With over $2 trillion in client assets, Fidelity is a value driven online broker offering $0 stock trades, industry-leading research, excellent trading tools, an easy-to-use mobile app, and comprehensive retirement services for investors. Overall, Fidelity is a winner for investors.
Top Takeaways for 2019
After spending six months testing 16 online brokers for our ninth annual stock broker review, here are our top findings on Fidelity Investments:
- Founded in 1946, Fidelity is a household brand name with over 20 million retail brokerage accounts and over $2 trillion in client assets.
- Delivering value across its entire client experience, Fidelity finished first for Research and Order Execution. As a result, it was also our top overall pick for investors, alongside discount trading, in 2019.
- The Fidelity website and mobile app are terrific, breezing through our rigorous usability assessments and once again finishing with a perfect five stars rating for Ease of Use.
- Fidelity understands retirement and is a top contender for IRA accounts.
- Beginners will fully appreciate Fidelity's plethora of educational resources covering every topic of investing.
- In our nationwide testing, we found Fidelity's phone service to be great.
- Not built for just everyday investors, Fidelity also finished Best in Class (top 5) for day trading thanks to its active trading platform, Active Trader Pro. However, Fidelity did place just outside of our top five for options trading.
|Commissions & Fees|
|Offering of Investments|
|Platforms & Tools|
|Ease of Use|
Commissions & Fees
After factoring in order execution quality, where Fidelity reigns supreme, Fidelity’s $0 stock and ETF trades consistently yield additional value for customers, making it a winner for discount trading.
No PFOF: Rare in the industry, Fidelity does not accept payment for order flow (PFOF), which results in cost savings for customers when placing stock trades. In fact, alongside Charles Schwab, Fidelity is the only broker to show customers the price improvement received on eligible orders.
Cash Management: Fidelity automatically sweeps any free cash in your portfolio into higher yielding assets. Bottom line, instead of earning .01% interest on free cash with TD Ameritrade and E*TRADE, or .12% interest on free cash with Charles Schwab, Fidelity earns customers 1.58% interest as of October 10th, 2019. The actual yield varies depending on current interest rates.
Fidelity pricing summary:
|Stock Trade Fee (per trade)||$0.00|
|ETF Trade Fee||$0.00|
|Options Base Fee||$0.00|
|Options Per Contract Fee||$0.65|
|Mutual Fund Trade Fee||$49.95|
|Broker Assisted Trades Fee||$32.95|
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.
Research Tools: Fidelity’s stock, ETF, and mutual fund screeners are easy to use, rich in data, and set the benchmark for the industry. Fidelity also 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. However, surprisingly, no third-party research reports are offered for mutual funds.
Market commentary: 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.
Platforms & Tools
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.
Website watch lists: 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.
Charting: 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 Trading Features: Active Trader Pro includes several unique, in-house brewed tools, including Real-Time Analytics (streaming trade signals) and Trade Armor (real-time position analysis). Options trading with Active Trader Pro is also just as impressive as stock trading, and includes a variety of analysis tools. Overall, Fidelity finished second for day trading.
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.
- 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)
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.
Customizable dashboard: 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.
Other unique features: 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.
Mobile app drawbacks: 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 also built primarily around investors. To better serve active traders, Fidelity should consider a separate dedicated app, a strategy both TD Ameritrade and E*TRADE.
Offering of Investments
Fidelity provides all the benefits of what an investor would expect of a full-service brokerage, including a spectrum of investment services, from stock trading to retirement guidance.
Looking at Fidelity’s educational offering as a whole, there’s something for everyone. 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. Better yet, 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.
Retirement education: 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 also 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.
When it comes to banking services, Fidelity truly embraces no-fee banking, offers 197 retail service centers, and delivers a reliable experience. The Fidelity Rewards Visa Signature credit card offers 2% cashback on all purchases, with rewards deposited directly into any of your Fidelity accounts. That said, Fidelity offers no loyalty rewards for using multiple products, an area in which Bank of America Merrill Edge reigns supreme.
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.
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.
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.
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 WSJ, The New York Times, Forbes, and the Chicago Tribune, among others.