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Interactive Brokers Review

  1. Founded in 1994, Interactive Brokers is a leading electronic forex brokerage providing financial services with ‘rock-bottom’ commissions and trading fees in more than 190 countries. Not only is Interactive Brokers amongst the largest discount brokers in the USA, but also provides customers with direct access to 126 markets in 26 countries, to trade forex, CFDs, stocks, options, futures, bonds, and ETFs. However, it’s evident that the brokerage is designed to provide services to seasoned professional traders investing in large trading volumes, from a complex proprietary trading platform. Notably, a minimum deposit of $10,000 is required to open a regular trading account and at least $100,000 to set up a portfolio margin account. Interactive Brokers is a subsidiary of the Interactive Brokers Group, headquartered in Greenwich, Connecticut and listed on the New York Stock Exchange. We saw that Interactive Brokers operates as separate entities in seven countries across the globe: India, Japan, UK, USA, Hong Kong, Australia and Canada. Moreover, each entity is licensed and regulated in the country of operation, with the full registration details clearly indicated on the Interactive Brokers website along with the complete postal addresses of each entity. Importantly, European customers are obliged to set up a UK account and subsequently receive brokerage services from Interactive Brokers UK Ltd and Interactive Brokers LLC, in the USA, depending on the product being traded by the customer.

  2. Account Features

    Whilst Interactive Brokers offers an immense range of trading accounts designed for specific financial products and trading activities, the accounts can be placed under two categories: accounts for individual professional traders and accounts for institutional traders. In this review we focus on the individual trading account.

    Individual Trading Account Features

    Clients need to make a minimum initial deposit of $10,000 to set up the individual trading account at Interactive Brokers. Nevertheless, traders under 25 years old can open such an account with a minimum deposit of $3,000. Significantly, clients can set up their trading accounts in any one of 19 account base currencies including USD, AUD, JPY, GBP and EUR. We saw that the process for setting up an account is lengthy and complicated. Notably, clients must provide a lot of personal information not typically asked for by regulated online brokers. We saw that the information required by Interactive Brokers includes official ID and proof of residence, employer’s name, address and phone number, the client’s bank account number and routing numbers for check deposits. Documents must be submitted by Fax or Email and approval takes up to 2 business days if the broker is satisfied with the documents supplied by the client. Once the account has been funded, clients get access to the proprietary trading platform at Interactive Brokers with the complete range of products across all the asset classes. They include 100 forex currency pairs and CFDs in 7 currency pairs, shares and Indices. Also, cryptocurrencies, futures, equities, indices, ETFs, bonds, funds and asset management. The details for each product are available on the IB website with pricing structures, trading fees and global markets for each product.

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  5. Trading Software & Assets

    Interactive Brokers offers clients the Trader Workstation (TWS) for download to desktop, a highly complex proprietary platform designed to trade every kind of global financial asset imaginable from the multi-asset display. In our opinion, the TWS platform is far too complicated for casual traders, especially those with little market experience. Nevertheless, we saw that traders are given access to the default version of the Trader Workstation, called ‘Mosaic’. At the same time, they can access the original version of the platform called the Classic TWS. Notably, traders can choose from 63 different order types which is more than any trading platform reviewed by us to date. Moreover, 121 studies can be added to the integrated charts on the platform, providing everything that technical traders need. And if that’s not sufficient, there are more than 120 optional indicators available.

    For traders who find themselves away from their personal desktop computers and the Trader Workstation, Interactive Brokers provide the Web Trader, designed to place and manage trades as well as view the extensive watchlists. We saw that the Web Trader is not considered useful for placing advanced order types or for automated orders with algorithmic trading.

    IBKR Mobile Platform

    The IBKR Mobile app provides traders with incredibly powerful trading tools and advanced order types straight from a mobile phone. Incredibly, the mobile trading platform has all the asset types and market moving information seen on the desktop TWS trading platform at Interactive Brokers. Designed for traders who want to remain in touch with the 120 global markets, the IBKR mobile app includes 50 data columns and high quality research to trade forex, stocks, options, CFDs, futures, bonds and ETFs. The IBKR Mobile app is available for Android and iOS devices from the Google Play Store and the App Store.

    Interactive Brokers Trading Fees and Commissions

    Trading fees at Interactive brokers are charged according to the type of financial instrument traded. Notably, we found the trading fees on equities, futures, bonds, CFDs and options very competitive. However, in our opinion the fees for trading in forex and funds are about average. Interactive Brokers offers customers fixed rate price plans on contracts, where the fixed rates include exchange fees and all commissions. Additionally, there are tiered plans where customers are charged comparatively low monthly trading fees based on volume traded, plus exchange, clearing and regulatory fees. Traders in forex currency pairs and forex CFDs, pay fees on the monthly trading volume, where a minimum $2 fee is charged for trading less than $1 billion (fees falling gradually with increasing trading volume to $1 for $5 billion traded volume in one month). Moreover, competitive financing fees are offered to traders with more than $100,000 deposited at Interactive Brokers, with yearly financing fees for USD at 2.9% and for EUR at 1.5%. We saw that casual and novice traders need to be aware that they must trade sufficient volumes each month, generating at least $10 of commission for Interactive Brokers. If not, they are charged an inactivity fee of $10 per month.

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  7. Support Information

    We saw a broad range of contact methods offered on the Client Services page at IB. We found the live chat room convenient and fast. Notably, it’s open 24 hours a day, Monday to Friday and on Sunday from 1 pm to 7 pm Eastern Time. Alternatively, clients can contact the service desks by Email, fax and by phone. We were pleased to see that IB Service Desks are located in the USA, Canada, Europe, multiple Asian countries and Australia. The various country telephone numbers (toll free and direct dial) together with the operating hours of the service desks and languages spoken, are given on the contact pages at Interactive brokers.

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  9. Banking & Company Information

    European customers can fund and withdraw from Interactive Brokers using bank transfer only. However, we saw that customers in the USA, are given a broader choice of payment methods including credit and debit cards. What’s more, traders in other countries are given country specific payment options such as BPay in Australia and Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) in Canada. Nevertheless, deposits to Interactive Brokers are not charged fees by IB. Moreover, the first withdrawal of each calendar month is not charged fees by IB. However, any other withdrawals in the same month are charged fees depending on the currency. We saw that withdrawals made in EUR are charged a processing fee of $8 on each transaction. Notably, Interactive Brokers limits withdrawal amounts to $50,000 a day and $100,000 every 5 business days, unless clients participate in the secure login system offered by IB for security purposes. We saw that security devices are sent free of charge to clients, once an account is funded, allowing them to access secure areas in the account. The security devices work together with passwords and usernames on desktop, whilst a separate IB key (through the IBKR mobile app) provides security for smart phones. Notably, withdrawal limits are doubled to $200,000 daily and $600,000 in 5 business days when using the security devices.

  10. Conclusion:

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    Between 74-89 % of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs
  11. Your capital is at risk