WHO IS THE BEST STOCK BROKER? YOUR VOTE COUNTS
We are aware that the requirements of a personal deposit provider are dependent on the individual. Therefore, selecting the best stock broker for you can a very personal decision. The result of the stock broker test on this page is not based on our ratings, but on the votes of our readers. You too can contribute – vote and evaluate the providers that you have experience of.
We have been active in online trading for many years and have gained considerable experience. AskTraders.com is an independent consumer portal, and we are in no way dependent on or obligated to any stock provider in any way, so our reviews are independent and trustworthy.
However, your assessment may prove valuable for other readers in their search for an informed decision. While we evaluate the providers carefully ourselves, the reviews you will find on this page are only from our readers. Our opinion does not factor in these particular ratings.
Below, we would like to give you some guidance about what to consider in your evaluation. We‘ll show you what criteria we take into account and what matters to us most. Maybe you‘d like to include these points in your test, but you are free to include other aspects that matter to you as well.
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 differ 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, and 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 include your national stock exchanges such as Xetra, Frankfurt, Tradegate or Stuttgart, as well as the US-based 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 to consider is the offer of share savings plans. Those who want to invest in the equities business with only a small amount of capital, may initially find savings plans a cheaper option.
In addition to exchange trading, there is also off-the-floor trading. Do you trade predominantly over the counter? Then include your assessment of this feature in 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 should also pay special attention to the terms of the broker, but we want to emphasise 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 weighed equally in the evaluation, but given more attention according to importance. Order fees are particularly important, because they are always incurred, followed by custody and clearing account fees. The two factors mentioned above are also the ones where providers differ the most. The costs of deposits and withdrawals might also be taken into account in the test result, but conditions there are very similar 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 brokers 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 a broker who aims to be the best stock broker does not necessarily have to offer different types of depots, because the vast majority of investors will just 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 deposits 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 different trading activities. For example, there is an account model that gives you a flat rate, meaning that you pay the same order fee for each trade, no matter how often you trade or what the trade volume is. In return, some other features may be 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 an important point.
4. TRADING PLATFORM AND MOBILE TRADING
Our experience shows that some stock brokers 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 is now 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 analysing the depot, historical prices, sales figures etc. can be important in this category as well.
Ideally, the stock test winner would be 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 is certainly desirable. However, some providers have switched to a responsive website design for use on mobile devices, rather than an app. 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 easily insert all necessary 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 also count. Especially in hectic phases of the stock market, it becomes evident which stock brokers cut corners in the wrong places, and who facilitates easy access to the stock market at all times.
Take a look at how the website is structured. Can you find all essential information easily? Does the broker explain the risks, the fees and other important details comprehensively and clearly? Can customers find the terms & conditions and price listings of the broker easily? Naturally, opening a portfolio can be a little complicated. However, this is not due to the broker. It is generally caused by the legal requirements. Therefore, you should check to what extent the provider makes the opening process as customer-friendly as possible, while acknowledging that they are bound by various rules and regulations.
These points might be important:
- Easily accessible information
- Transparent presentation of risks, fees and prices
- Good homepage design
- Functionality of aspects such as the site search
6. Customer support
A broker’s employees are the direct link to the customer – the figureheads of the company, so to speak. It is possible to use the quality of the customer service to draw at least partial conclusions regarding the general quality of the provider.
Have you already had experience with employees at your provider? How were your enquiries answered? Fast, competent and friendly? An indication of bad business practices would be, for example, if the support tried to pressure you into doing something, such as buying an additional product or service. A specific purchase recommendation of a share or the downplaying of risks would be dubious too.
Concerning customer support, we take the speed of response, friendliness and competence into account. It is absolutely fine with us if the support has to check with a specialised department for more complex queries. But maybe you consider very different aspects more important.
Furthermore, good customer service is characterised by extensive availability. By this we mean a range of 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 it should also go a little deeper. In addition, a community or forum for customers to exchange views is ideal. In terms of accessibility, we do not expect 24/7 support, but a high level of availability during trading hours is important.
7. PAYMENT METHODS
Our stock experience indicates that stock brokers are still lagging behind CFD and Forex brokers in their selection of payment methods. In most cases, there is only one method of deposit and withdrawal, namely a bank transfer, which is at least usually free of charge. This restriction may change within a few years, making instant transfer methods available, but 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 a few deposit providers who offer more than just a bank transfer. For example, some brokers allow instant transfers via Sofortüberweisung, meaning the money is credited directly to the brokerage account and the investor can trade immediately – though in some cases this may incur transfer fees.
The advantage of a bank transfer is that there are 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 the following:
- The minimum deposit with the broker
- Minimum payout amount
- Selection and number of payment methods
- Transaction speed
- Payment option fees
8. ADDITIONAL OFFERS
In our stock broker comparison tests we also scrutinise the additional offers available. To be the best stock broker it is not necessary to offer the greatest number of additional services, but some extra offers should be available. What do we mean by additional offers? We do not mean a bonus or a premium, although, for example, a bonus of 50 euros when changing custody is a nice incentive. However, assistance to make stock trading easier or more successful is far more important.
Additional offers may include, for example, a free demo account or a stock model depot. These are very helpful, especially for beginners. 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 also 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 is good if the stock broker offers free e-books, webinars, seminars, online tutorials, learning content and current stock market news. A broker does not have to have everything in their training section, but what is there should be high quality. If the broker is truly interested in the success of the clients, investors will find 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 over this, and thorough research on individual corporations is up to the investor.
Obviously, one cannot be completely certain that a stock broker is trustworthy, but there are indicators to look for, like a broker‘s regulation and deposit insurance. Regulation alone does not make a company sound. It is also important to look at where and how comprehensively the provider is regulated.
The regulation of stock brokers is comparatively strict across the EU, as it is in other countries, such as the USA and Japan. It is also important to look at the deposit insurance offered by a broker, 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 not the funds invested in shares. 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 reliability, but these companies must meet even more legal requirements and deliver certain reports to the authorities. It is relatively 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
In our opinion, the best stock provider cannot be a brand new broker. The stock broker has to prove itself first and demonstrate it can actually be considered as such. So, in assessing a provider we also look at media coverage and the various awards received by the company.
As already mentioned, the test results you will find on this page come 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, while conceding that large companies and banks sometimes get negative media coverage –the better known the institution, the more varied the opinions. But most of the headlines and views, especially from the specialist press, should be positive.
The same goes for awards. A brand new player on the market usually does not have any awards, so they are an indication that the broker has been around for a while. Here we pay particular attention to the quality of the awards, including who gave the award and why. Brokers often receive awards for outstanding trading quality, excellent customer service or an exceptional 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 higher 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. As already stated, this page is all about ratings by real users, just like you. It is not up to us to determine who is to be the stock test winner, but up to our readers. We only provide guidance on what aspects you might consider in your evaluation.
AskTraders.com is an independent consumer website and we are not associated with any particular 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 aspects of the site. You can trust that our test results are objective and reliable. Based on our experiences, we come to an assessment, but it may differ from yours. While you are welcome to use our expertise in assessing providers, this page is all about the readers’ award. It is important to us that you find not just our opinion here, but also authentic reports from other users.
Ultimately, you have to be satisfied with your provider. That's why your opinion is so important to us. The rankings on this page are permanently updated. At the end of the year, the stock portfolio provider with the most votes receives the user award.