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thinkorswim® Trade Flash: Where to Look for Pro Trading Ideas

Keep an eye on the “big fish” that are trading with TD Ameritrade's trade idea scanner, Trade Flash. Learn what the professionals are trading.

https://tickertapecdn.tdameritrade.com/assets/images/pages/md/Lightning: Trade Flash offers streaming trading info on institutional trading activity
3 min read
Photo by Getty Images

It doesn’t matter whether you’re just starting out as a trader or are a seasoned pro; sometimes the hardest part is finding trade candidates. Many traders say the market seems elusive and does all it can to distract them with random noise and mixed signals. Don’t you wish there was a tool that could cut through all of that and highlight potential trade opportunities in real time? Well, there is. It’s a “gadget” called Trade Flash on the thinkorswim platform from TD Ameritrade.

You can find Trade Flash on the left sidebar of the thinkorswim platform. It streams all kinds of information about what large traders are doing—those whose volume can sometimes move markets. Trade Flash streams real-time intraday commentary from a network of more than 500 professional traders. Here’s some of the info that can pop up in a flash:

  • Events such as analyst up/downgrades
  • Block trades
  • Trade imbalances
  • Events on the trading floor

Trade Flash also provides information about substantial price moves—each with detailed written context—as well as “unusual” trades. What type of activity might be deemed unusual? Hey, there’s more than just trade size. Flashes might highlight different combinations of price, volume, volatility, and liquidity—anything that might help you uncover what could be potential opportunities worthy of a second glance.

Setup Is a Flash

To add the Trade Flash gadget, log in to the thinkorswim platform and click on the plus (+) icon at the lower left of the side panel, then select Trade Flash. Once you’ve added the gadget, you’ll begin to see “flashes” throughout the U.S. trading day, ceasing shortly after the close of the market. Given the short shelf life of this type of information, flashes are removed overnight after each trading session.

Trade Flash thinkorswim trading gadget


The Trade Flash gadget on thinkorswim offers insights into what the institutional players are doing. Image source: The thinkorswim platform from TD Ameritrade. For illustrative purposes only. Past performance does not guarantee future results.

Here’s a quick look at how to use Trade Flash:

  • Click on the “link” icon to connect the symbols in Trade Flash to your charts.
  • Trade Flash will show high-quantity trades as well as trades that result in a large delta.
  • You’ll see information about substantial price moves, including written context.
  • Symbols that are highlighted in blue are clickable, so if you see a symbol you’re interested in, you can promptly get more info.
  • All highlighted symbols support the thinkorswim right-click menu functionality in case you want to quickly create an alert.

And perhaps the most important part: if you want to take action on a symbol in Trade Flash, just click on it in the feed and you’ll automatically be directed to the “Trade” tab.

What Might Move the Market?

When it comes right down to it, markets—and the stocks that make up markets—are driven by supply and demand. If you took Economics 101, one of the first lessons you learned was that the more buyers there are, the higher prices can go, and the more sellers there are, the lower prices can go.

The buyers and sellers who drive the majority of market volume are typically institutional players, so it can be a good idea to follow their large trades and capital as it flows into and out of the stocks on your watchlist. That’s how using Trade Flash can help give you an edge in your trading.

When an institutional-level investor places a large trade, it can be a sign that the pros have conviction. That doesn’t guarantee a stock is going to go up or down, but tracking large trades with Trade Flash can provide more conviction for your own trading plan.

So consider taking Trade Flash out for a spin to see how you like it. You might find it helps you gain some insights into what the pros are doing, as well as a sense of what’s happening in the stocks they’re focusing on. And it may just alert you to some potential opportunities you might not notice otherwise.


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Content intended for educational/informational purposes only. Not investment advice, or a recommendation of any security, strategy, or account type.

Be sure to understand all risks involved with each strategy, including commission costs, before attempting to place any trade. Clients must consider all relevant risk factors, including their own personal financial situations, before trading.


Market volatility, volume, and system availability may delay account access and trade executions.

Past performance of a security or strategy does not guarantee future results or success.

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