Broker-less Trading Platforms Could Be the Future of Retail Trading

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Best Options Trading Platforms

The best options brokers have a wealth of tools that help you manage risk

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We recognize that we all are living through a particularly volatile time as we deal with this global crisis, and financial markets have also seen unprecedented change, impacting all investors. Our mission has always been to help people make the most informed decisions about how, when and where to invest. Given recent market volatility, and the changes in the online brokerage industry, we are more committed than ever to providing our readers with unbiased and expert reviews of the top investing platforms for investors of all levels, for every kind of market.

Options trading has become extremely popular with retail investors since the turn of the 21st century. Our best options brokers have a wealth of tools that help you measure and manage risk as you determine which trades to place. They also include valuable education that helps you grow in sophistication as an options trader.

Best Online Brokers for Options Trading in April 2020:

  • tastyworks: Best Options Trading Platform
  • tastyworks: Best Broker for Advanced Options Traders
  • tastyworks: Best Broker for Mobile Options Traders
  • E*TRADE: Best Broker for Beginning Options Traders
  • eOption: Best Broker for Low-Cost Options Trading

Best Options Trading Platform, Best for Advanced Options Trades, and Best for Mobile Options Traders: tastyworks

  • AccountMinimum: $0
  • Fees: $0.00 stock trades, $1.00 to open options trades $0.00 to close

Tastyworks says that more than 90% of the trades placed by its customers are derivatives, so they naturally spend their time designing a lot of tools specifically for options and futures traders. Everything is designed to help traders evaluate volatility and the probability of profit. Tastyworks’ entire platform is geared towards making decisions and taking action. Tastyworks opened its virtual doors in 2020, so it isn’t saddled with legacy systems that bog down many of the older online brokers. This has helped it tremendously in keeping the options trading experience to the essentials. Tastyworks’ executions are fast and the costs are low, with commissions capped for opening orders for options on equities and futures at $10 per leg.

Watchlists are a key component of the tastyworks platform, and they are the same on mobile, web, and download. The look and feel of the mobile platform is very similar to the desktop versions, though you’ll find price wheels and ways to define trades that minimize the possibility of making a mistake. As you build a position from a chart or from a volatility screener, a trade ticket is built for you. There’s also a video viewer embedded so you can keep an eye on the tastytrade network. Though a newcomer to options trading might be initially uncomfortable, those who understand the basic concepts will appreciate the content, features, and focus apparent throughout tastyworks’ platforms.

All of the tools you’ll need for analyzing and trading derivatives are built into the platforms.

The charting capabilities are uniquely tuned for the options trader. If you have multiple positions on a particular underlying, you can analyze the risk profiles of the combined position.

There are hours of original video from tastytrade every weekday, offering up-to-the-minute trading ideas, plus a huge library of pre-recorded videos and shows.

Newcomers to trading and investing may be overwhelmed by tastyworks at first.

There is no fixed income trading (outside of ETFs that contain bonds) for those who want to allocate some of their assets to a more conservative asset class.

Any additional portfolio analysis beyond profit and loss requires setting up a login on a separate site, The Quiet Foundation, which is also part of the tastytrade empire.

Best for Beginning Options Traders: E*TRADE

  • AccountMinimum: $0
  • Fees: No commission for stock/ETF trades. Options are $0.50-$0.65 per contract, depending on trading volume.

New options traders need some help in understanding how trading derivatives can help improve portfolio returns. E*TRADE’s more advanced platforms are elegantly designed and guide you along the way. When you graduate to options and derivatives, the Power E*TRADE website and mobile app can help you learn. The Power E*TRADE site and app can be set up to put the functions you use most often front and center so you don’t have to dig around for them. The platform has all the features inherited from E*TRADE’s acquisition of OptionsHouse technology, which includes a wealth of helpful educational resources for the developing options trader. Watchlists are integrated across E*TRADE’s platforms, and the full range of tradable assets is accessible on the mobile apps. The workflow is very smooth on the mobile apps. We also found that using Power E*TRADE on a tablet is quite pleasant.

Best Binary Options Brokers 2020:
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  • Binomo
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Mobile apps are extremely well laid-out and easy to use and are among the most comprehensive and extensive apps tested.

Spectral Analysis on Power E*TRADE is a visually stunning tool that helps you visualize maximum profit and loss for an options strategy and understand your risk metrics

You can test strategies using the paper trading capabilities of E*TRADE Pro’s desktop platform, which uses delayed data so you won’t think you’re placing real trades.

On all platforms, you’ll find a ubiquitous trade ticket with streaming real-time data.

Tiered commission schedule for options trades, charging $0.65 per contract for less frequent traders and $0.50 for those who place more than 30 options trades per quarter.

