Not that long ago, I put together a list of the best online discount brokers based on reader feedback. Today I’m going to provide slightly different perspective by previewing the results of SmartMoney’s 2008 Broker Survey.
Commissions & Fees
Surprisingly, the best of breed in this category was Interactive Brokers. The reason I’m surprised is that they actually charge fees, whereas brokers like Zecco are commission-free. TradeKing was also lauded for their low commissions on broker-executed trades. The worst of breed was WellsTrade, who got slammed for high commissions plus additional fees.
Interestingly, research firm J.D. Power claims that customers rank solid research tools above all else when evaluating brokers. Personally, I primarily look at cost and trade execution, as there are tons of freely available options for investment research. Regardless, TD Ameritrade took top honors in terms of research tools, with Zecco and SoGo Trade bringing up the rear. That being said, both firms are expected to bring out more features in this area within the next year.
E*Trade and TD Ameritrade took top honors in this category, due in part to things such as the ability to trade using a smartphone and personalized stock tickers. Their trading interfaces were also considered to be amongst the most efficient. TradeKing’s social networking area, which includes a weblog where “trading coaches” dissect trades made by members, also received a favorable review. ShareBuilder was amongst the worst, offering little more than a dividend reinvestment program.