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Essential Steps for Selecting Your Online Broker

Every day new trading enthusiasts begin their search for a reputable broker. Online buying and selling of securities and other asset classes is a central part of the global exchange economy as non-professionals set up workstations in their homes. They also trade via mobile devices from anywhere and everywhere. An activity that was once the sole province of stock brokers and a handful of individuals is a worldwide phenomenon. That’s all the more reason to spend time and effort identifying an excellent online brokerage firm. There are plenty of them, but not all are created equal. A few cater to newcomers, while others work hard to attract seasoned and intermediate-level practitioners.

Fortunately, there are some specific steps people can take to improve their chances of locating a broker who is best suited to a particular style of operation, account size, and trader’s experience level. The main effort begins with research: finding out about a firm’s reputation via authentic reviews and other methods. After that critical task, the next steps are about making a short list of potential brokers you might like to work with. Check their verifiable credentials, perform a customer service test, use demo accounts to test out the goods, and create a backup plan in case your first choice doesn’t pan out. Engage in at least two full weeks of paper trading once you make the final selection of a brokerage firm that meets most or all of your needs.

Do the Right Kind of Research

How does a person go about doing a deep dive into the background of a list of brokerage companies? It’s an easy chore if you know where to begin. There are hundreds of good, bad, and in-between review websites that rank and rate brokers’ platforms and businesses. Sometimes it can be tough to separate the fake reviews from the real ones. Stick with the best-known, high authority reviewers that offer verified customer tagging for consumers who contribute information. Be aware of reviewers who are essentially promoting one company by putting it at the top of its listing. 

From the narrative posted on these kinds of sites, look for telltale features of consumer dissatisfaction like high fees, excessive charges, poor customer service, and non-responsiveness to inquiries. Most industry leaders, like Friedberg Direct for forex and other prominent firms for equities and crypto niches, appear on multiple consumer sites with verified comments and reliable feedback comments. Reading about experiences that real customers had with companies can give you a feel for what kinds of features and functions are important to online trading enthusiasts.

Make a Short List

Narrow your list down to three favorites based on the research phase. Avoid including more than that, or you’ll be forced to spend an inordinate amount of time on the following steps. Once you’ve chosen the finalists, consider visiting their websites and exploring them in depth. Look at registration forms, minimum account balance requirements, and more.

Check Registration, Licensing, and Official Memberships

The legal part of the process can be boring, but it’s a must. Check the last pages of the site for registration certificates, licenses, and memberships in any professional organizations. Does the brokerage belong to national and international cooperatives, assemblies, or consortiums? Does it hold the required licenses to operate in your country or region? These are just a few of the areas to explore, and all the data should be easy to find on the websites.

Do a Customer Service Experiment

Take a few minutes to phone or email each short-list firm’s customer service department. Ask some random questions to get an idea of how responsive they are. If it’s hard to contact a human being, or if you leave a message and get no response, that’s a sign that there could be trouble ahead.

Evaluate Demo Accounts and Platforms

Try out the demo platforms if possible. Some firms will give you a one-week trial that does not require signing up for an account. In any case, do your best to see how trading works on each website and whether it meets your criteria for excellence and functionality.

Have a Plan B

Even after making a choice, keep a second-place candidate ready in case you become disenchanted with the initial selection.

Paper Trade for Two Weeks

Use the demo account and paper trade for at least 10 business days to get accustomed to how the website works, how quickly trades are executed, and whether there are any glitches that need to be worked out.

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