In our series of detailed reviews, we happened to stumble upon one of the most prominent US-based brokers. Interactive Brokers has recently celebrated its 40th year of successful operations since the company’s inception, which is extremely long in the turbulent and volatile global marketplace. Although the longevity of the company can’t be neglected, there are more important features which guarantee that trading with a specific company will bring your financial success. Therefore, we decided to thoroughly test this broker’s key features, and sum up our experience in this extensive Interactive Brokers review. It will cover various features – starting off with a brief overview of the company’s rich history, through account creation and trading principles, all the way to banking methods and education library. If you’re interested in commencing trading with one of the most respected brokers in Forex marketplace, keep on reading and learn all you need to know!
Interactive Brokers Review | Company History
Before we emerge more deeply into the analysis of this broker, we thought that the best introduction to this Interactive Brokers Review would be a brief overview of company’s history. The first iteration of the present company was established in 1977, under the name of T.P. & Co. It was a small company founded and owned by Thomas Petterfy, a trading innovator and early adopter of computer-aided trading interfaces. The company, later rebranded to Timer Hill Inc, was a pioneer in using handheld computers for trading in 1982. Also, in 1987, Petterfy also created a fully functional algorithmic trading system which was fully automated, in order to simplify the procedure before sending the order to a market. In 1994, an electronic brokerage company Interactive Brokers was created, and it exists in the very same form today. With headquarters in Greenwich, Connecticut, the company now has more than a thousand employees spread across a dozen of countries, including USA, UK, Australia, Russia, China and India. Executing almost a million of trades on a daily basis on over 100 global markets, and holding over 6 billion dollars of equity capital, Interactive Brokers is the largest Forex broker in US. Judging by its thrilling history and a number of innovations introduced by this broker, you should experience no troubles when trading here. However, let’s verify this statement by making a more detailed insight of the broker. Keep on reading our Interactive Brokers Review and learn a thing or two about creating a trading account!
Interactive Brokers Review | Account types
In order to start trading with this broker, you need to create a trading account that best suits your needs. Fortunately, Interactive Brokers has created what might be the biggest offer of available account packages we’ve ever seen! Although there are three main categories – trader and investor accounts, institution accounts and accounts for other services – the total number of different packages is 15. We will give a brief overview of all available packages, so stick around and learn which account type is perfect for you.
First group of trader/investor accounts has several subtypes – Individuals, Joint, Trust, IRA and UGMA/UTMA. Based on chosen type, account can be held by a single person, two people, or a joint as a registered legal entity. Also, if you’re an US citizen, you can open a retirement account, or control a trading account assigned to a minor until they reach adulthood. Depending on chosen account type, there are certain changes in holding, accessing and managing funds based on certain permissions given to specific parties. However, all these accounts, except for UGMA/UTMA, have trading margins available, including Cash, Reg T and Portfolio. Friends and Family Group account, on the other hand, supports up to 15 clients, with one governing advisor account having access to trading interface. Each client account has its own individual trading margin, though, making this ideal package for smaller groups of acquaintances who want to trade together. Family Office account is present as well, with master account linked to several client accounts that can directly trade and fund main account. Margins are present as well, with Family Office Manager being able to access all client account and functions, as well as make positions and equity allocations prior to trading. Finally, there is Small Business account for various corporations and LLCs that enables trading with the company’s own assets. As you can see, the offer is quite huge, so we believe that each trader will be able to find its own favorite.
As for institutional and other services, you have huge variety of options to choose from. Advisor accounts are designed for individuals and organizations providing management services for administration and money to their clients, with the option to add multiple tiers to the same account. Money Manager accounts are designed for individuals or companies hired by financial advisors to manage a portion of client’s money. It has only access to trading, with margins inherited from the parent Advisor account. Broker accounts can be fully disclosed, non-disclosed or omnibus, depending on the broker’s operations and services. There are other accounts present as well, such as Proprietary Trading Group account, Hedge and Mutual Fund accounts, Compliance Officers account, Administrators, Educator, Referrer and much more.
Wrapping up this part of Interactive Brokers Review, we can honestly state that this kind of offer is rarely seen. Fifteen completely different account packages are more than enough to cover trading needs of individuals, corporations, hedge funds and all other professionals in the industry. We are unavailable to find any resentment or fault regarding the quality of provided account packages. Therefore, it’s safe to say that this broker has made a strong foundation on proving its excellence. But before we make any further conclusions, let’s take a look at other key features, starting off with trading interfaces. Read on!