Investors who would like direct access to international markets or to trade foreign currencies should look elsewhere.

You cannot consolidate your externally-held accounts to form a complete picture of your net worth on E*TRADE.

Best for Low-Cost Options Trading: eOption

  • Account Minimum: $0
  • Fees: $0 per stock/ETF trade, $1.99 base per leg plus $0.10 per contract for options trades

eOption charges $1.99 per leg for options trades, but the per-contract fee is significantly lower than its competitors, making it great for heavy options traders. eOption also offers commission-free stock and ETF trading so those who are options-oriented traders but also want access to other assets at a low cost will have no issues here. Clearing and exchange fees, typically a fraction of a penny per share, are spelled out on the order confirmation screen and are passed through to customers. eOption also scored highly for its relatively low margin rates.

eOption offers great value for frequent options traders.

The browser-based eOption Trader platform is easy to use.

Newsletter subscribers can auto-trade their alerts.

Limited education offerings.

News feeds are limited.

Any OTCBB (penny stock) trades must be made with a live broker.

Other Options Considerations

The commission structure for options trades tends to be more complicated than its equivalent for stock trades. Until the commission cuts that swept the industry in the fall of 2020, most brokers charged a fee for each leg of an options spread plus a commission per contract being traded. The per-leg fees, which made 2- and 4-legged spreads expensive, have been eliminated industry-wide, for the most part. We are also seeing some brokers place caps on commissions charged for certain trading scenarios.

Investors with fairly large portfolios can also take advantage of portfolio margining at some brokers. This is a practice that assesses the total risk inherent in a portfolio that contains stocks and derivatives. Investors with large portfolios can use portfolio margining to reduce the size of the margin loan.

What Kind of Options Trader Are You?

The first and most important piece of information to consider before selecting an options trading account is what kind of trader you are. What is your trading style and risk appetite? Which tools would you like to have handy?

Options are complex products to understand and trade. All of the brokers listed above allow customers to build complex options positions as a single order. Some brokers, such as Vanguard, only allow one position per order, leaving it to the individual trader to place multiple orders one at a time to create a combination position. Merrill Edge lets you place two-legged spreads, but anything more complex will require an additional order.

If you’re just getting started with options trading, the quality of education and help offered by your broker is important. Frequent traders and those who trade a large number of contracts will be more sensitive to commissions and fees, so check out your prospective broker’s charges and make sure you understand them.

Methodology

Investopedia is dedicated to providing investors with unbiased, comprehensive reviews and ratings of online brokers. Our reviews are the result of months of evaluating all aspects of an online broker’s platform, including the user experience, the quality of trade executions, the products available on its platforms, costs and fees, security, the mobile experience and customer service. We established a rating scale based on our criteria, collecting thousands of data points that we weighed into our star-scoring system.

In addition, every broker we surveyed was required to fill out an extensive survey about all aspects of its platform that we used in our testing. Many of the online brokers we evaluated provided us with in-person demonstrations of its platforms at our offices.

Our best options brokers have a wealth of tools that help you measure and manage risk as you determine which trades to place. These brokers include valuable education that helps you grow in sophistication as an options trader. Investors with fairly large portfolios can take advantage of portfolio margining at certain brokers, a practice that assesses the total risk inherent in a portfolio that contains stocks and derivatives, and can reduce the size of your margin loan.

Our team of industry experts, led by Theresa W. Carey, conducted our reviews and developed this best-in-industry methodology for ranking online investing platforms for users at all levels. Click here to read our full methodology.

Is This the Future of Retail Trading Platforms? A Look at Flick-a-Trade

Beginning with binary options, simplified trading products is an active segment of the online industry. Following that trend is Flick-a-Trade

Mobile trading has been a pretty talked up trend taking place within the retail online forex space. Not just a factor among a few niche players, but mobile volumes at some of the largest forex brokers have reached over 30% of volumes and greater than 50% client usage rates. The result, like in many other industries, has been a focus on how to develop a mobile first platform experience that utilizes all of the advantages of smartphones and tablets, as well as being optimized for smaller screens. Simply shrinking a desktop or web-based platform simply doesn’t cut it these days.

Less discussed, but another trend that has been forming, is the creation of products with a gaming twang to them. Beyond just binary options, which are often viewed as a cross between gambling and forex trading, the next step are products that provide features synonymous with online games such as multi-player capabilities, achievements, variable rewards as well as defining playing durations.

For a look at the possible future of trading, and a combination of both the gaming and mobile trends, is Flick-a-Trade.

