Interactive Brokers Review 2020
Interactive Brokers is one of the largest brokerages in the US, offering online trading to clients around the globe. They have a range of sophisticated trading platforms, educational resources, market research and analysis. Funding options are limited when compared to other online brokers.
Interactive Brokers Review 2020, Pros & Cons
- Multiple regulations in several countries
- Trading on cutting edge platforms across multiple devices
- Research & analysis from reputable third party firms
- Comprehensive trader education packaged as ‘knowledge base’ &Traders’ academy
- Multiple trader tools are provided
- Limited payment options; no PayPal or other modern online payment options
- Clients from about 10 countries are not accepted
- Customer support response time
- No fixed spread accounts
- Restricted leverage
In this detailed Interactive Brokers review, our online broker research team have covered some of the most important aspects for you to consider when choosing the best broker for your online trading needs.
Interactive Brokers is not ranked in our best forex brokers, best stock brokers, best cfd brokers, best crypto brokers or best online brokers categories. You can use our free broker comparison tool to compare online brokers including Interactive Brokers.
Interactive Brokers Review: Summary
Interactive Brokers (IBKR) is a US brokerage known for its competitive trading fees and commissions. It was founded in the United States in 1978 but today, the broker has expanded its operations to many countries. The head office is located in Connecticut, US with international offices in Australia, Canada, Honk Kong, India, Japan, UK, Switzerland, Estonia, Hungary, Russia, China and Liechtenstein.
Interactive Brokers company equity capital is in the billions. Its shares are publicly traded as IBKR on the NASDAQ exchange.
Interactive Brokers uses its own proprietary ‘SmartRouting’ technology to search for the best market prices available. This helps to ensure that orders are executed at the best possible prices. It connects to around 125 markets in 31 countries. The broker states that it executes over 859,000 trades every day.
Over the years, Interactive Brokers has won over 100 industry awards for its brokerage services. The awards are mostly in the areas of low brokerage fees and overall performance.
Interactive Brokers Review: Regulation
INTERACTIVE BROKERS LLC is a member NYSE – FINRA – SIPC and regulated by the US Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). It operates the website: www.interactivebrokers.com
INTERACTIVE BROKERS CANADA INC. is a member of the Investment Industry Regulatory Organisation of Canada (IIROC) and Member – Canadian Investor Protection Fund. It operates the website; www.interactivebrokers.ca
INTERACTIVE BROKERS AUSTRALIA PTY LTD is licensed and regulated by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) with the license number AFSL 453554. It operates the website: www.interactivebrokers.com.au
INTERACTIVE BROKERS (U.K.) LIMITED is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) with the license number 208159. It operates the website: www.interactivebrokers.co.uk
INTERACTIVE BROKERS (INDIA) PVT. LTD operates www.interactivebrokers.co.in. It is member of NSE, BSE.
INTERACTIVE BROKERS HONG KONG LIMITED is regulated by the Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission, and is a member of the SEHK and the HKFE. It operate the website: www.interactivebrokers.com.hk
Interactive Brokers strictly complies by all the regulatory laws guiding each jurisdiction. But generally, all clients’ funds are deposited in segregated accounts which are separate from the broker’s accounts.
All clients are properly verified using ‘Know Your Customer’ guidelines. No individual registration is complete without a ‘proof of identity’ and a ‘proof of address.’ New clients are required to upload a scanned copy of their government issued identity cards and also a utility bill.
The various Interactive Brokers websites and platforms are digitally secure. This is because of the firewalls and Secured Socket Layers (SSL) implemented. The aim is to ward off any intruder or internet hacker that may want to steal clients’ identity or steal user sensitive information.
Interactive Brokers Review: Countries
Interactive Brokers does not provide services to residents of some countries like Afghanistan, Burundi, Iran, Iraq, Nigeria, Somalia, Sudan, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Yemen, etc. Some Interactive Brokers broker features and products mentioned within this Interactive Brokers review may not be available to traders from specific countries due to legal restrictions.
Interactive Brokers Review: Trading Platforms
This is a simple web based platform for account management and trading. It could be considered the best platform for beginner traders. Here are some of its features:
- View account info, portfolio performance, trade history, etc in real time.
- Order management; place orders, modify or close orders easily.
- Customisable charting on different timelines.
- Live news is streamed on the platform.
- Comprehensive product information is available for every asset.
IB Trader Workstation (TWS)
This is the flagship proprietary platform designed for frequent traders who are experienced and require multiple tools and flexibility. It is only available to Interactive Brokers PRO clients. It is available as a downloadable desktop platform for Windows, MAC OSX and Linux.
Here are some of the features of the TWS:
- Enables traders, investors and institutions to trade stocks, options, futures, forex, bonds and funds on over 100 global markets from a single account.
