SPECIAL REPORT: Interactive Brokers, OptionsHouse, and TD Ameritrade are Barron’s top brokers.
Brokers are putting new systems in place that monitor customers’ accounts for unusual behavior, or for logins from suspect geographical areas.
Another possibility is limiting access to your brokerage account to just one device at a time, an option that Capital One ShareBuilder and Interactive Brokers now offer. Some of the latest trends in online brokerage put even more stress on personal and brokerage securities systems. Brokers expect mobile to continue to grow, both in terms of trading activity and platform capabilities. To pinpoint 2015’s top brokers, we analyzed not just their security, mobility, and social media features but the depth of their investment tools and their trading capabilities. We decided not to include any of the 100 or so firms that utilize the Interactive Brokers platform as-is, a practice known as white labeling, which meant we had to say goodbye to Place Trade and could not include newcomer ZacksTrade.
Ram Subramaniam, president of Fidelity’s retail brokerage business, says his firm looks at more than commission rates in its appeal to retail investors. Recognizing the breadth of these styles, Barron’s also identifies top online brokers in six categories—frequent trading, in-person service, international investing, long-term investing, services for novices, and options trading—to help you decide where you should open (or transfer) an account. Interactive Brokers, our leader, just launched its latest upgrade, Investors’ Marketplace.
The firm also was among the first retail brokers to allow customers to direct orders to IEX, a new exchange designed to thwart predatory traders. Second-place OptionsHouse, also with 4? stars but a slightly lower score, boasts a platform that offers the sophisticated technology of its recent merger partner, tradeMonster, at low commission rates.
OptionsHouse has adapted several features previously available only on its Web platform to be used on the go. TD Ameritrade’s Mobile Trader can find advanced orders (one-triggers-another, among many others) for clients as well as additional options statistics.
OptionsXpress has added its Walk Limit order feature to the mobile platform, which lets you set up a spread trade at a particular limit price, taking gradual steps toward a price that will execute. The broker has also added the Idea Hub to its mobile platform, letting you check out covered call, income generation, and futures trading ideas. OptionsXpress hosts a huge number of Webinars; last year it had over 15,000 attendees for over 240 events. The Pro platform added streaming options Greeks, and when setting up a trade, the midpoint between bid and ask is preloaded as a limit price. E*Trade continues to cling to a tiered commission structure, however, and it is among the highest cost brokers in the review. The firm added futures and futures options trading last year, and built new risk charts for single positions and for total portfolio risk. We don’t have any 3? star brokers this year, but we did find three brokers who merit three stars. Scottrade worked over the last year to expand its online capabilities, and enhanced its equity, ETF and mutual fund screeners.
Sogotrade integrated OptionsPlay into its platform, including a way to open a pre-filled trade ticket from the ideas generated.
Before you log in to any of these sites, you might want to change your brokerage password first, just to be safe.
The availability of price-improvement strategies and smart-order routing technology (which finds the best bid or offer) is necessary to earn top ratings in this category. Top marks were earned by brokers who offered a wide array of order types, including conditional orders, and had spray order-routing technology.
Range of Offerings: We awarded points for the diversity of investments that can be traded online, with partial points given for those that can only be traded offline. Customer Service, Education and Security: We sized up online help such as live-chat capability, user guides and frequently-asked-question files. Costs: We looked at commissions for stock and options trades and margin interest rates, giving more points for lower costs.
Although financial institutions are just a small target for computer hackers generally, some respondents said they’re constantly worried that data such as Social Security numbers could be pilfered outside the financial system and then used to steal their money from a bank or brokerage.
Of the brokers who report customer activity, the number of retail accounts grew by 5.1% between December 2013 and December 2014.


We 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. Interactive has added an Ask the Experts Q&A Webinar series on topics such as its Option Strategy Lab and Volatility Lab, which take place in a Google+ chat room.
The OptionsHouse Website also lets you configure the appearance of up and down ticks throughout the platform.
Trade Armor helps you set an exit strategy, similar to OptionsHouse’s tradeCycle, which is a great feature. Futures and futures options trading has grown significantly—these two asset classes now comprise 20% of transactions for optionsXpress—so you’ll also find a lot of education features intended to guide you into that fold. Options traders can set up the desired strike range and expiration dates using a slider bar on the top of the quote screen. Tools from its acquisition, optionsXpress, continue to make their way over, including the excellent All-in-One Trade Ticket and Idea Hub on the Website. The Schwab Trading Services Live Online Webinars, 464 in number, reached 12,000 live attendees and have been popular as playbacks as well.
Schwab is also continuing to build out its multi-leg options capabilities in advance of the eventual folding in of optionsXpress; you can now trade four-legged options on the Web platform and in StreetSmart Edge. You can add notes on watch lists, and options analytic tools were added to help traders play with potential scenarios. For the last few years, those who wanted to trade multi-leg strategies had to use a separate platform powered by OptionsHouse. These peripatetic traders can use the proprietary platform to trade equities, complex options, and futures from a single screen. Multi-leg options traders will appreciate the single charge plus per-contract charges; most brokers apply a base charge per leg to complex options trades, which can make them more expensive.
