IIAwards - Review of ETrade
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2 October
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As part of the recently announced IIAwards, in which we celebrate innovations in the fintech and crypto industry, today we will review ETrade analyzing different categories.

General information

ETrade is one of the oldest and most reputable online brokerages in the United States, with a history going back to 1982. It is regulated by top-tier regulators like the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). The company had 4.9 million active accounts at the end of 2018 and averaged well over a quarter of a million daily trades. It offers competitive pricing and powerful web and desktop trading platforms.

Commissions & fees - (4/5)

In 2019 ETrade shifted its pricing strategy, joining the ranks of zero fee brokers. As a result, regular stock and ETF trades cost 0 USD (previously 6.95 USD) and options trades run 0 USD + 0.65 USD per contract (previously 6.95 USD + 0.75 USD per contract). However, despite $0 trades, when trading during pre- and post-market hours, an ECN fee of $.005 per share is added to the regular commission rate. There is also a $6.95 charge for trading penny stocks. There is a considerable amount of mutual funds and bonds that can also be traded free of charge. Moreover, in comparison to industry standards, the non-trading fees can be considered as highly competitive. In addition to no annual or inactivity fees, no minimum deposit is required in order to start trading.

Markets & products - (3/5)

ETrade is the first choice for numerous investors in the US as it provides everything an investor would come to expect from a full-service brokerage. All investment vehicles offered, from stocks and options to bonds, banking products and financial-planning services. They include various stocks (with more than 6,000 on easy-to-borrow list); OTCBB (penny stocks); mutual funds (with more than 4,600 no-load, no transaction fee); bonds: corporate, municipal, treasury, CDs, international as well as single leg and multi-leg options. The only fields where the company lags behind are international trades, forex trading and cryptocurrency trading, but it is possible to trade CME Bitcoin futures. There is no international trading (outside of those available in ETFs and mutual funds) or currency trading.

Advanced trading platform - (5/5)

ETrade's convenient yet sophisticated trading platform is the company's most recognized benefit. The broker offers three types of trading interfaces - ETrade Web, Power ETrade and ETrade Pro - what is more, none of the platforms requires a certain minimum deposit to provide access to trading. ETrade Web offers free streaming market data, free real-time quotes, live market commentary, analyst research stock screeners and more. From the dashboard, it is possible to track accounts, create watch lists, view market data and make trades, including complex options strategies. On the other hand, ETrade Pro, the company's desktop platform, provides idea-generating tools like "Strategy Scanner" and back testing capabilities. Finally, Power ETrade is the company's web platform that offers real-time data, more than 100 technical studies, over 30 drawing tools, streamlined trade tickets, customizable options chain views and trading ladders.

Innovative account opening - (4/5)

The broker's extensive experience in the industry has allowed it to perfect its onboarding process, providing a pleasant and smooth registration. There is no minimum deposit requirement. Upon registration, it is possible to choose from more than 8 different account types. After completing the online account opening form, the client is asked to upload a photocopy of a relevant ID card and the SSN. The online application is processed within 15 minutes on average, yet afterwards the client has to wait for documents verification. The process is fully digitalized, however, the service is available to US citizens only.

Customer service - (5/5)

Complementary to the company's excellent onboarding process and convenient platform, the broker has a sophisticated customer service division that includes a 24/7 phone line with access to brokers as well as to retirement specialists, financial consultants, active trader consultants and product specialists (the average connection time is between 1 and 2 minutes). The company provides access to financial consultants in any of ETrade's 30 physical branches for face-to-face assistance. E-mail support agents respond within 1 day. There is also online chat with human representatives.

Education - (5/5)

The broker offers a vast offer of educational tools. The Learning Center on the website contains investing-related articles and platform manuals. Novices can examine the "Getting Started" module and pick it up from there growing more comfortable with investing concepts. The education center is accessible to everyone - registered and non-registered users. It offers investor education in a variety of formats and covers such topics as investing, retirement and trading. The videos and educational articles are beginner-friendly and offer useful content. What is more, ETrade offers a daily product webinar to help its traders and investors become proficient in the web, mobile and Power ETrade platforms. There are three to four virtual learning environment events (VLEs) each year, which are webinar-based all-day events with a structured, sequential learning format. They are accessible even after the event has taken place in the "Knowledge/Events" menu.

Mobile trading / Apps - (5/5)

Due to ETrade mobile app convenience and abundance of features, they are frequently chosen as the best mobile apps in the industry. There are two mobile apps available - the regular ETrade and the Power ETrade app. Both apps are available on iOS and Android and both are extremely well laid-out, easy to use and are among the most comprehensive and extensive trading apps in the market. Power ETrade app focuses on adapting derivatives—options and futures—to the mobile realm, while the regular ETrade app mirrors the functionality of the regular ETrade web-based platform. It allows you to easily manage your account, place trades and get real-time quotes and news, including Bloomberg TV. It offers advanced mobile features like stock and ETF screeners, as well as multi-leg options trades and is available for Apple Watch as well.

The Power ETrade app offers many capabilities on the go: Traders can access the customizable options chain, a selection of popular technical studies, charts, streaming quotes and news. The app can be used for trading complex strategies, including four-legged option spreads and futures orders can be made directly from the futures ladder.

UI / UX - (4/5)

ETrade's services are intuitive and easy-to-navigate across all platforms. It is possible to open and fund an account easily irrespective of whether it is done from a mobile device or a computer. The regular ETrade website and app are intended for novice investors, thus they have two-level menus with access to numerous screening tools, portfolio analysis and education offerings. The Trade Ticket function enables the creation of orders that can be saved for later. The portfolio positions are easy to monitor and it is possible to access analysis tools that measure asset allocation against three model portfolios.

The Power ETrade site and app offer a range of charting tools, price alerts and a wider set of trading focused features. It allows you to position the functions most frequently used at the front and center in order to have them in a convenient proximity. What is more, there is a downloadable platform, ETrade Pro, that is intended for advanced traders that can be customized extensively.

Digital security - (3/5)

Etrade is regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission and is a member of FINRA and the NFA. Brokerage accounts are insured by the SIPC and Etrade Bank is insured by the FDIC. In addition to government insurance programs, Etrade has 600 million USD in additional brokerage protection worth up to 900,000 USD per customer from London Insurers. The broker offers the Symantec Virtual Digital Security Token - a device that generates a new personal 6-digit access code every 60 seconds. For individuals who have smartphones, Symantec also offers an app that effectively does the same as the key fob. It's available for iPhone, Blackberry, Android and Windows smartphones.

Novelties

One of the most recent updates allows clients with multiple ETrade accounts to select and save a default account so it will be automatically displayed when logging into Power E*TRADE. What is more - in the light of the ongoing pandemic, the company has published a Covid-19 resource center for its clients. IRA-focused education offerings have been updated to help customers understand the new laws and support them to make optimal decisions about their retirement, given all the regulatory changes.

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