Whether you are new to investing or are a seasoned financier who knows your way around Wall Street, the first decision that you need to make when you’re considering putting money into the market is how much support you want in managing your investment. You’ll need to decide if you will be using an investment brokerage firm (such as Merrill Lynch, A.G. Edwards, etc.) or if you are going to handle your own transactions (using Ameritrade, E*Trade Financial, etc.).
Many people who choose to work with one of the do-it-yourself online trading services are those new to investing who want to experiment with a small investment, as well as larger investors who enjoy the close involvement with the market.
For many others, however, a full-service brokerage firm is the more suitable way to invest. The benefits of using an investment brokerage firm include:
- Counsel and recommendations based on solid research. Every investment brokerage firm uses financial professionals to research the markets and analyze the results. After all, their goal is to keep you as a client, and the best way to do that is by helping you meet your financial goals.
- An ongoing relationship. Many people end up staying with their brokerage firm because of the trust they have built with their broker. Nothing beats a one-on-one dialogue when it comes to choosing among the many investment opportunities that are available.
- A reputation for integrity. Over the past few years, there have been problems in the investment world with unscrupulous financial managers who were putting their own interests ahead of their clients. By signing with an investment firm that has a solid reputation in the financial world, you can look forward to receiving the highest standards of personal and professional ethics.
Not every brokerage offers the same services, so it is wise to shop around to determine which company best meets your needs. For example, some firms will allow you to log in to your account via the Internet and print out a detailed analysis of your portfolio, while others may not offer that feature.
By researching the services offered by various brokerages and interviewing a few of them, you should be able to find an investment firm that you feel comfortable with — and start letting your money work for you.