Forex Trading App Meets Candy Crush

Created by Cygnecode, a London-based design and development firm, Flick-a-Trade is a mobile trading app available for both iOS and Android. The app features charting and real-time pricing of major forex pairs, commodities and equity index products. To play, users enter the duration they want to play; from one minute and up. They then enter the amount of money they want to make available for this round of trading. At this point, the round begins, and players click the asset they want to trade. Included with tradable assets are also an array of ‘fantasy’ products. So if you ever wanted to trade kryptonite, promethium, or galvorn, now is your chance (although I am a little bummed out that there is no adamantium).

Wolverine Would Be Disappointed

When you select an asset, you flick up or down to buy and sell the product; thus the name Flick-a-Trade. Upon making a trade, the current profit/loss is displayed for easy understanding of how well or not the game is going. Players can switch between different assets or continue to trade only one item. Like traditional trading, each product is priced with both a bid and ask price. But, unlike regular trading, Flick-a-Trade offers a multi-player setting allowing for users to play against others to see who the best short-term trader is.

Game or Trading App?

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Recently updated for both iOS and Android in its native form, Flick-a-Trade is an investment game app. The future though, according to Cygnecode’s developers, is the roll out of the product as both a gaming and trading app. The company plans partnering with an authorized FCA broker as well as with a regulated UK gaming company. As a trading app, the mobile platform can be connected to a broker’s liquidity and customer accounts.

The Future of Trading Platforms?

Speaking to Kerem Ozelli of Cygnecode, he stated that he didn’t view Flick-a-Trade as competing against the existing market of forex and CFD brokers and platforms like MT4, but a new segment of account type. Explaining this Ozelli stated, “With Flick-a- Trade our goal is to reach out to a whole new breed of market participants – currently a substantially underserved market segment – a new segment which we call the “casual real money gamers”. People that are not attracted to the highly complex FX CFD trading proposition and equally not attracted to the outright gambling offerings in play.”

Even though Flick-a-Trade isn’t positioning itself as a trading alternative, Cygnecode still believes their product brings value to the marketplace for traders. Ozelli explained that the company’s opinion is that what the retail traders do well is to predict the direction of the market. However, where they fail is in risk management; specifically handling losses and opening suitable position sizes. The result is that a retail trader can be correct more than 50% of the time, but still lose money.

Flick-a-Trade’s solution is that customer losses are limited by the size of the amount entered for each trading round. Depending on the wagered amount, each new position size is also adjusted. Therefore, in a short duration a customer would be hard-pressed to open so many positions to expose themselves to losing their entire amount allocated for the round. Also, as the duration of each trading round is finite, the app enforces a level of risk management that forces users to focus on the short-term direction of the market and cashing in quickly or cutting losses before the round ends.

Despite the gamelike interface, according to Ozelli, Flick-a-Trade is powered by a robust trading platform technology. This includes a liquidity matching engine, pricing infrastructure to store and serve an average of 9.6 million prices a day, multi-currency accounts and payment processing, and social network integration. In addition are back office features handling risk management, customer ID and verification.

So is Flick-a-Trade the future of online retail trading platforms? The short answer is no, and the app’s developers don’t view it as such either. But, its emergence follows a trend of simplified financial products which is quickly developing along multiple asset types and has been catching on fast among consumer users.

What are the best Forex trading platforms/brokers?

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There a lots of good ones and what you have to remember is that it is your attitude to the whole set up and how you operate it that is going to make the crucial difference.

The biggest failing in running a winning system in anything is discipline and it must be 100%.

I had this amply demonstrated with my own method of trading.

For 9 months everything was going along fine, regular winning trades and a nice smooth growth in the account equity.

Then I started to think I knew what I was doing and started to try and ‘improve things’. Within a week I had lost 30% of the account.

IBKR Trading Platforms

Optimize your trading speed and efficiency with our powerful suite of trading platforms. Discover which platform is the right one for you.

Client Portal

Your one-stop destination to check quotes and place trades, see account balances, P&L and key performance metrics, funding, reporting, and more. Click “Ask IBot” to get quotes, place orders, find information and much more. IBot supports both text and speech entry

Typically used by:
New clients; advisor clients who want a clear, understandable, real-time view of their accounts; traders and investors who prefer all-inclusive, easy-to-navigate convenience with 24/7 access.

Desktop TWS

Our flagship platform designed for active traders and investors who trade multiple products and require power and flexibility, TWS includes all of our most advanced algos and trading tools, and offers a library of tool- and asset-based trading layouts for total customization.

Typically used by:
Traders and investors who want to take advantage of the full IBKR offering, especially high-volume, global traders and those who require in-depth news, technical research and risk analysis tools

IBKR Mobile

Easily trade and monitor your IBKR account on-the-go from your iOS or Android device (tablet or smartphone).

