2013 was one bulls will remember for quite some time and bears are still trying to forget. The S&P 500 returned 29.6% and closed at fresh all-time highs. No matter how your portfolio was invested, as long as it was long and not sitting in cash, you had a very good year. Whether or not this excessive optimism will falter in 2014 as the stimulus high slowly fades away is to be seen, but for now, despite a shaky January, the market continues to maintain its long-term uptrend.
The brokerage industry also felt the positive market. DARTs were up across the board, as retail investors returned in droves and billions in fresh assets poured into the market. The positive atmosphere yielded big appreciation for the stocks of the four publicly traded brokers: ETRADE (ETFC) led the way as its stock was up 119% for the year, TD Ameritrade (AMTD) saw its stock price improve 82%, Charles Schwab moved up 81%, and Interactive Brokers (IBKR) finished 2013 with its stock up 78%.
Looking at the industry on the whole, investors should feel good, as we saw improvements across the board. Customer service is clearly a focal point for most brokers — service teams are well trained and understand their clients’ needs. We saw numerous brokers enhance their platforms and tools, specifically focusing on options trading. Lastly, advancements in mobile are clear to see as what were once highlight features — for example, watch list to web syncing — are now standard among the majority.
Seeing the industry evolve and make positive changes is what we clamor for. Our yearly 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.
Less the brokers themselves, we are the toughest critics. Our grading criteria, which includes several hundred variables, sorts through the fluff to identify the true leaders. With a “for traders, by traders” mentality, the StockBrokers.com yearly review has a reputation for being the toughest review in the industry, and we don’t plan on it changing anytime soon.
With more than 100,000 reads the past two years, I am proud of what we have accomplished. This year, we had one new broker join, Merrill Edge, and one broker drop out, Cobra Trading, resulting in once again 17 total brokers participating. Instead of the review being contained all on one page, our updated research and results are spread throughout the site. Links to all of our latest content can be found in the sections below, including our in-depth individual reviews, as well as our “Best in Class” analysis.
Here’s to us as investors and our success in 2014,
Co-Founder & CEO