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 40 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 44% offered commission-free ETFs heading into 2017, with Charles Schwab leading the way with 229. 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 is only offered by 44% 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.
All variables considered, TD Ameritrade is the top choice for the largest offering of investments in 2017, earning 95% of the possible points.
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 2015.
There are plenty of options available for futures trading, while forex trading is scarcely supported. Just two brokers, TD Ameritrade and Tradeking, offers forex trading to US clients, and just over half the industry offers futures trading.
All variables considered, TD Ameritrade is the top choice for the largest offering of investments in 2017, earning 95% of the possible points. Interactive Brokers and Charles Schwab follow in second place, both earning 91%, although we give the tie breaker to Interactive Brokers for its slew of order types and extensive international support. If investing outside of the United States, Interactive Brokers is your best bet.