Scottrade Review - Online Discount Broker for Novice Investors

Scottrade Review - Online Discount Broker for Novice Investors

Scottrade Review

Scottrade is a versatile, multi-faceted investment platform founded 35 years ago and with over 500 branches across the US. Privately owned with over $170 billion in AUM and over 3 million clients, it provides a suite of investment and brokerage products, banking services investment guidance.

The firm now operates under four main business areas providing a brokerage, custodial and institutional services, consumer lending and other finance and investment management advice.

Scottrade was also acquired by TD Ameritrade in October 2016 in a $4 billion deal. TD Ameritrade now more than quadruples the scale of its branch network, adds large scale to its retail business and extends its leading position in trading.


Who should consider it?

scottrade

Scottrade can meet the needs of a range of investors from beginners through to more advanced although it’s certainly a good place for a novice. With low trading and maintenance fees though it appeals to those who want to begin investing.

It is great for those looking to invest their IRA and old 401(k), those looking to open up an educational investment account and others looking to personally invest their money in large range of mutual funds and ETFs.

It would also suit traders at with little experience to more intermediate traders who could also upgrade to ScottradeELITE for a more indepth experience. It may not suit more advanced or professional trader due to certain limitations.


Likes & Dislikes

Likes

Dislikes

  • Well established 30 year old company with over 500 physical branches scattered across the US
  • Large range of investment accounts and products 
  • Excellent customer service - they’ve won the award for Number One Overall Client Experience from StockBrokers.com every year from 2012-2016
  • Clear fee structure - no charges for account maintenance and inactivity and trades only cost an initial $7
  • Streaming quotes are also free, unlike some brokers
  • Online banking functions also FDIC protected by law
  • Fairly high entry point at $2500 to open a basic account
  • High level of access to ScottradeElite, which requires a minimum investment of $25,000. You also need to have 9 or more trades in the last 90 days
  • Limited functionality for experienced traders compared to other sites like TD Ameritrade. Currently it doesn’t offer futures or forex trading
  • Lack of commission-free ETFs
  • Uncertainty after the TD Ameritrade takeover as features may change or new ones introduced

Investment Products and Account Types

Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs)

Scottrade has a range of options for your IRA, with a range of investment products and objective research from third parties to help you decide.

  • Old 401(k) or IRA Rollover product - This enables you to consolidate your old, existing 401(k) or IRA into one place and provides an overview of your investment options.
  • Roth IRAs - this is a retirement account for just one person and allows your money to grow tax free and qualified withdrawals from Roth IRAs are also not considered taxable income.
  • Traditional IRA - known as a tax-deferred savings account, this account has no annual income limits and tax-deferred contributions.
  • Simplified Employee Pension (SEP) IRA - this account is for those that are self-employed or run a small business.
  • SIMPLE IRA - this is an extension of the SEP ISA, for self-employed or small businesses to further simplify pension contributions.

Education Accounts

  • Coverdell Education Savings Account - Perfect for saving for your child’s education for one designated beneficiary. Contributions can be made until they turn 18 and earnings in the ESA grow tax-free.
  • Guardianship of the Estate or/Conservatorship - As well as education accounts, you can take out an account to look after the investments for someone that cannot do it themselves.
  • Custodial - similar to the guardianship account, this allows an individual custodian rather than a legal entity to open and manage an account for a minor.

Brokerage accounts

Scottrade offer two main brokerage accounts.

  • Individual account - this is simply a brokerage account for one person only for general investing to self-manage a portfolio. It allows for margin borrowing, options trading and Money Direct instant funding.
  • Joint account - much like the individual brokerage account but it can be used by up to three people.

Trust Accounts

Scottrade has a testamentary trust account through the will of a deceased person, with securities registered in the name of the trust and managed by a trustee - a non-testamentary account is much the same but doesn’t involve a will.

The other types of specialty accounts are the Keogh/401(k)/MOney Purchase/Profit Sharing/Pension Plan accounts which are defined contribution and benefits plans for company employees.


Business Accounts

The main business accounts are:

  • Investment Club - brokerage accounts for a group of people pooling their assets and making joint investment decisions.
  • Corporate - similar to investment club accounts but for businesses.
  • Sole proprietorship - this is a business account set up by an individual in their own name.

Scottrade also do accounts for limited liability companies non profit organisations and associations as well as accounts specifically for partnerships/limited partnerships.


Investment products

  • Stocks - stocks can be easily bought and sold through the online Scottrade platform to diversify your portfolio, react to market changes and provide regular income. Trades start at only $7 a trade with no maintenance, inactivity or hidden fees.
  • Mutual funds - Scottrade offers 14,000 mutual funds from index tracking funds to more actively-managed products which can vary in risk and exposure to equities, bonds and other products.
  • Options trading - experience more advanced tools such as Scottrade’s unique Recognia tool and access a customizable option chain that offers multiple expirations in the window, and compute current and future profit and losses.
  • Margin - as well as the other options, margin loans can be a cost-effective and flexible way of funding your investments and you can potentially maximise your returns.
  • ETFs (exchange traded funds) - can be invested in like a mutual fund but are a collection of stocks or securities traded throughout the day like a stock.
  • Fixed Income - the products are a great way of investing in bonds that should pay a more steady return. With Scottrade you can invest in up to 300 corporate, municipal, government and agency bonds as well as short or long term CDs.
  • International Investing - is another way of investing in funds and other products in 20 other foreign markets through American Depository Receipts (ADRs).

