Online brokers offer the convenience of investing wearing your robe and slippers, but first you have to choose the right combination of services and costs.
In the past, brokerages all provided full service: in-house research, investment information, and a broker who, in theory, understood your financial objectives and recommended investments that fit. Today, brokerages come in all shapes and sizes. The old-style full-service option still offers deluxe treatment and hefty commissions, although online services often reduce your costs and increase the lavishness of the treatment you receive. Discount brokers offer fewer services and lower commissions, sometimes as little as 10 percent of what you would pay for full service. Deep discount brokers execute orders for bargain-basement prices, but you shouldn’t expect much more. No matter which type of brokerage you choose, the Web has reduced commissions, increased the services you receive, and made choosing an online broker more difficult. Here’s a guide to what you need to know.
Before you can choose an online broker, you must learn about the features that are available and decide how important each one is to you. Only then can you choose the best fit from what online brokers have to offer.
Anything that has to do with money attracts the occasional financial hi-jinks. The first step in evaluating a brokerage (and an individual broker ...