Interactive Brokers Review | Trading Platforms
In the previous part of this Interactive Broker Review, we’ve seen that this broker has developed intriguing account solutions for all its target audience – individual traders, joint investors, trading experts and advisors and mediatory solutions for corporate trading. The same richness and quality is applied to trading interfaces as well – depending on your trading needs, you can choose among 6 different trading platforms, each with its own special features. We’ll give a brief overview of all of them, so stick around and discover which interface you’ll be using from now on!
Desktop Trader Workstation or TWS is the company’s flagship product designed for top-notch traders and brokerage companies trading massive volumes and demanding high-quality trading tools and research providers. The interface is fully customizable, enabling you to engage Mosaic mode to view all vital information on a single screen – placed trades, portfolio, watchlists, graphs, market news and much more. World-class information providers are included in the package as well, so you’ll be getting precious market info from Reuters, Dow Jones, Morningstar, Zacks and others. You’ll also get a whole package of risk management tools offered by the company, such as risk navigator, model navigator and option analytics that will help you carefully analyze your trades and minimize the risk output while keeping potential yield at high rates. Also, there is something called paper trading, which is basically the same as demo account – you can practice your skills and strategies in a simulated environment without risking your funds, but with full access to all platform features. Our experience with this Windows-only piece of software has been nothing but truly fantastic, and we can wholeheartedly recommend it to you regardless of your previous trading experience.
There is also a mobile version of TWS for Android and iOS-based devices. It has all the key features of a desktop version, making it ideal for traders who like to keep an eye on the market at all times. You can trade all instruments except for bonds and mutual funds, but you have the Smart Routing feature that finds the best price for selected instrument by searching on more than 100 worldwide marketplaces. You’ll also be able to access detailed market information, technical analysis, advanced charting, signals and custom alerts, so you will never miss a good chance to trade. We also have to mention IBot, a chat or voice-based interfaces suitable for newcomers, hands-free traders and professionals who prefer alternative ways of placing trades. It is an integral part of both mobile and desktop version of TWS, and it’s a pretty neat little app, so do give it a try.
WebTrader interface is perfect for traders who are looking for somewhat simpler and more understandable interface, but don’t want to give up on advanced trading tools. Built as a completely browser-based HTML application with firewall support, it features tabbed interface for easy navigation through various features. You can deploy trades with a single click, create spread orders, view summary of your account such as profit/loss ratio, equity, liquidation and much more, all in a great-looking, simple-to-use interface. Take advantage of superb market data providers and advanced, detailed charts designed in Flash to view price movements through a specific time frame, and use various trading tools to correctly predict the future movements. Market scanners, BookTrader, Contract Search, Portfolio News, custom interface – all these features are at your disposal with WebTrader application.
Finally, we still have to mention two somewhat different interfaces – API and QuickTrade. The company provides API solutions for companies and individuals that want to develop their own trading interfaces based on Interactive Brokers technology. You can choose from a variety of supported programming languages, or use the visual Excel-based API to develop your own trading platform. Connect to existing IB market data, add them to your own application, access your account features and status – all this, and much more, can be done by using these APIs. QuickTrade, on the other hand, is a small application designed for occasional traders that lets you quickly access your key account information and execute simple trades. Although it lacks any advanced features such as technical analysis or various indicators and trading tools, it’s a great way of making quick trades and review your current account balance from wherever you are. As you can see, this broker clearly knows how to delight customers of all types. By providing six different ways of accessing global marketplace, the company managed to satisfy both newcomers and professionals of all kinds. We have tested all of them, and we have nothing but words of praise for them. Now that we’ve reviewed all available trading interfaces, let’s see if this broker will be able to teach you valuable trading knowledge. Read the next part of our Interactive Brokers Review and learn all about available learning resources!
Interactive Brokers Review | Education
In the previous two parts of our Interactive Brokers review, we’ve analyzed the broker’s offer regarding account types and various trading interfaces. We’ve seen that this company tends to create versatile and thrilling offers to all their customers, both individual and institutional. Now it’s time to see whether the same principles can be found in the design of educational center.
Traders’ University is the main feature here, a place where you can find virtually anything when it comes to learning resources. You can attend webinars on various topics, or access a library of recorded lectures containing all past webinars. All webinars are sorted by category, ranging from introductory topics and offered products to reporting and account management, so you can easily filter through vast library and search for the ones you find interesting. There is also a section of short videos, courses and tours meant to give you a brief overview of products offered by Interactive Brokers. Here you can find express tutorials on company’s proprietary trading interface, trading tools and account management. Also, you can inspect available trading instruments, learn a thing or two about basic trading concepts, learn how to properly use risk management features and much more. Courses and Tours section, on the other hand, will give you a deeper insight to platform basics and trading fundamentals. For instance, you can find courses explaining the basics of iOS mobile app, Forex marketplace, CFDs, technical analysis – virtually everything connected to basic trading principles. If you are a newcomer and like to learn through video lectures, you’ll love this section.
