Published by Blain Reinkensmeyer
On Tuesday, March 8th, 2016
SogoTrade provides customers with competitive regular stock and option trades at the expense of a quality all-around, balanced client experience.
Competitive base commissions rates for stocks and options; the SogoOptions platform will satisfy both casual and advanced options traders; responsive phone support.
Steep extra charge for pre- and post-hours trades; outdated website; mobile trading limited in functionality; poor fundamental research.
SogoTrade is a deep discount online broker whose goal is to provide rock-bottom commissions for its customers, while still providing competitive industry tools.
Is SogoTrade the ultimate value broker or does its heavily discounted trades leave too little investment to achieve perfection in the eyes of customers? This review will uncover the answer.
Commissions & Fees
SogoTrade charges $5 for all stock trades placed during regular market hours. For clients who make over 149 trades per quarter, the rate is reduced to $3 a trade. Alternatively, SogoTrade allows its customers to prepay for trades at a discounted $4 per trade rate (minimum 20 trades purchase; trades expire after one year).
At the $5 base charge, SogoTrade is right in line with discount competitors OptionsHouse and TradeKing, which both charge $4.95 per trade. However, there is one major caveat for stock trades, and that is SogoTrade charges for after-hours trades: base rate + $.005 per share. Charging for post-market hours trades is nearly non-existent across the industry, and for good reason; they are a terrible customer experience.
Options trades are more clean-cut, a flat $5.00 + $.50 per contract. No gimmicks. SogoTrades’ options commission structure is most similar to OptionsHouse, which charges $4.95 + $.50 per contract.
For mutual fund trades, SogoTrade charges $25, which is more than its discount competitors. The real drawback though is that SogoTrade does not accept web orders. All mutual fund trades must be executed via phone, which is certainly inconvenient for customers.
After breaking down SogoTrades’ full commission schedule, including margin rates, and comparing it to the rest of the industry, SogoTrade finishes with a very respectable fifth place.
Before testing SogoTrade’s customer service for our 2016 Review, we didn’t know what to expect. With such steep trade commissions, we were very curious to see how SogoTrade would stack up.
For phone support, SogoTrade delivered with extremely quick pickup times. Only one time did we have a hold period of between 1 – 2 minutes, with every test seeing a pickup in less than 60 seconds. Once connected, reps were pretty well trained. Each said their name, greeted us warmly, answered all of our questions, and closed the call with a pleasant closer.
Positives aside, we found that less than half the time, phone support reps neglected to offer us contact information if we had further questions, and only half the reps asked if we had any more questions. We frequently ended up getting the same support reps, and overall our testers left feeling that the experience was “good” / borderline “ok.” All data tallied, SogoTrade finished ninth.
Phone support aside, email and live chat were also mixed bags. With email support, responses always came in less than one business day. Live chat connection times were less than one minute over half the time; however, once we had to wait nearly 20 minutes before finally being connected. SogoTrade finished seventh for email and tenth for live chat. See: Best Brokers for Customer Service.
Platforms & Tools
When it comes to trading platforms and tools, SogoTrade has its high points and low points. When I first started using the broker, I was quickly confused by all the different platforms available to me. To provide clarity – there are five platforms in total – I will break them down individually:
Having numerous different platforms is confusing in itself, but naming them all similar names only makes the situation worse. Once you get past the names and confusion of which platform is which, the good news is that you can pretty quickly identify which platform is right for you. SogoOnline and SogoTrader are good for basic to intermediate investors, while SogoOptions and SogoElite will feel right at home for advanced options and equity traders. Lastly, the SogoPlay platform is really more a research tool than a trading platform. That said, SogoPlay’s user-friendly interface and clean ratings are easy to like for any style of trader.
All the platforms are made available to all clients at no additional cost, which is a nice plus for customers. The one exception is SogoElite, which requires a $100,000 minimum portfolio balance for access.
Each platform has its advantages and disadvantages. For example, I appreciate SogoTrader’s simplicity and ease of use; however, the charting is way too basic, even for a newer investor. SogoOptions does a good job in providing casual and advanced options traders the tools they need to succeed: streaming options chains with all the greeks viewable, basic and advanced probability analysis, and clean profit & loss charts. The downside to SogoOptions is its outdated interface. The list goes on for each platform.
