Online broker for dial-up???

Discussion in 'Retail Brokers' started by riserburn, Jan 14, 2006.

  1. Hi All,

    As you might have noticed, I am a newbie here. I have a ton of questions and would like to thank anyone in advance for taking the time to read through this lengthy post and answer any of my numerous questions. While trying to provide as much personal background and descriptions of my dilemma and keeping as brief but informative as possible, it seems to have ballooned like a fruit salad. I didn't intend to be long-winded but, as it turns out, I kept coming up with more and more questions; so here goes:

    Since August of last year, my job requires me to travel a lot. Therefore, it makes little sense to have anything more than a dial-up ISP thats fairly portable. I have tried the so-called “high-speed dial-up” products du jour that are out there and I have found the term to be just as big a misnomer as military intelligence and turbo diesel. However, I may just be spoiled by cable. Although downloading is cumbersome and annoying, I have grown accustomed to dial-up and found that my ISP is pretty darn reliable and, aside from the obvious, have no big complaints. If there is someone here that knows of a better option that I'm not aware of; I would appreciate any constructive suggestions. Please keep in mind my trading requirements as I explain in a little more detail.

    I have been trading equities for 3 years now with a Scottrade account. Yes, I know, their commissions suck, among other issues, but their fills are actually quite timely with little slippage and they have suited my purposes as a novice. I make 8 to 30 trades a month and hold my positions for 2 to 20 days. I only trade long so I have no need for a margin account; yet. I don't feel comfortable dealing with the issues that go along with trading equities short; especially on my schedule.

    I am presently learning and paper trading futures; which puts me much more at ease about taking short positions (certainly not that its easier, this is definitely not the case – well I'm sure you guys know what I mean). Which leads me to the question of an online broker that also provides services for futures? Is it realistic to look for an online brokerage service that can meet my needs with my limited connection speed trading equities and also provides coverage in commodities? It would be nice to get a feel for the futures market while I further my self-education and continue trading equities at the same time. While I find index futures fascinating, agricultural and energy contracts, at this point, seem to be more appealing to me. Would it be possible to find a brokerage that would cover the NY as well as Chicago exchanges?

    Since, I can no longer trade actively during market hours (my work hours have changed along with the traveling requirement), I have adjusted my trading strategies to heavily depend upon trailing stops, stops and limit orders. Scottrade has a $0.15 min stop order rule. Is this rule common among most brokers? Is there a broker that can guarantee tighter stop and limit order execution? I suppose I could continue to adjust my strategy to accommodate this rule, but it would be nice to use much tighter stops when I want to and I would still like to explore any other options.

    Another nagging problem that I am having with Scottrade is their speed in clearing my funds from a closed position(s), and making it available for my next trade. I have had to wait as long as 2 days before. It doesn't happen a lot, but it happens frequently enough to be annoying. Is this the norm for most brokerages? Is less than 24 hours to much too expect?

    What broker has a reliable online platform/package that would be suitable for dial-up?

    What broker has reasonable commissions for stop and limit orders?

    What broker has courteous and profession customer service with help if those dreaded dial-up ISP and traveling issues arise and I need to place a phone order? I have neither the patience or time for rudeness and ineptitude.

    What broker has reasonable maintenance fees for all this? Thats one of the few things I have enjoyed with Scottrade is no maintenance fees or worries about having to make a minimum number of monthly trades, but I don't mind parting with it if all the above criteria is met. Real-time data for the days and hours that I'm not working would be very nice, but, obviously, its not a primary concern since I have to adjust to trading on EoD data the majority of the time anyways.

    I also have other issues about getting set up with research and other support software that isn't too cumbersome on dial-up, but all those details are probably better suited for the software forum. However, if any of you foresee any stumblings or roadblocks that I should avoid, especially based on personal experiences that you might have, additional input in that area of concern would be much appreciated as well.

    I realize that all this is a pretty tall order and I certainly don't expect a perfect fit in a brokerage service for my situation. However, a best possible fit with as few frustrations as possible would certainly be better than what I have now. I would like to keep my monthly expenditures to a minimum (excluding commissions, of course). I don't feel that less than $100.00 monthly is too much to ask for; or is it?

