In 1975, TD Ameritrade entered the Forex door. It all happened on May 1st when the Securities and Exchange Commission eliminated the practice of fixed brokerage commissions. Joe Ricketts and three partners opened First Omaha Securities, Inc. and started their business.
Within the year’s things were changing and TD Ameritrade grew and implemented new technology. The company introduced the first quote and order entry system via the push-button telephone, later on, they acquired K. Aufhauser & Company, the firm that offers an electronic trading platform. In 2000 they transferred from paper account creation to online one, etc.
We could go on and on with the accomplishments of this company, but let’s stop here for now. Instead, we will go through accounts and see more about the way TD Ameritrade does business. Only then we will be able to see whether this broker really offers good trading conditions or not.
What you should know about TD Ameritrade is that the biggest change happened recently, in 2019. In November, they announced that they will become part of Charles Schwab Corporation. An opportunity popped up, and they went for it. So, on October 6, 2020, the merger closed and Charles Schwab Corporation acquired TD Ameritrade for approximately USD $26B in stock.
According to their words, both companies share the same vision. Therefore, they are the perfect match that will bring traders a much better experience and opportunities. They want to create a unique firm in the Forex industry that has one clear goal, to provide access to anyone. And how do they plan to do that? Well, they want to provide resources to support clients at every stage of their Forex journey. They also want to provide integrity and make sure that clients are satisfied so they do not go someplace else. Lastly, they plan to focus on each customer to create better outcomes.
All of this sounds amazing but keep in mind one thing. TD Ameritrade will continue to operate as a separate company for the next 18 to 36 months. So, we better take a good look at what they have to offer now before they become one with Charles Schwab Corporation.
When you visit the TD Ameritrade website, you will be surprised by the selection of trading accounts. Joint/Minor, Retirement, Education Savings, Business/Trust, Managed Portfolios and Estate or Beneficiary IRA. All of them are at your disposal, but keep in mind they are restricted in certain countries. So, when it comes to this, we have nothing negative to say. The selection is excellent and clients have different possibilities.
Unfortunately, things are not as good as they look. Yes, there are different account types but the problem is, you cannot find important information about those accounts. The website is full of details, but when it comes to leverage, spreads, bonus funds, you won’t find a thing about it. So, you can open an account, but you cannot know what are the trading conditions you are signing in for.
We might not be satisfied with the trading conditions and account types, but there is one segment of TD Ameritrade that really fulfilled our expectations. It’s the education part and we can tell you instantly, you will be able to learn a lot with this broker.
If you go to the main menu and visit the education page, there is a list of different categories and you can choose the one that interests you the most. For example, Market News, Investment Articles, Video Lessons, Webcasts. Everything is available to each visitor, which is great.
Aside from that, there is an education part dedicated to clients only. Depending on your level of experience you can demand in-person events and attend them all. From workshops and investor education conferences to branch seminars. Everything will be available once you register and open an account.
Honestly, we did expect to see all of this, due to all claims from the beginning. We are just glad this broker did not disappoint us and it provided a decent amount of educational material for everyone. So, if you are a person who wants to trade and learn at the same time, check out the education page at TD Ameritrade.
If there is one place on the website where you will be spending most of your time, it would be the trading platform. That’s why it has to be responsive, optimised and completely error-free. So, let’s see if TD Ameritrade is able to provide us with a platform like this.
The first thing you need to know is that there are different options when it comes to platforms. This is an excellent thing because every person has different preferences and this will allow you to find something that’s the most suitable for you. That said, you can choose between web-based platforms, a mobile trading platform, thinkorswim Desktop platform (created especially for professional traders who want to have fully customizable, downloadable software) and thinkorswim Web (with Preconfigured strategies that allow you to set up trades in just a click).
The selection is great, but there is one complaint we have to add at the beginning. You cannot access the platform without an account. This means that there isn’t a possibility to see if it suits you or not. You will have to decide according to the explanation on the website, which is not a good thing.
The web-based platform is supposed to have a clean design and intuitive navigation. Here, you will be able to catch the latest news and place a quick trade all without leaving the home screen. It sounds amazing, but we have no idea if it’s true or not.
Thinkorswim platform is the second option and you can go with a desktop or web-based one. Either way, you will have access to elite-level trading tools and a platform backed by insights, education, and a dedicated trade desk. As we mentioned at the beginning, this is mostly for experienced traders, so if you are just a beginner, maybe you should go with a regular web-based platform until you gain certain skills.
Do we even have to talk about the importance of customer support? We assume not, because everyone knows that a broker has to provide proper support for every client. Well, it looks like TD Ameritrade doesn’t know that, despite the great service we saw earlier.
There is a customer support page on the website and it looks just fine. You have an option to choose different methods and contact them in a way that suits you the most. Unfortunately, that’s just the first glance and once you dig a little deeper, you will see that the things are not functioning as they should be.
There is one message at the landing page, saying that market activity has led to longer than expected phone wait times and you should visit the Top FAQs page for ways you can self-service. We understand that in times like this, customer support can be busy, but there are some things you cannot find in the frequently Asked Question page.
In that case, you have to send a message or call a customer representative. Well, this is the problematic part. The only way to send a message is with Facebook Messenger, Twitter or SMS. There is no email or Live Chat, and if you don’t have social media, it will be a problem to reach out to them.
We decided to test both Facebook and Twitter methods so we sent our message. Unfortunately, nobody replied. This means that if some problem occurs, you cannot count on support, which is unacceptable.
Transaction process is much better organised than support, we have to say that from the beginning. Still, there are certain questionable things that we want to discuss.
As a funding method, you can use Electronic Bank Deposit (ACH), Wire Transfer, Mail in your check, Account transfer from another firm or Physical Stock Certificates. The selection is not bad and if you go with Electronic Bank Deposit (ACH) there are three different choices — Express Funding that has a deposit limit of $150,000, Connect and fund from your bank account with a $250,000 limit and Initiate a transfer from your bank and this one which is without limits. The options are great but the questionable thing we mention is about withdrawals. There is not a single information about them and if you want to know how long it takes for the whole process, or if there are any limits, we have to disappoint you, there is no way to find out.
TD Ameritrade is definitely not a scam broker, but it does need a lot of work to improve the conditions and service. Support like this is unacceptable and some of the most important information is missing. So, once they work on that, we will be able to say this broker is worth your time.