Beginner investors and active traders benefit from Charles Schwab’s technology and other features, and as a result, they can make better and informed decisions.
The full-service investment firm came to the fore when they shook the brokerage industry with reduced fees. Typically, they slashed their equity and ETF commissions.
With a Schwab account, you can handle your own investing or seek advice on portfolio management, and access futures asset classes.
Here’s a more detailed review of Charles Schwab.
Trading and Technology
The Schwab trading experience is almost similar across the various platforms. The investment firm uses the much more familiar All-In-One Trade Ticket, but still, there are resources to help along the way. The only thing that you may find differing is the placing of trades.
Those interested in futures trading will need to make do with StreetSmartCentral only as it is not part of the trade ticket.
There are fewer customization options for the web-based platform, but you can still benefit from the user-defined alerts, research, and a range of stock-streaming data. As such, you can take prompt action and benefit from the price movement.
The introduction of Schwab Stock Slices was beneficial to the clients of fractional shares or those with minimal funds to invest.
Charles Schwab order management uses a wheel-based router to achieve various functions, such as dealing with outages. The investment firm routes the multiple exchange options to third-party wholesalers.
Other brokerages will often have a trade simulator, but this is not the case with Charles Schwab. You cannot backtest or automate their system.
Schwab has a variety of research offerings in screeners, calculators, and other tools to help investors with their decision making.
- StreetSmart Edge uses Screener Plus to provide real-time data on filtered stocks. You can set the filtering parameters and then use the Screener Plus for the best results. The website platform screener has up to 120 screener criteria, including the equity ratings and dividend points. But there are over 150 screening criteria and 16 customizable and predefined screens on the ETF screener on StreetSmart Edge.
- Even though the options screeners are customizable, they are not the best looking. Also, they do not have built-in help.
- Schwab offers a somewhat rudimentary mutual fund screener with 16 criteria selection. But you can access up to 60 criteria selection with the advanced screener and export the results. The screeners cover over 9,800 funds.
- Similar to options screeners, the fixed income screeners are basic-looking. But you can use these screeners to search for treasury zeros, treasuries, agency bonds, municipal bonds, corporate bonds, certificates of deposits, and mortgage-backed securities.
- The news and research offerings are quite the industry standard. You have free access to news feeds from MarketEdge, Argus Research Alerts, Schwab Investing Insights Brief, Vickers Insider, and Credit Suisse. You can as well check the technical triggers and use premium research offered at a discounted price. Take advantage of the extended trial subscriptions from various vendors.
- A calculator is at your disposal for tax efficiency, income and retirement guidance, portfolio mix, and margins.
- Technical analysis and charting are more efficient on StreetSmart Edge than on the web platform. But both platforms allow you to save studies, settings, preferences, and layouts.
- Schwab’s trading idea generator has various categories, such as premium harvesting and covered calls. There is a long list of idea generators on Street-smart Edge.
Packing a wide variety of features and functionality has always been a problem for most investment firms. There’s not enough space to fit everything.
Opening and funding a new Schwab account is easy on mobile and online, but that’s as far as it goes. The account incorporates two-level menus that feel arduous to navigate. There are numerous choices, and this becomes confusing for most people.
You can either use the downloadable and customizable StreetSmart Edge interface or the Trade Source main website. The workflow and trade alerts are better with StreetSmart Edge, but you also need to install Citrix, a third-party application, to use StreetSmart Edge on a new device.
In most cases, you will not encounter any problems running StreetSmart Edge, and you can easily access real-time data. However, the interface does not have some of the screeners you find in Trade Source. Furthermore, the website has a much better visual presentation.
The workflow on the mobile application is smooth and no different from the web-based platform. It is intuitive and relatively straightforward that beginners and other levels of traders will not have an issue using it.
In addition, the mobile app allows access to various classes of assets, and the watch-list is similar to that of the web-based platform. Interestingly, traders can place conditional orders using their mobile.
The mobile app news feed is quite solid, and the charting function has a helpful range of technical indicators. But on the downside, the fundamental research is not up to par. It is not the same as what you get with the web view.
Range of Offerings
- You can trade all the available asset classes on the various Schwab platforms smoothly. The only minor issue is with futures traders who have to switch to a separate account. Schwab does not have crypto trading.
- Schwab authorizes short sales based upon the loan of the available shares. The company displays the hard-to-borrow stocks and the annualized cost of borrowing so that you can make the right short decision.
- The firm has more than 16,000 mutual funds, where more than 4,000 of them are no-load. Schwab does not charge any transaction fees with mutual funds. Other options include penny stocks, the various types of bonds, and futures or commodities.
- Fractional shares of bluechip stocks are available, and you can trade up to seven foreign currencies.
- Schwab has an integrated Robo-advisor in its various trading platforms to help multiple traders.
- Clients from up to 12 non-US markets can access the trading platform and benefit from the cash conversion functionality. The currency conversion fees are pretty low.
StreetSmart Edge and the website allows entry of a wide variety of orders. Conditional orders are available to you, where one triggers another or cancels another.
You can set the account to account-wide default or the tax lot when closing partially.
Clients can link other accounts from thousands of financial institutions to get the complete picture of their investments and finances. An automatically generated chart from the combined totals makes it possible to track changes.
You can use the Schwab Portfolio Checkup Tool to analyze the various investments you hold even outside Schwab. Get real-time info on buying power, margins, and account balances.
Unfortunately, this functionality will not provide protected income from the interest and dividend. StreetSmart Edge shows the transactions, alerts, balances, and any gains or losses.
The newly launched Schwab Plan is for self-directed investors to help them stay on track towards retirement.
Costs and How They Make Money
Charles Schwab rode on their zero fees offer to popularity. That means there are no commissions for ETF, OTCBB, and online equity. Per-leg commissions are also not available.
However, there is a $32.50 for order contracts of up to 50 options, and the live broker fee is $25 for every trade.
Interest on cash balances is one of the common ways Schwab generates income. The base interest rate on uninvested cash is so low that you need to move the money around to get a better rate. Schwab also makes money from the payment for order flow.
Typically, moneymakers will pay Schwab between $0.0009 and $0.0030 per share for directing their client’s orders there. They also make $0.35 per contract from each option order.
Clients can enroll for portfolio margining, which sometimes reduces the margin required based on the calculated risk. Portfolio margining is perfect for trades in derivatives to offset the inherent risk in these asset classes.
You can share the stock broker’s earnings by enrolling in Schwab’s stock loan program. Schwab uses the borrowed stocks to short sellers or hedge funds. You do not have a hand in the stocks chosen for loaning. Schwab provides a prediction of income from the stock loaning program on their website.
Schwab has various security measures to keep your investments and information secure, such as biometric recognition for mobile app users. Encryption and risk-based technology are also available for both the website and mobile app to prevent unauthorized access.
You can request two-factor authentication when using new devices.
Schwab stole the limelight in the market with their zero fees campaign and capitalized on it. They have been growing ever since. The firm makes most of its money from invested cash that customers have in their accounts and can afford to slash fees.
Its expected acquisition of TD Ameritrade will widen Schwab’s reach and offerings to customers.
While the company seems to encourage working with an advisor, you can still go it alone. Futures traders are also welcome in Schwab, but they need to use a different platform.