Fidelity at a glance
Features you'll love
Wealth-Lab Pro: Wealth-Lab Pro is Fidelity’s backtesting tool, which allows you to test trading strategies using historical data in order to see how they might perform. You can view up to 20 years of daily historical data. A drag-and-drop strategy builder tool helps you create trading strategies quickly, and you can track your active strategies. If you’re willing to code your own strategies, you’ll be able to unlock even more of the platform’s power. Finally, you can set up Wealth-Lab Pro to trade automatically based on the strategies you select.
And while the tool may be new to you, Fidelity will teach you how to use it in a series of video webinars and printed guides, taking advantage of another of Fidelity’s strengths, education. If there’s a downside, it’s that Fidelity limits the tool to customers with 36 trades over a rolling 12-month period and who have $25,000 in assets with the broker. However, you can give it a test drive for 30 days first to see if you like it, before making a full commitment.
Where Fidelity rocks
Accounts fees and no minumum
If you’re looking to minimize all those “nickel and dime” fees that brokers often bombard you with, you could hardly do better than Fidelity. The broker charges no fee for the standard categories – including account or activity fees and transfer-out fees – as well as some of the obscure ones such as the IRA closeout and reorganization fees.
And if you pay bills from your brokerage account, Fidelity doesn’t charge for typical bank fees either. These include stop-payment fees or ATM fees. Fidelity is incredibly investor-friendly.
On top of all of this, the broker has no account minimum, so it’s easy to get started, too. Clients can trade stocks, ETFs, mutual funds, bonds and options at Fidelity.
Fidelity performs great in this area, and it offers customers two investor-friendly ways to play mutual funds.
No-transaction-fee funds: The broker offers more than 3,600 mutual funds without a transaction fee. That means you can get into and out of the fund without cost, though you’ll still be on the hook for any expense ratio charged by the fund. This is a huge selection of these advantaged funds, and compares favorably with the best brokers.
Fee-free funds: As if that weren’t enough, Fidelity does even better, offering mutual funds without an expense ratio at all. It’s the first company to offer a fee-free mutual fund, though you don’t have to be a customer of the brokerage to buy it. So without a transaction fee or an annual expense ratio, you could own the fund at no ongoing cost.
No, Fidelity doesn’t offer the rock-bottom of commission prices in the industry, but it also doesn’t offer rock-bottom features either, which is the usual trade-off if you care only about costs. Instead, at Fidelity you’ll pay an eminently reasonable price – $4.95 for stock and ETF trades – for a high level of features, including all of their research and educational offerings as well as a wealth of trading tools. Fidelity’s commission is competitive with other top brokers such as Charles Schwab and TD Ameritrade, if not better.
Research and education
Fidelity offers an extensive lineup of research and education resources for investors of every level.
Research: There is a vast amount of valuable information available on the Fidelity site. Go to the page for an individual stock and you can receive financial data, competitor analysis, news and reports on individual stocks from a variety of third-party research companies including Thomson Reuters, Ned Davis, Zacks, and many others.
You’ll also have access to SEC filings and a variety of sources of market commentary. And you’ll find further reports on ETFs. Really the resources go on and on, and with the clean layout you’ll have no problems finding what you’re looking for.
Education: You can get assistance on the basics of personal finance – budgeting, managing debt and saving – but it goes way beyond planning and advice. In Fidelity’s learning center, you can attend webinars or view recorded ones that detail almost any aspect of trading, options, funds and how to use the many tools on offer, such as Active Trader Pro. You’ll find the short courses ranked according to skill level, too.
Besides Wealth-Lab Pro, Fidelity provides a number of tools if you’re looking to improve your trading or to get better trade ideas.
Active Trader Pro: The biggest tool at Fidelity is Active Trader Pro, the broker’s flagship trading platform. You’ll be able to set up the look of the platform with one of a few preset layouts or customize it completely to your preferences. You’ll be able customize stock charts, show dozens of technical indicators and place multiple trades at a time.
Fidelity’s other trade tools – Real-Time Analytics and Trade Armor – are integrated into the platform dashboard for easy access. You can also pull streaming Bloomberg TV onto your desktop as well.
Real-time Analytics: This tool provides trade signals in real-time based on historical price movements. You’ll be alerted when a stock hits a new high or low, crosses a key technical level or shows other unusual activity.
Trade Armor: Trade Armor allows you to visualize your trading opportunities on a chart. You can set alerts to track price movements and determine prices to get in and out of a position. You can also enter orders right from the tool.
Daily Dashboard: This tool pops up when you launch Active Trader Pro and provides real-time news, earnings and economic news, so that you’re abreast of what’s impacting your portfolio.
Fidelity is a great pick for a broker that can do almost everything and do it well.
- Fidelity’s mutual funds are a solid addition to any portfolio, and the company’s fee-free funds are an added bonus.
- Fidelity’s research and educational support are tops in the industry.
- Fidelity keeps its focus on being investor-friendly – low fees, no account minimum and a reasonable commission
Investors who demand lower commissions should check out Interactive Brokers, though it doesn’t provide the same level of educational support as Fidelity. If research and overall great experiences are a priority, you may find Charles Schwab or Merrill Edge to your liking. Those who need an attractive sign-up bonus should check out Ally Invest, though it’s worth noting that Merrill provides ongoing free trades with the same initial deposit that Fidelity requires for a bonus.
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