While looking at an options quote screen, clicking on a bid or ask populates a trade ticket and builds your strategy. This is a nicely designed, very secure Website with reasonable mobile planning tools that is hurt in our ratings scheme by the limited range of assets you can trade online.
We also evaluated the options order-entry process, as well as mutual-fund, bond, and (when available) futures, commodities and foreign-exchange order-entry screens. Since long and short stock-trading, as well as single-leg options orders are now standard, we don’t award points for those transactions. Offline help was assessed by making calls to customer service, and weighing the brokers’ reports of the average time spent on hold when a customer calls in. We scaled the points awarded so that the lowest costs in the group earned the maximum number of points, with fractions (and occasional zeros) given to the more expensive brokers.
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Unmentioned were fears about the Y2K computer glitch that was supposed to empty brokerage accounts and grab airplanes out of the sky. Read-only passwords, which allow either an app or an advisor to look at your account but not to make any changes, are still pretty rare for brokerage accounts. The broker giant has integrated Twitter into its platform, which tracks social-media sentiment and tries to capitalize on its ability to share information via its thinkorswim unit. Reflecting the overall market rise as well as account growth, assets held at these brokers grew 17.8%.
You can see not only our firm grading for, say mobile offerings, but a breakdown of what specific mobile platforms an individual online broker supports or whether the platform allows trading of foreign stocks, for instance. We believe this is an appropriate brokerage experience for intermediate to advanced investors and traders who want to stay engaged in the markets. When you place a trade, you can capture the market statistics and a variety of graphs, plus the type of options spread (if applicable) back to the journal in case you want to review your underlying assumptions later on. Through the Bid Ask Trading feature, mobile traders can quickly set up a spread just by tapping on any bid or ask price in an option chain. Option scanning and trading tools are also well designed and almost as powerful as the thinkorswim platform. You can find Webinars devoted to technical and fundamental analysis, complex options strategies, and planning tools.
As Schwab builds out its options capability, the firm enhanced trade and probability calculators, and launched a new daily market commentary series that focuses on options.


Active traders can access the ScottradeELITE platform, which allows basic (single leg) options strategies. That deal is being phased out in favor of a white-label implementation of the Interactive Brokers platform. Brokers offering price improvement -- a sale above the bid price, a buy below the offer -- received a fraction of a point depending on the portion of their transactions that benefited. We looked for ways to trade stock and options on your tablet or smart phone; the ability to trade other asset classes is a plus. We asked brokers how many stocks, on average, their customers can sell short, and awarded up to a half-point based on their answer. Stock and options commissions are the biggest factor here, but mutual-fund and other transaction fees are also considered. Brokers books stock learn about binary option daily has become stats rating risks germany delaware provide forum you dont need take a binary option broker usa forum.
But if you think one might be useful, ask your broker to add this service; squeaky wheels do get greased. Total retail trades increased 9.4% across all asset classes for our group of brokers, showing healthy activity. 1 for the fourth year in a row, edged out newly launched OptionsHouse, in second, and TD Ameritrade, third.
We start with our top, 4?-star brokers and then proceed to the rest, each grouped by its ranking.
We have not seen this live yet, but find it a little strange to require a separate account for multi-leg options trades. Most of what is possible with EdgeFinder can be found on other brokers’ Websites for no additional charge, but the intriguing component here is the ability to find mispriced contracts, which can result in more profitable trades. Being able to easily switch from one area of the Website or program to another is important here, as are customization options. Complex options trading, and the availability of mutual funds, bonds, futures, commodities and international trading were also considered. Brokers also won points for offering real-time streaming quotes at no additional cost, powerful charting capabilities, and Level II quotes. Full credit is given for reports that can be created on the broker’s Website, with no additional fees or data entry required. The ability to visit a broker in person, and to access the account via a mobile device, is taken into account here. A 5 could be earned here by very low stock and mutual-fund commissions, $4 or less for 10 options contracts, margin interest rates below 2%, and no account-maintenance fees. These three firms offer very different online experiences and are meant to appeal to different types of investors and traders.
Partial credit is awarded to brokers that populate services such as GainsKeeper and Maxit (tax analysis and reporting programs) for an additional fee. When it comes to security issues, we looked at whether a broker offers two-factor authentication, and checked out security measurement statistics for the Websites by third party evaluators. The best binary time frame with over, practice futures vs binary brokers are the without having worlds.
Sell options brokers usa signals; best binary option brokers with low minimum deposit futures trading code review warrior forum giga thoughts via email signal live. With Nasdaq and other exchanges all near or at record highs, the more innovative brokers in our list are enjoying more activity.
To earn a 5 in this category, a broker must offer the ability to place complex options transactions and conditional orders, and be able to share watchlists and trade ideas with the customer’s desktop or Web-based offering. We also looked at the strength of the passwords each broker required, and whether password changes are forced from time to time.
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