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Low-cost index funds usually charge less in fees than actively-managed funds. [24] They offer more security because they model their investments on established, well respected indexes. For example, an index fund might select a performance benchmark consisting of the stocks inside the S&P 500 index. The fund would purchase most or all of the same assets, allowing it to equal the performance of the index, less fees. This would be considered a relatively safe but not terribly exciting investment. Advocates of active stock picking turn their noses up at such investments. [25] Index funds can actually be very good “starters” for new investors.[26] Buying and holding "no-load," low-expense index funds and using a dollar-cost-averaging strategy has been shown to outperform many more-active mutual funds over the long term. Choose index funds with the lowest expense ratio and annual turnover. For investors with less than $100,000 to invest, index funds are hard to beat when viewed within a long time period. See Decide Whether to Buy Stocks or Mutual Funds for more information whether individual stocks or mutual funds are better for you.
Investing is defined as “the outlay of money usually for income or profit.” The idea behind investing? Put your money to work for you in something you believe will increase in value over time. Investing your money in the stock market may seem like a foreign concept; how do you know which funds to invest in? How does trading actually work? And what the heck is a mutual fund?

Dave:                                    00:36                     All right folks, we’ll welcome to the Investing for Beginners podcast. This is episode ninety-eight. Tonight we’re going to talk about why you shouldn’t be a lone wolf investor. And I’m going to have Andrew kind of take us from there. All Right, Andrew, why don’t you go ahead and chat.


The next best way to buy stock without a broker is to enroll in a stock's dividend reinvestment program or DRIP. Some of the reasons you should consider investing through a DRIP can be found in the linked story, but it would also be helpful to revisit them here so you understand the appeal. DRIPs allow you to take cash dividends paid out by the company you own and plow them back into buying more shares, charging either nominal fees or nothing at all depending upon the specifics of the individual plan.
Before you commit your money, you need to answer the question, what kind of investor am I? When opening a brokerage account, a broker like Charles Schwab or Fidelity will ask you about your investment goals and how much risk you're willing to take on. Some investors want to take an active hand in managing their money's growth, and some prefer to "set it and forget it." More "traditional" online brokers, like the two mentioned above, allow you to invest in stocks, bonds, ETFs, index funds and mutual funds. Investopedia's broker reviews will show you which brokers are best for every investor. Investopedia's The Complete Guide to Choosing an Online Stock Broker will give you step-by-step instructions on how to open and fund an account once you've decided which one is right for you.

With the right approach, stocks are an appropriate investment for people of almost all ages. Generally speaking, the younger you are, the more of your money you should put into stocks, since you have time to ride out the market's ups and downs. As you get older, it's usually a good idea to shift some investments out of stocks and into safer vehicles, like bonds. But even if you're retired or close to retirement, stocks still have a place in your portfolio.
The first and often easiest method of buying stock without a broker is in situations where companies, often blue chips, sponsor a special type of program called a DSPP, or Direct Stock Purchase Plan. These plans were originally conceived generations ago as a way for businesses to let smaller investors buy ownership directly from the company, working through a transfer agent or plan administrator responsible for dealing with the day-to-day paperwork and transactions. Most plans will allow investors to buy stock without a broker if they agree to either have a reasonable amount taken out of their checking or savings account every month for six months (often $50 is the acceptable minimum) or they make a one-time purchase, often $250 or $500.
The vertical ends of this box represent the movement of the stock between where it opened and where it closed. In some representations, upward movement on the day is shown by a green box, while a red box will represent a stock that ended the day lower than it started. If the graphic is black and white, a stock that was pushed up on the day by buyers will have its rectangle unfilled. If selling pressure pushed the stock lower, the same rectangle would be filled in.

