Published by Blain Reinkensmeyer
Wednesday, September 28th, 2016
Investing covers a worldwide spectrum, from investing in international equities to trading forex to purchasing US treasury bonds. To understand the true range of offerings, StockBrokers.com has focused on all the broad investing channels down to the specific order types each broker offers. In the process, we compare 38 different variables.
Starting with the US, services such as complex options trading, fixed income, and direct market routing are all very common. Other services, such as commission-free ETFs, are still growing in adoption by the industry. Just 47% offered commission-free ETFs heading into 2016, with Charles Schwab leading the way with 214 (all 214 are also available to clients of optionsXpress, which Charles Schwab owns). Every broker in the industry supports weekly options and only two brokers don’t yet support mini options: Firstrade and Capital One Investing. On the flip side, direct market routing for options, a newer variable in our Review, is only offered by 40% of the industry.
As far as order types go, it is an industry standard to support market orders, limit orders, stop orders, and after-hours trading. Even more advanced order types such as trailing stops, OCO, OTO, OTOCO, and multi-contingent are all supported by well over half the industry. The least common order type was algo, offered by less than half the industry. The leader overall is Interactive Brokers, which offers clients an arsenal of 63 different order types, some of which are exclusively designed for institutional investors.
Looking at international trading, Fidelity and Interactive Brokers are, by a wide margin, the two stand-out choices. Fidelity offers its clients access to trading equities in 25 countries. Interactive Brokers offers less equities support, in “only” 18 different countries; however, with all investment types considered, the total comes to 24 countries and over 100 market centers. Both brokers also make it a seamless trading experience, allowing clients to trade from their primary account. Charles Schwab (12 countries of equities access) requires a separate account to be opened to place trades and ETRADE shut down its Global Trading service in Q2 2015.
There are plenty of options available for forex or futures trading. Just under half the industry offers forex trading, and just over half the industry offers futures trading. Five brokers offer clients access to everything (equities, options, forex, futures): ETRADE, Interactive Brokers, TradeKing, TD Ameritrade, and TradeStation.
All variables considered, TD Ameritrade is the top choice for the largest offering of investments in 2016, earning 93% of the possible points. ETRADE and Charles Schwab follows in second place with 90. If looking outside of the United State however, Fidelity is your best bet.
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.
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