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How StocksToTrade Founder Zak Westphal Built a Trading Ecosystem

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Written by Timothy Sykes
Reviewed by Friedrich Odermann Fact-checked by Ed Weinberg
Updated 1/25/2024 3 min read

Grit Daily recently published an interview with StocksToTrade’s co-founder and CEO Zak Westphal — you can read the full interview here.

Zak has been the driving force behind much of the innovation StocksToTrade has embraced since its founding in 2009. We partnered on StockstoToTrade after recognizing an underserved need in trading — a platform where news, strategy, and real-time data could all be accessed at the click of a button.

You can check out my favorite trading platform here.

Over the decade-plus since, he’s recruited a top mentorship team and led the company’s AI efforts. This attention to the future is a big part of what’s kept StocksToTrade a top trading platform, an incredible educational resource, and a one-stop shop for traders.  

StocksToTrade’s approach to trading even garnered the attention of the Nasdaq exchange. Here’s the team in 2019, ringing the closing bell.

Below are some quotes from the interview.

Founding StocksToTrade

“There was an unfilled need within the fintech industry. Namely, there was trading software. However, most were just tools without any strategies… So, we built out a trading platform that allows the user to hook it up to their preferred broker, and then use our specialized tools and algorithms to find the right trades.”

The Role of StocksToTrade

“Empowering retail and new traders with tools that helped them make solid trading decisions was a big interest of mine. That is why I got into the industry and have been in it for 14 years now.”

Company Milestones

“We have reached over 30,000 paying subscribers… Another was becoming a preferred partner of the Nasdaq… The latest milestone, which I’m most excited about, is we now have three fully operational and running AI trading services.”

Lessons Learned as a CEO

“A business is a living organism… As the CEO, you need to treat the business as if you’re a professional athlete, always giving it your best and making decisions on the fly. Ready, Fire, Aim has been our mantra.”

The Future of StocksToTrade

“We’ve invested millions of dollars into machine learning algorithms, which is starting to pay dividends with the wide acceptance of AI and AI tools… I am most excited about taking AI into institutional investing and complex trading strategies.”

AI in Stock Trading

“Trading and scanning tools will be obsolete if they do not adopt AI into their platforms… The firms that embrace AI will be paid handsomely over the next few years, while those that don’t will be obsolete within a few years.”

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Timothy Sykes

Tim Sykes is a penny stock trader and teacher who became a self-made millionaire by the age of 22 by trading $12,415 of bar mitzvah money. After becoming disenchanted with the hedge fund world, he established the Tim Sykes Trading Challenge to teach aspiring traders how to follow his trading strategies. He’s been featured in a variety of media outlets including CNN, Larry King, Steve Harvey, Forbes, Men’s Journal, and more. He’s also an active philanthropist and environmental activist, a co-founder of Karmagawa, and has donated millions of dollars to charity. Read More

* Results are not typical and will vary from person to person. Making money trading stocks takes time, dedication, and hard work. There are inherent risks involved with investing in the stock market, including the loss of your investment. Past performance in the market is not indicative of future results. Any investment is at your own risk. See Terms of Service here

The available research on day trading suggests that most active traders lose money. Fees and overtrading are major contributors to these losses.

A 2000 study called “Trading is Hazardous to Your Wealth: The Common Stock Investment Performance of Individual Investors” evaluated 66,465 U.S. households that held stocks from 1991 to 1996. The households that traded most averaged an 11.4% annual return during a period where the overall market gained 17.9%. These lower returns were attributed to overconfidence.

A 2014 paper (revised 2019) titled “Learning Fast or Slow?” analyzed the complete transaction history of the Taiwan Stock Exchange between 1992 and 2006. It looked at the ongoing performance of day traders in this sample, and found that 97% of day traders can expect to lose money from trading, and more than 90% of all day trading volume can be traced to investors who predictably lose money. Additionally, it tied the behavior of gamblers and drivers who get more speeding tickets to overtrading, and cited studies showing that legalized gambling has an inverse effect on trading volume.

A 2019 research study (revised 2020) called “Day Trading for a Living?” observed 19,646 Brazilian futures contract traders who started day trading from 2013 to 2015, and recorded two years of their trading activity. The study authors found that 97% of traders with more than 300 days actively trading lost money, and only 1.1% earned more than the Brazilian minimum wage ($16 USD per day). They hypothesized that the greater returns shown in previous studies did not differentiate between frequent day traders and those who traded rarely, and that more frequent trading activity decreases the chance of profitability.

These studies show the wide variance of the available data on day trading profitability. One thing that seems clear from the research is that most day traders lose money .

Millionaire Media 66 W Flagler St. Ste. 900 Miami, FL 33130 United States (888) 878-3621 This is for information purposes only as Millionaire Media LLC nor Timothy Sykes is registered as a securities broker-dealer or an investment adviser. No information herein is intended as securities brokerage, investment, tax, accounting or legal advice, as an offer or solicitation of an offer to sell or buy, or as an endorsement, recommendation or sponsorship of any company, security or fund. Millionaire Media LLC and Timothy Sykes cannot and does not assess, verify or guarantee the adequacy, accuracy or completeness of any information, the suitability or profitability of any particular investment, or the potential value of any investment or informational source. The reader bears responsibility for his/her own investment research and decisions, should seek the advice of a qualified securities professional before making any investment, and investigate and fully understand any and all risks before investing. Millionaire Media LLC and Timothy Sykes in no way warrants the solvency, financial condition, or investment advisability of any of the securities mentioned in communications or websites. In addition, Millionaire Media LLC and Timothy Sykes accepts no liability whatsoever for any direct or consequential loss arising from any use of this information. This information is not intended to be used as the sole basis of any investment decision, nor should it be construed as advice designed to meet the investment needs of any particular investor. Past performance is not necessarily indicative of future returns.

Citations for Disclaimer

Barber, Brad M. and Odean, Terrance, Trading is Hazardous to Your Wealth: The Common Stock Investment Performance of Individual Investors. Available at SSRN: “Day Trading for a Living?”

Barber, Brad M. and Lee, Yi-Tsung and Liu, Yu-Jane and Odean, Terrance and Zhang, Ke, Learning Fast or Slow? (May 28, 2019). Forthcoming: Review of Asset Pricing Studies, Available at SSRN: “https://ssrn.com/abstract=2535636”

Chague, Fernando and De-Losso, Rodrigo and Giovannetti, Bruno, Day Trading for a Living? (June 11, 2020). Available at SSRN: “https://ssrn.com/abstract=3423101”