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REVIEW SUMMARY

Interactive Brokers

Interactive Brokers Group, Inc. was founded by its Chairman, Thomas Peterffy. Over the last 43 years, it has grown as a securities firm with over $9 billion in equity capital.

Interactive Brokers conducts its broker/dealer business on over 135 market destinations worldwide.

In its broker dealer agency business, IBKR provides direct access trade execution and clearing services to institutional and professional traders for a wide variety of electronically traded products including stocks, options, futures, forex, fixed income and funds worldwide.

Interactive Brokers Group and its affiliates execute over 2,109,000 trades per day.

Our Verdict
A Closer Look
FAQs
Customer Reviews

Interactive Brokers is headquartered in Greenwich, Connecticut and has over 1,850 employees in its offices in the USA, Switzerland, Canada, Hong Kong, UK, Australia, Hungary, Russia, Japan, India, China, Luxembourg, Singapore, Ireland and Estonia.

They are regulated by the SEC, FINRA, NYSE, FCA and other regulatory agencies around the world.

Interactive Brokers has two tiers of service:

  1. IBKR Lite: Provides retail clients with $0 commissions on US listed stock and ETF trades, no account minimums and no inactivity fees.
  2. IBKR Pro: Is the IBKR plan for sophisticated investors and active traders. 

IBKR Pro clients access the IB SmartRoutingSM system, which provides $0.47 per 100 shares price improvement vs. the industry.

Both tiers of service have a $0 account minimum and offer fractional shares of stock. IBKR Lite has no account maintenance or inactivity fees.

IBKR Pro charges an inactivity fee, though it's possible to skirt that if you trade relatively frequently.

Key features of Interactive Brokers:

  • Option trades: No base commission - 65 cents per contract with $1 minimum. Volume discount available.
  • Account fees (annual, transfer, closing, inactivity):
  1. IBKR Lite: None.
  2. IBKR Pro: Accounts with less than $100,000 pay $10/month minus any trade commissions; accounts with less than $2,000 pay $20/month minus commissions.
  • Number of commission-free ETFs: 
  1. IBKR Lite: Unlimited commission-free trades on all available ETFs.
  2. IBKR Pro: 96 commission-free ETFs.
  • Stock trading costs: 
  1. IBKR Lite: Unlimited free trades on U.S.-listed stocks and ETFs.
  2. IBKR Pro: $0.005 per share; minimum $1 and maximum 1% of trade value; volume discount available.
  • Number of no-transaction-fee mutual funds: Over 8,300 no-transaction-fee mutual funds.
  • Tradable securities include: Stocks, fractional shares, bonds, mutual funds, ETFs, options, futures, forex and metals.
  • Trading platform: IBKR Lite and IBKR Pro customers get access to Client Portal trading platform and powerful Trader Workstation platform.
  • Additionally, you get access to extensive research offerings, both free and subscription-based along with 24-hour phone, email and chat support, available six days a week.

NOTE:

  • Not all of these instruments may be legally available due to foreign fund marketing rules and local licensing requirements to residents in certain countries. Professional advice should be sought if you are unsure regarding local compliance rules.
  • The service is more geared towards professional traders, investors, advisers and fund managers rather than retail clients.
  • The trading platform is mobile, web and desktop compatible. Offers research, news, updates, boasting algorithm and trading tools.  
  • The platform allows easy viewing of holdings but not simplified viewing for retail investors.
  • International investors can open accounts online - pricing is competitive. Interactive Brokers claim that their charges are 87% lower than their competitors.
  • The platform charges a complex commissions structure, with trade costs dependent on your country of residence. 
  • High volumes of trades are rewarded, but on average, the occasional trader is likely to pay $20 per month according to the site. However, their definition of ‘occasional’ is 8 trades per month - which is fairly high for the long-term passive investor!
  • We would highly recommend reading the 'expert verdict' section of this review to make an informed decision.

Additionally, here's a free guide that can help you achieve better results. In this guide, you'll learn:

  • Academic evidence only shared with a select few firms across the world
  • A real-life example of why you should never try to outguess the market
  • Why a fund's past performance is not enough to predict future returns
  • Why you need to focus on what you can control and why this leads to a better investment experience
  • Why you should accept the markets for what they are
  • What can impact behaviour and make people seek instant gratification

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The Pros

> Open to international investors
> Investment selection
> Socially-responsible investing
> Many great research tools
> Low trading fees

The Cons

> Complex choice of instruments
> No advice
> Dealing commissions
> Inactivity fees
> Complicated account opening process
What can I trade with Interactive Brokers?

You can trade: ETFs, fractional shares, bonds, mutual funds, stocks, options, futures, forex and metals.

Very happy with my Interactive Brokers account

This is the most flexible, cost effective account I've found.

I researched plenty...

I was looking for the ability to match my trading ambitions (which are diverse) and I got so much more with the Interactive Brokers account.

They add new functions and features all the time as well - I recommend this to all my friends.

Expert assessment of Interactive Brokers

Given the trading charges are typically lower than DBS Vickers, Saxo or TD International, we think Interactive Brokers is one of the better low-cost trading and investment platforms available in the offshore market.

However, there are two points to consider:

  1. Check your situation with an international accountant before trading. As an American firm, all securities are held in the USA, and you want to ensure withholding taxes or estate taxes don’t erode your returns.
  2. The danger of a professional trading platform is that in signing up it's like being given tokens in a casino. There is huge temptation to trade based upon the information and special deals this platform gives you.
The evidence shows that the average individual investor under-performs the market by approximately 7.3% per year - largely as a result of behaviour such as trying to time the market or chase returns.
 
Trying to resist this temptation to do it yourself (and fall into the traps we are hardwired to make) can be hard, and our advice is to only go down this route if you are sure you know what you are doing (and are happy to live with the consequences).
 
If you want us to review your overall portfolio (worth approx. £250,000 or more), request a Second Opinion and we'll get you all the information you need to make an informed decision about whether your money is performing as well as it could be.
 
GET A SECOND OPINION

Interactive Brokers - Financial Services Guide

Interactive Brokers - Advisors Getting Started Guide

Interactive Brokers - Fully Disclosed Brokers Getting Started Guide

Interactive Brokers - TWS Guide

Interactive Brokers - Client Portal Guide

Interactive Brokers - WebTrader Users' Guide

Interactive Brokers - Client Risk Profile

Interactive Brokers - Performance Attribution White Paper

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