Interactive Brokers Order Types and Algo Overview (For Ordinary Folks)

I’m an Interactive Brokers (IB) client that has been placing orders in the typical way since starting with them because I did not know any better. Then I saw this page on their site and it broke my mind.

This entry is a summary of the order types and algos that IB supports, written with my own education in mind. I’m skipping all of the types and products that I consider exotic or for people with significantly more capital than me.

This is a very high-level overview to simply tell you a thing exists, and will not go in great depth.

First – How Do I Pay Commission In These Fancy Ways?

On mobile you’ll often have to use IBot. I’ve shied away from IBot the same way I shy away from chat bots on business websites, but this one is alright. You get an interactive menu form that you can quickly move through to do complex things. It’s not perfect: it wasn’t available to me today, because the servers were busy. It’s also not very smart, so I’ve been frustrated at times because it didn’t understand me.

On desktop you can find all of these in the Trader Workstation platform in an order ticket window in the same dropdown where you’d find LMT or MKT. If you don’t find it there, it’s probably a fancybeast that has its own window. There’s also IBot on TWS.

Accumulate Distribute

This is a monster of a algo that is primarily designed for filling large orders without spooking the market. I was thinking of using it to get an average price over a given period of time so it really caught my eye and started this investigation but it turns out they have a simpler algo for that!

TWAP Algo

This order spreads out a total order size into chunks filled across time, getting you an average price over that period of time. I want this often! Having it dutifully executing the full order according to your specifications takes the emotion out of your fills, and I like that.

Adaptive Algo

This algo attempts to trade within the spread of a security to get fills at better prices, and should be most helpful when the spread is wide. It will scan the bid/ask as the patience level you specify to try and get you the best fill. There is a risk that the market will move away from you while it waits. IB claims that using this leads to better fill prices.

GTD, GAT

Good til date/time and good after date/time. Exactly what they sound like.

Funari

A limit order that left incompletely filled at the end of the trading session will be automatically converted into a Market-On-Close order ensuring a complete fill.

Box Top

A market order that if partially filled becomes a limit order at the filled price. This avoids eating through a couple good prices and filling the stink ones behind it.


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