Scottrade is the cutting edge brokerage that caters to seasoned traders and amateur investors alike. I like Scottrade for its combination of easy use and a deep feature set. In my experience, the Scottrade brokerage platform will please everyone who isn’t a professional trader.
Part of the reason Scottrade is so effective is that it’s comprehensively customizable but doesn’t force complexity onto the user where it isn’t needed. As you’ll see in this article’s discussion of the Scottrade platform, Scottrade lets users choose between having deep technical control over a trade’s execution or issuing a high-level directive and trusting the system to do the rest.
For what it’s worth, the Scottrade system also has an excellent learning center so that users can mature from letting the platform handle the details into traders of their own right. It’s quite rare to have access to such a great learning opportunity within a functional brokerage platform.
Getting Started and Checking your Ribbon
Picking the exact Scottrade brokerage package that’s right for you might be a bit difficult due to the number of options you can pick. If you’re not sure which option is right for you, just opt for the basic package. If you know that you’re going to be interested in more powerful trading decks, check out the ScottradeELITE or ScottradePRO packages. Logging into Scottrade is straightforward once you’ve signed up for the service.
The login page provides a basic account overview, a few suggested actions, and introduces the user to the symbol ribbon, pictured above.
The symbol ribbon accompanies every page on the Scottrade platform and can be customized into a few completely different functions such as price alerts, trade execution notifications, news tickers, or general account data.
The best part about the symbol ribbon is that you aren’t required to pay attention to it or make use of its versatility—all of the information on the default symbol ribbon will be reflected elsewhere as you need it.
You won’t be missing out on its information, but it’s a great way to take a snapshot of the market with you wherever you go on the platform.
Making Use of Scottrade’s Breadth
Scottrade is more than just an investment manager—it’s a research hub for all kinds of assets. The best part about Scottrade’s research capabilities is that they are comprehensive.
Whereas other platforms might not have the data inputs to provide you with information about municipal bonds or allow you to purchase them, Scottrade can put their info front and center.
Scottrade also has the excellent distinction of carrying data about corporate bonds, which is quite rare in the brokerage space. If you’ve ever used another brokerage account, you’ll probably be tempted to explore all the nooks and crannies that Scottrade exposes.
Like all of the other Scottrade panels, the research panel and the individual asset headings are customizable, though they come with sensible defaults and some limitations. You’ll have information about trading hours, price changes, related assets, and volatility right at your fingertips right out of the box.
More advanced traders can expose more data or introduce other sets of data to be displayed at the same time, although there’s no integration with external APIs.
Expert traders may be frustrated by the limits of the Scottrade system’s customizability, as it tends to impose limits on which data sets can be displayed under the same heading, leading to issues like comparing the VIX to any given ETFs at a glance.
Making a trade with Scottrade
You’ll be able to make trades as soon as you’re finished logging in for the first time with Scottrade. Amateur users will be able to figure out the trade definition screen quite quickly.
Advanced users will be able to enable more complex trading options quite easily, too. It’s easy to get an overview of your trade and gather the directly associated data via the interface, and the platform helpfully suggests functions like price alerting and stop loss orders for you to explore.
Keeping it Simple isn’t Stupid
Scottrade’s guiding philosophy seems to be that simplicity is a way to gradually learn about complexity, and this is perfectly reflected by the default Mutual Fund Order placement prompt as displayed above.
I don’t know how many users appreciate the fact that Scottrade can reduce the technical protocol of a twelve-step trade order into a form with a choice between buying or selling, a dollar amount, and an asset identity. It’s easy enough to plod along and trade with what Scottrade gives you by default, but there are so many opportunities to learn a bit more about what’s going on behind the curtain.
Using the customizability of the Scottrade platform to expose the guts of your trades is a great way to increase your trading acumen in easily digestible episodes. The Scottrade learning center’s encyclopedic guide to the platform and trading concepts shouldn’t be wasted.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Scottrade
- Quick setup
- Sensible Defaults
- Customizable trading and research surfaces
- Ever-present customizable Ribbon feature to take critical live data with you wherever you go within the platform
- Responsive interface
- Comprehensive learning center
- Can be upgraded to have more responsiveness or functionality
- Can share trade templates with other users
- Excellent customer support
- Excellent platform documentation
- Deep municipal and corporate bond research and trade functionality
- Easy to learn, not too difficult to master
- Acceptable mobile client
- Can’t generate user-defined charts
- Customizability is conceptually limited
- Weak extrapolation
- Low default tick rate
- Doesn’t play nicely with external APIs
- Doesn’t play nicely with external accounts or brokerages
- Fees can vary wildly
- Maybe too simple for expert traders
- Constantly favors simplicity which can sometimes interfere with usability
- Ugly interface which can’t be customized
- No desktop client
- The mobile client works better on Android than iOS
Scottrade is a good value for most investors and traders. In general, Scottrade keeps its fees low and has a low monthly fee that varies depending on which package you opt for. The balance minimums are also quite low, meaning that Scottrade could potentially work for brand new or small-time investors.
For newer traders, investors, or experienced amateurs, the Scottrade platform is definitely worth the cost for the chance to access the learning center and technical encyclopedias alone.
To trade, or to Scottrade?
I highly suggest Scottrade for anyone who isn’t an expert amateur or a professional trader. If you’re interested in getting your child started on trading and investing early, it doesn’t get any better than Scottrade’s brokerage platform.
Scottrade is affordable enough to play around on or leave to mature without having to worry about getting eaten by fees. In short, Scottrade is a great pickup that can probably match your level of intensity.