To start buying stocks, you will need a stockbroker’s assistance. A stockbroker, by definition, is someone who professionally trades shares on behalf of their clients. There are two basic types of brokers you can choose as your advisor: a full-service broker or an online/discount broker.
Full-service brokers are business people who you will be able to meet and they get to know you as a person, and your exact financial situation. They are going to look at your income, debts, assets, age, marital status, lifestyle, risk tolerance, and personality among more factors in your life.
Make sure they know you and not just the amount you want to invest and where they can help you with developing a long-term financial plan that is tailored to your needs.
They also have more financial services they can assist you with, such as tax advice, retirement planning, budgeting, and estate planning. This is where the full-service comes from, they help you with everything financial-related.
They are the best for investors who are in need of every type of financial service, as they will help you manage your needs now and in the long term. These services of course come with a price, some go as low as $1,000.
Full-service brokers are great for those who have just started their venture into investing in stocks. But for those who do not have the money to spend on it, there is another possible choice, which is discount brokers.
These brokers are just there to take your order and help you sell and buy whichever stock you order. They are nowhere near as expensive as full-service brokers, as there is no office you can go to and no advisor to help you.
In general, you pay the cost of these brokers with each transaction you order. You can easily open an account with an online broker over the internet at no charge. Once you created your account, you can just log on and start trading your desired stocks.
There is no other help than technical support on these websites however, you will not receive any investment advice. However, they often give you the resources you need to make good investment choices in the form of links to articles and research.
If you are willing to take on the responsibility and the learning it takes to manage your own investment, then this is the way to go.
There are a large number of trading platforms out there, let’s look at 5 of the best among them!
This platform is known for offering access to markets all over the world, 135 centers in 33 different countries, and low margin rates.
Another great perk of Interactive Brokers is that they offer a great number of different order types.
However, it might not be the best choice for inactive traders and for those beginners who do not have the time to really explore and learn how to use Interactive Brokers.
- Lowest commissions
- Possibility of purchasing fractional shares
- $0 account minimum
- $0 fee on trades
- Connection to all electronic exchanges
- Large amount of possible investment selection
- Great research tools for tracking global investing trends
- 4,300+ mutual funds that have no transaction fee
- Difficult website navigation
- Inactivity fees if you have IBKR Pro
TD Ameritrade is great both for beginners and active traders as it provides a quality trading platform with a $0 commission online trading of stocks, options, and ETFs. Furthermore, it gives a great selection of free research and data, as well as guidance on how to build your portfolio.
For those that want to try and trade without any stake, this platform offers a simulator that will help you test TD Ameritrade and teach you even more about how trading really works.
- $0 account minimum
- $0 trades
- Excellent market research and learning tools for beginners
- No account minimum
- Reliable customer service
- High-quality, easy to use website
- Possibility of accessing accounts from Alexa, Twitter, Apple Messages, Apple CarPlay, or even Android Auto
- A large amount of investment selection
- No possibility of buying fractional shares
E*TRADE is great for both beginners and professionals as it has an extensive library of learning resources, and various other tools that help you assemble a risk-appropriate and balanced portfolio.
They simplify the experience of investing as much as possible to help empower and give confidence to any new investor.
- Commission-free trading
- $0 minimum deposit amount
- Easy to use tools
- Assistance for retirement planning
- Excellent access to research materials
- Great customer support
- A large amount of investment selection
- Advanced user-friendly mobile application
- Difficult website navigation
- Only US markets available, no foreign exchange market
ZacksTrade offers a powerful trading platform and penny-a-share trades. Compared to other platforms it truly shines with its offer of broker-assisted trades for no extra charge.
This platform requires a $2,500, which might be a downside for some investors who just want to start investing a small amount and do not have this amount to put towards it. Another downside is that for every share you buy, you have to pay a $0.01 commission. With most mentioned platforms offering commission free trading, it makes ZacksTrade fall behind its competition in this factor.
- Access to different international exchanges
- Extensive research material
- Powerful trading platform
- $2,500 account minimum
- $0.01 fee per share on trades
- Complicated and slow account opening process
5. Ally Invest
This platform offers quick trading capabilities, a real-time stream of data about different shares, and a customizable dashboard. It also provides the possibility of using automated management of your portfolio and other free tools for technical investors.
You can also open an Ally savings account, which will let you take advantage of interest rates that are considerably higher than the default rates of almost all other brokerages.
- $0 account minimum
- Extensive research tools and material
- Strong platform
- Commission-free trades on eligible US stocks, options and ETFs
- No no-transaction-fee mutual funds
There are a large selection of trading platforms, and they are great for beginners who are ready to learn. If you know what you are doing and don’t need to use a full-service broker, it can save you a lot in the long run.
