SogoTrade is an online brokerage site that's perhaps best known for its low commissions. Over time, it has also built up a suite of tools and resources to make the platform attractive to all kinds of investors. SogoTrade offers commissions as low as $3 per trade and allows you to pre-purchase bulk commissions at a discount. In addition to low cost, SogoTrade has become a preferred brokerage for the Chinese community; its website is also available in both traditional and simplified Chinese, and it has a Chinese-language customer support staff.
SogoTrade offers three web-based trading platforms, including one devoted to options trading. Stock and ETF trading are fairly straightforward, but SogoTrade has partnered with third-party vendors to create a rich and sophisticated options trading platform complete with complex strategies and options trade recommendations.
In this walkthrough, we will look at Sogo's trading platforms, brokerage site, and the tools and features available to its customers. For more information about this broker, you can read our full SogoTrade review.
Homepage - Long known as a deep-discount online brokerage, SogoTrade continues to offer competitive commissions, with stock trades as low as $3. Besides low cost, SogoTrade has built up a suite of in-house and licensed third-party tools and resources to enrich its platform and appeal to investors of all skill and experience levels.
Login - Enter your username and password to log into SogoTrade. You'll also need to create a PIN number as an added layer of security.
My Account - Account Overview - When you log into SogoTrade, you'll first see your Account Overview. This page gives you a condensed snapshot of your account balances and buying power, portfolio positions, and quotes from your watchlist. Notice the blue menu bar that runs across the top of the web page; each menu bar item corresponds to its own dropdown menu. We will go through each of these menus in turn.
My Account - Trade History - Your Account History will give you a log of previous trades and transactions. At present, SogoTrade relies on its clearing firm, Apex, to provide access to trade history and other administrative data for your account.
My Account - Account Positions - To view your current portfolio holdings, choose the Account Positions option on the My Account dropdown. You can view all your positions or separate them by longs or shorts.
My Account - Watch Lists Overview - Watchlists are a useful way to keep track of stocks that you may or may not own in your portfolio but want to keep an eye on anyway. Here you can add tickers to your watchlists and save multiple lists to serve different purposes.
My Account - Investment Profile - Need to change some account info, update your address, or alter your investment goals and preferences? Go to the Account Profile page, where you can toggle among Account Access settings, Contact Information, and more.
My Account - Prepaid Packages - One way to keep trading costs down on SogoTrade is to buy prepaid packages that contain a bundle of discounted trades that are good for one year. For example, you can prepay for 50 trades for $150, or just $3 per trade. Or, if you think 50 trades is too active for your investing style, you can buy 20 trades for $4 per trade. Sogo's standard commission on stock trades is $5.
My Account - Statements & Confirmations - To view and download your account statements and individual trade confirmations, click the Statements & Confirms link. That will take you to SogoTrade's clearing firm site, Apex Clearing, where you can get access to these documents.
My Account - My Referral Center - Looking for some free trades? Leverage your social network and refer your friends and colleagues to SogoTrade. You'll receive 25 commission-free trades for each referral who signs up for an account.
My Account - Margin / Options Upgrade - Are you a sophisticated trader who uses margin or options strategies? It's easy to apply for and activate these account capabilities. Simply follow the Margin / Options Upgrade link under the My Account dropdown menu. You can enable up to Level 6 options trading, which lets you write naked options.
Trading Platforms - SogoOnline - SogoTrade has three web-based trading platforms to choose from. You'll find them under the Trading Platforms link on the menu bar. The first – and most basic – is the SogoOnline platform. It presents you with a simple and straightforward order entry ticket for either stocks/ETFs or options. Enter your order details and click Verify Order to make sure you don't need to modify anything. You'll see your order status in the Orders window that appears below the order ticket, and you can toggle to the Positions tab to see what you already have in your portfolio.
Trading Platforms - Verify Order - Check your order details to make sure you haven't made a mistake. If all looks good, click Place Order to send it to the market.
Trading Platforms - SogoTrader - SogoTrader is a comprehensive, all-in-one-page trading platform, complete with streaming quotes and interactive charts. The page layout is intuitive, with order entry at the top, quotes and charts in the center, and order and position details on the bottom panel. The bottom panel has a number of tabs you can use to toggle among open orders, positions, watchlists, news, and watchlist quotes.
Trading Platforms - Trade Settings - You can change the SogoTrader layout or adjust your default trade settings by clicking on the Trade Settings link on the top right of the SogoTrader platform screen. You can also modify how long the system should wait before it automatically logs you out – from as little as two minutes up to two hours.
Trading Platforms - Order Ticket - Entering orders on the SogoTrader platform is easy. At the top of the layout, simply choose or look up the ticker symbol that you want (1), indicate whether it will be a buy or a sale (2), select the number of shares (3), pick the type of order (4), enter the desired price if it is a limit or stop order (5), decide whether you want the order to last for the day or longer as a good 'til canceled (GTC) order (6), and then click Verify Order (7) when you're good to go.