One of the problems with investing in individual stocks, however, is that it’s incredibly difficult to know which stocks will perform better than others. Unless you’re Warren Buffet or a similar Wall Street wizard (and, in fact, even they get it wrong much of the time), chances are good that you might as well just throw a dart at the financial section of the newspaper and buy whatever the dart lands on.
If you’re on a tight budget, try to invest just one percent of your salary into the retirement plan available to you at work. The truth is, you probably won’t even miss a contribution that small. You'll also get a tax deduction, which will make the contribution even less painful. Once you're comfortable with a one percent contribution, maybe you can increase it as you get annual raises. You won't likely miss the additional contributions
Where Should You Invest Your Money in Stocks? – Where you invest depends on the goals brought up above. Assuming that you have already determined your goals and your tolerance for risk, look for stocks or stock mutual funds that match your criteria on growth, returns, dividends, etc. In general, stocks with higher rewards such as emerging markets, start-up companies, or technology companies come with higher risk.
The performance data contained herein represents past performance which does not guarantee future results. Investment return and principal value will fluctuate so that shares, when redeemed, may be worth more or less than their original cost. Current performance may be lower or higher than the performance quoted. For performance information current to the most recent month end, please contact us.
It’s like reverse inflation: The hamburger you could buy for $1 when you were a kid would cost you $5 decades later. But you can’t store the $1 burger away for years and sell when it’s worth $5. Instead, you can buy shares in a bunch of companies involved in making that burger — the bun and beef manufacturers, packaging producers, retailers and restaurants (we’ll show you how in a moment) — and reap the rewards of their growth right alongside them.
Beyond that, we evaluated each firm on the services that matter most to different types of investors. For example, for active traders, we note providers offering volume discounts on trade commissions and robust mobile trading platforms. For people venturing into investing for the first time, we call out brokers that provide educational support (such as stock-picking tutorials) and on-call chat or phone support.
Some retirement plans and accounts also have asset protection benefits. For instance, some have unlimited bankruptcy protection, meaning that if you suffer a medical disaster or some other event that wipes out your personal balance sheet and forces you to declare bankruptcy, your retirement savings will be out of the reach of creditors. Others have limitations on the asset protection afforded to them, but still reach into the seven-figures.

