Brokerage firms are investment companies that individuals work with to buy and sell securities. Brokerage firms can offer stocks, bonds, ETFs, mutual funds and other investment products to their clients. There are many brokerage firms available to the public, and each has its own features, benefits and drawbacks. Picking the ideal brokerage firm for you is best done the first time around as switching brokers can be a lengthy and sometimes expensive process.
Decide if you want to invest online or with a local adviser. Most brokerage firms have online trading available, and some still offer local branches with investment advisers. If you want local help, check the phonebook for local professionals; if you want to trade online, check the References section at the end of this article.
Decide how you want to invest your money. Are you looking for long term investments such as mutual funds or do you want to trade stocks and ETFs daily and weekly? Some brokerage firms specialize in active trading while others take a long-term investment approach.
Ask about fees. Every account has different fee structures as does each investment product. Some fees are annual, some are upfront and some are assessed upon liquidation of your holdings. Compare the fees of each broker based on how you will be primarily investing your funds.
Take a look at the resources the brokerage firm offers. Every firm has a host of research and planning tools at its disposal. Be sure to pick a firm that uses investment research and software that you find informative and easy to utilize.
Get started. The biggest financial barrier most individuals face is procrastination.