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2. Broker for Beginner

Fidelity

Fidelity is a value-driven online broker offering $0 stock trades, industry-leading research, excellent trading tools, an easy-to-use mobile app, and comprehensive retirement services. Serving over 30 million customers, Fidelity is a winner for everyday investors.

Top Takeaways for 2020

After spending five months testing 15 of the best online brokers for our 10th Annual Review, here are our top findings on Fidelity Investments:

  • Fidelity delivers value across its entire client experience. The Fidelity website and mobile app both breezed through our rigorous usability assessments, resulting in a perfect five-star rating for Ease of Use. Furthermore, thanks to a plethora of educational resources, Fidelity is a winner for Beginners.
  • Whether viewing stock, ETF, and mutual fund quotes or running through a screener to find investment ideas, Fidelity takes our top recommendation for Research. Investors with IRA accounts with also be left impressed.
  • Not built for just everyday investors, Fidelity finished Best in Class (top 5) for active trading thanks to its desktop trading platform, Active Trader Pro. However, Fidelity did place just outside of our top five for options trading.

Overall Summary

Rank: 2nd (of 16)

FeatureFidelity
Overall5 Stars
Commissions & Fees4.5 Stars
Offering of Investments4.5 Stars
Platforms & Tools4.5 Stars
Research5 Stars
Education5 Stars
Mobile Trading5 Stars
Customer Service4.5 Stars
Ease of Use5 Stars

Commissions & Fees

Rank: 2nd (of 16)

After factoring in order execution quality, where Fidelity reigns supreme, Fidelity’s $0 stock and ETF trades consistently yield additional value for customers. Also offered are fractional shares, and there are no additional charges for trading penny stocks.

No PFOF: Rare in the industry, Fidelity does not accept payment for order flow (PFOF), which results in cost savings for customers when placing stock trades. In fact, alongside Charles Schwab, Fidelity is the only broker to show customers the price improvement received on eligible orders.

Cash Management: Fidelity automatically sweeps any free cash in your portfolio into higher-yielding assets. Bottom line, instead of earning .01% interest on free cash with TD Ameritrade and E*TRADE, or .12% interest on free cash with Charles Schwab, Fidelity earns customers 1.58% interest as of October 10th, 2019. The actual yield varies depending on current interest rates.

Fidelity pricing summary:

FeatureFidelity
Minimum Deposit$0.00
Stock Trade Fee (per trade)$0.00
ETF Trade Fee$0.00
Options Base Fee$0.00
Options Per Contract Fee$0.65
Mutual Fund Trade Fee$49.95
Broker Assisted Trades Fee$32.95
Commission-Free ETFsall

Research

Rank: 1st (of 16)

Fidelity’s shining star is research. The entire website experience is meticulously laid out, clients can access portfolio updates via Google Assistant, and the broker provides terrific in-house market commentary.

Screening for trade ideas: Fidelity’s stock, ETF, and mutual fund screeners are easy to use, rich in data, and set the benchmark for the industry. Thematic investing, ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) data, Morningstar ratings, the list of unique features goes on and on.

Stock research: When pulling quotes, Fidelity provides 16 third-party research reports for stocks and five for ETFs, the largest of any broker. Is that information overload? Perhaps. But it illustrates how thorough Fidelity is when it comes to research. However, surprisingly, no third-party research reports are offered for mutual funds.

Market commentary: Fidelity’s leadership in research also extends to market commentary with Fidelity Viewpoints. Only Schwab, with its Insights articles, can go toe to toe with Fidelity’s market analysis. As a regular reader myself, my favorite Viewpoint article is the annual sector outlook report, which highlights key trends to watch and includes detailed sector analysis.

Gallery

Fidelity website watch list
Fidelity account stock quote
Fidelity account mutual fund quote page
Fidelity account research similar funds comparison
Fidelity stock screener
Fidelity stock chart
Fidelity option chain

Platforms & Tools

Rank: 5th (of 16)

Fidelity’s website provides everything an everyday investor needs to manage a portfolio. For active traders, Active Trader Pro is Fidelity’s flagship desktop platform, which is loaded with trading tools.

Website watch lists: Fidelity’s website watch list tool is my personal favorite among all the brokers I’ve tested in our annual review. Streaming quotes are included as well as 48 total columns of data to choose from. Furthermore, the workflow is seamless, making it a breeze to transition into equity research or into the docked order ticket to place a trade.

Charting: In Active Trader Pro, charting is cleanly laid out and includes 22 different drawing tools, 166 optional studies, custom user profiles, chart trading, alerts, notes, and more. Recognia is also incorporated to automate the identification of common technical patterns.

