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How do I Choose the Best Online Trading Platform?

Article Details
  • Written By: A. Leverkuhn
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 31 March 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
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    Conjecture Corporation
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A beginning day trader or anyone else who is the slightest bit interested in investing online can easily review some of the characteristics of the best online trading platform offers, and select one based on factors like cost, service strategies, and overall usability. A variety of online brokerage firms have sprung up to offer the “average investor” the tools that he or she needs to chase gains in a financial world where evading risk sometimes means missing out on long term rewards. Stock market investing can be risky, but many of those with capital want to expose at least some of their holdings to the pricing fluctuations of stocks and other exchange-traded financial products.

Choosing the best online trading platform involves being comfortable with the prices, fees, and commissions set by the firm. Today, brokerage services are engaged in “price wars” that are not always indicative of the best overall value. For example, some firms will offer a set of “up front free trades” without clarifying any other costs that may be involved. Investors should review all of the fess, and any fine print, carefully before making a selection for an online brokerage account platform.

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In many ways, choosing the best online trading platform is somewhat like deciding whether to go toward a bunny slope or an advanced black diamond slope at a downhill skiing resort. Beginners will want simple, clear online trading platforms that may not provide advanced tools for some of the more esoteric purchase options, while a seasoned trader may want to have a lot more in the same platform, without the additional guidance of a “beginner’s model.” The idea of guidance, which some prominent online trading services are now pushing in ads, is very important to investors, especially those without a full understanding of how the markets work.

Along with the guidance provided in an online trading platform, many of those who sign up for a brokerage service for the first time will also want human assistance. The best online trading platforms offer human customer service, so that if the investor is not familiar with some term or or function of their online tools, they can call up someone for an explanation. Some investors also look for a firm that offers, not only an online tool and account, but live financial planning assistance. A traditional way to invest in stocks in the past involved a live broker who would often take over much of the decision making from an investor client. Although online platforms offer “hands-free” trading, some of the best tools still get combined with offers to do investing “the old way.”

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