How to Use the Trade Flash Scanner on thinkorswim®

August 28, 2023 Advanced
Trade Flash is a thinkorswim® gadget that allows traders to scan for trade-related events as they happen.

Some traders might feel the market can sometimes distract them with random noise and mixed signals.

One tool to help traders narrow down potential trading opportunities is a "gadget" called Trade Flash available on the thinkorswim® trading platform.

What is Trade Flash?

Trade Flash is a tool traders can add to the left sidebar on thinkorswim. It streams information about what large-volume traders are trading by displaying trade-related events, or flashes, as they happen. These flashes include third-party analyst up- and downgrades, block trades, trade imbalances, events on the trading floor, and more. Trade Flash streams real-time intraday commentary from a network of more than 500 professional traders.

Trade Flash also provides information about substantial price moves with detailed written context and trades considered "unusual." Trade Flash can highlight different combinations of price, volume, volatility, and liquidity—all of which can indicate the potential for a trading opportunity.

How to set up Trade Flash

To add the Trade Flash gadget, select the plus (+) icon on the lower left of the side panel on the platform. Then, under Select gadget, select Trade Flash from the list of available gadgets. After adding the gadget, traders will begin to see "flashes" throughout the trading day, which cease shortly after the close of the market. Flashes are removed overnight after each trading session closes.

Some of the information available from flashes include:

  • High-quantity trades and trades that result in a large delta1
  • Substantial price moves
  • Symbols highlighted in blue are clickable, allowing a trader to select the symbol to get more information about the quote
  • All highlighted symbols support the thinkorswim right-click menu functionality, allowing traders to create an alert, set up a trade order and more.

Additionally, by selecting a symbol in the feed, traders are automatically directed to the Trade tab. It's also possible to link the symbols in Trade Flash to charts and watchlists, including prebuilt watchlists, such as Analyst Upgrades found under Lovers and Losers, or the Top 10 Active NYSE found under Top 10. This approach allows traders to monitor institutional trades and stocks that may be making large moves during the trading day.

Trade Flash on thinkorswim

Image illustrates the Trade Flash gadget on the thinkorswim platform. It includes examples of large changes in delta, significant equity trades, and offers written context for trades.

Source: thinkorswim platform

Alternative ways to help identify potential market movers

The buyers and sellers who drive a significant amount of market volume are typically institutional players, so traders might gain some insights by observing their large trades and capital as it flows into and out of stocks on their watchlist. Trade Flash provides a way for traders to monitor these moves by large-volume players.

An additional way for traders to monitor market movers is to use the Options Time & Sales information, which is located beneath the Option Chain on the Trade tab. The biggest options trades of the day are listed at the top.

The Trade Flash gadget as well as, Options Time & Sales information can potentially help traders gain some insight into what the big players are trading and get a sense of what’s happening to stocks with actively traded options. These tools may just alert traders to potential opportunities they might not notice otherwise.

1Delta is a measure of an options contract's sensitivity to a $1 change in the underlying asset. All else being equal, an option with a 0.50 delta (for example) would gain $0.50 per $1 move up in the underlying asset. Long calls and short puts have a positive (+) delta, meaning they gain as the underlying asset gains in value. Long puts and short calls have a negative (–) delta, meaning they gain as the underlying asset drops in value.

Options carry a high level of risk and are not suitable for all investors. Certain requirements must be met to trade options through Schwab. Please read the options disclosure document titled "Characteristics and Risks of Standardized Options" before considering any options transaction. Supporting documentation for any claims or statistical information is available upon request.

The information provided here is for general informational purposes only and should not be considered an individualized recommendation or personalized investment advice. The investment strategies mentioned here may not be suitable for everyone. Each investor needs to review an investment strategy for his or her own particular situation before making any investment decision. 

Access to Electronic Services may be limited or unavailable during periods of peak demand, market volatility, systems upgrade, maintenance, or for other reasons.

Examples provided are for illustrative purposes only and not intended to be reflective of results you can expect to achieve.