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Interactive Brokers

Used to have good commissions but with the competition now, all they have now is very poor service

I'm familiar with the "customer is always wrong" attitude of the staff, and it would appear the staff spend more time at excuses training than learning anything about the platform, the procedures or even knowing about different departments within their own company. When a staff member that is ordinarily assigned to a job is away they don't have a replacement, instead customers just have to wait until that staff member returns. If by some miracle a staff member does commit to agreeing to do something for a customer, you can be certain that they have written it down incorrectly, passed on the wrong details, and like chinese whispers, by the time someone actions the request it is far from what the customer needed. Note: many changes require a server reset, thus you won't know they've mucked it up for another day. And don't bother going to all the trouble for explaining a software bug to them when you find one. Even one that you can reliably recreate. They don't want to know - remember that motto "the customer is always wrong". If you haven't picked a broker yet, might I suggest you avoid the smug overbearing salespeople and try Tradestation as a alternative.
You get what you pay for

I've been trading through IB for nearly a year and am quite satisfied with the TWS platform and IB's low fees. The areas where IB is deficient are:

(1) Customer Service. Waiting times can be extremely long;

(2) Statements generation. Statements are very basic.

(3) Confirms. System does not provide real-time e-mail confirms

(4) Audit trail. The system provides an audit trail only if you are logged into TWS. Thus, if one id not logged on, the only way to obtain an audit trail on an execution (e.g., to find out what condition triggered the execution) is to contact customer service. Then you are back at problem area #1.
unreliable platform, poor phone service

I opened an IB account as a backup to my TradeStation account.

I only stayed with them for a month, I found the trading interface unreliable - when the platform let me down and I needed to get through to them on the phone hold times of over an hour were common.

The platform seemed most unreliable during fast markets or major news announcements... whenever the market was doing something interesting IB went down.

Fee's are cheap, and platform access is only $10 a month which is discounted if you do more than that in commissions. Cheap and cheerful, but you get what you pay for in my opinion, and when its my money on the line I want to use a more reliable tool for my trading than IB.

My experience is based on very short term trading, for which the level of reliability was unacceptable. Obviously if you trade longer term then these factors may not be such a big deal for you.
Interactive Brokers

Account opening procedure a bit longwinded as you have to answer a load of questions to ensure you understand that IB aren't liable for anything that could possibly go wrong with your cash! But it can all be done inside a day, and the transfer of funds takes another couple after that.

Good Points :
- Trading software is very flexible, even if a little unfriendly. If you're technically minded, you can write your own front-end and make it look much nicer.
- Commissions are very low indeed.
- Excellent execution times, leading to virtually no slippage.
- Everybody uses them, so you can usually get an answer to any questions, even though their own support people wont be able to help
- Excellent product range, all the major exchanges and instruments are covered.
- Can plug their price feed into Sierra for instant cheap charts.

Not So Good :
- Laughable "support". Forget the helpline and head to their bulletin board!
- It costs to close a position over the phone if things go wrong technically (but you can place auto-stops with orders so that may not be an issue)

Overall, a happy customer :)

Excellent platform, highly customisable, fast executions (1 second), slippage negligable, in fact I often get a better price than the one on the screen. Feeds can be linked to Sierra or Quote-tracker charts.

I've only used the US customer service number once and got a recorded message "you are in a queue at least 10 minutes long". I decided not to bother! In fairness there was an "press * button now for an automatic $30 deduction from your account if you wish to close a position" option which might have been quicker. I used the Swiss number (unavailable during the evening) once when setting up the account and that was OK.
Website help very good.

Setting up the account was a very long process including passing 2 on-line exams! Allow maybe 4+ hours for a 'universal account' with permissions for futures and everything. But maybe all US brokers would take as long, no experience.

Comms of £1.70 a side or less for future trades are highly competitive.

I have been using IB for about 4 months now and I think they are very very good value for money.

Opening an account can seem a bit long winded initally but once you have overcome that the actual dealing service is very good.

The telephone customer support is based in Switzerland and I think they have a much more formal approach to people than we have and it can seem unfriendly but I have found them perfectly helpful.

The TWS platform can be run from the web or as a stand alone (downloadable) interface and it is very easy to use.

Execution is very fast and there is very little slippage (at least on the STOXX).
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