I started managing my own money in a brokerage account almost 10 years ago. I closely analyzed almost a dozen of the most popular brokerage platforms available with an eye towards ease of use, educational tools, and low costs. Some platforms were too sophisticated for newbies and others were just too inaccessible. But three are going to be great starting points for any beginner. If you are native to mobile and are happy to get educational materials elsewhere, there really is no better platform than Robinhood.
But if you want a little more hand-holding and hope to grow into more sophisticated strategies like options, either Fidelity with its best-in-class tools, or Scottrade with its personal-level of guidance, are also going to be great choices for any beginner trader.
The first thing to know about online brokers: They let you put money in and take it right back out as you need it, unlike tax-deferred retirement accounts that have steep penalties if you cash out early. Another important thing to know is that online brokers provide a huge universe of investments, unlike a k , which may only provide a total of 10 investment options. And that leads us to my last point: Not only do these charges add up, but they may ultimately lead you to make the wrong investments — doing lasting harm to your bank account as a result.
And your goal as a beginner is to take advantage of the investments not available to you elsewhere without racking up fees or making complex trades that erase your hard-earned savings.
Admittedly, even with a great online broker it can be intimidating or challenging to invest at times. But unless you have a million dollar trust fund waiting, you have to figure this out. The risks are real, yes, but so are the rewards. Consider my very first trade about a decade ago: A good online broker like the three listed below can teach you some of the lessons I learned the hard way, and can help keep you from making some of the same mistakes. Scottrade is an online broker that caters to investors of all types.
No matter what your strategy, Scottrade and its staff will help you live up to your full potential. I should also mention that at the end of , TD Ameritrade moved forward with acquiring Scottrade.
For a beginner investor, there is no substitute for sitting down with someone when you need help. That includes 1, investment consultants at roughly branches nationwide, and periodic seminars and conferences to help beginner investors.
One thing I have learned since I started investing is that as my needs change. I often outgrow my old trading platform. The good news for beginners starting out with Scottrade is that the platform offers a complete line of trading and investing services, including retirement accounts like IRAs, as well as the ability to aggressively day-trade stocks and options, if you choose.
Of course, this generous offering of tools and services is hard to support on a low-cost structure. That can add up in a hurry if you wind up being very active in your portfolio. But the costs are worth noting, and can be viewed in detail here.
Sign Up Cost Structure. Robinhood is truly an online broker for the 21st century. Or, more precisely, the lack of trading fees altogether. As I said earlier, no broker is a charity. Robinhood indeed makes money off its users. But the way it makes money is precisely what makes it perfect for beginning investors. Margin accounts — that is, investing with borrowed money — can be a risky scenario and is not for beginners. Robinhood has upended the traditional broker experience by doing away with complex trading software and tools that most competitors offer.
You can sign up in just a few minutes on your smartphone, and make trades in seconds with just a few taps. For the new generation of investors who are native to mobile interfaces, it is refreshing to see a broker that offers this.
And the easy-to-use app takes a lot of stress out of the equation for beginners, particularly those who prefer a mobile platform. The downside of the mobile experience on Robinhood is, of course, an inability to provide as deep an experience as you get on larger computer screens, or in traditional browsers. And to be honest, as you learn the ropes as an investor, you will eventually grow beyond native tools provided by your broker and find other apps, websites, and research that fits with your own trading style.
And, honestly, part of the reason I have learned so much about markets and trading is because of the customizable research tools and screening software Fidelity offers its account holders. You can learn a ton without even trading, simply by getting your hands dirty with the research tools and learning about all the different parts of the market, and how they fit together. You can sort ETFs by the sectors they focus on, their expenses, and even whether Fidelity offers a commission-free version to save you money on transactions.
Wall Street can be a confusing place when you first jump in. Want to explore the idea of backtesting, but need a little help? This is a powerful way to learn real-world investing techniques and put them into practice, instead of just reading about the topic elsewhere, then scratching your head when it comes time to actually do the work in your own brokerage account. Want to know more about ETFs and how the costs are structured? As I said earlier, I was a customer of Fidelity for a long time, and I loved the platform.
But I geek out on this stuff and love to test and research ideas for hours before making an actual trade, so those of you with a short attention span may simply be frustrated by all of the tools and information. But if you really want to put in the work yourself to move beyond the kiddie pool and swim with the big fish on Wall Street, Fidelity is the platform for you. All these brokerage platforms are serious about making investing accessible for beginners through their interfaces and low cost structures.
If you want personal guidance from professionals and an easy-to-use trading platform, go with Scottrade. Your email address will not be published. Just sign up to The Simple Dollar Daily and start saving today. However, the rankings and listings of our reviews, tools and all other content are based on objective analysis. For more information and a complete list of our advertising partners, please check out our full Advertising Disclosure.
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