TradeKing is an interesting e-brokerage that combines a nice interface with a pretty good feature set. Ultimately, I think TradeKing falls short for casual traders as well as professional traders but may be of use to some anyway. The primary draw to TradeKing is its ease of use and comprehensive feature breadth—but not its comprehensive feature depth.
Though TradeKing won an award for its innovative design, in my opinion, it’s quite standard, which doesn’t mean that it’s bad. Things show up where you expect them to be, and behave roughly as you expect them to behave.
If you’ve never used a brokerage platform before, let me tell you that making par in the interface category isn’t easy. TradeKing’s juicy visuals and design seem to elicit the wow factor rather than their functionality. Unlike many other platforms, I feel cool while using the TradeKing brokerage, though it comes at the cost of trading effectiveness.
Don’t let my preliminary grumblings dissuade you from checking out the platform. TradeKing might be right for you if you’re a casual trader who is interested in being energized by attractive interfaces and charts. Signing up for TradeKing is straightforward, and getting started on the system will be very easy for most seasoned traders.
The opening screen of your TradeKing console is quite aesthetically pleasing and has some useful information. If anything, the hub of TradeKing opts for simplicity rather than detail with its sleek flat design and dark look. The addition of features like a personalized welcome, an advertisement for the platform itself, and the time of day don’t add much to the user’s experience.
The gadgets on the hub are mutable, but not deeply so. Most of the deep configurations that you’d want your introduction to the platform are absent. You’ll be able to pin a few of your watched stocks and a couple of news aggregator bulletins to the hub, but not much more. You’ll also not be able to see any alerts via your hub page, so don’t get lulled into a false sense of security. The hub page is a welcome mat only.
Checking the ribbon
Whichever module you tab to after the hub spawns your ribbon, pictured above. The ribbon is superficially customizable, but a lot of the deadweight features like the time of day and the notification that you’re streaming quotes in real time can’t be removed.
There’s no way to make this ribbon into a hyper-functional alerts console, and it’ll be a struggle to get much utility out of it at all. You can pick which ETFs are tracked, but the tracking buttons aren’t clickable.
The ribbon in the TradeKing system is thus somewhat of an annoyance rather than a boon. The ribbon takes up space on every screen other than the hub and is an space. Like many features of the TradeKing system, the ribbon seems to be designed to make the user feel like they’re a sophisticated trader. Unfortunately, real hardcore traders use tools that don’t look as svelte.
Chopping up some charts
The TradeKing charting engine also favors aesthetics over function, but it’s good in general. Charts are formed with sensible defaults in a way that makes the information understandable at a glance yet deep enough to study for a few minutes if you choose to.
The issue with the charts that you’ll make with TradeKing is that they’re not pinnable elsewhere. You can’t use TradeKing with multiple screens, nor can you move the data from individual sets to be shown elsewhere either temporarily or permanently. It goes without saying that TradeKing’s research functionality is limited.
Trading with the King
Making trades and tracking trades on TradeKing is simple enough. The user has an average level of control over trade execution—nothing that will confuse a knowledgeable amateur. The trade book itself is decently organized and responds to queries acceptably. Much like the rest of the platform, TradeKing’s pretty interface doesn’t always respond as cleanly as it looks.
The watch list functionality pictured above is a perfect example of another disconnect between appearance and performance. The watch list is quite extensive and allows you to set up a bunch of comparisons and basic analyses which appear alongside your watch list items. Great. The watch list would be one of the better of its kind among brokerages if not for the fact that it exists in isolation.
The watch list can’t be moved or tracked elsewhere, nor can you navigate from it. The watch list is a lonely outpost, isolated from the rest of the platform. Unfortunately, this is a habitual problem with TradeKing’s modules.
Advantages and Disadvantages of TradeKing
- Pretty interface
- Charts look good by default
- Sensible default trading settings
- Pretty good platform tutorial
- Good mobile application
- Average learning center
- Average news aggregator
- Makes trades quickly
- Good trade book record keeping
- Excellent generation of tax documents
- Good generation of account summaries
- Each module exists in isolation
- Ribbon is mediocre
- Hub page is useless
- Not customizable in any way that matters
- Expensive fees
- Interface can be clunky
Can I become a TradeKing?
Most traders and investors will be able to sit down at the TradeKing console and make some trades without having any difficulty. Even the retirement and wealth growth crowds should be just fine with a little learning. The primary problem of the TradeKing platform is that its strengths aren’t necessary to have a good trading platform.
A pretty looking trading platform may appeal to some people, though few will be willing to compromise majorly on functionality. For these reasons, I think that TradeKing is an acceptable brokerage choice for casual investors or traders who want a fun trading experience more than they want deep technical capability.
If you’re looking for a serious trading platform or a hobbyist platform that you can tear apart and re-configure, you should probably look elsewhere. If you’re going to show off your trading platform to a non-trader, you’ll impress people the most by using TradeKing.