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Brokers share the undesirable reputation of lawyers, bankers and accountants. They earn a living by selectively sharing knowledge that the general public can't easily access. But, like it or not, they are the individual investor's direct link to Wall Street. Although technology and the internet have made it easier for individual investors to take control of their portfolios, the basic rule still applies: you need some kind of broker if you want to trade stocks and bonds.

In any profession, you will find people who take advantage of those who aren't in the know. Whenever you buy something, there is the possibility of being cheated. Furthermore, with a broker you purchase advice, which is hard to price. But not all brokers fit the swindler stereotype. In fact, there are many brokers who do a phenomenal job of guarding their clients' interests. There are also many discount brokerages that provide remarkable services for a reasonable price.

It's up to you to pick the broker that meets your needs. This tutorial will go over some important factors to consider when making the choice.

If you are new to the market and don't have a solid understanding of the various securities, check out the Stock Basics, Bond Basics and Mutual Funds tutorials.

Next: Brokers and Online Trading: What Does A Broker Do? »


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