When all 52 variables we score for Platforms & Tools are factored in, SogoTrade is unfortunately, on the whole, pretty weak. SogoTrade scored 59%, which places the broker well in the bottom half of the industry. That said, compared to other discount brokers, SogoTrade is somewhere in the middle, better than Firstrade and Capital One Investing, but worse than TradeKing, OptionsHouse, and Lightspeed. See: Best Brokers for Platforms & Tools.
Research, Mobile Trading
Like most other discount brokers, SogoTrade offers its customers little to no fundamental research. While customers can perform bare-bones basic research on stocks (balance sheets, income statements, SEC filings) and ETFs (fund descriptions, expense ratios, top 10 holdings), research for mutual funds, pink sheet equities, and fixed income are non-existent. Compared to other discount brokers, SogoTrade falls far behind. See: Best Brokers for Research.
If there’s one plus in SogoTrade’s research offering, it’s the SogoForecaster tool, which includes both stock and ETF screening, analysis, and ratings. The tool has a variety of different pages for users to browse through, but I found the depth and underlying value to be minimal beyond the basic screening capabilities.
And like SogoTrade’s research offering, Mobile Trading is a similar, non-existent experience. SogoTrade only offers a basic iOS iPhone app and Android app, with no support for tablets of any variety. Using the smartphone app, customers can view streaming real-time quotes and watch lists as well as option chains and very basic charts. For trading, only simple stock and single-leg option trades can be made. See: Best Brokers for Mobile Trading.
SogoTrade’s website is fairly straightforward to navigate, thanks to the clean primary header menu; however, the design is outdated. Font size, buttons, borders, boxes, etc. all flow cohesively together but clearly need a fresh design. In terms of usability, none of the trade platforms feel similar to one another. I also found it annoying to have to input my pin every time I logged into my account (something few brokers require, or if they do, it’s an optional feature).
SogoTrade presents itself as a deep discount broker with great tools that will satisfy active traders and casual investors alike. While SogoTrade does provide customers with a strong diversity of platforms and competitive commission rates, there are noticeable holes throughout its offering.
SogoTrade’s website is outdated, and conducting research alongside trading on the go is a poor experience at best. Even its commission structure comes with tricky gimmicks designed to prey on unknowing customers; for example, charging for after-hours trades. If I were going to use SogoTrade for either stocks or options trading, I’d choose options.
For the investor who can accept these drawbacks in return for discounted trades, SogoTrade could perhaps be a decent fit. SogoTrade’s customer service is responsive and the diversity of platforms does have advantages, as we explored earlier. Make no mistake though, discounted trades come with a price.
Blain has been involved in the markets for over 15 years, heading StockBrokers.com broker research and reviews. His personal blog, StockTrader.com, provides education articles as well as to-the-point market recaps to over 17,000 subscribers.
SogoTrade full commissions schedule breakdown below. Note, SogoTrade does charge an account inactivity fee charged, "$50 annual charged if total account equity drops below $100 (waived if at least 1 trade executed in previous 12 month period)"
Stock Trades - All market and limit order stock trades are $5 per trade up to 100,000 shares. Make over 149 trades per quarter and the rate is reduced to $3 per trade. Alternatively, trades can be prepaid for $4 each with a minimum purchase of 20 trades (trades are good for one year). Broker assisted trades are $25.
SogoTrade is one of the few brokers that still charges for pre and post hours trading. The rate is Base Rate + $.005/share.
For stocks priced under $1.00 ($100 minimum investment), add the greater of $0.0003 / share (10% of principal max) OR 1/4% principal. Penny Stocks (OTCBB and Pink Sheets) may incur additional transaction fees based on DTC charges. These charges can be substantial, so they may be blocked from online trading. In this case, please contact the Trade Desk for more information.
Options Trades - Options trades cost $5.00 plus $.50 per contract. Spreads are only charged a single base rate. Any exercise or assignment costs $15. For broker assisted trades, add $25.
Mutual Funds - Mutual funds trading is not supported for web trades. Instead all orders must be placed via broker assisted (ie phone).
Other Investments - SogoTrade does not currently offer futures, bonds, or forex trading.
All pricing data was obtained from a published web site as of 2/16/2016 and is believed to be accurate, but is not guaranteed. The StockBrokers.com staff is constantly working with its online broker representatives to obtain the latest pricing data. If you believe any data listed above is inaccurate, please contact us using the link at the bottom of this page. For stock trade rates, advertised pricing is for a standard order size of 500 shares of stock priced at $30 per share. For options orders, an options regulatory fee per contract may apply.