Day trading consists of the direct opening and closing of stock positions with major stock exchanges, either using a computer on the trading floor of a branch office of a day trading firm, or using one’s home or business computer to access an internet broker. DIRECT is the operational word in the above definition. Day trading would require the trader to have direct electronic access to one or two sources – the stock market cognoscente of NASDAQ (also known as market makers) and/or a dedicated specialist from the NYSE.
In this case, the market makers would be NASD dealers and brokers, who trade NASDAQ stocks for other individuals or business entities, and involve themselves in securities to abet them in handling their proprietary accounts. These market makers are essentially stock merchants by trade. One NASDAQ stock will have many market makers who are continuously trading in that stock and thus making a market for that stock. Each NYSE stock, on the other hand, only has one assigned specialist.
On the other hand, one NYSE stock will have one assigned NYSE specialist. This would be a dedicated NYSE specialist whose aim is to monitor that security and keep the trading fair and organized. The specialist can serve his/her duty as a dealer or as a broker – as a dealer, he/she would act as the chief point person when trading for their account, as a broker, he/she can carry out orders on behalf of other securities brokers. The specialist would need to play a principal, or sovereign role because somebody, after all, would be needed to make sure the security remains marketable, and also to nullify any existing discrepancies in said stock’s supply and demand.
The day trader is somebody who does not rely on a stockbroker. The trader is not using a telephone to call a stockbroker, and the broker is not relaying that order to the brokerage firm’s order desk. The clerk’s job of routing said order to the market maker is also superfluous. None of that exists with day trading firms. To put it informally, day trading firms are “cutting out the middlemen”, as none of the above characters have to work on trade orders, thus eliminating delays to expediency and additional costs above budget. Day traders, in essence, act as their own brokers, and they process orders quickly and inexpensively.
The day trader can simply key in the stock symbol on a computer that has specialized trade execution software, press the appropriate function key, and buy or sell shares of stock on a major exchange. The software used by the day trading firms for order execution is relatively user-friendly7 and provides an efficient interface between the stock exchanges and the day trader.