Trading Platforms - Trade - The SogoOptions trading platform combines sophistication with simplicity. Along the very top is a menu bar to switch among the trading layout, a detailed options chain, strategies, and tools. In the Trade screen, enter one or more options legs to build strategies in the window up top. You can trade a single option or build complex multi-leg strategies to your liking. At the bottom of the platform there's a tabbed box where you can view your open orders, positions, and more. On the right side of the screen you'll see a toolbox window that initially presents you with a detailed quote and stock price chart. It has tabs for other useful options functions.
Trading Platforms - Chain - In the toolbox window, click on the chain icon to view a condensed options chain, with the markets and prices for the options you're interested in. In this example we use TSLA. Change the expiration and moneyness you want to view, using the dropdowns, or view an individual option's risk metrics and "Greeks" by hovering over the sigma icon beside each option price. To add legs to a spread, check the appropriate boxes and click the Trade Selected button at the bottom to populate the order window. In addition to this condensed version, there is a more extensive options chain in the platform, which we'll look at shortly.
Trading Platforms - Strategies - Click on the Next tab to choose among many commonly used spreads and combination strategies to load into the trading window. Those include call spreads, straddles, butterflies, and more.
Trading Platforms - Risk Charts - The Risk Charts tab will give you an idea of how your options risk exposures will change based on the strategy you've selected and how the underlying stock may move in the future. Here you can visualize how your "Greeks" – delta, gamma, theta, and vega exposures – will change as the stock moves up or down.
Trading Platforms - Profit & Loss - Knowing your risk is one thing, understanding how that might translate into gains or losses as the underlying stock moves is another. The P&L tab will show you how the options strategy changes in value with changes in the price of the underlying stock.
Trading Platforms - Probability Calculator - The final tab in the toolbox window is an options Probability Calculator. This tool uses volatility information about a stock to give you an idea of how likely the stock is to move before your options expire and by what magnitude.
SogoOptions - Chain - The Options Chain link on the top menu bar of the SogoOptions platform takes you to a more extensive and functional options chain than its simplified version in the trade toolbox. Use the dropdowns to refine which options you want to see and click the Trade button at the bottom to add selected options to the trading screen. Along the right side of this screen are a number of collapsible tools, including detailed information about a particular option and a graph of options open interest for a stock.
SogoOptions - Strategies - Similar to the strategies tab in the trade toolbox, the Strategies page allows you to select from a number of commonly used options strategies. But it goes into much greater depth as to what the strategy entails and when it ought to be used. Click the Launch button to select individual options to fill out the strategy with individual legs.
SogoOptions - Tools - While many options tools appear as a simplified version in the trade toolbox, the Tools menu gives you access to more in-depth and high-level versions of these.
SogoOptions - P/L Calculator - Use the P&L Calculator tool to figure out how much money you stand to make – or lose – on an options position. Use the dropdowns to play out various scenarios or modify the strategy to see how you can enhance your returns or limit your downside.
SogoOptions - Probability Calculator - Options values are based on the probability of the underlying stock ending up at a certain price when the contract expires. The Probability Calculator tool lets you play with various assumptions to see how likely a particular outcome is for that stock.
SogoOptions - Options Calculator - The 1997 Nobel prize in economics went to two professors for their work on how to price options and evaluate their risks. Using the Options Calculator tool, now you, too, can price out individual options and quantify the associated risks.
Bank Account Setup - Ready to fund your account? There are several ways to move money to SogoTrade, which you'll find listed under the Funds/Account Transfer menu bar item. For example, you can link to an external bank account and use ACH electronic funds transfers, making it easy to deposit and withdraw.
Funds Transfer - ACH Transfer - Choose the Transfer Cash link to initiate your funds transfers with a linked bank account or wire transfer.
Incoming Account Transfer - You can also initiate an account transfer (ACAT) from another brokerage, to move existing stock and options positions from elsewhere intact. Setting up an ACAT is easy, and it can be done entirely online without reams of paperwork. Choose your existing brokerage firm from the dropdown, input the account number, and upload a copy of your most recent statement for that account. And that's it. Your existing positions and cash will automatically transfer over to your SogoTrade account without your having to sell them out.
Internal Funds Transfer - Use the Internal Funds Transfer function to move money between existing SogoTrade accounts. This makes it easy to fund your retirement accounts, for example, using money from your individual account.
Research - Market Overview - SogoTrade has incorporated a number of standard research functions into its platform. Find the Research link along the top menu bar to get started. The default page under the research section is Market Overview, which offers a summary of a stock's price, headlines, and performance. Enter a ticker into the search bar up top to load research for any company. Take note of the menu bar that appears under the primary menu options. Clicking on its items will load up company-specific quotes, charts, news, and research.
Research - Quote - Find quotes and price performance measures under the Quote screen. Click the Trade button on the top right at any point to load up an order entry ticket for the stock you're researching.
Research - Chart - If you're a technical analyst at heart, you'll find the Chart tools fairly extensive and easy to customize. Choose from a large number of overlays, indicators, and studies to add to your chart and compare performance against one or more benchmarks. The only downside to the charts is that you can't save templates and load them for later use.
Research - Profile - Not sure what a particular company does? Click on Profile for a business summary and other basic info about it.
