Who is the best stock broker? That’s how you‘ve voted
We are aware that the requirements towards a personal deposit provider are quite individual. Therefore, the selection of the best stock broker is a very personal decision. The result of the stock broker test on this page is therefore not based on our rating, but on the vote of our readers. You too can contribute – vote and evaluate the providers you’ve already experienced.
We have been active in online trading for many years and have gained considerable experience. The one thing we want to assure you of is: AskTraders.com is an independent consumer portal. We are in no way dependent on or obligated to any stock provider provider in any conceivable way.
But your assessment may provide a valuable help for other readers to reach an informed decision. While we evaluate the providers as well, the reviews you find here are only from real users. Our opinion at this point does not matter.
Below we would like to give you some guidance about what to consider in your evaluation. We‘ll show you which criteria we take into account and what matters to us. Maybe you‘d care to include the one or other point in your test.
Categories & Criteria for Your Stock Broker Test
1. Trade offer
To determine who is the best stock provider we always start with the trade offer. Stock brokers and CFD brokers differe insofar as there is not a direct set of underlying assets to trade with. A stock broker gives you access to national and international stock exchanges. The respective stock exchanges then offer the opportunity to trade stocks. Therefore we examine in particular which stock exchanges the broker lets you access.
These should be at least the national stock exchanges such as Xetra, Frankfurt, Tradegate or Stuttgart, as well as the US-american New York Stock Exchange, often simply referred to as „Wall Street“. Outstanding stock brokers also give you access to other exchanges in the US, Canada, Australia, Japan and Europe. Of course not every trader has the same expectations.
For most investors it is also important to be able to trade not only stocks, but also other securities such as derivatives, bonds, ETFs or funds. Another point is the offer of share savings plans. After all, those who only want to invest in the equities business with a small amount of capital initially often get away much cheaper with savings plans.
In addition to exchange trading, there is also off-the-floor trading. Do you trade predominantly over the counter? Then let your assessment contribute to your review. This is especially important when trading certificates or other derivatives on stocks.
2. Conditions, Costs & Fees
A core issue of our stock experience are the conditions of the securities broker. Often, investors are influenced in their choice of a broker by order fees. This is understandable, because ultimately everyone wants to earn money with stock trading, and the higher the order fees, the lower the yield. Of course you pay special attention to the terms of the broker. But we want to emphasize that being an excellent supplier requires more than just low prices.
What we do not include, unlike other comparisons, is the amount of the spread. Although this is important, it is not determined by the broker, but by the respective stock exchange or the issuer (in off-the-floor trading).
Also, not all categories of fees should be weighted equally in the evaluation, but according to importance. Particularly important are order fees, because they are always incurred, followed by custody and clearing account fees. The two factors mentioned above are also the ones where providers differ most. The costs of deposits and withdrawals might also be taken into account in the test result, but conditions are comparatively identical for all stock brokers.
These fees might be included in your rating:
- Fees for deposit and clearing accounts
- Order fees and broker-dependent fees
- Costs for deposits and withdrawals
- Other fees, such as dividend payments, real-time rates, etc.
- Discounts for frequent traders
Top 3 Stock Broker Comparison
3. Account and deposit models for different groups of investors
We have already seen that the demands investors place on their broker are individual. Therefore, some stock brokers offer several depot or account models to meet these requirements. Companies that address different audiences in this way show that they are really interested in their clients. But anyone who aims to be the best stock broker does not necessarily have to offer different types of depots, because the vast majority of investors look at the price for depot management and for order execution.
For VIP customers there are often reductions in the form of discounts, a preferred customer service, exclusive offers, gifts etc. These are usually investors with a very high deposit and / or trading volume.
Depending on whether you are a frequent trader or more likely to pursue a long-term investment objective you‘ll trade shares more or less frequently. Therefore, stock brokers sometimes offer different pricing models tailored to your trading activities. For example, there is an account model that gives you a flatrate, meaning that you pay the same order fee for each trade, no matter how often you trade or what trade volume. In return some other features are either not available or more expensive than in alternative account models.
In addition, connectivity to various external software also matters. With some custody accounts investors can use additional trading programs, which is certainly a point in case.