You'll have to do your homework to find the minimum deposit requirements and then compare the commissions to other brokers. Chances are you won't be able to cost-effectively buy individual stocks and still be diversified with a small amount of money. Given these restrictions, it's probably worth starting out on your investment journey with mutual funds. However, like all aspects of investing, it's up to you to do the research and figure out the strategy that suits you best.
When people talk about investing in stocks, they usually mean investing in common stock, which is another way to describe business ownership, or business equity. When you own equity in a business, you are entitled to a share of the profit or losses generated by that company's operating activity. On an aggregate basis, equities have historically been the most rewarding asset class for investors seeking to build wealth over time without using large amounts of leverage.
Do not day-trade, swing-trade, or otherwise trade stocks for very short-term profits. Remember, the more frequently you trade, the more commissions you incur, which will reduce any gains you make. Also, short-term gains are taxed more heavily than long-term (more than one-year) gains. The best reason to avoid ultra-short-term trades is that success in that area requires a great deal of skill, knowledge and nerve, to say nothing of luck. It is not for the inexperienced.
It is no coincidence that most wealthy people invest in the stock market. While fortunes can be both made and lost, investing in stocks is one of the best ways to create financial security, independence, and generational wealth. Whether you are just beginning to save or already have a nest egg for retirement, your money should be working as efficiently and diligently for you as you did to earn it. To succeed in this, however, it is important to start with a solid understanding of how stock market investment works. This article will guide you through the process of making investment decisions and put you on the right path to becoming a successful investor. This article discusses investing in stocks specifically. For stock trading, see How to Trade Stocks. For mutual funds, see How to Decide Whether to Buy Stocks or Mutual Funds.
Limit order -- A limit order differs from a market order in that the trade is only completed at a certain price. For example, if you enter an order to buy 10 shares of Nike at $70 each, the order will only go through if the broker can fill at it at a price of $70 per share. Limit orders are a good way to buy and sell stocks that trade less frequently, since there may not be enough willing sellers to fill a market order at a reasonable price. These orders are a good for “set and forget” investing, since you can place a limit order that will remain in effect until a stock reaches the price at which you’d like to buy.
Announcer:                        00:00                     You’re tuned in to the Investing for Beginners podcast. Finally, step by step premium investment guidance for beginners lead by Andrew Sather and Dave Ahern to decode industry jargon, silence crippling confusion and help you overcome emotions by looking at the numbers. Your path to financial freedom starts now.
Learn basic investing terms: Whether you plan to manage your investments on your own or want help from an advisor, stock market news can be mind-boggling. If you’re working with a financial advisor, don’t be afraid to ask questions about how the financial markets and your portfolio are working. If you’re reading up on stock market news, look up terms you come across and commit them to memory.
How you implement these strategies depends on your personal preferences and appetite for risk. Some investors prefer one strategy and concentrate on finding a diverse set of stocks all of which embrace that particular philosophy. Others instead choose to use multiple strategies in their efforts to diversify their portfolios, and that can involve owning several different kinds of stocks. Either method can produce the long-term results you want as long as you're comfortable with the overall investing plan you choose and stick with it.
It’s important to consider transaction costs and fees when choosing your investments. Costs and fees can eat into your returns and reduce your gains. It is vital to know what costs you will be liable for when you purchase, hold, or sell stock. Common transaction costs for stocks include commissions, bid-ask spread, slippage, SEC Section 31 fees [31], and capital gains tax. For funds, costs may include management fees, sales loads, redemption fees, exchange fees, account fees, 12b-1 fees, and operating expenses. [32]
Finding the best stocks to buy and watch starts with knowing what a big market winner looks like before it takes off. As noted above, IBD's study of the top-performing stocks in each market cycle since the 1880s has identified the seven telltale traits of market winners. Your goal is to find stocks that are displaying those same traits right now. Traits like explosive earnings and sales growth, a strong return on equity, a fast-growing and industry-leading product or service and strong demand among mutual fund managers.
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Understand the commodities market. When you invest in something like a stock or a bond, you invest in the business represented by that security. The piece of paper you get is worthless, but what it promises is valuable. A commodity, on the other hand, is something of inherent value, something capable of satisfying a need or desire. Commodities include pork bellies (bacon), coffee beans, oil, natural gas, and potash, among many other items. The commodity itself is valuable, because people want and use it.

Investing is the one place where a “head in the sand” strategy might be the smartest method. Set up auto deposits into your investment accounts each month and only look at your portfolio once every three to six months. This reduces the likelihood of panic selling when the market falls or piling in more money when everything seems like rainbows and butterflies.
Another key metric to look at is return on equity, which measures a company's ability to turn capital into profits. Return on equity is calculated by taking a year's worth of earnings and dividing that figure by the average shareholder equity for that year. If that number is 15%, for instance, then 15 cents worth of assets are generated for every dollar investors put in. Again, you'll want to compare that number to other companies in the industry to see how it stacks up.
Give yourself a few thousand in fake money and play investor for a bit while you get the hang of it. “Just start. Even with just a virtual portfolio. Start and then commit to building over time,” says Jane Barratt, CEO of investment education and advisory company GoldBean. “Don’t expect anything major to happen in a short time — build your money muscles by taking risks in a virtual portfolio.” TD Ameritrade offers paperMoney, its virtual trading platform. If you open an account, OptionsHouse offers its paperTRADE account to test your strategies. Outside of actual trading sites, MarketWatch and Investopedia offer simulators to get you started.
By far and away the biggest question every beginner wants to know the answer to is what stocks are best for investing in? If you’re hoping this is where you find a list of stocks to invest in, then you’re about to be let down! There is no magic list of what stocks to invest in. (And be wary of advice from anyone who says otherwise!) Instead, there are a few things you can look for in stocks and shares that make them worth your money.
How to get going with just $5: If you really want to start small you can use an app like Stash or Acorns. Both allow you to begin investing with just $5. Stash offers you a choice of several funds to invest in. You basically end up owning part of a stock -- similar to sharing your apartment with roommates. Acorns allows you to deposit "spare change" from say, your coffee purchase. When you get to $5, the app invests that money for you into a diversified portfolio (basically, a mix of stocks and bonds).
Here at The Ascent, our passion is providing expert reviews that highlight the things that actually matter when making decisions that affect your personal finances. We've published thousands of articles that have appeared on sites like CNN, MSN, and Yahoo Finance, and sometimes we even get talked into putting on a tie to appear on TV networks like CNBC and Fox. But don't worry: you'll find that our reviews are all jargon-free and written in plain english. As investors who manage our own portfolios through online brokerage firms, we have personal experience with many of the most popular online brokers which informs our view on brokers, how they compare, and pitfalls to look out for.

