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Fidelity Review

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The StockBrokers.com best online brokers 2019 review (9th annual) took six months to complete and produced over 30,000 words of research. Here's how we tested.

Founded in 1946, Fidelity Investments is a full-service broker with over 20 million retail brokerage accounts and over $2 trillion in client assets.

Having reviewed Fidelity for over nine years, what impresses me most about the company is the drive to continue innovation and push forward across all products to provide the best possible customer experience.

This review will dive in and take a closer look at the iconic Fidelity brand.

Review Summary

Rank: 2nd (of 16)

With over $2 trillion in client assets, Fidelity is a low-cost online broker offering $4.95 stock trades, industry-leading research, excellent trading tools, an easy-to-use mobile app, and comprehensive retirement services. Overall, Fidelity is a winner for investors.

Benefits

  • Website research experience leads the industry.
  • Terrific mobile app.
  • Leader in order execution quality.

Considerations

  • The mobile app is great, however it is designed for investors first, and traders second.

Exclusive Offer:

  • Get 300 commission-free trades and 2 years to use them Open Account

Commissions & Fees

Rank: 4th (of 16)

After factoring in order execution quality, where Fidelity reigns supreme, Fidelity’s $4.95 stock trades consistently yield additional value for customers.

Benefits

  • Rare in the industry, Fidelity does not accept payment for order flow (PFOF), which results in cost savings for customers when placing stock trades.
  • 500+ commission-free ETFs.
  • Fidelity offers 12,505 mutual funds, of which just over 4,000 are No Transaction Fee (NTF) funds.
  • Alongside Charles Schwab, Fidelity is the only broker to list the price improvement received on eligible orders.

Considerations

  • Regular mutual fund trades cost $49.95 to buy, $0 to sell. Unlike most brokers, Fidelity and Charles Schwab charge only for the original purchase. There is no additional charge for redemption (i.e., selling).

Further Reading

Fees Comparison

FeatureFidelity
Minimum Deposit$0.00
Stock Trade Fee (per trade)$4.95
ETF Trade Fee$4.95
Options Base Fee$4.95
Options Per Contract Fee$0.65
Mutual Fund Trade Fee$49.95
Broker Assisted Trades Fee$32.95
Commission-Free ETFs500
View all 23 data points

Platforms & Tools

Rank: 4th (of 16)

Fidelity’s website provides everything an everyday investor needs to manage a portfolio. For active traders, Active Trader Pro is Fidelity’s flagship desktop platform, and is packed with tools.

Benefits

  • Fidelity’s website watch list tool is my personal favorite among all the brokers I’ve tested in our annual review. Streaming quotes are included as well as 48 total columns of data to choose from. Furthermore, the workflow is seamless, making it a breeze to transition into equity research or into the docked order ticket to place a trade.
  • In Active Trader Pro, charting is cleanly laid out and encompasses pretty much everything a trader could want: 22 different drawing tools, 166 optional studies, overlays, custom profiles, trading off the chart, displayed alerts, notes, and more. Recognia is also incorporated to automate the identification of common technical patterns.
  • Active Trader Pro includes several unique, in-house brewed tools, including Real-Time Analytics (streaming trade signals) and Trade Armor (real-time position analysis). Trade Armor is also available through the website.
  • Options trading with Active Trader Pro is just as impressive as stock trading, and includes a variety of analysis tools.

Considerations

  • Active Trader Pro offers 91 optional columns for watch lists, which is great, but underwhelms compared to category leaders such as TD Ameritrade and TradeStation, which each offer hundreds.
  • No ladder-trading tool provided for day traders.

Gallery

Further Reading

Tools Comparison

FeatureFidelity
Web Platform Yes
Desktop Platform (Windows) Yes
Watch Lists - Total Fields91
Charting - Drawing Tools22
Charting - Indicators / Studies166
Option Chains - Total Columns26
Streaming TV Yes
Paper Trading No
Platforms & Tools 4.5 Stars
View all 59 data points

Research

Rank: 1st (of 16)

Fidelity’s shining star is research. The entire website experience is meticulously laid out, the broker provides terrific in-house market commentary, and every tool is rich with insights.

