Tuesday, March 26, 2013

How to Make Sure That You Feel Comfortable and Confident in the Brokerage Firm You Invest With

Online brokerage reviews should always be consulted when you are researching which brokerage firm to entrust your money with when making the decision to invest. Not all brokerage firms are created equal. Some firms perform better than others. Different firms offer different fee structures. Different firms offer different sets of tools and resources to help you manage your portfolio and to educate you on how to make smart investment decisions. So by reading reviews and comparing multiple brokerage firms, you will be able to make an informed decision as to which one to go with.

In fact, it could be rightly said that choosing the right brokerage firm is just as important as choosing the right portfolio. If you choose the right firm, you stand better chances of making smarter investment decisions and coming out ahead financially. If you choose the wrong firm, you could end up being bilked out of hidden charges and fees and you may find yourself on your own to choose the right investment moves. You should always make sure that you feel comfortable and confident in the brokerage firm you are dealing with. That's why researching different online brokerage reviews is an important first step in the process of investing.

So this begs the question: What exactly should you be looking for when you compare online brokerage reviews? What are the criteria that you should be evaluating different online investment brokerage firms against, when choosing one to invest your money with?

Let's take a look at some key questions you should be asking as you conduct your reviews:

  • How is the quality of the firm's customer service? Can you get live support by phone during convenient hours? Are the customer support personnel competent and well versed in the technical aspects of investing?
  • Does the firm clearly and plainly specify what are each of its transaction fees, commission rates, and penalties? How are they calculated? This information should be clear and unambiguous.
  • Does the firm offer its customers any type of free information, training, or educational materials through its website on various topics pertaining to investing? Does the firm empower its customers to make smarter investment decision on their own?
  • Does the firm offer a degree of transparency so that customers can easily identify and track their money as it goes through investment process, thus holding the investment firm accountable to the customer?
  • Does the firm offer access to any online account management tools? If so, how sophisticated and how useful are they in terms of helping you manage your investment portfolio? How easy are these tools to use? How easy is it to navigate the firm's website to find the information that you seek?
  • How have the funds being managed by the firm been performing, over the past several weeks, the past several months, the past year, the past several years, and the past one or more decades? How about since the inception of these funds? While past performance is not a guaranteed indicator of future performance, it gives you an idea of its previous track record.

As you research various online brokerage reviews in your quest to decide which brokerage to invest your money with, it is important that you seek out the answers to the aforementioned list of questions. Beware that a lot of reviews can be highly opinionated and subjective based solely on how well any one particular reviewer's fund did.

Obviously, it is quite natural for peoples' opinions about a brokerage firm can be shaped based on how well their investment portfolios performed. The profit motive is, after all, the bottom line, isn't it? But choosing the right brokerage firm depends on a number of variables, not just how well peoples' funds performed (although that may be a major influencing factor). So you should make your best effort to sift through the reviews and try to isolate the objective information from among the rest.

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