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Retail brokers overloaded, change brokers?

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I wanted to start a new topic on recent problems with major retail brokers.  With the recent dropping of commissions and subsequent massive influx of new retail traders (for many reasons), the major retail brokers have all run into slow downs, outages, backlogs and other failures.  I've been aware for sometime that my fills on both TOS and IB have had intermittent problems.  The recent thinkorswim outage was a real pain to me and I didn't get hurt by it, just massively inconvenienced, no doubt others were hit in the pocket book.  I'm a big fan of TOS, mainly because I've been on their system for a long time, their rates aren't the greatest but they don't have any other fees.  The problem I see is that there is no end in sight for these brokers to be overloaded.  Little or no commissions, zero or very little account size, and massive new resources needed on their part to solve the problem.


I don't have a problem with a minimum account size and I would even be willing to pay a little more in fees or even a monthly tithe for a platform to get better fills and steadier service.  I'm starting the broker search now, I'm not looking forward to any of this, I was happy with what I had but I don't think I have that any more.  I'll post my efforts here if anybody is interested and would appreciate feedback from others as well.

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I didn't notice any issues with IB. IB has a different set of problems (terrible customer service, buggy algorithm, very unfriendly handling of margin calls etc.) but I never experienced any issues with platform stability or fills. In fact, I still remember that IB was probably the only platform that was fully functional during the flash crash in 2011.

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I can't speak about how it was 3 years ago but I haven't had any issues with TastyWorks in this time, their platform is fast enough and has been all this time, including the days that the market sold of in early march this year. I also use TOS for analysis and other investment strategies but it is horribly slow at last in my Operating System since I don't use windows a don't know if its any better in that operating system.

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Just now, Patricio said:

I can't speak about how it was before 3 years ago but I haven't had any issues with TastyWorks in this time, their platform is fast enough and has been all this time, including the days that the market sold of in early march this year. I also use TOS for analysis and other investment strategies but it is horribly slow at last in my Operating System since I don't use windows a don't know if its any better in that operating system.


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@Kim I used to get better fills at IB, it is hard to describe.  I used them for years because the TOS commission was too high.  I kept an account with TOS to have access to the platform but just did some buy and hold in the small IRA I had at TOS, everything else went through IB.  I'm just lumping them in because of some poor fills, a little sluggishness and that they have pretty much joined the ranks of mass retail broker.  Lower account requirements, on and on.  They may not be under the gun like TOS, but I don't want to go to another retail broker just to have the same problem.  But I am not by any stretch of the imagination a professional.  So I'm really unsure what to do but gather information and search.

Edited by Ringandpinion

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I'm really trying to get away from the low to no minimum retail brokers.  I think that the influx of new retail traders is what is hurting them.  I can continue to use the pretty lights and sounds of TOS or go to ONE or some other platform for analysis.


@Patricio I tried to run TOS on my Linux machine, the problem is with the Java platform and the way Linux uses the graphics card.  I got it to work okay after a while but when running both IB and TOS on Linux it was still slow because they are both Java.  Not really pertinent to my topic, but I feel your pain.

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I posted this elsewhere earlier, but it's my view that if things do get worse, they will do so across the board. The thing to look out for, then, would be which broker is in a better position to marshal enough resources to fixing the problem. TDA has money and personnel to throw at the problem, and they would do so eagerly just to prevent customers from jumping ship.

We know that TDA has had trouble, now and in the past. We also know they fixed the problem in relatively short order. We have no idea how the newer kids on the block will fare under similar stress.

So I would probably open an account with another broker as suggested, and keep it "wet" to get a feel for how they perform. Over time I would then increase funding a the new place, maybe at the expense of the incumbent broker, or not. (I did that with Tradier recently, and also have active but unused accounts at Tastyworks and ETrade.)

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@Ringandpinion  I used TastyWorks through the March volume/volatility madness and they didn’t have any of the issues I’m hearing about on ToS.  The platform is option trader centric with an intuitive interface and specialized features to make option trading easier.  Their fees are a little above average after tacking on the exchange fees, but not compared to the days of $5 or $10 commission per trade + per contract fees.  Their web app is almost as feature rich as their desktop app.  Their mobile app is good, but ToS mobile is still a lot better IMO.  Their customer service and option order execution is good too.  It’s the platform you’re seeing in a lot of @TrustyJules screenshots, so maybe it could add some color to why he uses them vs others.


I recently started using StreetSmart Edge (SSE) by Schwab and I like it.  Their Walk Limit order has been a very useful feature to me.  I wasn’t using them yet in March, but I didn’t read about any severe issues like ToS and Robinhood had when I researched SSE.  Their web app is also almost as feature rich as their desktop app.  However, their mobile app isn’t nearly as good as ToS mobile though.  I think their customer service and option order execution may be the best from what I’ve experienced and researched so far.  A great promo their offering is 500 free trades up to 20 contracts each if you move $100k to Schwab.  It would be a lot of big trades, but that’s up to $6,500 savings for trying them.  Lastly, of the more retail customer oriented brokers,

Edited by QuickNick
P.S. TastyWorks was created by the guys that created ToS back in the day.

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@rasar @Ringandpinion  I forgot about E*Trade!  They could be the best solution for RingandPinion if he needs the platform that will work best with Linux.  I think that would have to be the Power E*Trade platform because it’s web based.  Worth a shot  


They’re also actually better long-term broker diversification, regarding platform glitch risks, given that the best of ToS and SSE are said to be merged within a couple years or so.

Lastly, to Rasar’s good point regarding resources, Etrade was recently acquired by Morgan Stanley, so that box is checked too. 


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