WellsTrade Review



WellsTrade for the uninitiated is the discount broking arm of banking giant Wells Fargo, the stage coach bank as I like to call them.

I’m never impressed when a bank jumps on the discount broking band wagon or stage coach in this case, they usually do a half arsed job, offering up substandard trading platforms with expensive fees in the hope it will keep loyal customers from investing their hard earned money elsewhere.

Is that a fair assumption of WellsTrade? Well (no pun intended) lets see how FAR they GO, OK I’ll shut up now and get on with the review.

 

Fees & Commissions

  • Stocks and ETFs: $19.95; agent-assisted trading: $45.00
  • 100 commission-free online trades per year and waived fees when linked to a Wells Fargo PMA Package (basically checking account). PMA package has no monthly service fee for each month the statement-ending balances in qualifying accounts total $25,000. Otherwise it’s $30/month.
  • Options: $9.95 + $1 per contract
  • Mutual funds: $35
  • Auction of Treasury Bills, Notes and Bonds: $50 per transaction
  • Investment products: stocks, options, mutual funds, bonds, treasury bills, ETFs
  • Minimum to open account: $1,000

 

Website & Sign-up

WellsTrade Website

WellsTrade don’t have a separate website so you’ll have to find them amongst the hundreds of other financial products Wells Fargo offer.

As usual for a large financial institution they have a complicated website with far too big an emphasis on T&Cs and not enough informative text, the navigation isn’t all that good either. This is a website that lacks any sort of personality what so ever.

After a good few minutes searching I finally found what I was looking for and signed up for an individual investing account.

WellsTrade is a lesson in how not to run a sign-up process. First of all they ask a lot of questions they don’t need answers to, other than to sell you a load more financial products. Secondly each question comes with a paragraph of T&Cs (most of which explain they’ll be using the information to sell you more stuff) and thirdly you can’t complete the process online you have to print the forms off, sign and mail them.

This is one of the worst sign-up process I’ve ever had to endure, and if it wasn’t for this review I wouldn’t have completed it.

 

Trading Platform & Tools

So one week later we’ve finally got a trading account complete with funds transferred and we’re ready to trade.

Opening up their trading platform for the first time I’m not overly impressed. It’s incredibly basic and doesn’t have any of the finesse you get from certain other platforms from similar sized brokers.

In terms of information you do get Morningstar fund ratings and S&P daily reports but that’s about it. There are no live CNBC feeds or streaming data.

Charting is a real disappointment; they aren’t updated in real time so the likelihood is you’ll be trading on delayed information. NOT GOOD.

On the plus side you do get Wells Fargo’s excellent market commentary and research. Is it worth the high cost of trading? I don’t think so.

 

Pros

  • Possibility to trade for free
  • Good banking services
  • Very good independent research

Cons

  • Extremely high commissions if not in PMA program
  • For stocks below $1/share commission is greater of $34.95 or 3.5% of principal
  • Additional 1.5 cents per share will be charged for more than 1,000 shares
  • Understaffed customer service
  • Terrible trading tools
  • High margin rates
  • $60 annual account maintenance fee
  • $30 annual IRA fee

 

Summary

I try to keep an open mind with these reviews but I’m not surprised by the lack of trading tools, poor platform performance and expensive fees from WellsTrade.

Like I mentioned at the beginning they seem to be content just offering the basics to existing customers to prevent them form moving elsewhere. Just think if a customer found the TD Ameritrade platform for instance and then decided to move their entire bank account over.

Unfortunately Wells Fargo is all too aware that most banking customers never change their account despite receiving poor customer service and low interest rates.

For this reason I can’t recommend WellsTrade to any type of trader, their platform is substandard, their fees expensive and their customer service is poor.

If you’re a beginner you’d be much better served by TradeKing who tailor their service specifically towards rookies. If you’re more of an intermediate trader I recommend you try OptionsHouse who have a much more comprehensive platform, better service and very competitive fees.




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