Fidelity Review – 2020

Fidelity is an industry leader in trading as it offers a wide variety of tools for investors from educational resources to advanced charted data for critical analysis in Active Trader Pro. The company has worked hard for the last several years to drive down the cost of trades and offers commission-free trading for US stocks, ETFs, and options.

It also has many zero expense ratio index funds and mutual funds. This has allowed the already large brokerage firm, who previously focused on long-term investors, to attract different types of investors. It has one of the largest education libraries, analytical tools, and customization options.

Check out our roundup of Best Online Brokers

 

Available investments

Fidelity offers a wide range of investments that apply to novices, active, and even professional traders. Its low trading rates and $0 commissions for US stocks, EFTs, and options make it very appealing for novice traders. Unfortunately, investors that are interested in cryptocurrencies, commodities, and futures will have to look elsewhere for the time being. 

Investors can invest in:

  • US and International Stocks
  • Options
  • Bonds & CDs
  • EFTs
  • Mutual Funds
  • Sector funds

Customer service

Many reviews are written by dissatisfied customers, and very few happy customers recognize the need to voice their experiences and opinions about a company. That being said, Fidelity falls flat on third-party review sites where the firm receives only 2 stars out of 79 reviews on Yelp and 66 reviews on Trustpilot

Many of the reviews referenced investors’ frustration were primarily with long customer service wait times, not getting the expected return on their investment, and difficulty moving money out of their investment accounts. 

It’s important to note that these are a very small handful of reviews compared to the millions of customers who happily invest with the brokerage firm. On Fidelity’s review page, they tout 4.4 stars from 2,226 reviews specifically for their trading account option. There isn’t a scrollable list of comments like on Yelp and Trust Pilot, but all ratings should be taken with a grain of salt.

Ease of use

Beginner and casual investors will find Fidelity to be one of the most helpful firms in the market. It also caters to advanced investors and day traders with its 140 stock screener criteria options and over 20 industry themes.

Upgrading to the Pro version will amplify the available features and analytical tools allowing investors to make projections, set alerts, and run profit/loss scenarios. The Pro version can be chaotic and confusing for less experienced investors, but like most things in life, it can be figured out relatively quickly.

Key differentiators

Fidelity offers a broad range and depth of investors’ tools. Those that upgrade to the Pro platform will have even more detailed options like customizable charts and stock screener lists. Day traders will find the sophisticated Pro dashboard very useful since they can use its live stream availability. 

Over the last several years, Fidelity has worked diligently to bolster its automated help features to help investors with its AI advisor. This advisor is similar to a chatbot as it answers investor’s most common questions and concerns. Another useful feature is their FidSafe program which offers secure cloud storage of important documents like birth certificates and social security cards.

One of Fidelity’s most unique features is that uninvested funds are automatically moved in and out of a money market account for investors. This ensures that all of their invested money is always working for them. Competitors offer the money market option, but the transfers need to be made manually. This small difference can significantly add extra work to each investor.

Pros

  • The Pro version is extremely robust and allows investors to use many tools without switching between platforms. Therefore, it’s very convenient and saves time. Asset screeners and in-depth research combined with the many filter options allow investors to finetune their dashboard.
  • Any uninvested cash automatically moves to a money market account and earns interest. The money is pulled and used automatically when an investment is made, again without the need for a manual transaction.
  • Zero expense ratio index and mutual funds. It also has relatively low margin rates at 5%, which saves investors even more money.
  • In-person and online customer service. Fidelity offers both these options to its investors, which allows it to expand its clientele. Investors that have more complex situations and questions can make an in-person consultation with a financial advisor.
  • Easy to use and integrated mobile app. Investors can trade and manage their accounts on the go with its user-friendly mobile app.

Cons

  • Without the upgrade to the Pro version, users need to do more manual work, like refreshing the browser to get real-time information. Some users have reported that the Pro version doesn’t always show the most current information without refreshing the browser and can be a bit glitchy.
  • Investors that move into trading futures and options on futures may find that they have outgrown the firm’s capabilities. Futures are not offered through the firm currently, but it may be something added down the road.
  • Limited exotic investment options. Traders that want to invest in cryptocurrency, forex, and other unique investments would be better off with a different broker.
  • Like most websites, investors will find that they need to switch between preferred programs to get a full range of data. They can access these features on the pro version to solve this problem for an additional fee.
  • High fees for non-Fidelity mutual funds. While it has over 3,000 no-fee mutual funds, some funds can have high expense ratios.

Bottom line

Fidelity is a great broker for hands-off and do it yourself (DIY) investors. Most of its clients seem to be focused on long-term investing, but there is a growing trend towards day traders. The company’s focus on education, analysis, and research tools highlights the firm’s push towards self-service and education. 

These factors have helped it earn the title of “Best Online Broker” in 2020 by Barron’s and Investor’s Business Daily. Its low fees along with its vast library of educational and analytical tools make it a financial brokerage powerhouse.

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