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Before you post on this board asking for advice on selecting a broker, it's important to consider what type of trader you are and what services you are looking for. Are you an infrequent trader? Day trader? Do you want to write checks from your brokerage account? Remember that there is no single best broker for everybody. The question you want to answer is, “Who is the best broker for me?” If you post a message asking for help in finding a broker, it's important to give some details regarding what kind of trader you are (or will be), and what services are important to you.

This post is broken down in to four parts:
---TRADING INFORMATION (Wash Sales, Capital Gains, Order Types, International Investing)


If you are new to investing your first step is to make sure you need a broker. The Fool suggests you only invest money you won't need for the next five years. Have you paid off all your high interest debt?
Why do I need a broker?

Your next step is to determine how you want to invest. One of the biggest frustrations of new investors is the amount of money they end up paying in fees and commissions. Typically you will pay a commission each time you buy or sell a stock or mutual fund. But you also may be charged a fee simply because you have an account with a firm. When you don't have a lot to invest you may end up paying more in fees and commissions than you make in the market.

If you only have a small amount of money you may want to read this article:
Where to Stash Your Cash

Are you interested in buying only Mutual Funds or Index Funds (like for the S&P 500)? Maybe it would make sense to buy the funds directly from a mutual fund provider rather than a broker:
No-Load Index Funds Chart
Mutual Funds Area (great links, read “Grand Overview”)
Morningstar (web site – rates funds)
Mutual Funds discussion board
Index Funds - FAQ (post & discussion board)

If you are sure you want to buy stocks, are there just a few companies that you are interesting in and are you going to be LTBH (Long Time Buy and Hold)? Have you considered DRIPs (Dividend Reinvestment Plans)?
What if I can only invest small amounts of money every month?
Investing Through DRIPs
The MoneyPaper, Inc.
Drip Investing - The Basics (discussion board)
Drip Investing – Companies - FAQ (post & discussion board)

Okay, so now we know you have the money to invest and you are interested in buying stocks, mutual funds, or bonds from a broker. Maybe you want to get your feet wet by setting up a mock portfolio:
FAQ: My Portfolio FAQ (post & discussion board)

When you are evaluating a broker here are some typical questions to consider:
· Does the broker have a minimum to open an account?
· What is the commission schedule?
· Are there other fees associated with an account? (or if you close account)
· Does the broker have a method to make regular purchases at low cost?
· Is there phone/email support? Is it 24-hour support?
· Does the broker have a local office? Is that important to you?
· Does the broker have all the investment vehicles you are looking for?
· Does the broker provide research tools? Is that important to you?

What's involved with opening an account?

60-SECOND GUIDE TO ...Opening an IRA
IRS - Publication 590 - Individual Retirement Arrangements (IRAs)

Below are some resources to help you evaluate brokers.

EXPERIENCED INVESTOR and additional resources.

If you are an experienced investor you probably just want to know how people on this board feel about a particular broker. You may want to try the search function on this board. In the upper center of the screen is a field labeled “Search:”, type in the name of the broker you are considering and click on Go. You can search six months of this board, all the boards, Fool articles, or the whole Fool site.

You also may want to check out the following pages and sites (verify all facts by contacting the broker and take all opinions with a grain of salt):

Discount Broker Center.

Broker rankings
Rates brokers, banks, credit cards…
Broker rankings
Broker rankings

Broker rankings

Broker rankings
List of broker resources

NASD Regulation, Inc.
“NASD Regulation, Inc. is the independent subsidiary of the National Association of Securities Dealers, Inc. charged with regulating the securities industry and The Nasdaq Stock Market®.”
“The NASD RegulationSM Public Disclosure Program is intended to help investors determine whether they wish to do business with an individual broker or securities firm. The Public Disclosure Program provides an effective mechanism for investors to obtain information about NASD® member firms and their associated persons.”

SEC - Online Publications for Investors
“Here are education materials on how the securities industry works, how you can avoid costly mistakes and fraud, and how to plan for a secure future.”

Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SPIC)
“The Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC) protects customers of broker-dealers registered with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission, thereby promoting confidence in United States securities markets. The protection is against losses caused by the financial failure of the broker-dealer, but not against a change in the market value of securities in customers' accounts at the broker-dealer.”

Internal Revenue Service (IRS)
There is a search function on this page.


SEC - Transferring Your Brokerage Account:
Tips on Avoiding Delays

Transfer or Roll Over Your 401(k)?

Fool FAQ - Opening a Brokerage Account/Broker Problems

The NASD Regulation Complaint Program


Wash Sales
Selling stock at a loss and buying within 30 days.

Netting Out Capital Gains and Losses on Schedule D
IRS - Publication 550 - Investment Income and Expenses
(Including Capital Gains and Losses)

Orders, Types of - Fool FAQ (examples Limit, Market)

International Investing - Fool FAQ
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