Documentation section contains user’s manuals for all trading interfaces and tools, as well as getting started guides for various account packages. Here you’ll also found FAQ sections for platforms and general trading, white papers for Portfolio Analyst feature, release notes of all important products and much more. Under Apps, Tools and Widgets section, you can download and embed various additional software, such as Options Calculator and Trader’s Calendar mobile apps, Option Strategies widget or Probability Lab tool. Finally, Trader’s Glossary will give you brief definitions of the most common terms in the world of trading. Just browse the alphabetically sorted terms, or use the search bar to find the one you’re interested into. And that’s pretty much it. All available materials provided by the broker are of highest quality, so you can trust the knowledge held here completely. Now let’s see if the customer support team follows the level of quality imposed by previously reviewed features. Keep on reading our Interactive Brokers Review and discover is there anyone competent enough to watch your back!
Interactive Brokers Review | Customer Support
How to recognize a truly great and secure broker? Simple, by thoroughly testing the one feature overlooked by many – customer support. We have done the very thing with this broker’s support team, and we weren’t appalled by the results. Why? Because the team is of top quality, just as we expected them to be.
Support team can be contacted by various means. If you prefer phone calls, you can select one of available phone numbers depending on your location. There is a table showing working hours depending on your selected time zone, and a list of numbers for offices in 9 different countries – US, Canada, EU countries, Russia, Japan, Hong Kong, India, China and Australia. On the very same page, you’ll find the Quick Tips section, with pre-formulated answers to most common queries. Of course, you can always use the search field to look up your query. Chat room is available for registered users 24 hours a day. You can specify the desired chat room at the very start, and you’ll be taken to the selected room instantly, where you can browse existing discussions, engage in one or start your own. You can also contact them through email address or by submitting simple contact form containing your questions. Also, in the events where changes on your account require submission of certain personal documents, you can upload them, send them through postal service or by fax. As you can see, various contact options are at your disposal, all of them are working fantastically, so you’ll have no trouble speaking to support team at any time.
We should also mention that the company has a strong presence on various social channels – Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube. Updates are being posted regularly, with new offers popping out on a daily basis. You can also contact them through tweets and direct messages, which is a fantastic feature offered by only a few brokers. All in all, we are more than satisfied with the number and quality of communication channels. But before we wrap up this Interactive Brokers Review, there is still one feature that has to be analyzed. Read on!
Interactive Brokers Review | Debit MasterCard
Thanks to a partnership with MasterCard, Interactive Brokers offers a fantastic deal to their customers. With their branded Debit MasterCard, you can easily borrow, earn, invest and spend money however you want to. Borrowing against account is done with 1,41 to 2,66% annual percentage rate, which is lower than standard credit cards and personal loans. Also, lending your paid shares will get you interest of 0,66% on idle balances. You can spend against your account directly with this card wherever it’s accepted in the world, and you can directly invest into market instruments. Also, you can enjoy all sorts of benefits, like zero liability, ID theft protection and price protection, MasterCard global services and extended warranty. However, we must state that this ingenious offer is currently available for US citizens only, but there are strong indications that in the future, all Interactive Brokers clients will have the opportunity to grab their own card. Also, don’t worry about the security here, because our Is Interactive Brokers a Scam article has clearly proven the ultimate safety of all features of this broker. That being said, we believe it’s time to bring this Interactive Brokers Review to its end.
Interactive Brokers Review | Conclusion
At the very end of our Interactive Brokers review, we are happy to say that we’ve had an opportunity to thoroughly analyze one of the best brokers in the world. Since it is US-based, it has to abide strict regulatory policies, but since the company exists on the market for more than 40 years, it implicates that all required procedures are well implemented. Given the fact that the company gives services to both individuals and huge corporations, the fantastic diversity of available trading account packages comes as no surprise. Same thing can be said for various trading interfaces available for mobile devices, desktop computers or nested inside the web browser. A vast library of educational materials is full of high-quality resources, ranging from webinars and short tutorials all the way to comprehensive courses, so you can truly consider it your main source of knowledge. Finally, exquisite customer support and debit card offer perfectly round up the fantastic offer created by Interactive Brokers. Their potential and importance is recognized by one of the most reputable credit rating agencies Standards & Poors, giving the grade BBB+ to the Interactive Brokers LLC and making it desirable for investments. You don’t need any more proof, do you? Go ahead, open a free trading account with this broker and enjoy the fantastic trading experience from wherever you are!