Roth IRA. "My first and strongly encouraged piece of advice to the new investor would be to open a Roth IRA," McKaig says. "Roth IRAs offer new investors several benefits, chief among them the ability to receive tax-free income later in life," he adds. "The government does not tax either the contributions or the earnings growth when the funds are withdrawn in retirement. That can result in a pretty significant nest egg after decades of compounding growth."
Sell it when the price has recently risen substantially (unless you have good reason to believe it will continue to rise in the immediate future). Do not sell it when the price has recently fallen substantially (unless you have good reason to believe it will continue to fall in the immediate future). Even though this is an emotionally difficult way to buy and sell, it's the best way to make money over the long term.
Do you know what to look for when it comes to stocks, bonds, mutual funds, ETFs, and so on? Do you understand the terminology and how to react to certain trends? Is the company you’re investing in worthwhile, with a dependable financial history and sustainable cash flow? These are just some of the factors you should be researching before you actually put any money on the table.
Investing as soon as possible in a Roth IRA is important. The earlier you begin investing, the more time your investment has to grow. If you invest just $20,000 in a Roth IRA before you're 30 years old and then stop adding any more money to it, by the time you're 72 you'll have a $1,280,000 investment (assuming a 10% rate of return). This example is merely illustrative. Don't stop investing at 30. Keep adding to your account. You will have a very comfortable retirement if you do.

The Balance does not provide tax, investment, or financial services and advice. The information is being presented without consideration of the investment objectives, risk tolerance, or financial circumstances of any specific investor and might not be suitable for all investors. Past performance is not indicative of future results. Investing involves risk including the possible loss of principal.


Benjamin - The price of the stock does not matter. If you invest $10,000 into a stock trading at $5 or a stock trading at $100, your gain will still be the same. A 10% rise in either stock will give you $1,000 in unrealized gains (profits you have not realized because you have yet to sell the stock). So, find the best stock, regardless of its per share price. - Charles Rotblut
One disadvantage of a broker like Betterment is that investing in the account is limited. You buy into either a basket of stock-related ETFs, or a basket of bond ETFs. This is excellent when first starting out, but when you are ready to spread your capital around the investment universe, and particularly into individual stocks, you’ll need to look for a full-service broker to meet your needs.

Finally, the other factor: risk tolerance. The stock market goes up and down, and if you’re prone to panicking when it does the latter, you’re better off investing slightly more conservatively, with a lighter allocation to stocks. Not sure? We have a risk tolerance quiz — and more information about how to make this decision — in our article about what to invest in.
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Common Stocks – When you invest in stock, you acquire an ownership stake in an actual operating business, along with your share of the net earnings and resulting dividends produced by the firm. Although you don't have to invest in stock to get rich, over the past could of centuries, equities (stocks) have been the highest returning asset class and have produced the most wealth. To learn more, read What Is Stock? which will break down the fundamentals.

If you have a more complex financial situation or you’d rather have a dedicated advisor to talk to, a traditional financial advisor may be a better fit. An advisor matching tool like SmartAsset’s can help you find a person to work with to meet your needs. First you’ll answer a series of questions about your situation and goals. Then the program will narrow down your options from thousands of advisors to up to three registered investment advisors who suit your needs. You can then read their profiles to learn more about them, interview them on the phone or in-person and choose who to work with in the future. This allows you to find a good fit while the program does much of the hard work for you.


