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No. of Recommendations: 2
Who is the best bond broker?

That depends, of course, on what features and services are important to you. If ‘customer service’ is what matters most, then Zions Direct is clearly the best. The person who answers the phone is typically the person who will answer your questions and take care of your problems. That has been my experience for the past ten years, not that I call often. But when I do call, my questions are always answered.

As far as the other details -- such as to how much inventory they make available, the prices they quote, and the commission they charge -- they do as well or better than their competitors. Plus, they are one of the few bond brokers that make it possible to download into a spreadsheet the output of a bond search engine.

No, I’m not being paid to run a brag on Zions. Just the opposite. I’m pulling money from them, because E*Trade offered me $1,500 to move my IRA to them instead (and I know from inside sources that “special awards” of $1,000 aren’t unusual).

Business is business. So I’m moving the account. But I think Zions deserves kudos, and I’m keeping a margin account with them, just because they are a good bond shop whom I would not hesitate to recommend.

Who might be the worst? That, I'll leave to you to discover. But here's some key questions you should ask:

-How much of the bond market does the broker quote?
-How easy is it to use their search engine?
-How do their commissions compare?
-What research (such as reports from the rating agencies) do they provide?
-How good is their front-desk customer service in terms of phones answered and knowledgeable reps?
-How good is their back-office in terms of handling tenders, re-orgs, and providing tax docs?

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