Benefits

  • Fidelity provides 12 third-party research reports for stocks and five for ETFs, the largest of any broker. Is that information overload? Perhaps. But it illustrates how thorough Fidelity is when it comes to research.
  • Fidelity’s stock, ETF, and mutual fund screeners are easy to use, rich in data, and set the benchmark for the industry.
  • Fidelity’s leadership in research also extends to overall market research with Fidelity Viewpoints. Only Schwab, with its Insights articles, can go toe to toe with Fidelity’s market analysis. My favorite Viewpoint research is the annual sector outlook report, which highlights key trends to watch and includes detailed analysis of each sector.

Considerations

  • Despite a buffet of information and analysis, surprisingly, no third-party research reports are offered for mutual funds.

Gallery

Research Comparison

FeatureFidelity
Research - Stocks Yes
Stock Research - Reports12
Research - ETFs Yes
Research - Mutual Funds Yes
Research - Pink Sheets / OTCBB Yes
Research - Fixed Income Yes
Research - Futures Yes
Research - Forex No
Research 5 Stars
View all 60 data points

Customer Service

Rank: 4th (of 16)

To score Customer Service, StockBrokers.com partners with customer experience research group Confero to conduct phone tests from locations throughout the United States. For our 2019 Broker Review, 300 customer service tests were conducted over ten weeks.

Results

  • Average Connection Time: 1 - 2 minutes
  • Average Net Promoter Score: 8.9 / 10
  • Average Professionalism Score: 8.8 / 10
  • Overall Score: 8.72 / 10
  • Ranking: 4 th (16 brokers)
  • View Infographic

Mobile Trading

Rank: 2nd (of 16)

Fidelity’s mobile experience is cleanly designed, bug-free, and delivers a phenomenal experience for investors. While active traders may be left wanting more, for the majority, Fidelity delivers, winning our award, No. 1 Investor App, in 2019.

Benefits

  • Upon logging in, a unique, customizable dashboard experience, displayed as a personalized feed, greets you. In your personalized feed, market cards float on top of varying scenery images that rotate after each login, creating an experience found nowhere else. Cards cover everything, from market news to portfolio and watch list insights. As far as customizable dashboards go, Fidelity’s is my favorite.
  • Research is robust and exactly what one would expect to find after using the website.
  • Among many other highlights of the mobile app is the note-taking functionality, which syncs with the Notebook tool on the main site, and Active Trader Pro. Using Notes allows you to log personal thoughts on individual stocks and the broader markets, then have everything sync in one easy-to-access location.

Considerations

  • While Fidelity thrives in its offering of research on mobile, it struggles in the active trader department. For example, charting is clean and includes after-hours charts, which is nice; however, only seven indicators are available – well below the industry average of over 40.
  • The app experience is built primarily around investors. To better serve active traders, Fidelity should consider a separate dedicated app, a strategy both E*TRADE and TD Ameritrade employ.

Gallery

Further Reading:

Mobile Apps Comparison

FeatureFidelity
iPhone App Yes
Android App Yes
Apple Watch App Yes
Watch List Syncing Yes
Stock Alerts - Basic Fields Yes
Charting - After Hours Yes
Mobile Trading 4.5 Stars
View all 52 data points

Offering of Investments

Rank: 4th (of 16)

Fidelity provides all the benefits of what an investor would expect of a full-service brokerage.

Benefits

  • Full spectrum of investment services provided, from stock trading to retirement guidance.
  • International trading enables customers to trade in 25 countries and exchange between 16 currencies.

Considerations

  • Futures and forex trading not offered.