    I would like to thank anyone in advance for any valuable and constructive guidance, as well as having the patience to read this far.
  2. NO (Just wanted to get that one out of the way)

    Have a look at Leave ST as soon as you can! (I do not work for them) You can try out their DEMO, and their site has plenty of information about the services they provide. They have a good platform, dirt cheap, and allow you to trade many markets.

    You might want to switch to broadband. Have you ever thought of trading forex? 24/7 market...

    If you have any other questions, feel free to ask.
  3. Lucrum


    I travel myself and it's actually gotten to the point I almost never get stuck in a hotel here in the US without broadband. I specifically look and ask for it when booking rooms.
    Try and
    This is only one of your issues/questions but it may help keep you off the dial-up to start with.
  4. I spend at least 1-3 months at any one location and they can be quite remote (Alaska, North Dakota, West Texas). The company or client sets me up in a furnished apartment at their expense. The only thing that I can be guaranteed is access to a phone jack.

    A creative solution to get broadband would very nice. I just don't know of any:(

    I have heard numerous horror stories about the customer service at IB. While I like the reviews and love what I've seen about the available services and fees, I'm not sure they would have the patience to deal with my needs considering the circumstances. I certainly don't want to open an account, get pissed off, and have to close it out again because of customer service issues.
  5. I have looked at Forex and it just doesn't appeal to me. Besides, would I not still run into the same net connect issues there as well?
  6. When I visit my brother, I'm stuck on dialup. I've found that both IB and Schwab (StreetSmartPro) work fine on dialup as far as looking at real-time quotes in your watchlists and placing orders. Backfilled charts will be a bit sluggish, but when my connection has a bandwidth of a bit over 4000 bytes/second I'm not surprised. I imagine most other brokers' platforms will work as well, if you avoid the bandwidth-intensive portions.

    If you're going to be stuck with a single phone line, that is, you can't be online and talking to someone simultaneously, you may want to check out whether the brokers offer online real-time assistance. Well, you can also phone them using Voice-over-IP, but I don't know how much bandwidth that will take up.
  7. Thanks loufah,

    I was hoping that at least one person with some experience at using a dial-up connection would be able to provide some sort of insight. Is there a platform that you know of that has the capability of being disabled manually for those portions that I would not need to conserve bandwidth? Based on my original post, I obviously do not daytrade or scalp, so a lot of the functions in most platforms I would not even use.

    You, like a lot of traders here, use IB. I have read over their site and posts on this forum extensively. I see a lot of complaints posted regarding their poor customer service when it comes to phone contact. This is my primary reason for shying away from them considering my level of service requirements. I wouldn't even use a lot of what their platform offers, so I certainly don't need it to tax my already slow connection. I don't need my hand held, but I would expect someone to promptly answer the phone, politely take a brief phone order and execute it promptly. Do I really have reason for concern with IB in this regard?

    Of course, my primary concern is the services provided by the broker that I feel should have little to do with my connection, or even trading online for that matter. As a matter of fact, I'm dealing with one recurring issue at this very moment.

    The speed with which Scottrade settles funds on closed positions and makes those funds available for the next trade is unacceptable, IMO. I sold 1000 shares of stock last Thursday and those funds were still marked as “unsettled” this morning when I logged in. While they would still allow me to open a new position with those funds this morning, I am not allowed to close this position until the settlement for the previous sale last week has cleared. Therefore, I can't place a stop on any new orders using these funds, because if that stop is triggered, then I am violating the terms of cash settlement on a previous sale that hasn't cleared. Basicly, I can't use a stop like I know I should. Thus, I have to decide if I want to risk it and open a new position without any protective stops or simply not trade today. Meanwhile, I am left watching a stock that I have researched for weeks continuing to trend up on above average volume by 11 am.

