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Mobile trading is increasingly the bread and butter of online brokers. Competition is fierce and brokers are adding more and more features to their mobile trading platforms to attract and retain investors.
In the past several years, revenue from online trading has climbed as the number of retail investors using mobile trading apps has grown exponentially. The coronavirus pandemic has only accelerated the trend. Also, more mobile-savvy young people are jumping into trading to reach their long-term financial goals.
IBD’s 2022 Best Online Brokers survey ranked investors’ favorite mobile trading platforms. The brokers were rated by their own customers, and we recognize the top three as the Best Online Brokers.
This year the Best Online Brokers for Mobile Trading Platforms were Robinhood (HOOD), Fidelity and E-Trade, a unit of Morgan Stanley (MS). You can view the full 2022 Best Online Brokers list here, including the three best overall and in 15 performance categories.
Robinhood moved up to No. 1 in mobile platforms from last year’s No. 2 as more investors used their smartphones or tablets to place trades. The company is known for its appeal to younger traders and the easy access it provides to various crypto currency transactions. Last September, it introduced crypto wallets, which, in addition to trading, allow customers to send and receive crypto via the Robinhood app.
The move had tremendous success when more than one million waitlist customers signed up in less than 30 days, Robinhood said. The company also pays attention to what customers are asking. It has provided explanations on crypto jargon with 24/7 support.
In its further effort to spread the ease of use and trading of cryptocurrencies, Robinhood rolled out Crypto Gifts at the end of 2021. Customers could gift as little as $1 of one of the seven crypto currencies, such as Bitcoin, Ethereum and Dogecoin.
The gifts can be sent directly to the recipient by sharing an email or text link directly from the app. The company has made the sign-up process straightforward and intuitive and currently has 22 million U.S. customers using the feature.
The app also provides ease of access to several modern features, such as requesting shares of an IPO (more than a dozen companies as of September were available), recurrent savings using crypto, transfer of assets at other brokerages into the Robinhood account, fractional share trading, in-app educational modules and a beautifully designed interface.
Fidelity, which ranked No. 1 for Overall Customer Experience in IBD’s 2022 survey, also ranked second for its Mobile Trading Platform. This was a nice move up from last year’s No. 4 spot. The financial giant launched its iOS app in 2009 and Android app in 2010. Last year, it made quite a few app improvements that are available via its new beta platform.
View The Entire Best Online Brokers Report
View The List Of Best Online Brokers
“Our new mobile trading experience, now available on both iOS and Android, provides a modern, streamlined trading, portfolio monitoring and research experience all from one home dashboard,” said Jason Codding, vice president of mobile experiences at Fidelity. “Customers can buy or sell stocks and ETFs through the new beta experience. They also still have access to options and extended-hours trading in the classic experience while they’re trying out the new beta experience features.”
The app includes new ways to discover and research funds and securities, such as by strategy or sector. It also has added dashboards for planning and spending. And it introduced directed trading where customers can choose the marketplace where they want to route their trades.
“I use Fidelity’s mobile app about 60% of the time vs. the website,” said John Sneed, who’s been a Fidelity customer for about eight years. “When I am out and about, I find it convenient to check on my investments. I am 71 years old and try to stay invested in stocks for the long run. I buy and hold good companies with strong balance sheets and good quarterly earnings and guidance.”
Fidelity offers two apps. Its flagship Fidelity app provides a streamlined design where customers can trade, receive alerts, access research and educational resources, pay their bills, see their tax forms and access customer service.
Fidelity Spire is targeted toward young adults to help them save, plan and invest for their short-term and long-term goals. Fidelity also added trading capabilities for users in 2021 and access to non-Fidelity accounts from the same app.
“Fidelity had a total of 30.9 million retail accounts as of Q3 2021,” said Codding. “Through the same time period, Fidelity added 7.1 million new retail accounts, including 2.97 million with customers 35-years-old and under. We are committed to helping the next generation of investors learn how to get started with both the tools and educational resources to make informed decisions.”
As of last November, 51% of customers used Fidelity’s mobile apps, while another 10% used a mobile phone or tablet to access Fidelity via the web.
Ernesto Guzman, 43, uses the mobile app 90% of the time. “I like how the app is visual,” he said. “For example, each stock and ETF are listed on rows and are color coded based on how the stock is trading for the day and overall gain and loss — highlighted green for up and red if down. No need to tap around, all the information is on each row: cost basis, 52-week high, position totals and equity score (bullish, bearish, etc.). I haven’t seen this on other apps.”
Fidelity also introduced a revamped Apple Watch app in 2021. It provides alerts, real-time quotes, account insights, add to watchlist and latest news. It has more than 100,000 monthly active users.
Its next-gen digital voice authentication, SimpliSpeak, now also helps customers to not only be authenticated by phone, but also when using any internet-connected device with a microphone. And the company rolled out a new mobile learning center with the same structure and access to content as on the web.
E-Trade grabbed the No. 3 position for being one of the Best Online Brokers for mobile trading. The company didn’t even make it in the top five last year. But its merger with Morgan Stanley in October 2020 has added new features and capabilities, along with a big redesign of its mobile apps. E-Trade also has two apps: its flagship trading app, as well as Power E-Trade for more active investors.
“Last year we rolled out the redesigned E-Trade Mobile for Android, offering customers a new look and feel while maintaining the integrity and robust capabilities currently available,” said Ed Andersen, managing director of mobile and advanced tech at E-Trade. “This release aligns Android with the user-experience updates iOS received in late 2019. Features include new navigation structure, centralized account experience, Complete View screen, key research functions and quicker trading access.”
E-Trade also redesigned its mobile app menu, making it more intuitive and streamlined. Additional functionality includes management of profile details, debit card controls and tax preferences.
“I like that E-Trade’s active trader platform, Power E-Trade, is generally stable, robust and reliable, and especially that it lends itself to retail options trading in a way that only three or four brokerages really do,” said John Dori, who’s been with E-Trade for 15 years and describes himself as an active swing trader using options. “I place several hundred trades per year.”
Customers can now also get Morgan Stanley research for free on both the web and the mobile app. They get a centralized account experience where they can see all their accounts in one place. They can also easily access the trade ticket from all screens, including the action sheet invoked from portfolios, he explains.
A new client can open and set up an account without leaving the app and can upgrade to options and margin trading within the app, upload documents and link separate accounts. Bloomberg TV is available under the markets section or by using the picture-in-picture across the app.
Another new feature is the Earnings Analyzer tool on Power E-Trade Mobile. “This tool helps traders visualize historical earnings data to help identify options strategies,” added Andersen. “We introduced a popular feature from Power E-Trade to Power E-Trade Mobile — Snapshot Analysis, a highly visual risk/reward analysis of an options trade. We were among the first adopters of iOS widgets, keeping pace with evolving technology.”
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1/27/2022 Futures rose as Apple rallied on earnings. The market reversed lower Thursday as Tesla plunged on its product roadmap.
1/27/2022 Futures rose as Apple rallied on earnings. The market reversed…
(© Chris Gash)
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BREAKING: Futures Rise On Apple After Stocks Reverse Lower