If you were to buy a new car or TV set, you would probably have a good idea already of where you would source them.
With the purchase of a new car, you might just head to the garages nearest to you, have a browse of their selection and see if any tickle your fancy.
With a new TV, you may simply be price orientated – finding the best value model either online or in store, or you may have a particular brand or specification (e.g., surround sound) in mind.
Buying consumer goods is usually an easy enough process, but finding the right broker with which to invest in stocks? That can be another matter entirely.
The differences between a good broker and one that isn’t, are stark. The right broker will enable you to trade exactly what you want when you want while offering a window of opportunity to diversify your portfolio in new areas.
A good broker will offer a secure trading environment, the best software, effective customer support, low spreads, helpful liquidity and, encompassing everything, just an excellent user experience.
A bad broker will offer none of those things and, to make matters worse, they could make it extremely difficult for you to get your hands on your money – particularly when they don’t have a segregated bank account for their clients’ capital.
One of the difficulties for traders is identifying the differences between the two, so here are some handy hints and tips to consider.
Choose Your Weapons
To some extent, the right broker for you will be determined which assets you plan to trade.
Some firms specialize in stocks, others in forex or precious metals, some prioritize crypto trading and others take a generalist approach. The point is matching your trading to their unique offering.
If you intend on taking an international approach in your trading, make sure that your broker supports the particular market you’re interested in.
Another item for consideration is your trading philosophy. Will you be actively engaging in the market on a daily basis – i.e., are you a day or swing trader?
Or will you be more passive in your investments, opening long positions that you will hold for weeks or months on end?
This is an important factor because it will almost certainly reflect which broker is right for your unique trading needs.
Fees and Charges
It goes without saying that you want the best possible deal every time you make a trade.
Many brokers promise the earth when it comes to super-low fees or zero commission, but what about spreads? Overnight charges?
Realistically, the best brokers are those that offer the best overall package when it comes to trading. They may not be the best in each of the categories of fees, but if they are somewhere near the top in each, then that’s an excellent sign.
Direct to Market
All brokers have their own unique ways of working.
Some will trade directly with their clients, acting as the ‘market maker’, or at least send requests directly to an exchange.
Other brokers will use an intermediary, and this process slows down your route to market – meaning you may miss out on the price you are looking to close at. In these cases, the spread may be wider to account for intermediary fees.
Some ‘middle men’ may be based overseas, which can lead to some positions not being executed outside of office hours, etc.
In short, there aren’t many advantages to using a broker that doesn’t offer instant access to the market, so this should be another factor in your decision-making.
If you will be pushing a high volume of trades through your broker, the costs of not using a market-making broker will soon add up.
There may be a temptation to opt for an offshore brokerage.
The conditions can be very good, with low spreads and higher rates of leverage, however, caution is advised.
Regulated brokers have to have certain financial standards in place and will provide assurances that your money will be kept safe even if they find themselves in dire straits as a liquid company.
For that reason, trading with brokers that have been authorized by a recognized regulatory authority is typically a smart idea.
Do Your Research
If nothing else, it is imperative that you do your homework before plumping for a particular broker.
You can read reams of broker reviews online, and these can offer the insight you need to make a more informed decision – a True Potential Investor review details all of the key factors you should be considering in any trading operator.
The more reviews that you read, the greater the consensus will be on which brokers to admire and which to avoid at all costs.
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