Optuma – 25 Years and a look at what’s next
With the imminent release of Optuma 2 – what is most likely the largest single upgrade we have ever done – now is a great opportunity for me to take time for us to outline the major directions we are taking with Optuma.
On the 14th of June, we celebrated the 25th anniversary of when I first sat behind my PC to write the software that is now Optuma. I’m thankful for the many thousands of people who have chosen Optuma (or Market Analyst) over the past 25 years. It’s been an amazing journey and an honour to assist so many people. I’m blown away that we still have a handful of clients actively using Optuma from 24 years ago!
There’s been a lot of coding over the 25 years, we’ve started from scratch four times realising that the foundations would not support all that our clients were asking us to do. The last rewrite was Market Analyst 7 (started in 2009, released in 2012). The core still allows us to build in everything we want to do and I do not see another rewrite anytime soon!
There’s no way we’d be able to provide our products and services for so long if it was not for the professionalism and knowledge of our Optuma Team. A few of them are approaching 20 years in the company! Providing the best development and support has always been a priority for us, and our team excels at doing that! I’m sure that like me, you’ve been glad that they’re around when you have a problem that needs to be solved.
You may not realise that our team has been working successfully from home for many years (while I was transitioning back to Australia). So Covid “work from home” was “business as usual” for us. Nevertheless, the future roadmap items require significant collaboration, and we’re looking forward to getting the team back together in an Australian office soon.
Looking over the past 25 years, I also want to thank our army of resellers. Ray Barros was the first educator to approach me back in 1997. I built Barros Swings into the software and all his students signed up. It’s the model we still predominantly use as it’s educated traders/professionals who need and make the best use of Optuma. Our partners have been our sales team and research sounding board and have contributed a great deal to the success of Optuma.
For the last nine months, we’ve been working on a major upgrade to Optuma. We have over seven pages of changes, fixes and additions! This includes new tools, charts, more script functions, as well as improving calculation speed, amongst a list of other improvements. A big thank you goes out to those who contribute in the forum (forum.optuma.com). For 25 years our mission has been to build Optuma for our clients, your requests help us prioritise the developments.
One of the biggest improvements is our end of day data overhaul. Over the years we haven’t maintained our data well enough. There were many delisted codes and some of our European data was a mess. This year we have increased our investment in data and have been improving our processing of corporate actions to ensure our data is the best it can be. One of the biggest improvements is for Equity Traders who can now switch a chart from Price Returns to Total Returns. This will also be important for accurate quantitative modelling.
The data project has turned out to be much bigger than I first anticipated but we are determined to keep at this for as long as it takes. We expect it to be ongoing for the rest of 2021 with incremental improvements being released all through the year.
Keep an eye out on your Optuma Home screen for an invitation into the Beta Program.
While we continue to improve the software as we go, there are major projects we will be working on over the next few years. Through so many interactions with clients (both private and professional) and also through teaching the CMT curriculum, I’ve just learned so much and I want to bring as much of that into Optuma as possible. The over-arching theme is that we want Optuma to help you manage your analysis and also find unique opportunities.
The following are not necessarily in order, and everything is subject to change as we continue to adapt to the market. This is all high level and we’ll add detail as these projects get closer to release.
We will continue to clean up and improve our data. We’re also looking to support more APIs from other real-time providers and may even be able to offer delayed intraday US data soon. Other tasks are:
- Expand Fundamental data for more markets.
- Overhaul and clean up our handling of Futures data.
- Consolidate the way we package data into Asset Classes and Regions.
- Improve our ETF handling to make it easier to identify funds by size, class, and theme.
- Reclassify our data in the Security Selector so it is easier to find and filter the data we have available.
- Overhaul all our Breadth Measures.
- Add in Survivorship bias-free data for more symbol lists.
This is in relation to our Scanning, Breadth, Signal Testing, and Back Testing. While the main focus is to improve the speed and accuracy of the tools, we will also be separating the majority of the engine so that it can run on our data servers. By having scans run on the server, you can have results emailed to you after the market closes. Optuma can also have an alert that tells you there are stocks meeting your criteria. The biggest advantage is that your scans and tests will always have the latest data without you needing to worry if your data is fully up to date.
