For more than fifteen years Corporate Insight has released an annual eMonitor Awards, calling attention to exceptional service within brokerage firms. Ranked in several categories considered important to the industry, this year's MVPs include Fidelity, E*Trade, and Charles Schwab.
Ankita Patel, the senior analyst for eMonitor at Corporate Insight, says over the years the players who have shown excellence in certain categories have continued to improve existing resources in their domain.
Categories include: Account Information, Education Centers, News & Research, Online Documentation, Online Help, Product Range, Quotes, Tools & Calculators and Trade Tickets.
TD Ameritrade, for example, has a Gold rating in the "Education Centers" category. Over the years they've always done well in education, explains Patel, but they continue to add to that channell. Merrill Edge, a relatively new player, has a Silver rating in the same category and quickly catching up to the industry leader. "The firms we rank highest do the best job overall in terms of depth of information. Every firm has these things, but the best firms have the most extensive information available to users."
In the "News & Research" category, according to the report, "Charles Schwab and Fidelity continue their dominance… the firms have now earned a Gold Monitor in this category for 13 and 10 years in a row, respectively."
When asked if there were any surprises this year, Patel drew attention to the "Trade Tickets" category. The trading ticket is a key part of the online brokerage business. They offer the ability to buy and sell assets, and even access account information, but most have plateaued in that area.
E*Trade and optionsXpress have innovated in that space. Both firms have enhanced the e-ticket order entries to an all-in-one form that allows different trade tickets - stocks, mutual funds, options - within a single platform.
"A lot of firms have plateaued in how they design trade tickets so we changed the grading criteria a bit because we wanted to highlight firms that offer standard features but introduced innovative trading options," adds Patel.
Analysts at Corporate Insight objectively determine the top performers in each category through actual use of the platforms, interacting with the same access and privileges of the average customer. All nine categories are captured through the client experience.