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Which stock broker do you use?


muscleman
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I am currently using Fidelity. They have international trading, but very expensive. Forex cost is 1% of the principle, plus commission per trade. This morning I bought some EXO.MI, and I had to pay 1% for their forex division to exchange my usd into euro, and then 19 EUR for their stock division to get the trade done. If I sell in the future, the cost is similar.

 

I used Scottrade in the past, but didn't like it. It doesn't have international trading, and OTC trading for low priced stocks is very expensive. (1% of principle)

 

I asked Interactive Brokers before and it seems like their International trading is the best. Also they provide the "Enhanced yield program", which allows me to lend shares out to earn some interest. But their custom representatives are very rude, and if you have a margin account, they have the policy of instant liquidation, so your account could be wiped out with one bad tick on one of your symbols. Since I only hold a cash account, I shouldn't have this problem though. My other concern is that IB forces you to pay a minimum of $10 per month for commissions even if you don't trade, and another $10 per month for US data fees. International exchanges will cost you extra data fees.

 

So in general, the reason I choose fidelity is because:

1. My employer opened my 401k in Fidelity, so it will be easier to manage all account in one broker.

2. Fidelity works with TurboTax, which makes tax filing much easier each year.

3. I trade mostly US stocks, so the higher cost for international stocks occastionally isn't that bad.

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I use IB and love their service. I don't pay for the $10 data feed though. I have a second Scottrade account that I use for their free mutual funds (i.e. Yacktman and Oakmark). I use the quotes from Scottrade before placing a limit order at IB. This gives me quotes that are accurate to the minute. I figure up until 20 years ago most investors used the newspaper for quotes and did just fine and I'll probably be fine without up to the .1 second quotes. Three years on, so far so good.

 

IB Forex changes are $2 or $2.5, lots of US stock are $1 for 200 shares. European trades are .1% of cost basis with a minimum of 4-6 Euros depending on the country. London is a 600 pence minimum. Their foreign offerings are great, but my favorite thing about them is their execution. I can get orders filled at any time of the day and have had orders filled that I truly did not think would go through. For instance, at Scottrade, you very rarely will get an order filled at the low. For options you better put in the ask. At IB this is not a problem. 

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I asked Interactive Brokers before and it seems like their International trading is the best. Also they provide the "Enhanced yield program", which allows me to lend shares out to earn some interest. But their custom representatives are very rude, and if you have a margin account, they have the policy of instant liquidation, so your account could be wiped out with one bad tick on one of your symbols. Since I only hold a cash account, I shouldn't have this problem though. My other concern is that IB forces you to pay a minimum of $10 per month for commissions even if you don't trade, and another $10 per month for US data fees. International exchanges will cost you extra data fees.

 

I use IB and also use their "Enhanced yield program". I like their low rates and no holding charges. I don't pay for the data feed, as I am not a trader but a long term holder and therefore don't need it (the delayed feed is fine). In my experience the enhanced yield program has produced generously more than the $10 per month I need to pay, but of course this will depend on the particular stocks you hold (short interest and prices for lending differ a lot) and the size of your portfolio (however my portfolio size is quite modest to what I expect most people here to hold, if you like to know PM me).

 

Finally, I read all sorts of negative things about customer support and don't share this sympathy. To me, support has always been swift in responding and as long as you take the time to properly explain things you get correct answers.

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I use IB and Schwab. I like them both. I negotiated my commissions with Schwab, pointing out the lower commissions I get at IB, and Schwab lowered my commissions to $4.95 a trade plus $0.75 per option contract. What you can negotiate with Schwab will depend on your account value and how much trading you do. Of course the commissions are still much better at IB as Schwab would not/could not go that low.

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I have used Fidelity for about 10 years and have been very happy.  Do not underestimate the value of downloading info to TurboTax at tax time and the access to 10 years worth of old statements.  I find I am looking back at old statements more and more and of course filing my taxes is a lot easier with the download.

 

Satisfied Fidelity customer.

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I have used Fidelity for about 10 years and have been very happy.  Do not underestimate the value of downloading info to TurboTax at tax time and the access to 10 years worth of old statements.  I find I am looking back at old statements more and more and of course filing my taxes is a lot easier with the download.

