Ally Invest, formerly known as TradeKing, is part of a diversified financial services company that includes banking and lending. Brokerage customers tend to be focused on options trading and tools, but you can trade a wide variety of asset classes on the InvestLIVE platform. The prevailing focus for the team at Ally is providing tools that are convenient and easy to use at an affordable price, with an eye on its fast-growing millennial user base.
Banking capabilities integrated into investing experience
Good tools for finding and executing options trades
The InvestLIVE platform is customizable and has streaming quotes
The standard website is dated and difficult to navigate
Portfolio performance reports cannot be customized
Order routing algorithms won't give you much price improvement
The HTML5-based InvestLIVE platform is responsive and streams real-time quotes on all displays, including for multi-leg options trades. You can drag and drop widgets onto your dashboard, choosing the location of your news feed, watchlist, portfolio holdings, and other items. InvestLIVE’s bulk order entry feature lets you create a trade basket to place several individual transactions simultaneously. Tax lots for a position you’re closing can be changed from your account default after the trade has executed.
Ally does not claim to use a smart order router, and it shows in their reports for price improvement statistics. Price improvement (a sale above the bid price, or a buy below the offer price) is important because the way a broker routes your order determines whether you are likely to receive the best possible price at the time your trade is placed. While some price improvement is attained, it’s on the low side. You can designate where you want an order routed by talking to a live broker, at no extra charge, though your choices for a direct route are limited to ARCA and NASDAQ.
With Ally’s commitment to improving the client experience, the InvestLIVE platform is easy to use. Certain research capabilities are difficult to find, however. We do not recommend using the “classic” trading platform, though. It’s clunky and gave us an early 21st-century flashback.
Mobile and Emerging Tech
Ally has native apps for iOS and Android devices, plus it’s InvestLIVE platform runs in a mobile browser adapting to the screen size. All Ally Invest mobile apps and mobile browser pages offer streaming quotes, watchlists and ACH transfers. Ally Invest mobile apps include charting capabilities with 17 indicators available on the charts.
Range of Offerings
Ally offers 500 commission-free ETFs to its customers, and a large inventory of mutual funds. Though there are no international equity or options available, you can trade forex on a separate Ally platform. There is also a large inventory of fixed income products.
Ally Invest also offers a Cash-Enhanced Managed Portfolio for accounts of $100 or larger, with a 0.0% annual fee.
News and Research
Ally Invest has two stock screeners. One has approximately 80 fundamental and technical data points while the other lets you perform technical backtesting on an investing strategy. In addition, you’ll find mutual fund and fixed income screeners. Charts are customizable with up to 33 years of history. Each stock overview page contains links to summary CFRA reports, and for ETFs and mutual funds you can find Lipper scorecards as well.
Options traders will appreciate the Strategy Workbench, which displays your current holdings as well as any potential trade so you can see the changes in risk you may incur. The Probability Calculator offers additional options research, including the ability to adjust at-the-money implied volatility, which is a unique offering.
Portfolio Analysis and Reports
The portfolio analysis features on InvestLIVE and the classic site are limited, but you can get an idea of how your portfolio has been performing. The firm plans to add more personalization features to future editions.
Customer Service and Help
Ally recently launched its fully paid stock lending program, which shares the revenue with clients who hold hard-to-borrow stocks. The firm identifies those who hold the stocks they want to lend, and those clients are given the option to enroll in the program.
Education and Security
Ally’s “Do It Right” education center includes a large inventory of articles on general investing topics, but you can also drill down into specific asset classes. The options education can show a newbie how it all works, and help build confidence. Other personal finance topics, such as mortgages and savings, are also covered. Webinars are offered several times weekly, and you can find Ally’s senior options analyst, Brian Overby, at approximately 15 live events during the year.
Commissions for stocks and ETFs were eliminated in October 2019. Options trades are $0.50 per contract with no per-leg fee. You can buy bonds for $1 per bond with a minimum fee of $10. Margin interest rates are above average.
What You Need to Know
Ally Invest is aimed at entry level to intermediate investors who want their investments in close proximity to their bank accounts. The InvestLIVE platform is customizable and provides streaming quotes, and is ever evolving. There is no commission for stock and ETF trades.
Ally Invest Broker Review 2019
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In addition, every broker we surveyed was required to fill out a 320-point survey about all aspects of their platform that we used in our testing. Many of the online brokers we evaluated provided us with in-person demonstrations of their platforms at our offices.
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