Choosing a new broker can be a nightmare, first you’ve got to ask yourself what services do I need? Do I trade mainly options or mutual funds and ETFs?
Then you have to look at each individual broker’s platform. Do they have the tools you require? Have they got level 2 data as standard?
Finally after all that there’s the small matter of price to consider. Do you go for a cheaper broker and sacrifice platform functionality or go with a more expensive broker and get all the tools you need.
To help you answer these questions and more, we’ve reviewed these two medium sized brokers and rated them for platform functionality, service levels and of course price.
Products & Services
|website||Visit the Zecco Website||Visit the Firstrade Website|
|Bank Deposits||Bank Deposits|
|Certificates of Deposits||Certificates of Deposits|
|Day Trading||Day Trading|
|Services||Extended Hours Trading||Extended Hours Trading|
|Mutual Funds||Mutual Funds|
|Trading Community||Trading Community|
Looking at the table above you can see that Firstrade win the services battle. They offer all the major products including Certificates of Deposits and after hours trading. Certificates of Deposits are available from any high street bank so that’s not such a big deal.
After hours trading is no small matter however. I know most investors check their portfolio after work, so not being able to execute trades after hours could be a major stumbling block.
One other thing to mention about Zecco is they have one of the best trading communities available on the web. A resource like that shouldn’t be overlooked especially if you’re a beginner.
|Automated Trading||Automated Trading|
|Investor Resource Center||Investor Resource Center|
|Mobile Trading||Mobile Trading|
|Online Advisor||Online Advisor|
||Profit & Loss Calculator||Profit & Loss Calculator|
|Streaming Charts||Streaming Charts|
|Stock & Fund Screeners||Stock & Fund Screeners|
|Tables & Graphs||Tables & Graphs|
|Training & Education||Training & Education|
|Virtual Trading||Virtual Trading|
Trading Tools Overview
The number of trading tools that each broker offers its clients is crucial to your performance as a trader. There is no better way of going bankrupt than trading blind.
These two brokers actually have fairly similar trading platforms. Firstrade’s platform has recently been updated. Previously it had come in for some major criticism and rightly so.
This new version is much improved however, it’s still not a class leading platform but is suitable for smaller traders. It offers interactive charts and customizable screeners to help you find profitable trades.
Zecco’s platform has just as much functionality but is considerably easier to use. It has one click trading so you just have to click on the relevant stock ticker or fund and a screen pops up ready for you to enter trade size and stop loss etc.
One thing I should mention is that Firstrade’s platform can be translated into simplified and traditional Chinese. So they’re likely to prove popular with the Chinese community, who I know love their trading.
Fees & Commissions
|Margin Account Minimum||$2000||$2000|
|Stocks & ETFs||$4.95||$6.95|
|Options Per Contract||$0.65 per contract||$0.75 per contract|
|Account Management Fee||$0.00||$0.00|
|Broker Assisted Trades||$19.95||$27.00|
|Bonds||$4.50/bond ($22.50 minimum)||Net Yield Basis|
|IRA Annual Fee||$30.00||$0.00|
Firstrade are considerably more expensive than Zecco for most products, however Zecco persist in charging a $30 annual IRA fee which you should take into account if you’re looking to manage your own Individual Retirement Account.
If you’re a beginner then Zecco are the best broker, due to their superior education and trading community. Few brokers are more suited to rookies than Zecco, so you’d be foolish to look anywhere else.
If you’re an intermediate trader with a little experience under your belt but still trading from a small account, then it’s likely that customer service is going to be pretty high on your list for desirable qualities in a broker.
Fortunately this is where Firstrade excel, as a relatively small broker they take pride in their level of service. There are no off shore call centers or recorded messages, just a small group of friendly chaps based out of Flushing, New York.
Choosing between these two brokers is really going to come down to your level of experience and the size of your account. Neither broker is suitable for large accounts or frequent traders. But intermediate traders with less than $50,000 should choose Firstrade and those of you just starting out should choose Zecco.