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Best Brokerage Firms

Based in Morris County, New Jersey, The Daily Record reviews the best brokerage firms around the brokerage world. It quotes Smart Money Magazine’s latest survey which placed Fidelity as “Premium Broker”, TradeKing as “Best Discount Broker”, and Merrill Lynch as “Best Full-Service Broker”.

Yet, the Daily Record newsroom, headed by Warren Boroson, responded that the survey of these three best brokerage firms may not be sufficient enough for brokerage trackers since it is not suitable for day-traders or those who buy only mutual funds. Accordingly, Smart Money’s survey and rankings are based only on buy-and-hold customers who are into stocks, bonds and mutual funds, those with a $50,000 account, and those who want to write covered calls.

Nevertheless, the ranking of the best brokerage firms by Smart Money has still been based according to set quantifiable and qualitative criteria. To determine the best brokerage firms, Smart Money sent their reliable field reporters to open brokerage accounts in 14 potential brokerage firms. The reporters bought and sold different kinds of securities, questioned the firms’ customer service through phone and e-mail, checked their account statements and tax forms, and reviewed scrutiny on the web sites, as among some of the survey’s conducted measures.

To note, the Smart Money study also included supplementary standards to further determine the best brokerage firms more accurately or to come up with the best possible approximation through their available means. They included the brokerage firms’ size of commission, investment products, banking amenities, trading tools, level of research, and customer service.

And the results – Fidelity, TradeKing, and Merrill Lynch as the three #1’s. Next to Fidelity in the honor as “Premium Broker” are E*Trade, Charles Schwab, Banc of America Investment Services, TD Ameritrade, WellsTrade, and Vanguard. Vanguard, as explained by Smart Money came last because it caters to fund-investors instead of stock-investors.

TradeKing grabbed “Best Discount Broker” although it is only a new-entry discount broker. Following the lead are Firstrade, OptionsXpress, Muriel Siebert, Scottrade, ThinkOrSwim, and WallStreet*E.

In the “Best Full-Service Broker”, Merrill Lynch is tagged-along by SmithBarney, Edward Jones, A.G. Edwards, Wachovia, Morgan Stanley, and UBS. Merrill Lynch replaced last year’s first-place Edward Jones because of the latter’s below-average stock-picking. Other special determinants used by Smart Money for their “Best Full-Service Broker” aside from the brokerage firm’s stock-picking are customer satisfaction and trust and statements.

Overall, the Daily Record recognizes Smart Money’s survey of the best brokerage firms. These may serve as good guide for people engaged or deciding to engage in brokerage, and also as good guiding-principle for self-company assessment of the forerunning brokers themselves. The outcomes of the study at least are good only for this year’06 – Just for the record.

Regional Brokerage Firms

Some real estate investors want to receive the kind and quality of services provided by big brokerage firms at lower cost, while enjoying the attention that is given to them by smaller firms. This is because, apart from security, they also want to have a firm that can give them personalized services. To be able to get these services, most of these investors go to regional brokerage firms. They do so because it is perceived that quality regional brokerage firms can provide the expertise of larger firms, and they can also deliver the attention to their clients often given by smaller brokerage firms.

Regional brokerage firms

Given the increasing demand for this type of service, most regional brokerage firms have employed a different strategy that can help them better position themselves in the market. One of these strategies is a re-affirmation of a “sales culture” within their organizations, which can help these firms set and reach their sales targets.

Another strategy is being pro-active in looking for opportunities outside their localities and exploring other opportunities within the region, which increases their chance of getting more business as they look outside the “box.” These firms have also changed the way they compensate their brokers. Most of them have adapted compensation that not only encourages brokers to get more business, but also help the firms retain competent brokers and specialists.

Most of these firms also become members of established broker associations so that they can be perceived as having a very good track record. Being a member of these organizations also assures clients that the firm is supported by a larger organization. More importantly, these firms have put in place systems that will allow them to evolve in the future as the demands of the market change, so that they can remain competitive. By doing so, these regional brokerage firms have successfully answered the call of the times by undergoing paradigm shifts that can equip them to meet the demands of the future.