Typically used by:
On-the-go traders and investors who like to keep an eye on their account 24/7

Find the information you need. Place orders using your own words and phrasing. IBot understands natural-language text and voice commands, and provides immediate results without the need for special syntax or financial jargon. Available on TWS for Desktop, IBKR Mobile, and Client Portal and through our web site search and IBot-powered FAQ browser.

Typically used by:
New clients, hands-free traders on the go, experienced desktop traders who prefer a text or voice interface

IBKR WebTrader

Our web-based trading platform offers similar functionality as the desktop with a simpler interface, and works behind a firewall.

Typically used by:
Traders and investors who prefer a simplified interface, or who are behind a firewall

IBKR APIs

From our easy-to-use Excel API to our industrial strength FIX API, we offer something no matter your experience level. Our TWS API is well-supported with numerous examples that make it easy to get started.

Typically used by:
Traders and investors who want to write their own trading software or automated trading programs; third-party software users

QuickTrade

Access your IBKR account quickly from within Account Management to place a simple order or check your account balance.

Typically used by:
Occasional traders

Supported Products

Our clients from over 200 countries invest globally in stocks, options, futures, Forex, bonds, and funds from a single integrated account.

Our trading platforms offer a wide range of productcentered tools like the OptionTrader and Probability Lab for simplified single and complex multi-leg option trading; FXTrader for forex trading; Mutual Fund/ETF Replicator to help you easily find lower cost ETF alternatives to popular mutual funds; our fixed income screeners for corporate, municipal and agency bonds and CDs – and more.

We give clients the tools they need to trade whatever financial products they choose to help them meet their trading and investing goals.

Client Portal Desktop Mobile Web IBot IBKR API
Stocks
Options (Incl. Futures Options)
Futures
Forex
CFDs
Warrants
Combinations
Bonds
Mutual Funds
Structured Products
Physical Metals
Inter-Commodity Spreads

Trading Features

We believe that less is more when it comes to our trading costs, but not our trading tools. We continually strive to offer our clients more of what they need to enhance their trading experience.

Looking for a highly-tailored, customizable investment strategy? Our Portfolio Builder walks you through the process of creating investment strategies based on fundamental data and top-tier research that you can back test, adjust and then invest in. Traders who are trading large orders have access to over 30 algos, including our own Accumulate/Distribute algo which has customizable logic to help you fill large-volume orders while adjusting to market conditions based on your criteria.

See the total picture before you buy or sell using our what-if portfolio scenarios. Our professional-caliber IB Risk Navigator SM reveals exposure across asset classes and around the globe, helping you to monitor and adjust your positions as needed.

Client Portal Desktop Mobile Web IBot IBKR API
Display Positions and PnL
IB SMART Routing
Simple Orders
Advanced Orders and Algos
Conditional Orders
Paper Trading
Customizable Workspace
Mutual Fund/ETF Replicator
Stock Borrow/Loan
Advanced Portfolio Management Tools
Risk Navigator SM
Backtesting

Advanced Analysis

Our trading platforms offer features to meet the needs of both the occasional investor and the serious, active trader.

Whether you need to simply monitor your account, or want to perform in-depth analysis to create a highly tailored trading strategy using our proprietary algos and API, our platforms provide the features you need to help you meet your trading and investing goals, however basic or complex they may be.

IBKR clients enjoy both the power and simplicity of our feature-rich platforms.

Client Portal Desktop Mobile Web IBot IBKR API
Live/Delayed Market Data
Historical Market Data
Level II Market Data
Charting
Advanced Technical Analysis
Scanners
Advanced Fixed Income Scanner
Streaming News Services
IBKR Market Signals
Third-Party Research
Streaming Bloomberg TV
Dividend Schedules
Alerts
Options Analysis
Download the PDF brochure of this page:

Interactive Brokers ®, IB SM , InteractiveBrokers.com ®, Interactive Analytics ®, IB Options Analytics SM , IB SmartRouting SM , PortfolioAnalyst ®, IB Trader Workstation SM and One World, One Account SM are service marks and/or trademarks of Interactive Brokers LLC. Supporting documentation for any claims and statistical information will be provided upon request. Any trading symbols displayed are for illustrative purposes only and are not intended to portray recommendations.

The risk of loss in online trading of stocks, options, futures, forex, foreign equities, and fixed Income can be substantial.

Best Binary Options Brokers 2020:
  • Binarium
    Binarium

    The Best Binary Options Broker 2020!
    Perfect Choice For Beginners!
    Free Demo Account!
    Free Trading Education!
    Get Your Sing-Up Bonus Now!

  • Binomo
    Binomo

    Only For Experienced Traders!

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