4. Trading platform and mobile trading
Our experience shows that stock brokers in some cases do not offer separate software for download. You navigate to the website of your broker in the browser, enter your access data and then go to the order form. That’s the way it works with most providers. From our point of view a broker does not necessarily have to offer downloadable software, but what we attach great importance to are additional functions such as chart analysis, background information and data on the corporation etc. Options for evaluating and analyzing the depot, historical prices, sales figures etc. can be important in this category as well.
It would be good if the stock test winner is also suitable for both beginners and more experienced traders. The range of analysis functions should therefore be well-structured but also sufficient for professional traders. A mobile brokerage app for Android and iOS is not a requirement for a very good test result, but makes it easier. Meanwhile some providers have switched to responsive website design for use on mobile phones, instead of an app for smartphones or iPhones. This means that the layout and functions automatically adapt to the mobile device, making the overall impression similar to an app. If a broker chooses this path, then this function must really work, which unfortunately is not always the case.
5. Ease of use of the website
The stock broker test also includes a rating of the site‘s user-friendliness. As mentioned above this means that an investor can locate the order mask relatively quickly, and can comfortably insert all information there. This sounds simple, but there are actually providers where it is anything but easy.
The stability of the website in general and the trading platform in particular count as well. Especially in hectic phases of the stock market, it becomes evident which stock broker saves in the wrong place and who facilitates easy access to the stock market.
Take a look at how the page is structured. Can you find all essential information easily? Does the broker explain the risks, the fees and other important details comprehensively and clearly? Do customers find the terms and conditions and price listings of the broker easily? Naturally, opening a portfolio with a German stock broker is a bit more complicated than abroad. However, this is not due to the broker, but is caused by the legal provisions. Therefore, you should check to what extent the provider makes the opening process as customer-friendly as possible, but of course he is bound by various regulations.
These points might be important:
- Easily accessible information
- Transparently presented risks, fees and prices
- Correct linguistic design of the homepage
- Working functions such as site search
6. Customer support
A broker‘s employees are the direct link to the customer, the figurehead, so to speak, of the company. From the quality of the customer service at least partial conclusions can be drawnon the general quality of the provider.
Have you already had experience with employees of the companya provider? How were your inquiries answered? Fast, competent and friendly? An indication of unsound business practices would be, for example, if the support tried to cajole you into doing something, buying some thing or other for example. A specific purchase recommendation of a share or the downplaying risks would be dubious, too.
Concerning the response of the support we take the speed of response, friendliness and competence into account, though it is absolutely fine with us if the support has to check with the respective specialized department for more complex affairs. But maybe you would consider very different things more important.
Furthermore good customer service is characterized by extensive availability. By this we mean various communication channels such as telephone, e-mail or live chat. An extensive FAQ area should also be available. Of course, the FAQ section should contain answers to the most important questions but also go a little deeper. In addition, a community or forum for customers to exchange views would be ideal. In terms of accessibility, we do not expect 24/7 support, but at least something approximate.
7. Payment methods
As our stock experience shows, stock brokers are still lagging behind the CFD and Forex brokers in their selection of payment methods. In most cases, there is only one way of deposit and withdrawal, namely the bank transfer, but then usually free of charge. Although this restriction may become obsolete within a few years, if real-time remittances are feasible, currently a transaction requires at least a day. Anyone who wants to take advantage of short-term trading opportunities can only hope that the price of the stock does not change significantly, or resort to alternatives such as a securities loan, if possible.
Nevertheless there are deposit providers who offer more than just a bank transfer. For example, some brokers allow transfers via Sofortüberweisung. As the name „instant transfer“ implies, the money is credited directly to the brokerage account and the investor can trade immediately, though in some cases fees are due.
The advantage of a bank transfer is that there are in fact no amount limits for deposits and withdrawals. For payments by credit card, for example, certain limits apply, sometimes even in the lower four-digit range.
We would check out the following:
- Minimum deposit with the broker
- Minimum payout amount
- Selection and number of payment methods
- Transaction speed
- Fees of payment options
8. Additional offers
In the stock broker comparison we also scrutinize additional offers of the depot provider. Who wants to be the best stock broker need not offer the most additional services, but at least a reasonable selection should be available. What do we mean by additional offers? We do not mean a bonus or a premium, but rather assistance to make stock trading easier or more successful. Although, for example, a bonus of 50 Euro when changing custody is a nice incentive. But online trading support can help you become successful in the long term.
