetaTrader 4 was recently cut off and new brokers now must choose between MetaTrader 5 or nothing at all. In addition to MetaQuotes’ gentle pushing, equity brokers can now offer the software for stock exchange trading. Most of the brokers which offer MetaTrader 5 offer a variety of different markets to trade in. Previously, only forex brokers used the platform.