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Interactive Brokers - horror stories?


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Hi everyone, I've been using IB about a year now and I've got about 20% of my portfolio with them.  It's kind of a love-hate relationship.  I like the international direct exchange access and low commissions.  The customer service is below average.  Their capitalization seems OK.  But what gets me is their platform is just so unstable.  About once a month I try to log in and get just random strings of code.  And today I can't log in at all.

 

I think a lot about market dislocations since I try to position myself to be a buyer when there are a lot of forced sellers.  But it seems likely to me that whenever the next big dislocation rolls around, IB will be the first platform to crash.  It also worries me that market makers who operate discount brokerages may have a conflict of interest to extend the downtime in these sorts of scenarios so they can get their own trades in before the retail investors.

 

For you IB veterans out there, I would appreciate insight on your ability to trade during high-volatility markets on IB since 1994.  If you had problems, what were they?

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Actually, IB has often been the only broker that worked when there was high market volatility while others such as TD Ameritrade were down.

 

I also don't recognize your issues with errors, but might depend on the version of the software you are using.

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Actually, IB has often been the only broker that worked when there was high market volatility while others such as TD Ameritrade were down.

 

I haven't been using IB as a user very long but have noticed investors complaining about outages on other platforms while IBKR was stable during very volatile periods.

 

You haven't specified what you are logging into, but sounds like a browser-based interface. Possibly you just need to clear your cache. If you can't log into one interface, try another (e.g. iphone or TWS). Their backend is solid, so I suspect any issues you are having are front-end and not related to market volume or volatility.

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Actually, IB has often been the only broker that worked when there was high market volatility while others such as TD Ameritrade were down.

 

I also don't recognize your issues with errors, but might depend on the version of the software you are using.

 

+1. When was the last true 'panic moment'? August 2015 right? I still remember that I wanted to buy some stuff around the opening but apart from IB all my brokerage accounts were inaccessible and/or unable to process orders. Complete disaster. Only IB was reliable (I use TWS fwiw).

 

IB doesn't sell your market flow to others. Trading is usually crazy cheap and they allow access to a wide range of venues and order types. On the technical side they are just unbeatable. I personally think their reporting tools are excellent. I also love their corporate actions tool. With all other brokers I have to call / e-mail to get something done.

 

Also, customer service might not hold your hand if you don't understand something but the ticket system works fine and they are far more knowledgeable about, for example, corporate actions, collateral, international withholding taxes and other 'advanced' subjects than all other brokers I have ever used.

 

But yeah, sometimes it is not really user-friendly unless you are an expert.

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We've had these discussions before. People who claim that IB is much better than other brokers are mostly not US based or they are advisors using IB SMA platform, which is something not available from other brokers. It's possible that other brokers outside US are crappy.

 

For US based person IB web interface is crap; customer support - depends - for some people it's OKish for some it's crap; not supporting Turbo Tax Online is complete hogwash.

 

So screw them.

 

8)

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if you are logging in from work, your work's firewall/security may muck up IB's data feeds. TraderWorkStation is virtually unusable at work for me (which is fine, because I have a phone and because I don't trade often). Other than that, absolutely love IB, have had for 4 years and would estimate overall value add in the thousands if not tens of thousands.

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HAHAHA! Jurgis perennially hating on IB because it lacks turbo tax integration.

 

It's actually a Turbo Tax online issue. With the purchased turbo tax I can upload my IB trades.

 

It is not Turbo Tax Online issue. It is IB issue. They refuse to provide TT API to access their data. The purchased TT uses IB crappy CSV export for their import.

 

IB is the only company out of big banks and brokerages that refuse to provide TT API access. Nobody else does that.

 

IB sucks.

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HAHAHA! Jurgis perennially hating on IB because it lacks turbo tax integration.

 

It's actually a Turbo Tax online issue. With the purchased turbo tax I can upload my IB trades.

 

It is not Turbo Tax Online issue. It is IB issue. They refuse to provide TT API to access their data. The purchased TT uses IB crappy CSV export for their import.

 

IB is the only company out of big banks and brokerages that refuse to provide TT API access. Nobody else does that.

 

IB sucks.

 

I've never had an issue with IB and CSV export. With Schwab I always have a dozen entries that aren't complete that I have to fix.

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Actually, IB has often been the only broker that worked when there was high market volatility while others such as TD Ameritrade were down.

 

I also don't recognize your issues with errors, but might depend on the version of the software you are using.

 

+1. When was the last true 'panic moment'? August 2015 right? I still remember that I wanted to buy some stuff around the opening but apart from IB all my brokerage accounts were inaccessible and/or unable to process orders. Complete disaster. Only IB was reliable (I use TWS fwiw).

 

IB doesn't sell your market flow to others. Trading is usually crazy cheap and they allow access to a wide range of venues and order types. On the technical side they are just unbeatable. I personally think their reporting tools are excellent. I also love their corporate actions tool. With all other brokers I have to call / e-mail to get something done.

 

Also, customer service might not hold your hand if you don't understand something but the ticket system works fine and they are far more knowledgeable about, for example, corporate actions, collateral, international withholding taxes and other 'advanced' subjects than all other brokers I have ever used.

 

But yeah, sometimes it is not really user-friendly unless you are an expert.

 

We would never trust a broker that sells our market flow orders. IB is worth it for that alone--and it shows in their rapid executions at favorable prices.

 

Not giving TurboTax API access is also a good sign to us -- it shows that account security is held at the highest standards at IB, as allowing outside API access is a setup for massive potential vulnerabilities. We'll gladly download and import tax data manually to reduce the likelihood of malicious hackers from gaining account access.

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I've heard from fellow software developers that IB doesn't have that great of a technology infrastructure. If they don't have great tech infra , it is very hard to make money in the market making business. This was a few years ago though, things may have changed

 

Their only advantage is cheapest trading costs that small RIA's and asset managers find beneficial.

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Their only advantage is cheapest trading costs that small RIA's and asset managers find beneficial.

 

This is not correct. For one thing, small RIA's and asset managers generally don't care that much about trading costs. And they are not IBKRs primary customers.

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As far as stability and reliability is concerned, I rate IB , using either the TWS application or the mobile app (I use the iPad and the Android App) as best in class.

 

I have been able to execute trades in the wildest days of the financial crisis and during the mini crash a couple of years ago, when no other brokerage was able to get anything done (I have fidelity, E*TRADE and Wells Fargo investments).

 

The Turbotax issues is a big nuisance, since the CSV export is lacking. This is not an issues , if you have and IRA account with IB.

 

While the TWS app has become too complex over the year imo; I do most of my trades using the IPad or Android mobile app nowadays and both are fairly straightforward to use.

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