Online Stock Trading - Finding The Right Broker

By: infopackages
The evolution of the internet made a host of great changes for the better in the way we perform many everyday jobs at home and at work.

Stock trading, once the domain of a select few stockbrokers, is now accessible by anyone with the required finances, and a computer with internet access.

The main attractions of Online Stock Trading are the significant reduction in both, the transaction costs, and time involved. Once you have set up an account with an online broker, a transaction can be undergone almost on the spot, and for only a few bucks per trade.

Everyone else has a "Top 10 List", so here are my "Top 10 Points To Consider Before Selecting Your Online Broker"!

1. Find out if the stock quotes and account updates you receive are real-time or delayed. Most services have some sort of delay. Real-time quotes are usually available, so find out if they are, and at what cost, if any.

2. Some online brokerage firms specialise in certain types of securities. Some specialize in penny stocks, some only trade the major markets, some trade overseas, some specialise in options. Make sure your chosen brokerage firm "really" know your market.

3. Check out the procedures for entering and canceling orders (market, limit, and stop loss). Familiarize yourself with all your brokers procedures so that the administration of your account goes as smoothly as possible.

4. If you are contemplating a margin loan, check out the conditions and rules. Margin loans are dangerous for even experienced investors, so tread warily. Remember, margin accounts can be called in at the whim of the brokerage firm.

5. Make sure that the firm has an alternative way to execute trades if their website happens to be offline. Most will allow phone calls directly to brokers for no additional fees in the case of computer problems.

6. Take a look at the brokers privacy and personal information policies. The last thing you want is a flood of junk mail from the "quick buck" merchants. Most reputable firms won't sell your personal information, but it pays to be sure.

7. Look very closely at their brokerage commissions, transaction fees, and conditions that apply to any advertised discount on commissions. Check for any hidden fees or penalties in the fine print. Double check anything that looks too good to be true.

8. Test their customer service. Don't take their assurance of quality service at face value. Make an enquiry by email and test their response time. Call them with an "interesting" question. It's no use finding out later that they have an answering machine, and don't return calls or emails for 3 days.!

9. Check with your local securities authority to verify the legitimacy of the online brokerage firm and any disciplinary history they may have. If they are on any securities watch list, find another firm, quickly. The website at www.sec.gov is a good place to start.

10. Ask for testimonials. You need to know that they have a string of satisfied customers. You're going to invest your hard earned money, so you need to see proof of their ability to deliver the service you require. If they can't, or won't show you the proof, move on.!

All the really cool lists have a bonus tip, so here's mine, and it's biggy!

11. Educate yourself. The well educated investors make their money off the uneducated investors. Luck will only carry you so far. You need to be a smart investor to survive and profit in the long term.

This list is so cool, I've decided to throw in a bonus bonus tip!

12. Take your time. Take your time before you jump into stock trading in the first place. Take your time choosing your online broker. Take the time to do your own market research. Take the time to learn all you can about the market you want to trade in.

As with anything else you do that involves money, you need to do a little homework to make sure that you find the online broker that best serves your needs, at a price you are happy with. Some research up front can save you a lot of time and money in the long run.
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