But recently we have seen a great example of what downsides trading platforms can come with. One of the biggest trading apps, Robinhood, which ironically got its name from the story of Robin Hood was all over the media. The main focus was its controversial choice to put a halt on trading GameStop, as a large number of small investors rallied to push the cost of it as high as possible.
These people got together and did this because a hedge fund, Melvin Capital, was short-selling the GameStop stock to a point that made the company unable to gather funds. As they were crushing this stock, a group of retail investors decided that the legal manipulation of markets by hedge funds was unbearable and they wanted to send a message.
The message that they can manipulate it just as much was sent through Robin Hood, where most of them traded as it has no trading fees and was an overall great app to trade at. When the GME stock soared from $17.25 to $347.51 in less than a month, Robin Hood decided to put a halt on buying this stock for its users.
They said it was done to protect their investors from the volatility of buying into this stock. This all came as great news for the hedge fund, as the stock price could, and would have gone up even past its highest. With a lot of the retail traders only being able to sell, the price went down. Even with this trick, however, Melvin Capital still lost over 50% of its AUM in January.
The app clearly did something that was unfavorable for its own traders. This is an isolated case, but it still shows that trading apps and platforms do not care that much about small investors.
However, if you choose to invest on your own using online investment platforms you will need to study the market. Knowing what you are buying into exactly and what you can expect as the return is possibly the most important part of trading.
There are great sites you can find online that collect articles and studies about different stocks and their possible growth or decline. Let’s look at 5 of the best stock market websites for news, analysis, and research!
Stock Market Investment Websites
It is hard to find and pick a new stock that will give great returns for individual investors. The Motley Fool offers different types of services.
Their leading subscription service, Stock Advisor costs $99 annually, but with it you can eliminate the need of keeping up daily with the market changes if you decide to follow their experts’ advice. Following their advice will guarantee that your portfolio’s long-term growth outperforms the market.
- Access to advice from experts and professionals
- Access to premium articles, analysis, and reports
- 30-day full refund on annual subscriptions
- Great community boards
- Not great for short-term investor needs
- Lots of upselling
This website is arguably the best place to find accurate and detailed information on the performance and financial condition of different stocks. It even lets you know how much a company’s executives earn and the last statements given on conference calls, as well as their financial statements.
Their premium feature offers you the best investment tools for monitoring, a library of stock screeners, valuations, and ratings.
- Extensive research and tracking tools
- Expert analyst ratings
- Bond and ETF tools need improvement
- Exporting data can be challenging
MetaStock is great for investors that want access to a robust technical analysis and in-depth real time stream of news. It will help you stop guessing while you trade with detailed financial snapshots of companies, backtesting and forecasting software, stock quote charts, and accurate stock forecasts.
- Outstanding stock price forecasting and backtesting
- Great selection of automated advisors
- The expansive selection of professional add-on strategies
- Great and useful indicators and strategies
- It is hard to learn how to use the different tools
You might have come across Yahoo! Finance just by browsing a stock on Google. You can oftentimes find it at the top of the result page as it is liked by many investors. It is incredibly easy to understand and use, which can be a really enticing feature for beginners.
It has excellent analytical tools, research reports, and user-generated content. Their premium package offers a portfolio watchlist with daily trading ideas and possible direct trading via their linked brokers.
- It offers a dictionary of financial expressions for beginners who might not yet know what different financial terms mean
- Most of their services are free
- No in-depth news
- No real-time streaming of quotes
Seeking Alpha caters to active investors with a large number of articles published every day. You can find articles on most subjects related to investing, from stock specific to strategic management and trading ideas. The comment section of most of their articles includes informative and deep insights.
Even though most features are free on Seeking Alpha, many of the best articles, discoveries, and analysis on new stocks are reserved for their premium users.
- Ideal for beginners who do not understand the technical aspects of investing
- High-quality content from analysts for free
- Great source of conference call transcripts
- Possibility of portfolio tracking with alerts
- The amount of data and different analysis could get overwhelming
- Some of the contributors push their own third-party services in the available articles
We all heard about people who invested at the right time in the right stock and became rich almost overnight, but this is not the reality for most investors. You should not start trading on your own trying to figure out the market if you do not want to spend a lot of your time tracking the stocks in your portfolio.
For most, it is a better choice to invest with brokers, as they put a lot of their time to learn about and follow even the smallest changes in the market. This is nearly impossible for retail investors, as most have other commitments and a job to tend to.
While you might be saving some money by not hiring a broker, investing in the market on your own can be tiring and really stressful. Some people get scared easily and sell at the minute they see a slight downturn in fear of losing even more of their money put into their stocks without really trying to understand what is happening.
Using a broker will ensure that your finances are secure and your investments are best for reaching whatever goal you have with them. It will also save you time and will help you stay relatively stress-free from all the ups and downs of the stock market. But for those that want to trade with a smaller amount of money, or in low-risk stocks using online brokers can be just as good.