Scottrade Fee Structure

Scottrade is has fairly reasonable fees which are also very transparent.

It has a fairly high $2,500 entry investment to open an account but don’t charge for account maintenance and inactivity.

Trading stocks and ETFs costs a flat fee of $7 done online but $32 if broker assisted or by touchphone. Options are $7 per trade or $32 with broker assistance with an additional $0.70 per contract.

Mutual fund trades start at $17 to buy and sell or exchange mutual fund positions which is one of the cheapest options available for mutual fund trading on the market.

Scottrade isn’t too expensive but it might not suit every investor due to lack of multi-legged trading options and commission-free ETFs.


Platform

Scottrade has two main platforms, Scottrade Streaming Quotes and ScottradeELITE. There is also ScottradePRO which is tailored for options trading. Trading can also be done via the website and mobile platform.

Scottrade Streaming Quotes

This is the standard Scottrade trading platform and is a Java based application which is very easy to set-up and use with a range of helpful tools and features such as:

  • Advanced Charting – Analyze up-to-the-minute price and volume patterns with the help of more than 30 technical indicators.
  • Watch Lists – Monitor an unlimited number of securities using your custom lists or set up alerts for instant notifications.
  • Active Ticker – Symbols from your watch lists automatically scroll at the speed you select.
  • Advanced Order Entry – Set-up provisional trade commands, such as conditional orders, one cancels other (OCO) or one cancels all (OCA).
  • Market Movers – Track the market’s current top gainers and losers.
  • Cost Basis – Monitor your cost basis activity with direct access to the Gain/Loss & Tax Center in your Scottrade brokerage account.

You have a series of windows that enable you to view 40 securities although the lack of snap window functionality which can make arranging windows difficult.

You can also access advanced charts with up to 30 technical indicators, advanced order entry with provisional trade commands, watch lists, real-time news from Dow Jones and streaming quotes, free for non-professionals.

If you who make 10 or more commission trades per month also get free Level II quotes, which provide real-time bid/ask prices from retail and institutional market participants.

In general it is a good trading platform that will meet most people’s needs but a slightly more experienced trader may go for ScottradeELITE.

Scottrade Elite

A more extensive trading platform for more advanced traders ScottradeELITE can only be used on Windows and comes with a greater range of technical indicators and up-to-date screening tools for real-time trading.

Main features:

  • Measure momentum and observe trends with the Sector Trend tool
  • Analyze price movements with the advanced chart tool, with 50 or more trading indicators
  • Get daily trading ideas from Recognia and other resources
  • Use Intraday Trader from Recognia on technical events on a 15 minute price bar to react and trade with events as they happen
  • Easily search through stocks and ETFs for trading opportunities with 44 preset scans and filters and narrow your choices by price or volume and export to the watchlist
  • Trade and browse with detachable Scottrade window

ScottradeElite may lack the advanced functions of more sophisticated platforms and it has a limited range of commission free ETFs.

Access is also very high at a required $25,000 balance and you must have placed nine or more trades in the past 90 days. Other than that, it's a great platform that should take care of all of your trading needs.


Design

Since 2016 the site had an overhaul and is more better laid out and generally easier on the eye.

It also has an upgraded, more intuitive trading experience and is more user friendly and simpler to use - ideal for less experienced investors.

You get very crisp and clear buttons and have three colour schemes - classic dark, light and monochrome.

It’s generally a very straightforward and user-friendly design that most people will have no trouble getting to grips with.


Customization

Scottrade allows for a certain degree of customising your trading platform to suit your needs as an investor. The ability to which you can do this can vary from platform to platform.

Scottrade Client Account

With the regular account, you get some customisable options, but not as many as in more advanced options on the site.

There are a range of options however such as:

  • Your Custom Home Tab - Your personal account home page provides a snapshot of your account, brings you important messages from Scottrade and lets you customize your page layout to match your investing style.
  • Drag and Drop Tables on the homepage of your Scottrade account and several pages under the Quotes & Research tab to help customize your investing experience.
  • You can also edit the quick links display and edit my account display to make accessing parts of the site easier and get a better overview of your balances char.

Furthermore you can edit the orders display so you see the symbols, type, quantity and price information listed.

Editing the watch lists display is also possible so you can alter the how the data in the columns is shown.

