“This article will light your path by providing some insights on some of the important issues to consider before starting to stock trading online.”

Before starting to stock trading online, the first and foremost you will need to open an account with one of the brokerage firms which have effective features.

But, what are the factors you need to consider before you open up an account? Let me tell you some of the criteria you might have to consider are:

  • Account & Margin Requirements.
  • Features & Services.
  • Types of Products Offered.
  • Commissions & Fees.
  • Expertise & Reputation.

Let’s discuss details about these criteria so that we can properly understand what you need to check and recheck before starting your stock trading online.

Stock Trading Online

Account & Margin Requirements

This feature varies from one broker to another broker. Some might require you to put down $500 while others might have a minimum deposit of $2000.

Margin requirements will also vary on the type of trading strategy you employ. Because, margin trading involves substantial risk and it is important that you become acquainted with your strategy before trading on margin in stock trading online. Most of the brokerage firms make you sign an agreement form stating that you understand the risks associated with margin trading. In fact, this contract agreement is to protect the brokerage firms to ensure that traders understand the implications of trading on margin.

Margins are usually calculated after the market closes in a day. If you have an open position that has moved significantly against you, then the brokerage firm may issue a “margin call” requiring you to deposit additional funds to maintain your position. And if you are unable or unwilling to do so a part of your account will be liquidated to meet the call requirements.

You should be able to open an account with the brokerage firms and still be able to trade stocks on the long and short side. However, brokerage houses generally require you to put down big capital before they allow you to short stocks.

Features & Services

The decision to choose a broker based on the service they provide will depend on your trading approach. For instance, if you require a personal service and attention you will probably want to go with “full-service brokerage”. Then you will be assigned and individual broker who will personally handle your account. But, you have to know that, the minimum account requirements and commissions are higher for full-service brokerages that for discount brokerages in the field of stock trading online.

In contrast, if you prefer to be in-charge of your own trades or do not have the capital needed to meet the requirements of a full-service brokerage you will probably want to choose a “discount broker”. However, these firms have zero to no-fees and lower commissions compared to full-service brokers. Online/Internet brokerages are an example of discount brokers and will allow you to open an account and trade online over the internet.

You should also consider about the features that are available and how they best fit your trading style. And if you expect to trade less frequently, then you will probably not be interested in real-time quotes. But, on the other hand if you expect to trade more frequently and need access to real-time quotes you will want a broker to provide that service either free of charge or minimal cost.

You might also want to consider services such as free checking, or free money direct (ACH), bank wires, monthly statements, written or electronic confirmations etc.

Types of Products Offered

Many traders would like to diversify their portfolios across different products such as bonds, stocks, cash, mutual funds, money market accounts, Individual Retirement Accounts (IRA’s), Certificate of Deposits (CD’s) etc. So, it is important to check if your broker is capable to provide popular assets. Because, assets are important factors to become successful in stock trading online. You might want to carefully consider the types of products offered by the brokerage firms.

Commissions & Fees

One pays commissions when entering and exiting a trade. However, the commissions you pay vary depending on the brokerage firm in the platform of stock trading online. Some brokers might even negotiate the commissions based on the account activity and size.

In stock trading online or any other online based trading, choosing a broker you should be aware of the fees they charge. So, ask them if they have account maintenance fees, inactivity fees or any penalty charges for not maintaining minimum balances or for withdrawing funds.

Reputation

The broker you opt for should fully understand your trading needs and have support staff that can handle difficult and complex transactions. Keep in mind that, if the broker you selected has an established reputation for executing trades promptly and going an extra mile for its customers. So, these characteristics will enhance your trading experience and can lay the groundwork for negotiating reduced commission cost.

Summary

Selecting the right broker to meet your personal needs is a very important step in stock trading online. Your process for selecting a brokerage firm should involve collecting information on several firms, determining your needs and what brokerage firm best meets those needs.