Mobile trading has increasingly become the bread and butter of online brokers. Competition is fierce and brokers are adding more and more features to their mobile trading platforms to attract and retain investors.
In the past several years, the revenue from online trading has skyrocketed as the number of individual investors using mobile trading apps has grown exponentially. The coronavirus pandemic has only accelerated this trend. Also, more young business savvy people are jumping in to reach their long-term financial goals.
The 2022 IBD Best Online Brokers Survey ranked the preferred mobile trading platforms for investors. Brokers are rated by their clients, and we understand that the top three are the best online brokers.
This year it was the best online brokers for mobile trading platforms Robinhood (Hood)And Fidelity and e-commerce, a unit of Morgan Stanley (miss). You can view the full list of the best online brokers for 2022 here, including the top three general performance categories and in 15 performance categories.
Robinhood climbed to number two on mobile platforms last year as more investors used their smartphones or tablets to make trades. The company is known for its attractiveness to young traders and the ease of access it provides to many cryptocurrency transactions. Last September, it introduced crypto wallets, which, in addition to trading, allow customers to send and receive cryptocurrencies via the Robinhood app.
Robinhood said the move was a huge success when more than a million customers signed up to the waiting list in less than 30 days. The company also takes care of what customers demand. It provides explanations on crypto terms with 24/7 support.
Robinhood’s Crypto Gifts
As part of its further efforts to spread the ease of use and trading of cryptocurrencies, Robinhood is introducing Crypto Gifts at the end of 2021. Customers can give as little as $1 from one of seven cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Dogecoin.
Gifts can be sent directly to the recipient by sharing an email or text link directly from the app. The company made the registration process straightforward and intuitive and currently has 22 million US customers using this feature.
The app also offers easy access to several recent features, such as ordering IPO shares (more than a dozen companies were available as of September), recurring savings using crypto, transferring assets at other brokerages to a Robinhood account, partial share trading and educational modules. Inside the app has a beautifully designed interface.
Fidelity Mobile Trading App
Fidelity, which ranked first for “comprehensive customer experience” in the 2022 IBD survey, was also ranked second for its mobile trading platform. That was a good step up from fourth place last year. The financial giant launched an iOS app in 2009 and an Android app in 2010. Last year, it made some improvements to the apps available via its new beta platform.
View the entire Top Online Brokers Report
View the list of the best online brokers
“Our new mobile trading experience, now available on both iOS and Android, provides a modern, simplified trading experience, portfolio monitoring and research experience, all from a single home dashboard,” said Jason Codding, Vice President of Mobile Experiences at Fidelity. “Customers can buy or sell stocks and ETFs with the new beta trial. They also still have access to options and trade long hours in the classic experience while trying out the new beta trial features.”
The app includes new ways to discover and search for funds and securities, for example by strategy or sector. It has also added dashboards for planning and spending. It has introduced directed trading where clients can choose the market where they want to direct their trades.
“I use the Fidelity mobile app about 60% of the time versus the website,” said John Snead, who has been a Fidelity customer for about eight years. “When I am away from home, I find it convenient to check my investments. I am 71 years old and trying to continue investing in stocks for the long term. I buy and own good companies with strong balance sheets, good quarterly earnings and mentorship.”
Fidelity offers two applications. Fidelity’s flagship app offers a streamlined design where clients can trade, receive alerts, access research and educational resources, pay their bills, view tax forms, and access customer service.
Fidelity Spire targets young people to help them save, plan and invest to achieve their short- and long-term goals. Fidelity also added trading capabilities for users in 2021 and access to non-Fidelity accounts from the same app.
“Fidelity had a total of 30.9 million hash accounts as of the third quarter of 2021,” Codding said. “Over the same time period, Fidelity added 7.1 million new retail accounts, including 2.97 million accounts with customers age 35 and younger. We are committed to helping the next generation of investors learn how to get started using both educational tools and resources to make informed decisions.”
As of last November, 51% of customers used Fidelity’s mobile apps, while another 10% used a mobile phone or tablet to access Fidelity via the web.
Ernesto Guzman, 43, uses the mobile app 90% of the time. “I like how the app is visual,” he said. For example, every stock and ETF is listed in rows and color-coded based on how the stock traded for the day, overall gains and losses – highlighted green up and red down. No tapping, all info in each row: cost basis, top 52 week level, total positions and stock score (bullish, bearish, etc.). I haven’t seen this in other apps.”
Fidelity also introduced the Apple Watch app again in 2021. It provides alerts, real-time quotes, account stats, watchlist addition, and the latest news. It has more than 100,000 monthly active users.
The next generation digital voice authentication, SimpliSpeak, now helps customers authenticate not only over the phone, but also when using any internet-connected device with a microphone. And the company launched a new mobile learning center with the same structure and access to content as on the web.
Mobile e-commerce platform
E-commerce grabbed the third place for being one of the best online brokers for mobile trading. The company didn’t even make it to the top five last year. But its merger with Morgan Stanley in October 2020 added new features and capabilities, along with a major redesign of its mobile apps. E-commerce also has two applications: the leading trading application, as well as the Power E-Trade application for the most active investors.
“Last year, we introduced a new mobile e-commerce design for Android, offering customers a new look and feel while maintaining the integrity and robust capabilities that are currently available,” said Ed Andersen, Managing Director of Mobile and Advanced Technology at E-Trade. “This Android version is compatible with the iOS user experience updates received in late 2019. Features include a new navigation structure, a centralized account experience, a full screen display, key search functions, and faster access to trading.”
E-commerce has also redesigned the mobile app menu, making it more intuitive and streamlined. Add-ons include managing profile details, debit card controls and tax preferences.
“I love that E-Trade’s active trader platform, Power E-Trade, is generally stable, robust and reliable, especially as it lends itself to retail options trading in a way that only three or four brokerages do,” said John Dory, who has been working with the trade. For 15 years, he describes himself as an active swing trader with options. “I place several hundred trades a year.”
Customers can now also receive Morgan Stanley’s research for free on both the web and mobile app. They get a centralized account experience where they can see all their accounts in one place. They can also easily access the trading card from all screens, including the action sheet called from wallets, he explains.
A new customer can open and set up an account without leaving the app and can upgrade to options and margin trading within the app, upload documents and link separate accounts. Bloomberg TV is available under the Markets section or using Picture-in-Picture via the app.
Another new feature is the profit analysis tool on Power E-Trade Mobile. “This tool helps traders visualize historical earnings data to help identify options strategies,” Andersen added. “We introduced a popular feature from Power E-Trade to Power E-Trade Mobile – Snapshot Analysis, a highly visual risk/reward analysis of options trading. We were among the first users of iOS tools, to keep up with the evolving technology.”
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