Dividend reinvestment programs are often coupled with cash investment options that resemble direct stock purchase plans so you can regularly have money withdrawn from your checking or savings account, or send in one-time payments whenever you feel like, perhaps as little as $25, buying more shares of stock in a business as you might purchase something from a mail-order catalog.
Have you ever watched an old movie and seen someone calling their stock broker? While you can still do that, there really isn’t any reason to. With today’s growing popularity of online stock market investing, you get to be your own stock broker. It is surprisingly easy to learn about investing. Now everyone has the ability to start investing in various low-cost investment options like penny stocks and other, online micro investment options. Below, we’re sharing our 5 investing basics – including tips on the best investments for beginners and details on how to start investing with little money.
If you’re considering getting started investing in collectibles, make sure you do a lot of homework and get educated first. This is also an area where there are a lot of investing scams. It’s also important to remember that collectible investment gains are taxed at a much higher rate that other investments – which is your ordinary income tax rate (not the special 20% for capital gains).
Not if you can supply your own financial acumen and practical level-headedness. If you are not clueless about finances, or if you're personally acquainted with someone with considerable financial experience to share with you, there's no need to pay for advice. Having said that, however, the more money you have at risk, the more an advisor is worth hiring.
One of the most dangerous moves an investor can make is to put all of his money into one investment, especially if there is considerable risk involved. Sinking every dollar into your favorite tech company, for example, is risky even if you’re sure that stock will continue to dominate for many years. Part of mastering “Investing 101” is understanding that unexpected occurrences can wipe out years of earnings in a matter of days.
It's crucial to educate yourself before you wade into any type of investment or investment strategy. This beginner's guide to online stock trading will give you a starting point and walk you through several processes: choosing a discount broker, the 12 types of stock trades you can make, how to select individual stocks, uncovering hidden fees, expenses, and commissions, and much more. 
Another key thing to look at is a company's earnings per share, which represents the portion of a company's profit allocated to each share of its common stock. Earnings can cause stock prices to rise, and when they do, investors make money. If a company has high earnings per share, it means it has more money available to either grow the business or distribute as dividends. That said, earnings should always be evaluated in the context of the industry you're dealing with. If you're looking at a company whose earnings per share is $2, but a competing company has earnings per share of $6, that's a potential red flag. That said, this is only one piece of the total puzzle.  
Typically sold as mutual funds or exchange-traded funds, these combine a number of stocks in one fund that is designed to mimic the returns of the Standard & Poor's 500 index, Russell 2000 or another stock market index. Each index tracks a section of the stock market. For instance, the Nasdaq composite tracks technology firms, while the Russell 2000 includes smaller businesses.
Since you will already have significant positions in mutual funds and ETF’s, you can begin investing in stocks one at a time as you work toward building a portfolio. The fund positions should prevent overexposure to a single stock, as long as you make sure that your position in the stock represents only a small minority of your total portfolio (generally 10% or less).
Dave:                                    00:36                     All right folks, we’ll welcome to the Investing for Beginners podcast. This is episode ninety-eight. Tonight we’re going to talk about why you shouldn’t be a lone wolf investor. And I’m going to have Andrew kind of take us from there. All Right, Andrew, why don’t you go ahead and chat.
There are many fees an investor will incur when investing in mutual funds. One of the most important fees to focus on is the management expense ratio (MER), which is charged by the management team each year, based on the amount of assets in the fund. The MER ranges from 0.05 percent to 0.7 percent annually and varies depending on the type of fund. But the higher the MER, the worse it is for the fund's investors.
That's entirely up to you, but it's good to start small. Don't invest more than you can afford to lose. Each brokerage has its own requirements for opening a trading account. TD Ameritrade, for instance, has no minimum deposit requirement at all, so you could get started with just the price of one share of stock. Most discount brokers let you start with very little money. Search "discount brokers" online.
Market order -- This is an order that will be placed immediately at the prevailing market price. Thus, if you enter an order to buy 10 shares of Amazon, your trade will be filled by matching it with someone who wants to sell shares of Amazon, though not at a known price per share. I like to call this the “get me in!” order type, since it will be filled quickly, although you could end up paying a slight premium for every share to do it.
A stock broker is a person or an institution licensed to buy and sell stocks and other securities via the market exchanges. Back in the day, the only way for individuals to invest directly in stocks was to hire a stock broker to place trades on their behalf. But what was once a clunky, costly transaction conducted via landline telephones now takes place online in seconds, for a fraction of what full-service brokers used to charge for the service. Today, most investors place their trades through an online brokerage account. (A little lost? Check out our explainers on brokerage accounts and buying stocks.)
Remember that bear markets are for buying. If the stock market drops by at least 20%, move more cash into stocks. Should the market drop by 50%, move all available discretionary cash and bonds into stocks. That may sound scary, but the market has always bounced back, even from the crash that occurred between 1929 and 1932. The most successful investors have bought stocks when they were "on sale."
What makes this risk management tool so great is that it focuses almost exclusively on the financials of the business, rather than how Wall Street perceives it through price action. This is in contrast to other risk management tools such as trailing stops or momentum indicators, which could be based more on emotion rather than business financial reality.  
What's surprising to many investors is that this simple philosophy actually works better than alternatives. Many people believe that frequent trading is the key to making money in the stock market, and day-trading techniques purport to show people how to get rich quickly by counting on buying and selling shares quickly at small profits that add up over time. However, the vast majority of frequent traders lose money over any given year, and one research report found that fewer than 1% of day traders find ways to make money consistently on a regular basis.
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Investment. Many people have heard this term and figure that it is something that can be profitable, but it can seem complicated and risky, making it easy to shy away from if you happen to be a member of the population that are investment beginners. The fact is, investment can be a safe way to successfully generate new income that you would not have had. What’s more, there are lots of options for investment beginners, ranging from stocks and bonds to mutual funds and ETFs. It’s all a matter of doing your research and figuring out what mode of investment is best for you.

