The latest edition of our study follows a similar methodology to previous years, encompassing two phases of survey research.
In the first phase of the project, we identified the most important features and characteristics of online brokers according to their investors. An online survey of investors was conducted using the MaxDiff method, in which respondents were presented with combinations of 23 potential attributes, and were asked to identify which characteristics were the most and least important to them.
The survey for Phase I was implemented from July to August 2017, and included the participation of 894 visitors to IBD's Investors.com website. Based on the results of the survey, we narrowed the 23 attributes to 14 based on their importance to investors. TechnoMetrica also developed the weights that should be assigned to each of the 14 features to compute an Overall Customer Experience Index for each online broker.
Low Commissions & Fees topped the list of the most important attributes in this year's Best Online Brokers study, overtaking the previous year's leader Trade Reliability, which dropped to second place. The remaining attributes in the top five are identical to last year's study: Site Performance, Equity Trading Tools and Customer Service.
The Phase II survey spanned from Sept. 5 to Nov. 13, 2017, during which 5,052 visitors to the IBD website Investors.com participated in the research.
Our brokerage comparison in this report is limited to online brokers with 125 respondents or more. Of the 19 brokers that were explicitly listed in the questionnaire, eight garnered at least 125 respondents.
Data Used For Brokerage Comparison
Survey respondents rated their past six-month experiences with their primary broker using a five-point scale (Excellent, Very Good, Good, Fair and Poor) for the 14 attributes.
To make the brokerage comparison, we developed a Customer Experience Index for each broker attribute, using the following question: Based on your experience with your primary online broker during the past six months, how would you rate your primary online broker?
The Customer Experience Index denotes the difference between the percentage of respondents giving ratings of Excellent and Very Good and the percentage who gave ratings of Fair and Poor.
For example, if 30% of respondents rated customer service of a broker as Excellent, 26% Very Good, 20% Good, 13% Fair and 11% Poor, we calculated the Customer Experience Index to be 32% (56% less 24%).
This report presents the five online brokers with the highest Customer Experience Index for each of the 14 attributes.
To arrive at our Overall Customer Experience Index, we combined the subindexes for all 14 attributes using the weights we developed in Phase I. The five online brokers with the highest ratings in this index make up our Top Overall Customer Experience list..
Want to read more about each of the top five brokers, the latest commission trends and more? Check out the full IBD Best Online Brokers special report.