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I use Interactive Brokers as my primary broker because of their price and offering but also because they consistently improve and add new features. They put the Japanese companies to shame when it comes to kaizen.
Usually they follow the requests made by their clients - I’ve been with them long enough to remember a time they grudgingly gave in to demands for trailing stop losses because Thomas Peterffy believed they weren’t good for the health of markets (I am not kidding!!). But they also innovate and surprise their fans with new features.
They recently announced a raft of new features, products and markets. If you are a serious trader and looking for a broker, check them out.
Here are the recent additions:
New Products & Markets
- US Treasury Bonds and Notes
- Vanguard No-load Mutual Funds
- Mexican stocks, futures, and options
- Spanish stocks
The first two are huge news because as far as I can remember, we’ve been pestering IB for it. The even better news is that fixed income will be expanded soon to include T-Bills and that other mutual fund families will be added as well. IB was at one time proud that they stuck to just derivatives and equity markets. Finally, they are branching out to other financial products.
The expansion to Mexico and Spain are also welcomed. Especially since I have familiarity and interest in the Spanish equity market. IB has offered Spanish derivatives for some time but now the lineup is complete.
IB Block Desk
The biggest news is this! Interactive Brokers is opening up their institution block desk to retail customers. Now if your orders are big enough (100+ contracts), you can call them up and get a tighter spread or more liquidity than electronic markets. The desk also offers you access to the Spoos (the S&P 500 open outcry market or pit), OEX, NDX (and their options).
Answering calls will be experienced, knowledgeable traders who can tackle anything you throw at them, including complex derivative trades. But this is a very surprising development since Interactive Brokers has adamantly refused to do anything but push deeper into electronic markets through sophisticated trade matching computer algorithms.
IB Risk Navigator
This is a relatively new built in quantitative tool that will monitor and manage your risk exposure across countries, markets, currencies and securities. Think of it as your very own risk manager. IB has added a few extra capabilities to it but unless you trade a gamut of securities spanning markets or dabble in options heavily, then you probably don’t need it. In case you’re interested, IB is offering two Webinars to explain it in more detail: March 26th and April 23rd.
Trader Work Station
The TWS is the trading platform from IB and most people fall into two camps: they either love its simplicity or hate its clunky look (and Java-ness). In any case, IB isn’t going to chuck it any time soon so if you’re thinking of opening an account with IB this may be the only deal breaker. You can always use their web based interface but it has very limited functionality compared to the TWS. IB has finally tried to mollify its critics by adding skinning, so you can customize the look of the TWS.
I can’t help but think that a lot of these uncharacteristic new features and markets are a result of Interactive Brokers becoming a public entity last year.
If you’re shopping for a broker, click to see last year’s best broker ratings from Barron’s.
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