The changes paid off in the rankings of IBD's Best Online Brokers survey. Respondents ranked TradeStation among the top five online brokers overall as rated by its customers. It earned the highest Customer Experience Index rating in Trade Ideas, Equity Trading Tools and Mobile Trading Platforms. The Florida-based company also earned superior reviews in Site Performance and Options Trading Platform. In all, it placed among the best brokers in 13 of the 14 categories that investors rated as important.
TradeStation last March reduced an "overly complicated" five-tier commission system to a single tier, according to Jodi Fronczke, vice president of marketing. The commission for stocks and exchange traded funds is now $5 per trade.
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Overall, the changes broadened TradeStation's appeal. Once known primarily as the brokerage for experienced, hyperactive traders, TradeStation extended its reach to more ordinary investors while continuing to take care of the sophisticated niche.
Trade ideas are found in three different forms at TradeStation, Andrew James, vice president of brokerage strategy, points out. Ideas can emerge from an individual investor back-testing an idea of his or her own, from TradeStation's online community and from the firm's educational resources.
TradeStation fees and account rulesClients can create, test and automate trading strategies. Dozens of prebuilt strategy components — such as reversals, momentum and moving average lines — are available. Back testing can cover 30, 40 or 50 years, depending on the investor's preference, James said in a phone interview with IBD.
A morning market briefing is offered free on TradeStation's website at 9 a.m. ET. Live online events are offered daily and past events are available on demand. The brokerage also offers a 30-minute weekly stock-trading show called "The Long and the Short" on Cheddar.com. The show airs Tuesdays at 9:30 a.m. ET.
Cheddar is an internet-streamed financial news network. Cheddar began streaming in April 2016.
TradeStation Educational Resources
Educational resources include advice on what to trade and how to trade it, how to build and test strategies, and how to find opportunities.
To find stock opportunities on the TradeStation platform, clients can use screens that scan and rank up to 1,000 symbols at a time. Investors can rank stocks according to 180 technical and fundamental indicators or according to the clients' own custom criteria.
TradeStation Mobile can access an online account to monitor quotes, analyze charts and place orders in real time 24 hours a day and seven days a week.
TradeStation's educational resources came in handy in 2017, amid the Bitcoin craze.
Banks and investors have disagreed on whether investors should buy, short or ignore Bitcoin. JPMorgan Chase (JPM) CEO Jamie Damon compared Bitcoin to tulip mania and said it was "stupid" and "dangerous," though he has since walked back some of the remarks. Legendary investor Warren Buffett told CNBC recently that cryptocurrencies are almost certain to "come to a bad ending." Bank of America (BAC) has taken a more-measured tone, saying Bitcoin may "emerge as a serious competitor."
Even the U.S. judicial system can't agree on what Bitcoin is. A judge in Miami ruled that Bitcoin is not money. In a separate case, a New York federal judge ruled that Bitcoin is money.
TradeStation And Bitcoin
Amid the confusion, TradeStation's Knowledge Center offers a clear Bitcoin explanation that could help individual investors (and banks and judges) grasp the underlying realities.
Bitcoin is "an asset class because it has two basic attributes of money," TradeStation's Knowledge Center noted. "First, Bitcoin is scarce because the laws of mathematics dictate only 21 million of them can exist. That's good news for people worried about inflation or central banks printing money. Second, Bitcoin can be used as a medium of exchange because it's interchangeable and divisible."
Nicholas LaMaina, senior vice president of brokerage strategy at TradeStation, said traders can go long or short on Bitcoin futures at TradeStation.
Long refers to buying shares for ownership with the expectation that the price will rise. Short is a bet that shares will drop. The investor borrows shares, sells them and then buys the shares back later, ideally at a lower price.
TradeStation plans to stay ahead of the curve.
LaMaina says everyone feels the next step is going to be Bitcoin ETFs. When it happens, "we will be right there," LaMaina said.
TradeStation Salutes Program
Although traders now enjoy $5 commissions at TradeStation, trades are commission-free for people who have either served or are serving America. Under the TradeStation Salutes program, which launched in November 2016 and expanded in 2017, U.S. military veterans, active military personnel and first responders can trade commission-free in stocks, exchange traded funds and options.
First responders include police officers, firefighters, paramedics and emergency medical technicians.
The military forces included are the U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Air Force, U.S. National Guard and U.S. Coast Guard personnel.
TradeStation Group is a wholly owned subsidiary of Monex Group, one of the largest online financial services providers in Japan. Monex trades OTC under the symbol MNXBY.