Research - Ratios - Tucked away in the Profile page is a tab for financial Ratios. For the fundamental analyst, this screen gives you current and historical data on key ratios and return metrics.
Research - News - If you're looking for company headlines and news, the News screen in the Research section will give you a summary of top headlines. Click on any one of these to bring up the full story. This feature lacks some of the functionality you'll find on other sites; for example, you can't sort and filter news, and all of the stories seem to come from just one source, PR Newswire.
Research - Filings - You can download company reports as PDF files, Excel spreadsheets, or HTML for data analysis and number crunching from the Filings screen.
Research - Financials - Track a company's financial performance from the Financials screen, where you'll find current and historical balance sheet and income statements, available in annual or quarterly reports.
Research - Competitors - Wondering who a particular company's major competitors are? Click over to the Competitors screen to find out.
Research - Market Movers - Are you more interested in macro market data than company-specific stuff? Under the Research dropdown you'll find a link to Market Movers, where you can see the day's most actives and top gainers and losers.
Research - Screen Filters - You can use the Stock Screener to narrow down the universe of stocks to those that fit your goals. Filter and sort using a number of criteria and see your results along the bottom.
Research - ETFs Quote - If you want to get quotes or research for an ETF rather than a stock, visit the ETFs Center under the Research menu.
Research - ETFs Profile - Click on the Profile tab next to the ETF quote for an overview of the ETF, its stated investment strategy, and a snapshot of data pertaining to risk, performance, and fees. However, you won't find an analysis of a fund's holdings or its performance relative to a benchmark.
Research - Leaderboards - Another way to view macro market activity is with the Leaderboards feature. Here you get the top 200 market movers, those making new highs and lows, and those trending up or down over the past few market sessions.
Education Overview - If you're just getting started as as an investor, check out the Education center. It offers instructional resources segmented by topic and skill level. Click on a topic link to bring up more in-depth information.
Blog - For market commentary, insight, and more, head over to the SogoTrade Blog to see what the experts at SogoTrade are thinking.
Webinars - Prefer to watch a video? Here you can sift through SogoTrade's archive of helpful video webinars to learn how to invest and how to use the company's platforms.
OptionsPlay - SogoPlay, developed in partnership with the third-party provider OptionsPlay, can help you identify and act on short-term trends and technical analysis signals, as well as build strategies to leverage those signals using both stocks and options. Choose a ticker and whether you are bullish or bearish to see which strategies fit your opinion. Or, select from dozens of bullish and bearish signals identified automatically with OptionsPlay. To the right you'll see the top three strategies for a particular stock and sentiment, ranked by how likely the algorithm judges the potential outcome to be.
Trade - When you've found a strategy you'd like to try, click the Trade button to bring up an order ticket. Make sure it's what you want to do and then click Submit to send it to the market.
SogoPlay Panels - The OptionsPlay layout is broken down into three main panels. On the left you'll get trade ideas that are updated daily. In the center you'll find an interactive chart where you can perform technical analysis. On the right you can evaluate the three top trades based on the technical signal and trade.
ValuEngine Research Reports - You can get more trade ideas tailored to a particular stock or industry sector here, with research from ValuEngine, another third-party partner.
SogoForecaster Home - SogoForecaster is also a handy tool for generating trade ideas you can act on. The Forecaster aggregates signals from third-party technical analysis providers to help you see what's trending.
Stock Analyzer Dashboard - You can narrow your list of individual stocks to buy or sell with the Stock Analyzer.
Sector Analyzer - You can also use the Stock Analyzer to check out industry sectors that look promising.
ETF Analyzer Dashboard - You can look for trade ideas using ETFs, instead of individual stocks, with the ETF Analyzer.
ETF Region Analyzer - You can also use the ETF Analyzer to see what's hot or not by geographic region.
ETF Industry Analyzer - Or, use the ETF Analyzer to look for trading opportunities by industrial sector.
Market Forecaster - If you want a better idea of where the broader market might be headed, use the Market Forecaster tool to select from among the popular equity indices and see what the trendlines are predicting.
Morning Call Newsletter - If you'd like to have fresh trade ideas delivered daily to your email inbox, sign up for the Morning Call newsletter from the Trade Ideas dropdown. This newsletter will provide you with the top eight trade ideas of the day, as determined by the Morning Call's team of experts.
Help Overview - If you need some assistance, look for the Help link along the top menu bar. SogoTrade has a variety of customer service resources, from quick help to personalized customer support from both English- and Chinese-speaking agents.
Help - Quick Help Center (FAQs) - For quick answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs), find the link to the Quick Help Center. There's a pretty good chance that the question you have will already have been answered here.
Help - Forms - If you're looking for account forms, you'll find a repository of commonly used forms and documents available as PDFs under Help / Forms.
Help - Commission Rates & Fees - SogoTrade is known for low fees and commissions. You'll find a breakdown of cost you might have to pay on the Commission Rates & Fees page.
Help - Contact Us - If you need to communicate with a real, live person, you'll find phone numbers and email addresses here for real-time support – both in English and Chinese. SogoTrade customer support is also available via a free Skype call at 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. EST, Monday through Friday.