Active Trading Features: Active Trader Pro includes several unique, in-house brewed tools, including Real-Time Analytics (streaming trade signals) and Trade Armor (real-time position analysis). Options trading with Active Trader Pro is also impressive and includes a variety of analysis tools. Overall, Fidelity competes among the best brokers for day trading.

Gallery

Fidelity Active Trader Pro platform
Fidelity Active Trader Pro dashboard
Fidelity Active Trader Pro real time analytics
Fidelity Active Trader Pro stock chart
Fidelity Active Trader Pro watch list
Fidelity Trade Armor
Fidelity Active Trader Pro option statistics
Fidelity Active Trader Pro Option Builder

Customer Service

To score Customer Service, StockBrokers.com partners with customer experience research group Confero to conduct phone tests from locations throughout the United States. For our 2020 Broker Review, 280 customer service tests were conducted over ten weeks.

Results

  • Average Connection Time: 1 – 2 minutes
  • Average Net Promoter Score: 9.1 / 10
  • Average Professionalism Score: 8.9 / 10
  • Overall Score: 8.90 / 10
  • Ranking: 4 th (14 brokers)

Mobile Trading

Fidelity’s mobile experience is cleanly designed, bug-free, and delivers a phenomenal experience for investors. While active traders may be left wanting more, for the majority, Fidelity delivers, winning our award, No. 1 Investor App, in 2020.

Customizable dashboard: Upon logging in, a unique, customizable dashboard experience, displayed as a personalized feed, greets you. In your personalized feed, market cards float on top of varying scenery images that rotate after each login, creating an experience found nowhere else. Cards cover everything, from market news to portfolio and watch list insights. As far as customizable dashboards go, Fidelity’s is my favorite.

Other unique features: Research is robust and exactly what one would expect to find after using the website. Among many other highlights of the mobile app is the note-taking functionality, which allows you to log personal thoughts on individual stocks and the broader markets.

Mobile app drawbacks: While Fidelity thrives in its offering of research on mobile, it struggles in the active trader department. For example, charting is clean and includes after-hours charts, which is nice; however, only seven indicators are available – well below the industry average of over 30. The app experience is also built primarily around investors. To better serve active traders, Fidelity should consider a separate dedicated app, a strategy employed by both TD Ameritrade and E*TRADE.

Gallery

Fidelity mobile account dashboard
Fidelity mobile watch list
Fidelity mobile markets overview
Fidelity mobile customer activity
Fidelity mobile screener ETFs
Fidelity mobile stock chart

Offering of Investments

Rank: 4th (of 16)

Fidelity provides all the benefits of what an investor would expect of a full-service brokerage, including the entire spectrum of investment services, from stock trading to retirement guidance.

While futures and forex trading are not offered, international trading is, which enables customers to trade in 25 countries and exchange between 16 currencies. In the international trading department, only Interactive Brokers, which is built for professionals, offers more global access.

Education

Looking at Fidelity’s educational offering as a whole, there’s something for everyone. Fidelity does a great job of organizing content into roadmaps with progress tracking, as well as sorting by experience level, category, and content type. Articles, videos, webinars, infographics, and courses are available to customers.

Retirement education: Fidelity really stands out with its retirement education. Over the years, I have compiled an entire folder of bookmarked Fidelity Viewpoint articles on money-related topics. Fidelity also offers a variety of in-house tools to provide you with a proper diagnosis of your financial position. The primary tool lineup, which all offer unique insights, includes Financial Checkup, Retirement Score, Income Strategy Evaluator, and Guided Portfolio Summary.

Gallery

Fidelity retirement calculator
Fidelity education course
Fidelity financial snapshot

Banking

When it comes to banking services, Fidelity truly embraces no-fee banking, offering 197 retail service centers and delivering a reliable experience. The Fidelity Rewards Visa Signature credit card offers 2% cashback on all purchases, with rewards deposited directly into any of your Fidelity accounts. That said, Fidelity offers no loyalty rewards for using multiple products, which is an area in which Bank of America Merrill Edge reigns supreme.

Final Thoughts

Having reviewed Fidelity Investments for the past ten years as a client myself, what impresses me most is the drive to provide the best possible customer experience year after year.

Overall, Fidelity delivers value for investors. While Fidelity shines across the board, the backbone of Fidelity’s success, research and retirement, will undoubtedly continue to be front and center for years to come.

About Fidelity

Headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts, Fidelity was founded in 1946 is one of the largest asset managers in the world (1). As of July 2019, Fidelity is home to over 30 million individual customers and $6.7 trillion in total customer assets

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