TD Ameritrade Review 2016 – #1 for Long-Term Investing

TD Ameritrade can trace its history back to a boutique investment banking firm First Omaha Securities, Inc who established Ameritrade Clearing, Inc in 1983. In 1988 the firm introduced the first quote and order entry system via the touch-tone phone.

In January 1996, the firm launched “Accutrade for Windows,” a system that let individuals trade online for the first time. In 1996 they launched the first internet only broker called eBroker. On January 24, 2006, Ameritrade stocktrading acquired TD Waterhouse USA from TD Bank Financial Group. Following the acquisition, the company was renamed TD Ameritrade. Today they have are one of the largest online discount brokerages with over 7.2 million accounts managing over $225 billion in assets. Revenues are $1.8 billion with $557 million net income.

Trading Fees

  • Stocks and ETFs: $9.99
  • Options: $9.99 plus $0.75 per contract
  • No-load mutual funds: $49.99
  • Investment products: stocks, bonds, mutual funds, options, ETFs
  • Minimum to open account: $1,000 equity is required to open an IRA account, and $2,000 to open any non-IRA account

Website

TD Ameritrade’s website has a typical large corporate feel to it, slightly outdated in terms of design; it’s at least reasonably easy to navigate. They like most other brokers have an over-sized footer filled with T & Cs and disclaimers.

Sometimes I think brokers just copy each others websites and no one really cares about the user experience. I think it’s about time they started investing in User Interface design specialist’s and carried out some user testing, it’s not like they can’t afford it.

Account Application

OK this is a message to all other brokers out there; this is a text book example of how easy it should be to open an account.

The forms are simple to complete and error messages are clear to understand, they don’t ask for any information that’s irrelevant and last but not least funding your account is quick and simple, no messing around with micro deposits, you just fund your account and you’re ready to trade.

TD Ameritrade Apex

This is a program for active investors who trade more than 5 times a month or maintain an account balance in excess of $100,000.

You’ll get preferential customer service, your emails and calls will be given the highest priority by the specially trained Apex team.

And perhaps more importantly you’ll get FREE access to the S&P Research reports and a 25% discount on the Market Edge daily and Market Edge daily plus reports that will give you valuable research to match your investment strategy.

Trading Tools

TD Ameritrade has a very accomplished set of trading tools, more than enough for the average investor.

Trade Architect is the latest platform; it takes the best tools from “thinkorswim” a revolutionary trading platform that they acquired in 2009, and merges them with their excellent fundamentals analysis platform.

The result is a supremely intuitive trading platform that offers everything the professional trader could ever need, from customizable screens, heat maps, live-streaming CNBC, and up to the minute news and real-time quotes. You can even validate your trade ideas by using P&L graphs, earnings analysis, and advanced charting with studies.

Mobile

This broker offers a fully featured mobile application that is not platform specific, so it works on any mobile enabled device. It gives you the ability to carry out trades, monitor your portfolio and get the latest news and updates.

iPad

I couldn’t write this review without commenting on their new iPad app, the first trading platform built specifically for the iPad. This revolutionary trading platform makes use of the iPads unique multi touch functionality and larger screen size.

Features of the app include:

  • Touch to trade stock, complex options, ETFs, futures and forex
  • Real-time quotes
  • Scroll through full-screen views of watch lists, positions, orders, news, and charts
  • Manage positions and view risk and performance metrics

This truly revolutionizes trading on the move, no mobile phone trading app can come close to this, it really is possible for the trader to manage his whole portfolio from this one app without ever needing to resort to using a desktop.

Advantages

  • No surcharges for penny stocks, large orders and after-hours trading
  • Large well known company with over 130 local branches
  • No maintenance and inactivity fees
  • Large selection of third-party research
  • Excellent trading tools
  • iPad trading platform

Disadvantages

  • $9.99 commission for stocks/ETFs is high, $49 commission for mutual funds is extremely high
  • There have been reports that the website is sometimes very slow to respond during the busiest periods of the day (unverified)

Summary

TD Ameritrade is one of the better known online discount brokers; they have a huge number of clients and a network of 130 regional branches. They are not however as cheap as they once were. $9.95 for stock trade is a little on the expensive side even when you take into account the fact they don’t have extended hours or penny stock surcharges.

Their IRA accounts don’t have setup or annual fees, so they’re a good choice for managing your Individual Retirement Account.

They are not so good for beginners, not least because their high trading fees will likely cancel out your profits, but mainly because unlike some other brokers there is no trading community to learn from.

I have heard some traders complain that during busy periods their platform is slow to execute orders. I have never personally experienced this however so I can’t comment on it. But I would like to think for the price you’re paying you can expect reliable execution.

To sum-up they are great penny stock broker, but a little expensive. I like their trading platform and customer service. If you’re looking to setup an IRA then they are an excellent choice, but if you’re a new trader there are much better alternatives.

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