ScottradeELITE Customisation Options

ScottradeELITE provides you with vast customization choices that allow to make the platform your own. Here are some of the key features you can enjoy:

  • Template Manager - this allows you to manage multiple layouts and load a specific layout based on your research and trading goals.
  • Layout Manager - with this you can generate a list of up to ten layouts, and is easily accessed next to the trade button.
  • Linker Tool - allows you to associate windows so that when you enter a symbol in one of the linked windows, the information for the symbol will display in all linked windows simultaneously.
  • Your Active Ticker, located at the bottom of the ELITE platform, provides a streaming feed of your chosen symbols is customizable to stream symbols of your choice.
  • The Account Quick View drawer in ScottradeELITE is a convenient way to view your account-specific information (Balances, Positions and Order status).
  • The Scrolling Dashboard, located at the bottom of ScottradeELITE, provides a an easy way for you to quickly access windows within your layout.
  • Windows Menus - There is a menu located in the top left corner of every window on the ELITE platform so you can execute common tasks.
  • Right-click Functionality Several windows on the ELITE platform offer a shortcut menu with various options. The shortcut menu displays when you right-click anywhere inside the platform.
  • Hot Keys commands you can create using the buttons on your keyboard for quicker access to market research and to react faster when you spot an opportunity.

Mobile Platform

As you would expect from an advanced site like Scottrade, the mobile capability is very much like what you get from the desktop versions.

With mobile you are able to monitor your investment portfolio, read the latest research and also place trades.

You should also be able to synchronise your phone and computer to make trades seamlessly from one device to another.


Trading

Scottrade obviously has a range of features for those looking simply to invest for the future to proper traders. For those looking to trade, you can enjoy a range of trading benefits outlined below.

  • Customisable platform - Create up to 3 different trading home pages with up to 23 tables displayed per page.
  • Customizable Positions and the Quick Trade Bar - you can customise your account in the way that suits you and the quick trade bar also pops out so you can monitor and trade while browsing other sites.
  • Quick Quotes and Morningstar Data - research and review information using various tools, charts and tables.
  • Portfolio Management tools - include the Morningstar-powered Portfolio Review Tool to help you build a diverse, high quality portfolio
  • Market Snapshots and Comparisons - charts and maps to quickly see trading volumes, performance and which stocks, ETFs or mutual funds might be worth investing in next with online comparisons.
  • Investing Tools for a Broader Picture - Scottrade’s World Markets, Market Pulse and other date like top performers gives a valuable bigger picture.

Order entry is quite intuitive on all platforms, but it's the easiest on the web platform where all you have to do is fill the order ticket and create order. Overall the process is smooth, that for both advanced traders and novices.


Charting

Scottrade Streaming Quotes provides a good selection of charts with many tracking indicators, ScottradeELITE is where you would expect a wealth of charting options.

After the 2016 update they introduced worthwhile indicators including Ichimoku Cloud, Dividend Indicator, Earnings Indicator, and Volume on Price.

However, they only have 67 studies available on their site while the industry standard is 106. They do have a new feature called Calculated Symbols which enables further view customisation however.

Overall all the charts they provide can provide real colour on investment decisions but lack the range of other platforms.


Research

Scottrade promises to provide a range of research and investment guidance to help you in you improve your decision making.

When you set up an account you get access to a range of research features including:

  • A market calendar which shows you upcoming industry events for the month and which you can even customise for your own events to look out for
  • Quick quotes - a feature that shows quotes from any research page
  • Market snapshot - gives an overview of the market’s key points from S&P, Briefing.com and other reliable sources
  • Daily Strategy and commentary - live updates on market events at every market opening and there are also educational sessions that it all Scottrade users can attend

Other than this you get a range of market information when you use ScottradeELITE such as real-time information from Recognia, Morningstar and other investment portals.


Knowledge Center

As well as their research they have a comprehensive Knowledge Centre with a well-design search function that can find almost any query within minutes.

It contains a wealth of information as well as useful articles and insights from a variety of respected sources and investment education materials.

There are investment calculators, a thorough how to guide and information about client education events.


Support

A major bonus of Scottrade is that there are 500+ stores around the United States so if you have an issue you are therefore able to pop in for get assistance.

Otherwise you have strong phone support, open from 6 am to 1 am EST weekdays and Saturday to Sunday from 9 am to 7 pm EST. There is also round the clock online webchat assistance.


Scottrade Review Final Verdict

In general Scottrade is a fairy affordable and accessible way for many people to enter the investment landscape. It suits a range of people offering a variety of accounts and products to suit people whether they’re old, young, saving for a pension or their kid’s education.

The platform is also user-friendly and easy on the eye with the appearance generally being simple and clean. There are also a range of interesting customizable options and education features with ongoing opportunities to keep learning.

The only real downside is that it might lack the advanced functionality for more experienced traders. After the take over however, it’s possible that could change in the long term.

Scottrade is a versatile, multi-faceted investment platform founded 35 years ago and with over 500 branches across the US. Privately owned with over $170 billion in AUM and over 3 million clients, it provides a suite of investment and brokerage products, banking services investment guidance.

Andrew
 

My name is Andrew and I run Slick Bucks to help folks learn to manage money cleverly, and how that clever management can make you wealthier.

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