Compared to all other online investment options, Fidelity is one of the best in the business. However, it’s target audience may not include all types of investors.
Your parents may know Fidelity as a retirement and 401(k) focused investment firm, but in 2016 the company’s offerings go far beyond long-term retirement savings platforms. Fidelity offers competitive commissions, an intriguing selection of investments, excellent customer service, and a wealth of educational resources for both the beginner and expert traders. Don’t expect quality to come without a price, however. Your Fidelity account requires a minimum dollar amount beyond that required by most rival platforms. The price tag? $2500.
That may sound like a lot, and it is. But keep in mind the more you invest at the outset of your trading career, the more your money will accumulate interest. Think of this minimum investment as a major head start as your capital starts to appreciate.
Fidelity implements a simple, flat-fee trading commission structure. Both stocks and options cost $7.95 to trade, and options include an extra $.75 per contract. This price is higher than Scottrade ($7/trade) but lower than TD Ameritrade and ETRADE ($9.99/trade respectively). The extra options contract is on par with most other platforms.
If you’re looking to stay with Fidelity for the long haul, it could pay off in a big way. Fidelity boasts the lowest margin rates for investment assets between $500,000 and $999,999 (3.75%). If your portfolio holds over $1 million in assets, you also save with that low 3.75%. The nearest matching competitor is ETRADE at 4.14% and 3.89% for each asset class. However, not all of us have that much capital in our portfolios right now. What can Fidelity do for the average investor?
In terms of investment choices, the answer is: “A lot.”
Fidelity offers 85 commission-free ETFs to boost your portfolio. While this number trails behind some other platforms, you can trust in the name. Fidelity funds are among the most respected in the financial industry, and their performance says as much. The company’s credit cards include several rewards features like the Rewards VISA Signature Card, which gives you a 2% cash-back bonus on every purchase. Fidelity offers you world-class banking services to complement your brokerage account. You can be confident you’re growing your money with a renowned firm that’s built its foundations on smart investments.
Beyond ETFs, Fidelity offers investing exposure to domestic stocks, international stocks, options, and an array of mutual funds. Futures and forex trades are not offered, but you can explore bonds, mortgage-backed securities, and other fixed-income options like CDs (Certificates of Deposit). If you’re not sure what some of these options are, Fidelity’s website includes a ton of background information and investing guidance. If you’re looking to try it out, consider diving into mutual funds first to whet your appetite for a more hands-on trading experience later on.
Fidelity’s online investing platform is gorgeous. It includes all the bells and whistles to make it feel like you’re right in the heart of action. And it’s not all for show either. Each chart, graphic, and streaming quote is another clue to help you grow your investment. Try creating a “watch list” to receive alerts and automate your trading. Calculate your odds of success with the probability calculator and profit-and-loss calculator.
One area where Fidelity really shines is its mobile-friendly interface. You can make trades on your iPhone, iPad, Android, and Windows Phone with the same ease and flow as a laptop computer. The app is like a window to the stock market right in your hand, with live quotes, real-time market updates, and the ability to make trades with the touch of a finger.
Education and Research Materials
Even if it’s not on your radar yet, saving for retirement is a huge investment goal. It’s also a necessary goal, especially in today’s uncertain economic environment. Whatever your retirement goal is, you can rely on Fidelity to help make it happen. The platform includes educational materials about retirement planning to help you save early, and save often. For smaller time horizons, the materials cover several topics including market research reports, tax tips, and live online workshops.
If you’re looking for more personal consultations about your investments, you can speak to an advisor face-to-face at an investment center or Fidelity branch. If you’re on the go, the online help and support system is more than enough. For the tech-savvy investor, Fidelity makes it easy to teach yourself as you go. The platform includes a virtual tour to familiarize yourself with the layout, FAQs for your quick questions, and you can always reach out to customer service professionals by email, phone, or instant messaging.
In this reviewer’s experience, the instant messaging service was prompt, friendly, and, most importantly, helpful. Ask anyone about Fidelity’s highlights, and they’re bound to talk about the platform’s research capabilities.
Fidelity is known for its investment research, and it pulls no punches here. Your account provides access to all the market research you could read in a lifetime. Fidelity collects this information from over 20 research firms, and then organizes these datasets for you to plan your next investing steps. No wonder why Fidelity investors are so well informed when they have so much reference material. If you want to research an equity, you can find an Equity Summary Score for each company coupled with 12 third-party reports, and six research reports for ETFs. That’s more reports than any other broker.
While the research from 20+ firms collected by Fidelity is all available to you, it’s a lot for one person to process. Instead, try the short quiz to determine your investment style. From there, a scorecard evaluates which source you can most trust for sound financial research.
In summer 2015, Fidelity wrapped the beta launch of its new stock screener tool and began implementing it full steam ahead on the platform. The screener helps you, the investor, choose which stocks are the best fit for your risk profile. The filter options allow you to set your own standards. When you select the stocks filtered by the screening system, you can be confident these are the right investments for you.
With all these options and research materials, you may be worried that Fidelity is too bulky for the average investor. I had similar concerns, but these were quickly relieved when I realized how easy it is to navigate and use the trading platform. Fidelity has obviously invested in itself with this app. It’s modern, updated website is a fresh relief from its old trading platform that was marred by many in the industry. Since then, the people at Fidelity have really stepped up their game.
Impressive mobile trading app
User-friendly trading platform
Excellent 24/7 customer service
Extensive market research resources
Features cater more to high-volume traders
Steep minimum investment amount
Fidelity Investments is a trusted brokerage with a strong international presence. Investing with Fidelity comes with the additional perks of more research and a sleek, positive trading experience. In those aspects, Fidelity stands above its competitors. With 16 million clients, Fidelity is obviously doing something right.
Young or low-volume investors may find alternative online brokers with lower minimum investment requirements. However, you certainly get what you pay for. Fidelity’s trading platform, customer service, and commitment to excellence make it a standout choice for the long-term investor.