As many of you know, I’ve been a satisfied CyberTrader customer for several months. After the recent clunky migration to Schwab, I’ve been browsing various brokers to see what’s available. I’ll be keeping some money with Schwab, but I’ll be moving some to a new broker. It wasn’t until this recent migration that I had even considered splitting up my account between brokers, but I think in many ways it makes sense (in theory better availability of shortable shares, for one).
Since I’ve started looking around at the differences between the various brokers, I’ve noticed a couple things that stick out at me. Specifically, these two features which I consider to be critical are actually pretty rare among the brokers out there:
- Server-held orders/alerts – when (not if, remember?) your network connection goes down, will your orders still fire? With CyberTrader and Schwab the answer is yes. I know DownTown Trader was concerned about this (and TradeStation’s orders are stored on the PC).
- Trading API – can you write software to make trades and use software to automatically keep a journal? You use-ta could (an expression we use in the South) with CyberTrader, but no longer. This was a major reason many left Cyber before the migration. I’m going to start developing an ATS soon and this will, of course, be necessary.
- Ability to see if shares are shortable before attempting to short – I’m amazed that there are SO few brokers that give you this capability. There are fewer things more frustrating that commiting to a trade, clicking the button to short and getting some cryptic error message that there are no shares to borrow. Cyber showed you how many shares were available to short, Schwab does not. That’s a big minus.