- Customisable charts on several timelines, technical indicators and analytical tools.
- Full reporting of account balances, P & L, trade history, etc.
- Over 100 order types and Algos.
- TWS Mosaic gives access to trading, order management, chart, watchlist and portfolio tools all in a single, customisable workspace.
- Professional news and analysis from Reuters, Dow Jones, Trading Central, bezinga, etc.
- 26 Advanced trading tools such as FXTrader, BookTrader, SpreadTrader, Volatility Lab, etc.
- Analytical tools such as Market Scanners, ChartTrader, etc.
Trade on the go with Interactive Brokers mobile trading apps. They are designed for users who have Android or iOS devices. Here are a few of the IBKR mobile app functions:
- Gives access to 125 markets across the globe.
- The IB key two-factor authentication (2FA) gives extra security to the app.
- Easily trade multiple instruments and view charts on several timelines.
- Integrated real-time market scanners and alerts with email notifications.
- Uses IB SmartRouting technology to bring the best available prices to clients.
This is a software assistant that can place orders using words and text commands. It is powered by Artificial intelligence that recognises the natural language text commands and acts on it immediately. It is available on the following platforms:
- TWS Desktop
- IBKR Mobile
- Client Portal
This is the browser version of the desktop TWS. It is only available to Interactive Brokers PRO clients. Here are some of its features:
- Access to 125 global markets from a single account.
- Simpler than the desktop TWS and protected by a firewall.
- Advanced order management.
- Full reporting in real time e.g. P & L, position, account status, margin requirements, etc.
- Advanced tools like market depth, BookTrader, Market Scanners, Contract Search, etc.
- Asset specific news and fundamentals from sources like Reuters and others reliable firms.
- Customisable interface to suit only your style, favourite layouts and instruments.
This is for investors who script their own trading softwares or uses other third party softwares. It is only available to IBKR PRO clients. The IBKR API software is available for downloads only on desktop computer running Windows or Mac/Unix. It supports the following languages: Java, C++, Python, C#, ActiveX, DDE. Other API solutions offered by IB are REST API, FIX CTCI & W.T Web API.
Interactive Brokers Review: Trading Tools
Research & News
Interactive Brokers has incorporated several third party news and research providers into the TWS platform. Some are free but most require monthly subscriptions. There are currently about 87 services. The free services are available even on demo accounts. Here are some of the services available:
- Alliance News: Free trial and then $25 for News in English and $20 for Italian news.
- Bezinga News: Bezinga Crypto news and Bezinga Pro are free. But Bezinga Pro API Professional is $250
- Profession Bundle: This comprises of Dow Jones new, Trading Central, briefing.com, MT Newswires, The Fly news; all for $155 per month
- Non Professional Bundle: It comprises of Dow Jones news, Trading central, The fly news; for $55.
- The Fly News: Free trial, then, $21 monthly.
- MT Newswires: Free trial, then $100.
- Street account: Free trial, then $315 for street account.
- 24/7 Wall Street: Free insightful news and commentary for equity investors.
- Access wire: Free real-time analytics.
- Alexandria Research: Free text analytics and sentiment assessment tools.
- AltaVista Research: Free research on ETFs.
- com: Free but it has subscription services.
- Capitalise: Free automated trading platform.
- Dow Jones: Free news for North America but has several subscription services.
- Econoday: Free market analysis from experts.
- Edison Investment Research: Free research on improving company visibility helping improving investors’ knowledge.
- Estimize: Free financial estimates platform sourced from amateur analysts.
- ETFguide: Free technical forecast on ETFs, stocks, bond , commodities, etc.
This is a marketplace where investors and clients can meet in order to transact. Investors can search for different services, view the requirements and appraise the services before making a decision. There are over 600 investment services, over 320 research services, over 450 technology services, 200+ administrative services and over 400 business development services.
Apps, Tools & Widget
These consist of tools that are needed by traders to enhance their trading experience. The tools are:
- Traders’ Calendar App: Shows the trading holidays and asset expiration dates of many instruments.
- Options Calculator App: Users input the options price and other parameters in order to learn the impact.
- Options Strategies App: Shows the profit and loss of options combinations. Users can select inputs and test.
- Probability Lab: Analyzes the market probability distribution. It is used by options traders.
Interactive Brokers Review: Education
This is a comprehensive resource made up of articles, questions, answers, videos and a glossary. It contains over 700 articles arranged alphabetically. There are over 80 training videos. The knowledge base has a search area that can be used to search for resources. A glossary with over 1,200 trading terms and definitions are available.
The Traders’ academy is designed for professionals and investors who need knowledge on the TWS and other trading knowledge. The academy is only for registered clients. There are a total of 39 courses and 247 lessons. The lessons are made up of articles, videos and quizzes. It is categorized as follows:
- Investment products.
