Best Stock Broker 2018

When it comes to trading stocks all traders have their own specific needs ranging from their risk appetite level, their financial objectives, the technology they’d like to trade on, the commission they are willing to pay and the stocks they want to trade. To help our readers make a more informed decision, we have prepared a list of the most outstanding stock brokerage firms and a guide that covers the key factors which a trader should take into consideration when choosing a broker to work with.

How to Choose a Stock Broker

When choosing a broker, there are several factors that need to be taken into consideration. These include:

Regulation

Before all else, it is important to check to see if the broker is regulated and if the broker is regulated then you should know which agencies have regulatory oversight over the broker’s operations. While regulations do vary from country to country, Stock broker firms must all be regulated. For example, in the UK, a broker must be qualified by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). In the US a broker must be regulated by the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). In Singapore, the broker must apply for a license for that Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and the Singapore Stock Exchange (SGX).

For Stockbroking firms, the regulatory focus is on ensuring that the brokerage firm conducts its business in the following manner:

  • Acts fairly in its dealings with clients. Brokerage firms apart from being subjected to commercial regulations and securities laws are also subjected to the requirements of self-regulatory organizations as the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). With FINRA, “A member, in the conduct of his business, shall observe high standards of commercial honor and just and equitable principles of trade.”
  • Act in the interest of their clients. Since brokers earn through the commissions for the trade they execute for their clients, there exists an inherent tension between the broker and the client’s interest. Regardless of this tension, a broker is required to put the interest of its clients first.
  • Meet the capital adequacy ratio at all times as laid out by the local regulator.

Trading Platform & Software

The next most important factor that needs to be taken into account when selecting a broker is the trading platform. Regardless of whether a trading platform is proprietary or supplied by a third party trading solution provider, the broker’s trading platform must meet the following criteria:

  • User Friendliness

The ideal trading platform would be one that lets you place your trade easily from the main trading screen or through a watch list. Trading platforms that are designed with the users in mind often let you customize the trading screen to suit your particular trading style. In other words, they offer more versatility than those which offer basic trading functionalities. Apart from being easy to use and versatile, we also need to look at the range of trading tools that come with the trading platform.

  • Trading Tools

Market analysis is part and parcel of trading the financial markets. Naturally, a trading platform that offers more trading tools will enable you to better analyze the markets. Every trader has his own unique style of analyzing the markets and due to this wide diversity, the more tools that are available at the trader’s disposal, the better will be his ability to analyze the markets. For example, the more technical indicators that a trading platform has, the easier it is for the trader to develop his own trading strategies. Some trading platforms offer their users as many as 300 different types of technical indicators. Additional tools such as risk vs. reward analysis, earnings report stream and risk forecasters will enable you to have a better long-term outlook at your investment portfolio.

  • Mobile Trading Apps

As high speed internet and smartphones become readily available, financial traders are becoming increasingly mobile. The ability to trade and keep track of developments in the financial markets while on the move has become a must for today’s trader. As such, it is important to check if the broker that you are interested in is able to support mobile trading as well. Mobile trading platforms which score high are those apps which are simple to use but equally as powerful and efficient as the desktop version. Brokers that will rank low on your shortlist will be brokers that do not provide alerts to your mobile platform or are not user friendly.

  • Training Resources

One aspect of trading that one must never neglect is knowledge. The more knowledgeable that you are, the better would be your ability to analyze the markets accurately. Hence, it is also important to note if a shortlisted broker provides an online knowledge center as well. Brokers that want their traders to do  well will often have a comprehensive trading educational center that covers a wide range of topics. These educational resources are often categorized based on the skills of the trader and may include courses, webinars, articles and videos.

Commissions & Spreads

For any financial trader, cost is one of the biggest influencing factors in deciding which broker to use. With equity and option trading, traders are required to pay a commission on the trades that they transact in. The commissions charged can be based on a fixed amount per trade or it can be based on a percentage of the total value of the trade. Depending on the volume traded, the average commission charged by a broker can range from $5 to $10 for each side of the trade. For options, the commissions charged are even lower ranging from $0.50 to $2 per contract. While these amounts might seem small, it is important to remember that they can quickly pile up the more you trade.

Stock Broker for Beginners

As mentioned earlier, different traders have different trading needs and as a result there are different brokers that provide certain services that suit different categories of traders. For a beginner trader who is just learning how to trade stocks, the key feature that the trader should look for in a broker is their trading education resources. In addition, the broker must be beginner friendly with trading platforms that are easy to understand and use. While these types of brokers often charge higher commissions than discount brokers, it is well worth to be properly educated as you will be able to trade more effectively rather than worrying about the trading cost itself.

