IIAwards - Review of Interactive Brokers
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28 September
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As part of the recently announced IIAwards, in which we celebrate innovations in the fintech and crypto industry, we will examine today Interactive Brokers considering different categories.

General information

Founded in 1977, IB has been the first choice destination for institutional investors and sophisticated, active traders around the globe. Being based in the US, the broker is widely recognized due to its low per-share pricing, state-of-the-art trading platform and extensive offer of tradable securities that also includes foreign stocks.

Commissions & fees - (4/5)

Interactive Brokers offers two primary pricing plans: IBKR Pro (professionals) and IBKR Lite (casual investors). Due to the fact that the broker's target audience are professional traders and institutional investors, it is of utmost importance to offer the lowest commissions possible. IBKR Lite enables unlimited commission-free trades on all available ETFs and there are no transfer, closing, annual or inactivity fees. Meanwhile, IBKR Pro provides 98 commission-free ETFs and it requires a $10/month commission minimum for accounts with $100,000 or less, and a $20/month commission minimum for accounts with $2,000 or less. The cost structure is easy to understand and very competitive in contrast to other brokers.

Markets & products - (5/5)

IB offers a great wealth of tools (135 markets in 33 countries) for sophisticated investors who are interested in tracking global investment trends. Along with unparalleled market access to global exchanges and asset classes, IBKR has layered on a staggering array of tools that can meet almost every conceivable trading need. The firm adds new products based on customer demand and links to new electronic exchanges as soon as technically possible.

Advanced trading platform - (5/5)

The IB trading platform has been designed by brokers, providing multiple iterations for optimal user experience. The client can choose between the Client portal, Desktop TWS (Trader Workstation) or mobile application. There is a ubiquitous trade ticket available that every client can use as a ready shortcut. Additionally, there are numerous customization options for setting trade defaults on the Client Portal. The Interactive Brokers TWS platform offers programmable hotkeys and a slew of order types for placing every possible trade imaginable, including algorithmic orders. What is more - Interactive Brokers offers 65 different order types.

Innovative account opening - (4/5)

Just recently, the company made significant efforts in easing the onboarding process. The client is required to e-sign a set of forms in order to obtain access to an IB account, and the majority of features are ready to use as soon as an account is opened. The process is safe and comparatively well guided, as IBot, an AI-powered digital assistant, is there to assist through the process. Once this stage is completed, the Client Portal is a great step forward in making IBKR's tools more accessible and easier to find.

Customer service - (2/5)

The broker offers a limited-hour weekday phone line with callback service, online chat, secure message center and an AI-powered IBot that directs customers to online FAQs and resources. While the company has invested significantly in the past years to be at the forefront of customer service, the broker has a long-lived reputation for its lackluster Support. The online chat feature is available around the clock with a human customer service representative.

Education - (3/5)

The broker offers numerous education activities that can be accessed without an IB account. One of the most notable initiatives is 'Traders Academy' that is developed for advanced traders, industry professionals and academics. The covered topics include discussions on various asset classes, markets, currencies, tools and functionality available on IBKR's platforms. At the moment there are more than 49 courses. Additionally, the broker markets a series of frequent webinars that feature various industry experts on a variety of topics that cover how-tos for platforms and tools, options education, trading international products and more.

Mobile trading / Apps - (4/5)

IB's mobile app closely mirrors the functionality of the TWS, albeit it provides a significantly reduced variety of actions, when compared to the TWS desktop platform. It is possible to trade from everywhere you go by using the broker's mobile app. Moreover, all of the watchlists that one develops on the mobile platform are automatically shared with the web and desktop platforms. An important function available on the mobile platform is the news streaming service that includes Bloomberg TV, Real Vision and IBKR Traders Insight. Additionally, the IBot function is available on the mobile and can be activated by voice. Portfolio information, orders, quotes and more are all supported.

UI / UX - (4/5)

While the broker offers superior functionality, it struggles with the ease of use and the overall user experience. Interactive Brokers provides vast amounts of informational resources on its website, yet finding and interpreting the necessary insights can be time consuming. For IBKR Pro customers, the multiple commission and fee structures make it hard to identify the expected costs.

Digital security - (4/5)

The broker offers numerous mechanisms to ensure client protection. Among the options for safe logins is the two-step authentication enabled through SMS messaging. It is also possible to obtain the IB Key, which enables two-step authentication through IBKR Mobile. You can also use the Secure Login System where you get a plastic code card. In the WebTrader, security is guaranteed with a firewall, as well as a number of other security protocols. If any security related issues arise, such as a reset, the client has to use their contact telephone number. The line operates around the clock. Also, you can opt for connections to be encrypted with standard SSL encryption. There are fund transfer restrictions designed to stop any unauthorized capital transfer from an account.

Novelties

The latest (beta) release of the platform introduces the Learn Tab. Now, TWS users can watch video tutorials, browse some of Interactive Brokers’ most requested FAQs and keep abreast of the latest News@IBKR - all without leaving TWS. The new Learn tab showcases all of the latest and greatest features in TWS and IBKR. From 2019, Interactive Brokers offers the Portal platform through its website. The Portal includes all the features necessary to trade and manage a basic portfolio. The Portal is the primary trading source for IBKR Lite customers, which means it is far less robust, but also far easier to use.

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