Hardly anything has changed as much in
the last year as the world of brokerages
has. No longer is the best choice necessarily your buddy downtown, especially
if you make your own decisions about
where to put your money. Self-directed
traders, as STOCKS & COMMODITIES
readers usually are, have more choices
than ever in their ongoing search for speed, pricing efficiency, and good accounting.
First, you have to find a brokerage that handles your tradable;
full-service brokerages dealing with equities, options, futures,
bonds, mutual funds, foreign exchange, and cash goods are
usually full-priced as well. A little scouting, however, will get
you a brokerage targeted on your market of interest.
After that, your first question these days might be, "How
fast can I execute an order?" Look
for whether the brokerage offers
direct access to automated exchange trading systems, market
makers and electronic communications networks (ECNs). If not,
check to see if there is at least the
first-generation electronic trading capability of E-mailing instructions to a central desk. Absent that, you’re relegated to oldfashioned phone calls.