Making the Right Connection (2011 Online Broker Review)

After swerving between shocking growth as a toddler and a serious mood disorder as an adolescent, online trading is on the verge of a stable maturity. Today it appeals both to hyperactive traders and long-term coupon clippers, to stock and bondholders and foreign-exchange specialists, as well as to those willing to pay up for the latest gadgetry and those just trying to save a few bucks in commissions. Its ranks include asset-management giants like Fidelity and tightly focused specialists with names like TradeMonster.

It’s a big change since 1996, when Barron’s first reviewed online brokers. The top-rated firm that year was Lombard Online Brokerage, which morphed into Discover Brokerage a couple of years later before being purchased by Harris Bank. We were impressed with Lombard’s real-time quotes and account updates, a rarity at the time. Where are they now? HarrisDirect, Lombard’s descendent, closed down and was snapped up by E*Trade.

For our 16th survey we thought we’d try to do something a little different to reflect a more diverse marketplace of brokers and investors. We focused more on helping our readers figure out whether a brokerage is the right home for part—or all—of their portfolio. (Don’t worry, you can still find our favorites on the following pages.) From what we know, Barron’s readers tend to have a portfolio topping $1 million and trade on average 42 times a year; they also have several brokerage accounts. We’ve tried to keep that audience in mind in providing information.

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Posted by on 03/19 at 10:17 AM






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