 

Satisfied Fidelity customer.

 

Yes that downloading into TurboTax is a major plus for Schwab and a minus for IB.

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and if you have a margin account, they have the policy of instant liquidation, so your account could be wiped out with one bad tick on one of your symbols.

 

I pay less than 1% margin borrowing cost with them, vs 4+% for Fidelity.

 

Using the money saved, I can purchase puts that completely eliminate the "one bad tick" risk.  The account is configured for "portfolio margin" (as opposed to "Reg-T Margin").

 

You see, under the rules of Portfolio Margin, if I buy $5 puts on BAC then my account in effect has $5 of uninvested cash sitting in it (from their point of view).  The rules for portfolio margining are simply different -- they look at only your net exposures, and puts effectively free up your invested dollars (below the strike price).

 

 

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I asked Interactive Brokers before and it seems like their International trading is the best. Also they provide the "Enhanced yield program", which allows me to lend shares out to earn some interest. But their custom representatives are very rude, and if you have a margin account, they have the policy of instant liquidation, so your account could be wiped out with one bad tick on one of your symbols.

It should actually reduce your risk. If positions are not liquidated when you are using a lot of margin you could end up with zero equity a lot faster if prices continue dropping.

 

Since I only hold a cash account, I shouldn't have this problem though. My other concern is that IB forces you to pay a minimum of $10 per month for commissions even if you don't trade, and another $10 per month for US data fees. International exchanges will cost you extra data fees.

There is only a $10/month minimum fee. If you pay for the US real time data you don't pay the minimum fee, and the US data is free once you reach $30 in commissions that month. When you can buy stocks for less than $1/trade it might not be easy to hit that number though.

 

What is imo also a huge advantage of IB are the cheap rates on currency conversion. You pay $2.50 fixed per conversion while at other brokers you often pay something like 1% of the transaction value. Just one 10K transaction in foreign currency and IB is already unbeatable wrt fees. But also when you want to use margin, short stocks or lend shares IB >>> everything else. Only wished they had access to more foreign markets.

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I second what was said about IB. I think they are by far the best option for retail investors. I also like how they blend your equity and futures portfolio for margin and reporting purposes.

 

 

They are not only good for retail investors. It seems that Vadim Perelman, with his Baker Street Capital hedge fund is some big institutional client.

 

Source: http://pgcnz.blogspot.de/2012/01/baker-street-capital-v-kerr-stupid-is.html

 

 

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I have both fidelity and IB, IB is cheaper but they charge you forced monthly commissions but its still cheaper, fidelity is good and easy and intuitive to use, I don't need anything complicated as I do simple trades, but viewing your account history commissions taxes dividends performance etc is much more intuitive in fidelity, In ib I still get confused they have three different places to login to start with which is account management, web trader and their tws, and not everything is available everywhere so I still find it confusing, Not just that the presentation and there are other things also which seem much more intuitive to me on fidelity.

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  • 1 month later...

I'm thinking of doing a full or partial Roth IRA t.ransfer from Interactive Brokers to TD Ameritrade (I'll leave my taxable account at IB).  TD Ameritrade offers 90 days free trades + $600 for xfers > $250K, and I don't think charges $7.50/quarter IRA maintenance fee. 

 

Does anyone have advice re TD Ameritrade?

 

I also get annoyed at IBs multiple logins and find the TWS platform hard to use.  The Web Trader platform is intuitive but relatively flaky, logs out at variable inactivity times, sometimes logs into a scanner so you can't see open positions, easy to make a "fat finger" mistake in order entry (esp with options) - & relatively slow to initiate orders.  TD Ameritrades and Think or Swim seems friendlier, and no $7.50/qtr fee?

 

Options trades after 90 days are higher at .75/contract + $10 vs IBs .70/contract, but I don't trade too much in Roth IRA account.  Advice?  thanks in advance!

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I use TD Ameritrade. They are fine if you want to invest in US securities.  I do find that most of my trades appear at the back of the queue in terms of execution and they started charging me a fee they waived last year and never got back to me about changing it.  Since they have no foreign capability (whats up they are a Canadian bank that also sells services to customers in Ireland and the UK ??) and this additional fee issue, I am planning on switching to Fidelity, Vanguard or IB.