- Trading and investing: consisting of trading tools, financial planning, advisor tools and portfolio management.
Several webinars are scheduled on the website. Over 200 previously recorded webinars are available.
This is a collection of videos that teaches the TWS to clients. There are over 150 videos on the platform. Also, there are over 140 videos in Chinese, Italian, Spanish, French, Dutch, German and Japanese languages. There are 13 videos on account management and 28 videos on institutional trading.
Courses & Tours
This section has 10 videos on forex strategies, options, technical analysis, etc.
Interactive Brokers Review: Trading Instruments
IBKR did not list its assets index but it boasts of thousands of instruments from hundreds of markets from all over the world. Here are the markets available:
- Stocks from 100 markets from 26 countries.
- Digital Options.
- Futures from over 30 financial markets.
- Forex; trade in 22 currencies.
- 2 Metals; Gold and Silver.
- Over 38,000 corporate bonds.
- ETFs from 28 exchanges in 14 countries.
- Over 10,000 Mutual funds.
Interactive Brokers Review: Trading Accounts & Fees
Interactive brokers offer several account types to individual and corporate bodies. The broker lists the following client types:
- Individual Investor or Trader
- Trust Accounts
- Registered Investment Advisor
- Hedge Fund
- Money Manager
- Proprietary Trading Group
- Family Office
- Small Business
- Friends and Family Advisor
- Introducing Broker
- Incentive Plan Administrator
- Compliance Officer
No matter the type of client, there is likely an account for you. Generally, we will look at the major individual retail account types. They are as follows:
- IBKR Lite: This account is designed for individuals, joint or IRA clients. There are no required minimum balance, no inactivity fees and no commissions on US stocks and Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs). Clients can only use the ‘Client Portal’ or ‘IBKR mobile’ platforms for trading. IBKR Lite accounts cannot access the TWS.
- IBKR PRO: This is the major account designed for high volume professional traders. Account holders are offered the lowest costs and best possible prices. Interest is paid on idle cash and clients’ trade on the flagship IB Trader Workstation platform as well as the WebTrader, mobile and API platforms. However, inactivity fees are charged if the trade commissions paid within a month is less than $10, the balance is charged. Inactivity fees are not charged for accounts with a balance of $100,000 or more.
As broker fees can vary and change, there may be additional fees that are not listed in this Interactive Brokers review. It is imperative to ensure that you check and understand all of the latest information directly from Interactive Brokers before opening a trading account with this brokerage.
Interactive Brokers Review: Customer Service
The Multilingual customer support desk operates from the various Interactive Brokers offices. They are mostly available 24/5. Over 15 phone lines are available for clients from different countries to get support. Other channels are instant web chat, email and Ask iBot FAQs.
Interactive Brokers are on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.
Interactive Brokers Review: Deposit & Withdrawal
IB does not accept third party transfers, money orders, cash or post-dated checks.
- Check: IBKR accepts checks drawn on a US bank and in USD. The check must be made payable to IB LLC or IB HK.
- Bank Transfer: This is the major payment option accepted by IBKR. The only problem with this method is that is takes about 3-5 working days before the broker receives the funds.
Interactive Brokers Review: Account Opening
In order to trade with Interactive Brokers, visit the correct website for your country. Click on ‘Open Account’ which is at the top right hand side of the website. Choose the account type and fill the form that displays.
Click ‘save and continue’. You will be asked to verify your email to continue the registration. After email verifications, there will be another form with more questions on personal information, addresses, tax info, source of wealth, security questions, etc. After completing all forms, you will receive an email confirming your successful registration. From then on you are able to make a deposit into your IBKR brokerage account and commence live trading.
Interactive Brokers Review: Conclusion
Interactive Brokers has one of the largest electronic trading platforms in the United States. The broker states that its mission is to make investing easy and transparent while saving you time and money. In the last 40 years, the broker has grown to a global, multi asset and a well known online brokerage firm.
It is regulated in several countries where it has an operational office and abides by the rules of these strict regulators. Investors’ funds have some protection and the operational environment is digitally safe. With the IB SmartRouting technology, traders are offered the best available pricing and best possible execution speeds. There are thousands of markets to trade on the several platforms.
Interactive Brokers flagship Trader Workstation (TWS) is a sophisticated platform designed for professionals. Its myriad of tools and features are inexhaustible.
The number of third party news and analysis providers will surely inundate any trader. For New traders, a comprehensive trader academy is provided. The training courses and videos are sufficient to give beginner traders satisfactory knowledge to commence trading.
However, the payment options available are very limited compared to other brokers. Interactive Brokers could benefit from including some modern electronic payment methods like PayPal, Skrill, Neteller, etc. Their commission fees are also not the cheapest.
The risk of loss in online trading of stocks, options, futures, forex, foreign equities, and fixed income can be substantial.