    Even when I can use stop orders, their policies (refer to original post) absolutely stink. Like I said before, I can't always actively trade during market hours, so I have to heavily rely on trailing stops. Those rules also make me nervous as well. Since I am unsure of any legal issues about posting brokers' disclaimers, I will only quote the parts that concern me the most:

    “Our trailing stop service is provided "as is" and there may be delays, omissions or inaccuracies in the service.”

    “Scottrade is not responsible for trailing stop orders affected by system failures nor for trailing stop orders affected by quote data issues. Trailing stop orders face risk from data transmission errors, including errors involving quote data. In the event of misquotes (e.g. a bad tick) or failure to receive a quote, orders may be erroneously delivered, or may fail to be delivered to the market center.”

    Yikes! Anyone thats ever had a Scottrade account can tell you what their data feeds are like. Hell, it sucked when I was on a cable connection.

    “Scottrade, agents, and information providers, cannot, and do not, guarantee the accuracy, sequence, completeness, timeliness, merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose of this service. “

    “Neither Scottrade nor any of its agents and information providers, shall be liable to you or to anyone else for any loss caused in whole or in part by its negligence or omission in entering or not entering orders or interpreting, reporting, or delivering any information or data through this service. “

    “This includes your waiver for any consequential, special or similar damages, including but not limited to lost profits, trading losses, damages resulting from inconvenience, or loss of use of the service. “

    “This service may be discontinued or limited at any time and without prior notice.”

    They make their trailing stop sound like its strictly optional as a service, thus, noone should really depend on it. As you can see, I am badly in need of a change.

    Would some other folks here also be kind enough to offer some insight if you have experience with trading on dial-up?
  8. I'm in the process of opening my third account with IB, and all of the customer service contact I've had with them to date has been outstanding.

    For example, I transferred my IRA account from Etrade to IB via ACATS last year. Etrade was charging an IRA withdrawal fee as the funds were leaving, resulting in the transaction getting derailed because the expected funds value did not match the actual value (i.e., expected - fee = actual). After I received a detailed explanation from IB as to why the problem was occurring (it was on Etrade's end), I called Etrade to explain the dilemma. They were courteous, but completely clueless. I called IB again and asked to talk to the same person who had helped me previously. He was kind enough to stay on the line with me while I conferenced in an Etrade customer service supervisor, and then he explained in broker-speak what Etrade needed to do in order to make the transaction go through. In all he spent a half an hour on the phone with me, part of which was past his normal departure time for the day, and the transaction subsequently went through without a problem.

    I'm not the biggest fan of TWS (it's a resource hog, but the latest versions have been relatively stable) and the charting effort is a complete waste of resources, but IB's commissions, execution, system availability, and global market access are great. I'm sure you'll find many other customers with equally satisfying experiences. Many (but not all) of the IB complainers I've heard on ET are people who either communicate their problems poorly or don't take the time to read and understand published policies/procedures. Be sure to look at the content of the negative feedback you've seen rather than simply the quantity.

    Good luck with your decision.

  9. Thank you JangoFolly for reminding me that any set of particular complaints are mostly a referrence of personal experience and needs (mine included). Your experience about the IRA account and subsequent customer service from IB was very enlightening and encouraging for me as I continue my search. Thank you for that as well.

    You did say that you are not a fan of TWS because it is a resource hog; now that does concern me considering my predicament. Questions:

    Can portions of this platform be manually disabled to conserve bandwidth? Like I said, I don't daytrade so I don't need stuff like Level II, real-time charting, etc.

    There are other platforms that can be used for IB services I noticed. Are any of those customizable to trim bandwidth usage?

    Anyone using IB that can take a moment of look to see if any of the above is possible?

    I'd appreciate it.
  10. My opinion (and it is just that, I don't have any facts to back it up) is that TWS is hoggy with respect to system resources, not bandwidth. While I am luke warm on TWS in general, BookTrader is great.

    If you don't need market depth and time and sales, then the web trader would most likely work well, and it certainly doesn't need much bandwidth. I've only used it a couple of times myself, but it worked very well. IB folks frequent the board, so I'm sure they can address your question above about potentially curtailing the bandwidth needs of the stand-alone TWS.
    #10     Jan 17, 2006