Barron’s 2015 Best Online Broker Ranking


Barrons Online Broker Review Broker Discussion MB Trading got a great write up in Barrons this weekend. Its more relevant to their equity operations but they did get very high remarks and reviews.

Our primary consideration in judging these 18 firms is how they work for our readers, who are high-net-worth active investors. Other factors evaluated during the cost analysis include maintenance fees, additional services fees and whether or not the broker offers any commission-free opportunities. Commission-free ETFs now total , and the entire universe of mutual funds is available for trading. OptionsXpress also has a great devotion to research, and it shows, landing them 4.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Interactive Brokers LLC (IB) came in as the Number One software-based broker in Barron's annual review of online brokerage firms. IB also was the only broker to score a perfect rating in the trading “costs” category due to its low execution and clearing costs worldwide.

As we designed our scoring rubric for this review, we awarded Customer Service points based on performance during trading surges. In our scoring, the ability to create a personalized experience on both a PC and a mobile device is a major focus. Being able to move smoothly from idea generation to trade ticket, and then quickly get the results, also were evaluated.

Price-improvement statistics are built into the Trading Experience and Technology category. Tastyworks appears in our review for the first time, along with AutoShares and OptionsRoute, which are subsidiaries of ViewTrade Securities. And we welcome Vanguard to our ranking for only the second time in 23 years. Overall, and early have seen continued consolidation among online brokers.

I experienced that firsthand in helping a family member shift an optionsXpress account to Charles Schwab. Overall, the transfer went smoothly, but we had to hunt to find some of the features I enjoy using. So which firms were victorious? Fidelity, the winner the past couple of years, fell to second, while TD Ameritrade remains No.

Five brokers that offer terrific tools earned four stars: We also identify the brokers that were at the extremes when we calculated the monthly cost of trading for infrequent traders, as well as for those who buy and sell securities multiple times per day. How The Brokers Stack Up. The software has become friendlier and offers a ton of information on a single page.

You can customize the quote page to display graphs of various types, with a news ticker in the right-hand column. Interactive Brokers is known for allowing clients to trade around the world and around the clock.

Through IBot, investors can use institutional-level trading algorithms to accumulate or sell large positions. The client chooses the desired starting price, order type, and price increment over a set period. In addition, options traders can access a wide variety of spread tools; one lets them roll a spread to a future month with just a couple of clicks.

It lets you use your thumb to choose price, spread, dollar value of the trade, and other possibilities. About 50 more data points were added to the charting function on mobile devices, and IBot can help you learn about them. Fixed-income traders can use the secondary bond market scanner, which includes reports on municipal bonds. In a nice touch, the system offers links to local newspapers, where you can get the skinny on the projects tied to the bonds.

Each course has two to eight lessons with quizzes along the way. Another offering is the PortfolioAnalyst, which can review assets held outside IB for complete analysis of your financial position. One issue with IB is that you can only display streaming quotes on one platform at a time, so if you log in to your mobile app while the desktop platform is still running, one of them will be restricted to snapshot quotes rather than streaming.

This seems like a quibble. But in light of the push toward uniform client experiences, it should be addressed. Among the new features are a place for digital-currency holdings in the portfolio view, an updated watchlist with streaming quotes, and more video content on the education page.

In addition, iOS apps have been more tightly integrated with the website experience, adding most of the available research capabilities. And ETF fans now have a search tool that indicates whether a company is in a particular fund. Fidelity customers have their choice of several platforms, including Active Trader Pro, or ATP, for accounts that meet certain trading or asset criteria. Options traders can access tools on the ATP platform that will be expanded to include implied and historical volatility charting later this year.

You can also set up a one-on-one coaching session, at no additional fee, to learn more about options trading. The Option Trade Builder helps clients learn which strategies work for a given market outlook. Fidelity had a rough go maintaining client connections during the roiled markets of February. Although it says platform stability is a top priority, it obviously has work to do.

In October, the firm even launched its own news network, which streams video on thinkorswim, mobile apps, the TDAmeritrade. It airs on days the market is open, starting at 8 a. With the absorption of the Scottrade business, the firm plans to dramatically expand its branch footprint.

TD Ameritrade has revamped its education offerings with an online university. Courses are free to clients, who can view webcasts, short videos, and articles. Courses built into thinkorswim cover technical analysis and options trading; passing the options course can qualify a customer for more-complex trading.

Eligible customers can buy or sell these ETFs from Sunday evening through Friday evening, allowing them to respond to news that breaks when U.

TD also has introduced an income estimator, which shows interest and dividends expected for the coming 12 months. The firm also partnered with FeeX to help customers analyze their retirement plans, and switch out expensive funds for lower-cost ETFs to bolster returns.

Charles Schwab 4 stars had a busy year, between final assimilation of the optionsXpress platform to the launch of a robo-advisory service, Schwab Intelligent Advisory. For the former, the StreetSmart Central web-based and mobile trading platforms were launched, encompassing most of the optionsXpress functionality and allowing clients to trade equities, options, futures, and options on futures.

