April 2014: Browser-Based Active Trader Platforms

In this e-Monitor Report, we stepped away from our standard review of brokerage firms’ products, services and resources to focus on the browser-based active trader platforms offered by eight of the firms in our coverage group. We reviewed each of the platforms based on the following key criteria:

  • Overall Usability and Customization Options
  • Depth of Account Information Offered
  • Availability of Customer Support and Help Resources
  • Trading, Research and News Offerings

The majority of e-Monitor firms covered in this study (75%) provide the same trading commissions for active traders and regular traders. Furthermore, half of the firms do not have any asset or trading requirements and do not charge fees to access their respective active trader platforms. The other four firms require either a minimum balance in a brokerage account or a certain number of trades per year to access their respective platforms.
The availability of account information is equally important on active trading platforms as it is on client brokerage sites. All active trader platforms covered in this report provide client account information to some extent, including balances, buying power, positions and transaction history. All platforms additionally provide basic stock and option trading capabilities. Multi-leg options and conditional trades are the only other products provided by over half of the platforms, offered by 88% and 75%, respectively.
Only half of the firms in this report provide all of their available help resources directly on their respective active trader platforms, while the other half provide a mixture of directly accessible help resources and links to either public, private or third-party educational and/or customer-support-related content.
Additional key findings include:

  • All eight firms provide balance figures in real time, but only one platform allows for streaming balances data.
  • Nearly 90% of the platforms offer quotes for stocks, options, indices and mutual funds.
  • Seven out of eight platforms offer streaming charts.