Monday, Jun. 23, 2014

Playing FTSE

Mike Smith is a professional punter and has been betting on Betfair’s Financial markets since the beginning of 2004, mainly trading the FTSE intraday markets. To coincide with the launch of a new range of Betfair Financial Markets we asked Mike to give a few pointers and look at some of the tools required to complement a successful financial trading strategy…

When I tell people that I trade the financial markets on Betfair successfully, I get a variety of reactions. A common reply is along the lines of: ‘That sounds interesting, I might have a look at that myself’. This implies that people believe trading these markets is something that can be picked up easily.

To be fair I can understand the logic of this reaction as I can almost hear people thinking ‘If he can do it, it can’t be that difficult!’ However as anybody who has done it will tell you, trading the FTSE intraday markets is like riding a big rollercoaster – exhilarating and gut wrenching in equal measure.

To be successful requires a clear strategy that has been tested over time and approaching them without one is a shortcut to the poor house. Alongside your strategy, you also need to have a suite of information that can help you put that strategy into action. Below are a few websites containing resources that can be used in conjunction with your own strategy in the quest for profit.

The first and most obvious requirement is for up to date prices of the underlying market (in my case the FTSE 100 index). Streaming prices can be obtained through subscription sites such as or These sites provide a wealth of information and costs vary depending on the level of information required. Alternatively, Yahoo provides free live FTSE and Dow Jones prices. These are static but can be used in conjunction with an automatic browser refresher to give continuously updated prices.

If you are serious about playing the financial markets, you will need (at the very least) a basic understanding of Technical Analysis (TA) and an excellent introduction can be found at I find TA to be a significant tool in predicting longer term movements of the market but less suited to the short-term intraday markets. However I do calculate simple resistance/support levels using pivot points to indicate possible market reversals. A good explanation of pivot points can be found at

The FTSE can (and does) spike up or down due to outside influences that are almost impossible to predict. However there are times when sharp movements are a reaction to the release of economic figures. If you want to avoid being on the wrong end of a swing in sentiment it is vital to be aware of the release times of these figures. I use the free financial diary at which gives US and Euro Zone as well as UK information.

Using the above resources will provide a number of weapons to your armoury but will not bring instant success. Research and discipline are key components of a successful strategy and nothing can replace time spent trading. Learning expensive lessons is par for the course and it is advisable to start off trading at minimum amounts until you are comfortable with the dynamics of the market you are trading.

If you do get it right and devise a successful strategy, the rewards can be great and with the recent introduction of new Betfair markets (including individual FTSE shares, Intraday Dow Jones and currencies) there is the chance to get involved and establish your strategies as the markets grow in popularity. If you can find an ‘edge’ in one of those markets then you could, with discipline and hard work, be on your way to profitable trading!

After all, ‘If he can do it, it can’t be that difficult!’

This article has been reproduced with the permission of Mike Smith. The source of the article is Betfair Education