Further Reading

Offering Comparison

FeatureFidelity
Stock Trading Yes
OTCBB / Pink Sheets Yes
Options Trading Yes
Complex Options Max Legs4
Options Exercising (Web) No
Options Exercising (Phone) Yes
Bonds (US Treasury) Yes
Bonds (Corporate) Yes
Bonds (Municipal) Yes
Futures Trading No
Forex Trading No
Mutual Funds (No Load)4031
Mutual Funds (Total)11782
DRIPs Yes
Advisor Services Yes
Offering of Investments 4.5 Stars
View all 40 data points

Education

Rank: 2nd (of 16)

Looking at Fidelity’s educational offering as a whole, there’s something for everyone, and the broker leads by example, especially on the topic of retirement.

Benefits

  • Fidelity does a good job of breaking up content, sorting by experience level, category, and content type. Articles, videos, webinars, infographics, and courses are available to customers.
  • Courses organize articles and videos into a step-by-step roadmap and track your progress so you can easily leave and come back later without forgetting your place.
  • Fidelity really stands out with its retirement education. Over the years, I have compiled an entire folder of bookmarked Fidelity Viewpoint articles on money-related topics, including retirement and personal finance in general.
  • Fidelity offers a variety of in-house tools to provide you with a proper diagnosis of your financial position: Financial Checkup, Retirement Score, Income Strategy Evaluator, and Guided Portfolio Summary make up the primary lineup.

Considerations

  • None.

Gallery

Education Comparison

FeatureFidelity
Has Education - Stocks Yes
Has Education - ETFs Yes
Has Education - Options Yes
Has Education - Mutual Funds Yes
Has Education - Fixed Income Yes
Has Education - Retirement Yes
Paper Trading No
Videos Yes
Webinars (Monthly Avg)8
Webinars (Archived) Yes
Live Seminars Yes
Progress Tracking Yes
Interactive Learning - Quizzes Yes
Investor Magazine Yes
Education 5 Stars
View all 19 data points

Banking

Rank: 4th (of 16)

Customers who bank with Fidelity are not protected by FDIC insurance; however, the broker delivers a consistent and reliable experience.

Benefits

  • Fidelity truly embraces no-fee banking.
  • 197 retail service centers.
  • For current customers, the Fidelity Rewards Visa Signature credit card offers 2% cashback on all purchases. Rewards are deposited directly into any of your Fidelity accounts.

Considerations

  • Unlike competitors Merrill Edge, Charles Schwab, and E*TRADE, Fidelity is not a registered member of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), which insures bank deposits up to $250,000.
  • No loyalty rewards are offered for using multiple products, an area in which Bank of America Merrill Edge is outstanding.

Further Reading

Banking Comparison

FeatureFidelity
Retail Locations197
Member FDIC No
Checking Accounts Yes
Savings Accounts Yes
Credit Cards Yes
Debit Cards Yes
Mortgage Loans No
No Fee Banking Yes
Banking 4 Stars
View all 12 data points

Final Thoughts

Rank: 2nd (of 16)

Overall, thanks to its low costs and diverse offering, Fidelity Investments defines value for investors across the full spectrum of the investment community.

While Fidelity shines across the board, the backbone of Fidelity’s success, research, and retirement will undoubtedly continue to be front and center for years to come.

2019 Review Methodology

For the StockBrokers.com ninth annual best online brokers review published in February 2019, a total of 4,544 data points were collected over six months and used to score brokers. This makes StockBrokers.com home to the largest independent database on the web covering the online broker industry.

Participation is required to be included. Each broker completed an in-depth data profile and provided executive time (live in person or over the web) for an annual update meeting. Our rigorous data validation process yields an error rate of less than .001% each year, providing site visitors quality data they can trust. Learn more about how we test.


Blain Reinkensmeyer

About the author: Blain Reinkensmeyer As Head of Research at StockBrokers.com, Blain Reinkensmeyer has 18 years of trading experience with over 1,000 trades placed during that time. Referenced as a leading expert on the US online brokerage industry, Blain has been quoted in The New York Times, Forbes, and the Chicago Tribune, among others.

All pricing data was obtained from a published web site as of 02/18/2019 and is believed to be accurate, but is not guaranteed. 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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