Not all stock broker services offer the same level of features and services and it pays to shop around to see what the best deal available is before you decide to sign up and start trading through their platform.
Features such as commission-free stock trading are always worth looking out for and if you are an inexperienced trader, online tutorials, and other forms of help from TradeZero, for example, could prove helpful in your quest to build a portfolio.
Here are some key points to consider when you are choosing an online stock broker that you hope will prove to be just right for your particular needs.
Know what you want from your broker
A good starting point would be to take a moment or two to work out what your investment goals are and exactly what it is you expect from your relationship with an online stock broker.
If you are relatively inexperienced as a trader and still a bit unsure with the jargon and trading protocols you may want to look for a broker that provides you with tutorials and other resources that can help you cut your teeth in the world of trading stocks.
A good example of that would be to check if there is a mock trading platform that you can use to experiment with trades before actually committing genuine cash and doing it for real.
If you already know the ropes you might want more trading options and a keen deal on trading costs if you are going to be executing a lot of trades each month.
Make a checklist of what is important to you and what you want from an online stock broker so that you can match those needs up with a firm that seems best suited to your requirements.
Check out their credentials
If you are trusting your money with an online broker you will want to know that they are subjected to all the right balances and checks and all of their regulatory requirements are in order.
You will want to know that the online broker you are interested in signing up with has a membership of the relevant regulatory bodies and trusts that are there to provide a layer of trust and responsibility.
If the broker is offering deposit products, for example, you will want to know that your money is protected by schemes such as the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.
If the broker has a membership of the appropriate regulatory body they should also have insurance in place to safeguard your deposits.
Don’t be afraid to ask for confirmation of membership and protection schemes as all reputable brokers will normally be happy to clarify this information.
Check out customer reviews
As long as you can confirm that the reviews are genuine, it can be a useful guide to see what existing customers are saying about your proposed stock broker.
There are two issues with online reviews, the first is whether the gushing praise is a genuine review, and the same applies to poor reviews, which are not always justified and can sometimes be as a result of someone who seems to like to complain for the sake of it.
A good rule of thumb would be to look for a recurring theme in the reviews. If the same complaint crops up regularly, that would be worth investigating further, but if all of the reviews are positive across various social media platforms it could be an indication that the broker does work hard at making sure customers are happy with their levels of service.
Do your math homework
There is no question that broker fees and charges can vary between firms and although it is not always wise to base your decision to go with a broker on price alone, it is still a key aspect that you need to clarify before you choose who to sign up with.
You will always want transparency when it comes to fees and you will want to know what you are getting for your money and how the broker makes its money.
Every business has to make money to operate and brokers are no different.
Check what their commission fees are what fees you will be expected to pay for the various services and facilities being offered.
Some brokers can appear to be more competitive than others but if there are hidden extras those headline savings might not look so good as they first seemed, which is why you should work out the numbers and compare like for like when evaluating an online brokerage.
Take it for a test drive
Sometimes it pays to try before you buy and that can also be the case with an online broker.
You might be able to sign up for free and it can often be worthwhile to complete the signup process so that you can navigate your way around the site and get a good feel for what is on offer.
Have a good look at the features
There are certain trading tools and features that you may find useful as a trader and you will want to know that your chosen online stock broker can give you what you want.
Some traders like to use charts as part of their investment strategy and technical indicators might prove invaluable as you develop your trading experience.
Check out the scope of what is on offer to see it aligns with your current and future needs.
How user-friendly is the platform?
You are highly unlikely to be well-versed in trading strategies and terms when you first start out and trading stocks is a learning journey that can be educational and, hopefully, might even prove profitable if you make the right selections.
What you want from a platform is one that is user-friendly and also offers the backup of some educational resources and tutorials when you need a bit of a helping hand.
Someone to talk to when you need help
Last but not least, great customer service is the icing on the cake when you are searching out a suitable online stock broker.
Confirm whether the broker offers online or telephone help and have a look to see if there is technical support available when you need it.
If you consider and review these fundamental points it should help ensure that you choose an online broker that is a good fit for your trading needs.