In terms of the beginning investor, the mutual fund fees are actually an advantage relative to the commissions on stocks. The reason for this is that the fees are the same, regardless of the amount you invest. Therefore, as long as you meet the minimum requirement to open an account, you can invest as little as $50 or $100 per month in a mutual fund. The term for this is called dollar cost averaging (DCA), and it can be a great way to start investing.
I use the Dividend Snapshot data to filter my list of stocks. It provides a comprehensive list of data points to filter against. While dividend investors have dividend stocks in common, there is a myriad of ways to select a dividend stock. This is a journey you have to venture on by yourself to figure out what data points are important in your decision process.
If you’re saving for a short-term goal, like a down payment for a house in the next five years, the risk associated with stocks makes it more likely you’ll lose money in that time frame. That means the percentage of your investments in stocks will decrease. If the time separating you from that goal is less than five years, invest in a money market fund or a bond fund. Both will bring you lower returns than stocks but are safer places to put money in the short term.

In fact, you can even earn money doing some of these things yourself. For example, lending securities is a common way that stock brokers make money. These securities are what the short sellers borrow when they sell short. Companies like E*Trade allow you to split the lending profits they would earn with them if you allow them to sell your securities. It's an added bonus that you can make some extra money investing with. 


2. Robo Advisor: Outside of a 401(k) there are other options. One of the easiest and least expensive options is an automated investing service, which has become known as a robo advisor.  These services typically cost around 25 basis points plus the cost of the underlying ETFs. The only decision an investor must make is how much to invest in stocks and how much in bonds. Once that decision is made, the robo advisor takes care of the rest, including rebalancing and dividend reinvestment.
That's entirely up to you, but it's good to start small. Don't invest more than you can afford to lose. Each brokerage has its own requirements for opening a trading account. TD Ameritrade, for instance, has no minimum deposit requirement at all, so you could get started with just the price of one share of stock. Most discount brokers let you start with very little money. Search "discount brokers" online.
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