Going forward, the firm plans to focus on combining online service and personalized advice. There are multiple modes for working with an advisor; fees vary depending on the level of engagement and assets under management. Here's some interesting facts I noted from the Barron's rankings regarding TradeKing: They finished 6th overall out of 23 different brokerages for It says you just open an account, fill out the ACAT transfer form, and fax your old broker account statement with the transfer charge on it to Sounds like they're doing things right.

To read more about the various brokers, check out the entire Barron's piece here. And look for their piece in the coming months. Posted by market folly at 8: Customization, especially of reports, is a particular focus, as is the ability to move smoothly from idea generation to trade ticket. Which brokers made it to the top this year? The winner for the previous four years, Interactive Brokers, finishes a very close second, with OptionsHouse third.

A group of six brokers that offer terrific tools earned four stars: Each has a particular set of strengths. We also show the brokers that were at the extremes when we calculated the monthly cost of trading for infrequent traders, as well as for those who trade multiple times per day. You can read about our methodology at Barrons. How They Stack Up.

Many of the data points added this year were inspired by questions from our readers. Thanks for helping us out. Customers can see a summary of the price improvements their trades have experienced for their account, with a display of the number of orders that were improved, as well as the total amount for the month to date, year to date, and the past 12 months.

Each order that received price improvement for the previous six months can be listed and examined. During the wildly volatile and heavy trading volume in August and January , Fidelity. He notes that Fidelity Active Trader Pro invested heavily in technology and infrastructure during , including a move to a new data center with state-of-the-art servers, nearly doubling its previous throughput levels.

Investing in the invisible back end makes the changes that Fidelity has introduced snap onto screens. In its online education center, the firm has made its content fully responsive to whatever device is being used. Its stock screener has evolved over the past year, and is visually engaging and easy to use. Rather than typing values into boxes, you can use slider bars to choose figures such as price or dividend yield.

The exchange-traded-fund screener was based on the same framework and, like the stock screener, was designed with mobile devices in mind. The stock-detail display has been updated to provide information as well as insight, including dividend analysis, earnings metrics, and social sentiment. The planning and guidance center has been redesigned and includes a Retirement Readiness score that may spur many investors into action. You can design a real-time alert based on technical data within ATP.

Customers only qualify for Active Trader Pro based on their level of trading. Options-trading functionality has been enhanced, and those who trade multi-leg options will be pleased that the commission structure has changed so that there is only one base commission charge per trade. Most brokers charge the base commission for each leg of a multi-leg options trade, which can add significantly to the cost. The number of third-party providers seems to grow daily, and this feature makes it easy to find and compare services.

To support the use of an advisor or trading service, you can partition your IB account and track the performance of each piece in real time using customizable portfolio-performance reports. IB continues to offer the widest access to international markets.

There are also six commission-free international ETFs you can trade. You can become your own robo-advisor with the Portfolio Builder feature, which lets you select your holdings based on fundamental and technical data, as well as ratings from 11 research providers.

You can back-test your strategy over four years to get a sense of how it will work. Enter the symbol for a mutual fund and the amount you want to invest, and the Replicator will present you with lower-cost ETF possibilities. The performance analysis includes the differences in annual expenses. The Web platform has been updated, and its interface is the same across all devices, and can be translated into several different languages, including Chinese. The updated trade ticket lets you know, in plain English, what you will pay or receive once the order is executed.

You can also create an alert from a trade ticket, such as a profit target or stop loss. The new Trigger Alerts feature lets you set up an order based on a particular market move. Once the trigger fires, you get an alert to send the order or ignore the message. This alert fires on all devices, including Apple Watch, though the firm warns you not to trade while driving. You can attend a number of live Webinars, or view the archived ones on demand.

OptionsHouse recently launched its dime buyback program to make it easy to close out a short options position. Many traders wait for an option to expire worthless before opening a new position, but now they can get out without incurring a fee.

You can benchmark your customized portfolio report against any index, security, or combination of securities. The brokerage is in the midst of shifting its mutual fund research from Lipper to Morningstar, and during the transition does not have a mutual fund screener. The stock, ETF, and options screeners are flexible and come up with actionable ideas. StrategySeek, one of the options-scanning tools, is actually patent protected.

Six online brokers earned four stars apiece in TD Ameritrade emphasizes mobile, in which it scored very high in our ranking. The firm reports that about a third of its daily customer logins happen on phones, tablets, and watches. User support can get tricky with all the devices supported, so last year TD added a feature that makes it possible to chat with a representative directly on a mobile device.

You can share your display with the representative, who can guide you to the right function. TD Ameritrade offers a huge variety of platforms, including the downloadable thinkorswim desktop. For customers who use a variety of the platforms, though, almost everything syncs up, from watchlists to order entry preferences. A second Web platform, TradeArchitect, straddles the line between the standard Website and the deep set of tools found on thinkorswim. Speaking of thinkorswim, there is a major remodel in progress, designed to make it much more customizable and easier to navigate.

The broker points out, however, that frequent traders can negotiate their own rates, which can bring the costs down. TradeStation has expanded its TradingApp store, which offers both proprietary and third-party add-ons to the platform.

Some are free and some require either a one-time fee or a monthly subscription; these apps include analytics, trading strategies, and additional analysis tools you can use to personalize your platform.