On the Testing Side, there is so much that we want to build in. The more I was researching for our Quant course, the more I realised that we needed to start from scratch and manage tests in a different way.
I started this project last year, but when I started hand-checking results from the data I realised that I needed to shift to the data overhaul first. Quantitative modelling is only as good as the data it is working from!
This is a project that was put on hold for Optuma 2.0. In the first phase, we will take the charting module and make a simple web-based charting service. Eventually, it will be expanded into a fully-fledged Portfolio Management tool that can take inputs from the Quantitative Models. Our planning for this revealed that again we need better Corporate Action processing, hence the huge focus on data. Our final multi-year goal with this is the eventual replication of most of Optuma’s features in a browser but I still see a place for Optuma as a downloaded application.
What always made Optuma stand out was the ability to build unique charts and visualisations of multiple securities and display them in a unique way, e.g. 3D Sector Maps (another chart that’s due for an overhaul). We see this is where Optuma can add great value as we continue to create unique displays for the web.
When Web Charts are linked with a scan on the server, you will be able to review your scan results on any device at any time. You’ll also be able to set up your own market dashboards. We also see Web Charts as a way to view Optuma workbooks when you are away from your desktop PC. There are so many opportunities here.
As I mentioned before, we are looking at bringing on a number of new feeds into Optuma for real-time data. One of the issues we have always had is that we need a reasonable number of people who require a feed to be able to justify the development cost to build it.
With this project, we plan to change the way we interface to data feeds and make an API available so that clients with bespoke feeds can have them written without us needing to make changes to the foundations of Optuma. This will also make it faster for us to add new feeds into Optuma. We are currently exploring a number of professional and retail feeds that will be available as well as broker feeds.
The optional Astro module is used by many of our clients who are looking for correlations between astronomical events and price. This is a module that has been patched together over 20 years and is in need of a re-write. Just because it works is not enough for us, we are determined to provide our clients with the fastest and most flexible solution to better serve their needs.
Of all the things I have learnt over the past 25 years, arguably the most important is how professional analysts look at indexes and benchmarking. This leads to Relative Strength and charts like RRGs. The real power of these come when you have full access to security classification and indexes. Unfortunately, Index providers know how important this data is, so they charge incredibly high fees for it. For the most part, Indexes are a collection of securities based on rules. While there is a subjective component to many of the inclusion decisions, we believe we can bring most of the benefits to our clients through objective rules.
This is another project that has had to wait on the completion of our data overhaul.
We’ve almost finished building our new Education Portal where you can access our courses on getting started with Optuma, scripting, and also CMT courses for professionals who are taking the CMT exams. It should be live by the end of July.
There is a lot going on behind the scenes here at Optuma! We are also constantly looking at trends to see how we can continue to give our clients the edge in trading. We’re also exploring Crypto wallets etc to see how we can help clients take advantage of this asset class.
A big thank you again to those who have chosen to use Optuma! My vision for Optuma is as fresh and dynamic as it was when I started 25 years ago, I’m always looking for ways that we can improve and add value for our clients. I hope you are as excited as I am about what we can achieve in the next 25 years.
All the best,
Mathew Verdouw, CMT, CFTe
Founder / CEO
Mathew Verdouw, CMT, CFTe
CEO / Founder Optuma
As a Computer Systems Engineer, Mathew started Market Analyst (now Optuma) within 18 months of completing his degree. From that point on, Mathew has made it his mission to build the very best software tools available.
Since 1996 Mathew has been learning about all aspects of financial analysis, and in 2014 earned the CMT designation (Chartered Market Technician). In 2015, he was also awarded the CFTe designation. In 2017, Mathew started to teach the required content for the CMT exams at learn.optuma.com. He is the only person in the world who teaches all three levels due to his broad exposure to all forms of financial analysis.
As someone who has dedicated his life to find better ways to analyse financial markets, Mathew is set to drive innovation in this sector for many years to come.