Monday, May 29, 2017

Best Online Brokerage Firm Investor Education Platforms

What's up everyone!  So I know you can find a slew of articles out there ranking the "Best Online Brokerage Firms" to get your investing started.  Online brokerage firms allow you to trade stocks, Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs), and buy shares of mutual funds, in case you didn't know.  Some of the most widely known online brokers are TDAmeritrade, Charles Schwab, Merrill, ETrade, Fidelity, ScottTrade, and Vanguard.  Personal Finance bloggers and other financial sites have taken to ranking these brokers, understandably, based on costs.

It's a great idea to know what it will cost you to sign-up with an online broker, from minimum investment all the way to the cost to trade a stock, i.e., trade commissions. After all, you want to get the best deal and make the most money without fees eating away at your profits.  Each of the aforementioned online brokers may have sophisticated trading platforms, and people will like them for their ease of use, look, help provided, and available free content, in addition to the associated costs for use.  But what about investor education?  Are investors making choices to open accounts at online brokerages that include the availability, versatility, and breadth of free educational content?

Image result for learn about investing

Even if you are an experienced investor, you should consider how important investor education is to your online broker.  Do they have easy to find "Education" pages somewhere on the main page?  Is the investor education content interactive, containing video or webcasts, and not just a series of links to pages with written content?  Are you being forced to open an account to get complete access?  (That's not very consumer friendly).  If these people want your money, you should be shopping for the best overall user experience, the lowest fees, AND an investment in your success that can only come from ongoing learning.  Yes, it's up to you to get educated about your finances and investing, and to find the best places online to go do this!  Wouldn't it make more sense to have that place be where you already go to do your investing?

Let's also say that you haven't yet committed to an online broker because you simply don't know enough about investing and have still to get the basics down.  Where do you go online?  Where can you access a library of the best investing content out there that is free?  To answer all of these questions, I have taken the liberty of reviewing the above cited online brokers' educational platforms (because I'm a teacher and value education).  In addition to my rankings, you'll also get a direct link to each site's investor education page so you don't have to waste time searching on their home pages.

Okay, here you go:

1.  The most comprehensive of all of the online brokers.  It has a designated Education Center where you can select from various topics and levels, and essentially customize your learning.  The site has plenty of interactivity: videos, webcasts, and written content.

2.  I liked Merrill's designated "Investor Education" page layout.  Like TDAmeritrade, you can explore topics by investing experience, topic, and format.  A brand new feature is Merrill's Investing Classroom.  You can take a quiz and test your knowledge prior to learning.  As you go through a course, e.g. Stocks 101, you are asked questions to size up your understanding.  I didn't like that the "Options" topic was locked, i.e., only accessible when you open an account.

3.  Fidelity has an impressive platform for learning.  It was hard to find from the home page, however.  Nonetheless, in Fidelity you have perhaps the easiest platform to learn from.  I love that once you select (by clicking a square) a topic, you can sort a la Excel for your "level" of understanding.  Another plus, the topics are as broadly ranged as those on the top two sites above.

4.  Not as comprehensive in terms of topics as the three above, but they do get a thumbs up for having a lot of video content.  If you're a visual and auditory learner, this is your place to go learn about investing.  Make sure you visit the first two ranked sites above, however, to find topics not covered at E-trade.  I loved their Personal Finance section!

4.  What I liked about Scottrade was the fact that they had a wide range of investing topics to learn from, e.g., Intro to the Stock Market, International Investing, Investing Strategies, and Modern Portfolio Theory, to name a few.  I didn't like the lack of video content.  If there is any video on the site, I couldn't find it.

6.  Schwab has some of the best resources (worksheets and tools on site) available, but they're scattered all over the site.  For example, the "Education" page is under the "Trading" tab?  Then when you get here, there are no linked educational topics to choose from.  I had to go to the "Invest" tab to find the How to Invest resources.  If you plan on being a day trader, this is the site for you.  Everyone else must learn at the site hit or miss style.

7.  Well, at least Vanguard has a dedicated "Investor Education" page.  That's the most I can say about the educational offerings at Vanguard.  I felt like I was reading a textbook (or eBook).  Boring!

Well my people, there you have it.  Make a commitment to learn daily about investing and personal finance.  Use my descriptions and links to decide on a site to learn from (based on your unique learning style) and keep at it.  That's the only way you'll stay ahead and be a successful long term investor.  Thanks for reading!  Until next time.  If you liked this post and want to get more like them...subscribe below!

**I am not in any financial relationship with any of the reviewed online brokers above...though I wish I were, lol.
Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

No comments:

Post a Comment

If you leave a link, I'll delete your message.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.