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Yearly Review of Stock Brokers

2015 Online Broker Review

Published by on February 17th, 2015 .


Fellow Investors,

With 2015 in full gear, it is time to reflect back on 2014 and review our full assessment of the brokerage industry.

For our fifth annual review, we had a record-breaking 272 variables spread across 10 categories. A new category, Banking, was added this year, and while it does not weigh into the overall rankings, ample insight can be drawn from its data. As far as participation goes, 15 brokers volunteered to subject themselves to our relentless assessment. Compared to last year, OptionsHouse and tradeMONSTER have joined forces as one brokerage, and Just2Trade bowed out as a participant.

The StockBrokers.com annual review takes six months and hundreds of hours to complete. With over 23,000 words of research available on the site, along with the most extensive independent database in the industry (thousands of data points), we take pride in our work and so does the industry. Our annual review is respected not only as the toughest and most comprehensive around, but also as the review that sets the official industry benchmarks.

To go deeper in our research, we not only added more variables, but also created definitions for each one, which is an industry first. In addition, another industry first, every data point we had on file was open for review by each broker. This means that all of our data, from the total number of technical indicators to the total number of columns available in a watch list, is hand-reviewed by each broker. Ultimately, the end product is 99.9% accuracy across thousands of data points.

This depth of assessment also extended beyond variables. We reached out to the professional private shopping group Confero to take our customer-service testing to the next level. With clients like Coca Cola and Shell, Confero was up to the task. Through Confero, we enlisted half a dozen professional private shoppers to conduct all our phone support tests. Using our StockBrokers.com industry-specific templates, Confero’s professional assessors went to work, making over 100 calls to branch offices and support numbers across the United States. With email and live chat tests included, the total number of support inquiries this year was over 200.

Overall, our annual review is designed to serve two goals: push the industry forward, and help all of us as investors find the right broker for our needs. Whether you are a professional trader or a college student looking to get started in the markets, StockBrokers.com has you covered.

Our motto is simple, “For traders, by traders.” Our team here at StockBrokers.com is delighted to tell you that since our inception in 2011, we have helped over one million investors research and compare online brokers. Our annual review is the backbone of the StockBrokers.com brand, and in 2015 we look forward to continuing our passionate pursuit of knowledge.

Here’s to us as investors and our success in 2015,

Blain Reinkensmeyer
Co-Founder & Head of Research
StockBrokers.com

2015 Individual Broker Reviews

Each individual broker was assessed on 272 unique variables. Full length reviews for each broker can be found on their respective review pages:

Industry Awards

Each year there are online brokers that stand out for going above and beyond. Our broker Industry Awards recognize these brokers for their hard work and dedication in the past year.

#1 Broker Innovation: TradeKing Live

#1 International Trading: Interactive Brokers

#1 Banking Services: Merrill Edge

#1 Tablet App: TD Ameritrade

#1 Smartphone App: ETRADE

#1 Desktop Platform: TradeStation

#1 Web Based Platform: tradeMONSTER by OptionsHouse

#1 Platform Technology: TradeStation

#1 Client Dashboard: ETRADE 360

#1 Overall Client Experience: Scottrade

#1 Retirement Services: Charles Schwab

#1 Trader Community: TD Ameritrade

#1 Trade Ticket: optionsXpress

#1 New Tool: ETRADE Browser Trading

#1 Portfolio Builder: ShareBuilder

#1 Phone Support: Charles Schwab

#1 Email Support: Scottrade

#1 Live Chat Support: Charles Schwab

2015 Rankings

Self Directed Investing (Overall)

How we scored: Brokers were assessed in eight different categories with the following weightings: "Commissions & Fees" (14.5%), "Ease-of-Use" (14.5%), "Platforms & Tools" (14.5%), "Research" (14.5%), "Customer Service" (14.5%), "Offering of Investments" (14.5%), "Education" (5%), and "Mobile Trading" (8%). Our new category, Banking, was assessed and brokers rated; however, it was not used this year for scoring purposes. It is important to note that behind each category star rating is a numerical score, so while some brokers may have similar star ratings, total points earned for that category likely vary. With all of the category weighted scores calculated, a formula is then applied to determine the overall star rating.

The chart below can be sorted by both category and least/greatest ratings. Please click on any column header area to re-sort.

  Commissions & Fees Customer Service Platform & Tools Research Ease of Use Offering
of Invest
ments
Education Mobile Trading Banking Overall Rating
TD Ameritrade Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star
Fidelity Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star
ETRADE Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star
Merrill Edge Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star
OptionsHouse Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star
Charles Schwab Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star
Scottrade Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star
TradeKing Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star
Interactive Brokers Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star
optionsXpress Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star
Firstrade Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star
TradeStation Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star
ShareBuilder Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star
MB Trading Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star
Lightspeed Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star Star
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