Additional offers include, for example, a free demo account or a stock model depot. These are helpful especially for beginners for their first steps into the stock market. In a model depot users receive virtual capital allowing them to buy and sell stocks under real trading conditions, such as real-time prices and so on, but there is no risk of losing real money. Experienced traders occasionally use a model depot to test new strategies.
We think that a good brokerage offer also includes a comprehensive education and training area, but with a focus on quality rather than quantity. It would be good if the stock broker offered free e-books, webinars, seminars, online tutorials, learning content and current stock market news. He does not have to have everything in his repertoire, but at least a reasonable choice. If the broker is really interested in the success of the clients investors can fall back on excellent content in this area.
9. Regulation and Deposit Insurance
Occasionally there are reports of investors talking about stock fraud. But usually this is directed at the respective corporation, not the stock broker. The provider has no influence on this, and thorough research is up to the investor.
Obviously, one cannot call a stock broker reputable with complete certainty, but there are indicators for it, like a broker‘s regulation and deposit insurance. Regulation alone does not make a company sound. It is also important where and how comprehensively the provider is regulated.
The regulation of stock brokers is comparatively strict in this country and the EU in general. For investors from the German-speaking countries it is simply not possible, to give an example, to open a securities account with a purely US-based broker.
Stock brokers from Germany have at least a deposit insurance of 100.000 Euro, not a few of them even in many millions. But here one should note that the deposit insurance „only“ refers to the money that is deposited directly with the broker on the clearing account and is not invested in shares or otherwise. If the broker has to file for bankruptcy, the securities holdings are not affected anyway.
Some depot providers are even listed on the stock exchange. This may or may not be an indication of reputability. After all, these companies must meet even more legal requirements and deliver certain reports to the authorities. It is also rare that investors accuse the broker of stock fraud in trading.
What we also pay attention to:
- Comprehensive IT security measures
- Compliance with MiFID requirements
- Compliance with regulatory guidelines
10. Opinions of the trade press & awards
The best stock provider cannot be a brand new broker, as far as we are concerned. After all, he has to prove himself first and demonstrate he can actually be considered as such. The opinion about a provider is also influenced by media coverage and awards received by the company.
The test result you can find on this page comes exclusively from our readers. It is up to you whether you want to consider this category in your assessment of who is the best stock broker.
We take into account the opinions of the trade press as well as awards, conceding that large companies and banks sometimes get negative media coverage, because the better known the stock broker, the more differentiated the opinions. But most of the headlines and views, especially from the specialist press, must be positive.
The same goes for awards. A brand new player on the market usually does not have awards to show. Therefore, the broker should have been around for a while and here we pay particular attention to the quality of the awards, namely who gives the award, and why. Brokers often receive awards for outstanding trading quality, excellent customer service or an excellent fee structure. Providers even receive the occasional award for the trading platform.
As already mentioned, quality is more important to us than quantity. An award from a renowned institute would be rated much better than an award from an unknown accreditor.
Vote for your stock test winner
Now you have seen the criteria we apply and what we review in our stock portfolio comparison. This might help you with your vote, because as already stated, on this page you will find the ratings of real users. That is, not we have determined who is to be the stock test winner, but our readers. We only provide guidance on what aspects you might consider in your evaluation.
AskTraders.com is an independent consumer portal. We are not obliged to any stock broker. We conduct our tests by opening an account directly with the provider, making trades on the platform and testing the service and other things. You can trust that our test results are objective and reliable. Based on that, we came to an assessment, but it may differ from yours. Here you‘ll find the readers‘ award. Because it is important to us that you find not just our opinion here, but also authentic reports from other users. Nevertheless, you are welcome to use our expertise.
Ultimately you have to be satisfied with the provider. That’s why your opinion is so important to us. The ranking on this page is permanently updated. At the end of the year, the stock portfolio provider with the most votes receives the user award. Who is your personal test winner? Vote now to help other readers get a better picture of the providers.