Stock Broker for Professionals

For more experienced traders, their focus will be more on the quality of market analysis as opposed to trading education. For this category of traders, their focus will be on brokers which can provide them with the necessary trading tools, data and research which can enhance their ability to better analyze the markets. A definitive charting package will be key here to, so that the trader may implement their own patterns and strategies over charts. A broker with an extensive array of trading tools and top quality research team will be a standout for the more experienced traders.

Stock Broker for Day Traders

For day traders, their trading style requires them to look for a broker that can provide them with a fast and efficient trading platform. For most day traders, trading is a full time job for them and requires them to constantly monitor their trading screen. Hence, day traders will appreciate a simple and easy to operate trading platform with a fast execution speed and low server downtime. For this group of traders, their concern is about making money right now and is less concerned about portfolio diversification or tax efficiency.

Stock Broker for Penny Stocks

For traders specializing in low cost penny stocks, their main concern will be the trading cost. For this category of traders, their profitability is measured in terms of pennies. Hence to maximize their returns, a broker that offers the lowest trading cost is more suited to their particular investment style.

Account Types

When evaluating a broker, it is also important to note the type of account that the broker offers. Generally, there are 3 main types of brokerage account – cash account, margin account and option account.

Cash Account

With this type of trading account, the trader must pay in full the transacted amount by the settlement date. The securities and funds in the cash trading account belong to the trader and are held in the trader’s name.

Margin Account

With a margin account, the trader can borrow money or securities from the broker to leverage his trade. With a 50% margin, a trader can essentially double his investment than what is possible with a cash account. Because of the risks involved, margin accounts cater more to the needs of experienced traders’ than beginner traders.

Option Account

An Option is basically a margin account that has been approved by the broker for trading on the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), the world’s largest options exchange. A broker will only approve for a trader such an account if the broker is satisfied that there are adequate funds in the margin account. In addition, the trader has shown the broker he has adequate net worth and sufficient knowledge to invest in the higher risk option market.

Apart from the above, traders also need to look at the minimum initial deposit required for opening the trading account. While there are many brokers that do not impose a minimum investment amount, some may require traders to deposit a minimum of $100 to $5000.

Customer Service

In a service oriented industry, quality customer support is crucial for achieving high customer retention. Generally, reputable brokers with an established brand tend to provide better quality customer support than a new broker that has just joined the industry. Nevertheless when evaluating a broker’s customer service, always pay attention to the support hours, the methods of communicating with the support team and the range of support services provided. In addition, take note of the response time for the customer service representative.

Additional Services

Apart from all the above mentioned factors, take note of any additional value added services that the broker is providing. Some brokers in an effort to differentiate themselves from other brokers in the industry go the extra mile to provide their clients with additional services.  These value added services can include

  • Free signal service
  • Trading advisory service
  • Market analysis updates by email
  • Fund management service

FAQ

  • How do stock brokers make money?

Stock brokers make money by charging their clients a commission each time the client make a trade. The commission is usually based on a percentage of the value of the trade executed.

  • How do stock brokers work?

The online trading kind work by traders using the given platform to buy and sell stocks at any time they require. This service is all conducted online, although investors do also have the option to  phone their order through.

  • What are stock broker fees?

The fees that stock brokers charge are basically commissions. For every stock you buy or sell you will pay a commission fee.

Conclusion

In comparing the various stock broker trading platforms, we review their trading software and the range of trading tools provided by the brokers. We also look at their reputation in the industry to ensure that the brokers recommended by us are reputable and reliable. Finally we look at the range of services and support provided by the broker as well as the commission which they charge their clients.

Top Brokers
// Top Brokers By Promotion Type

List of Brokers

BROKERUSER RATINGREGULATED BYHEADQUARTERSMIN. DEPOSITOFFICIAL SITE
Plus500
ASIC, CySEC, FCAIsrael$100Open Account
  • CFD Service. 80.6% lose money
AvaTrade
ASIC, BVI, FSA(JP), FSB, MiFIDIreland$100Open Account
  • Your capital is at risk
eToro
ASIC, CySEC, FCACyprus$200Open Account
  • 65% of retail investor accounts lose money
Markets.com
CySEC, FSBCyprus$100Open Account
  • CFDs carry risk. 73% of traders lose
FXCM
BaFin, FCAUnited Kingdom$300Open Account
  • Your capital is at risk