In this Interactive Brokers Review – Trader Workstation, we will cover IB’s platform (TWS for short) and explain how it has been a simple, yet powerful ally to the active trader and investor. We started using IB’s TWS as a secondary broker in early 2016, as it came highly recommended by another experienced trader in our stock market community.
Looking back, that seems like a very typical way people find out about IB. It is very popular among the “hard core” trading community, globally, but its all well suited to the casual investor. It has spread very rapidly through word of mouth, and has a great reputation for being a reliable and versatile.
From day one, we were impressed with its simple, yet alien looking layout. While we still continue to use and enjoy TD Ameritrade’s Thinkorswim platform, there are some stark differences between the platforms.
Also free to take our free Interactive Brokers Platform setup course if you want helping getting started with them.
First off, when you download and install TWS, you will be greeted with their “Mosaic Layout”. This is quite different from the tab based layout you may be used to with TOS. You’re going to want to arrange your Mosaic to your preference and liking. You also may notice that you are not able to fit all the windows, and charts into a single mosaic layout. This is why it pays to have a larger monitor, or multiple monitors when trading! Check out our day trading computer setup post to get a handle on the right gear to power your platform. Next, on the top right, you’ll see “Layout Locked” click this and you can re-arrange as you see fit.
Additionally, we like using a minimum of TWO screens for TWS. Though you may find that is not necessary. However, for day trading, this is absolutely needed. We typically will use the setup above, and group the remaining windows we need in a separate window. More on that later. Next, we want to talk about the strengths of Interactive Brokers.
IB has LIGHTENING Fast trade executions. Interactive brokers has created a “Smart Routing” system to provide traders with lightening fast execution speeds. This means IB searches for the best fill on your option or stock, depending on the time of your order, with the goal of executing it immediately. IB boasts that this adds up to real money in your account. We enjoy that there is very little lag, and have not found a faster trade execution with any of the other brokers we have tried.
Low Commission fee’s. Interactive Brokers is much less expensive compared to its competitors. In North America, IB is only .005 cents per share. For example, 100 shares worth of a $25 dollar stock would only cost you $1.00 in commission. Compare this to $5-7 that most brokerages are charging, and it adds up quick. Options are also very inexpensive to trade on IB. Option contract commissions are calculated by the premium and the number of contracts. Contracts will cost you as little as .25 cents! (pricing subject to change)
IB is jam packed with tools. Whether you are an advanced trader, investor, or beginner, there is something for everyone. Every type of scanner imaginable is at your disposal. Fundamental, Options, Volatility, News, Bonds, Complex Order and Trades scanner.
We like the free analyst research reports, event calendar and it even has a “Alexa Style” voice activated information window called Ibot. Simply ask it questions about a stock symbol and it will retrieve the information you are after, IB has thought of everything when it comes to tools and you could honestly take a years time exploring all of the various tools at your disposal. You can even stream Bloomberg TV within the platform!
Access to the global markets, Futures and FX. There are no limitations when it comes to the global markets. Margin is great at IB and has the lowest rates of any broker, according to Barons. Please note there is NO margin available on FX unless your account is 1 million.
Interactive Brokers has had the best “short share” availability we have ever seen. That was a big draw for us to use them. They have some very interesting features when it comes to shorting. First, you can setup a scanner using their “Advanced Market Scanner” and scan specifically for stocks with short shares available. We like to sort the list by the least amount of shares available. This way we can find stocks that are most likely already being shorted, and have a limited surplus left to borrow from.
Another big thing that we like is IB has a little green dot that is either dimmed or illuminated depending on if it has shares available for borrow or not, right on the order entry screen. This is fantastic because as your scanner picks up a stock, and you wish to check it out in IB, you’ll know immediately if there are shares available to short at a glance. You can further expand additional information by hovering over the dot and open the stock symbol in the SLB tool. This tool will show you shares available, and you can see shares being covered or borrowed in real time! This is incredibly useful information.
Check out our trading service to learn more about what services we offer to our community.
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