The first few weeks of 2024 have shown continued market volatility, prompting investors to keep a closer eye on their portfolios. One important element that helps to keep brokerage investors informed is the use of live trading alerts. These alerts serve as a key tool for self-directed clients, providing real-time updates on market conditions and security movements through various delivery channels, including text, email and push notification. Currently, brokerage firms within the CI coverage set offer a variety of alert capabilities and delivery methods for live trading alerts, with some providing customizable settings, and others lacking these crucial tools altogether.

The importance of real-time data

Live trading alerts offer retail investors a valuable advantage by providing real-time information. Whether it be individual security data or breaking news, trading alerts ensure that investors are properly, and promptly, informed. These live alerts enable investors to act on provided data, adjusting investments to market changes and reducing the risk of missed opportunities or potential losses. While risks are inherent in trading, real-time alerts play a critical role in risk mitigation, providing investors with early warnings of market changes and allowing them to adjust portfolios accordingly.

Delivery method, including via text, email or push notification, is also a significant aspect of live alerts. Firms across CI’s brokerage coverage set provide varied flexibility in allowing clients to select delivery preferences for alerts. Although somewhat sporadic, alert delivery preferences ensure that investors receive timely information via a means that is most useful to them, aiding in facilitating an even swifter decision-making process.

Alert offerings

Within the brokerage industry, self-directed firms offer various types of alerts. Some trading alerts that we commonly see among our coverage set include:

  • Portfolio alerts
  • New research report/ commentary alerts
  • Ratings changes alerts
  • Volume alerts
  • Technical Analysis alerts

A dedicated alert hub: E*TRADE

E*TRADE offers a dedicated Alerts hub, featuring three main pages: Inbox, Set & Manage Alerts and Alert Delivery Preferences. The Inbox page displays recent alerts, featuring light filtering capabilities, along with helpful Trade buttons and linked symbols that lead to corresponding trade and quote pages, respectively. The Set & Manage Alerts page features various tabs, enabling clients to set alerts for securities, account activity and recent news and research.

Notably, the Delivery page features a stand-out alert preferences experience. The firm offers text, secure site inbox and email delivery channels, enabling clients to choose various delivery methods based on alert type. Exceptional delivery preferences enable clients to tailor alert delivery according to their personal needs, ultimately boosting responsiveness.

This screenshot shows the E Trade Alert Hub Inbox
E*TRADE Alert Hub – Inbox Page


This screenshot shows the set and manage alerts page from E Trade
E*TRADE Alert Hub – Set & Manage Alerts Page


This screenshot shows E Trade's Alert Delivery and Preferences Page
E*TRADE Alert Hub – Alert Delivery Preferences Page


Monitoring your account: Merrill

Account alerts provide timely information about significant account changes and events. Take Merrill’s account-specific alerts tab, for example, which allows clients to set alerts that notify them for reasons including trade executions, account value changes, deposits and withdrawals and sector/asset breakdowns. Clients can elect to receive account alerts by simply checking the corresponding checkbox beside the account name. While the firm offers one delivery channel—email—clients can select multiple email addresses to receive alerts. Account alerts keep investors informed, serving as a proactive means of keeping track of important account events.

This screenshot shows the Merrill Secure Site account alerts page
Merrill Secure Site Account Alerts Page

Staying Informed: Fidelity

Fidelity offers a Stock News & Research alert capability that notifies clients via email of any pertinent or recent news and research reports for securities in account portfolios or watchlists. After selecting the alert, a Setup page prompts clients to customize the alert with various preset options, including topics of interest, account/watchlist, preferred email address and alert frequency. The customizable nature of the alert allows clients to tailor notifications to their investing priorities and goals. By leveraging news and research trading alerts, investors can gain market insight, enabling them to make well-informed decisions and navigate the complexities of a changing market more easily.

This screenshot shows Fidelity's secure site stock news and research page
Fidelity Secure Site Stock News & Research Page


This screenshot shows the Fidelity stock news and research setup page
Fidelity Secure Site Stock News & Research Setup Page

Why should firms offer alerts?

It is important that self-directed firms not only offer trading alerts to clients, but also prioritize alert delivery channels. Live trading alerts serve as a critical tool for navigating the possible uncertainty that may accompany market volatility, and the heightened fluctuations and greater risks and opportunities that occur during these periods. Whether it be account-specific alerts, stock/fund alerts or news alerts, the proper delivery of these alerts enable a more informed, risk-mitigated experience that acts as a valuable warning system, enabling self-directed clients to make quick and informed decisions, and ultimately, become more confident investors.

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