 

Packer

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Are you just wanting to invest in the U.S.?  Did you ever look into tradeking?  They are good for u.s. equities, 5 dollars a trade for most of them, 10 bucks if they are below a certain amount, can't remember the amount, no monthly or quarterly fees.  I've never invested in options so I couldn't tell you what they charge for that.  But they don't have access to foreign markets.  For that it seems like the choice is between IB and fidelity.  IB has lower commissions, but fidelity has lower fixed fees and access to more markets

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I have used Fidelity for about 10 years and have been very happy.  Do not underestimate the value of downloading info to TurboTax at tax time and the access to 10 years worth of old statements.  I find I am looking back at old statements more and more and of course filing my taxes is a lot easier with the download.

 

Satisfied Fidelity customer.

 

This was one of the primary reason why I switched to Fidelity 2 years ago.  That and the old clearing firm couldn't get their crap together regarding tax forms.

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I'm thinking of doing a full or partial Roth IRA t.ransfer from Interactive Brokers to TD Ameritrade (I'll leave my taxable account at IB).  TD Ameritrade offers 90 days free trades + $600 for xfers > $250K, and I don't think charges $7.50/quarter IRA maintenance fee. 

 

Does anyone have advice re TD Ameritrade?

 

I also get annoyed at IBs multiple logins and find the TWS platform hard to use.  The Web Trader platform is intuitive but relatively flaky, logs out at variable inactivity times, sometimes logs into a scanner so you can't see open positions, easy to make a "fat finger" mistake in order entry (esp with options) - & relatively slow to initiate orders.  TD Ameritrades and Think or Swim seems friendlier, and no $7.50/qtr fee?

 

Options trades after 90 days are higher at .75/contract + $10 vs IBs .70/contract, but I don't trade too much in Roth IRA account.  Advice?  thanks in advance!

 

If your account is over 250k you might want to talk to Fidelity.  They are rather accommodating for new accounts.

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Are you just wanting to invest in the U.S.?  Did you ever look into tradeking?  They are good for u.s. equities, 5 dollars a trade for most of them, 10 bucks if they are below a certain amount, can't remember the amount, no monthly or quarterly fees.  I've never invested in options so I couldn't tell you what they charge for that.  But they don't have access to foreign markets.  For that it seems like the choice is between IB and fidelity.  IB has lower commissions, but fidelity has lower fixed fees and access to more markets

 

Good luck with tax forms and getting them in a timely manner.  One yer they left my ass high and dry in Sept with a letter saying they would no longer be fixing any tax forms due to high demand and gave out a nice letter for the IRS in case it causes a problem.  Also, I was audited b/c of their record keeping on the backed to the IRS.  The $5 trades are not woth it with all the crap I had to go through.

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No Canadian brokers eh?  I use Qtrade.  I would say they are fair and average for price (winner of Globe and Mails best broker).  Great customer service.  They separate US margin from CAN margin but don't send US dollars to a US bank account via EFT like other brokers do (Just CAN).  This is remedied by converting USD to CAN (or vice versa) at spot rate in the broker margin account. Simply buy a USD/CAD etf in the appropriate margin account and then call the broker and have them journal the entry to the other opposite margin account...viola.....spot rate minus a in and out commission.  They don't like that too often though.

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I don't have a taxable account with them, and from the sounds of it I don't want one.  I'll probably end up transferring this one to IB.

 

Are you just wanting to invest in the U.S.?  Did you ever look into tradeking?  They are good for u.s. equities, 5 dollars a trade for most of them, 10 bucks if they are below a certain amount, can't remember the amount, no monthly or quarterly fees.  I've never invested in options so I couldn't tell you what they charge for that.  But they don't have access to foreign markets.  For that it seems like the choice is between IB and fidelity.  IB has lower commissions, but fidelity has lower fixed fees and access to more markets

 

Good luck with tax forms and getting them in a timely manner.  One yer they left my ass high and dry in Sept with a letter saying they would no longer be fixing any tax forms due to high demand and gave out a nice letter for the IRS in case it causes a problem.  Also, I was audited b/c of their record keeping on the backed to the IRS.  The $5 trades are not woth it with all the crap I had to go through.

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