2019 Best Online Brokers Awards
Lightspeed is a brokerage for the high-velocity stock and options trader. You have your choice of several platforms, including their proprietary Lightspeed Trader and LivevolX, which is designed for options traders. RealTick and Sterling Trader Pro also trade through Lightspeed and incur additional monthly subscription fees.
Lightspeed is best for very frequent traders, as their account minimums are on the high side, but the cost of trading is very low. You won't find any planning tools or hand-holding for newbies here, but if you know what you're doing, you can make the most of the available trading tools.
Customers can route their own orders
Lightspeed’s order router is exceptionally fast
Customer service is prompt and professional
This is not a platform for a beginning trader
Few creature comforts
Very high minimums to open an account
Trading on Lightspeed Trader gives you a lot of options. Time in Force options let you pick from several options, from 30 seconds to good till canceled. Order entry options are numerous, so you can craft your order to your exact specifications. There are dozens of defaults you can set, or you can map your order specifications to hotkeys to send them to market faster.
One of the strengths of the platform is the ability to choose a trading venue, including dark pools and super-smart order routing. Since you can select your trading venue, you can choose a venue that is best for the stock or option you're trading. Lightspeed gives you the opportunity to route your order directly to more than 20 venues, including several dark pools. You can also select the Lightspeed order router, which uses a proprietary algorithm designed to generate the best execution by rotating through different exchanges and routes. The firm’s smart order router offers very fast executions.
Recently, Lightspeed users have been given access to the Lime Trading Gateway. The Lime Trading Gateway allows for traders to get order entry in microseconds. Gateway gives clients more choice when deciding how to trade.
Lightspeed's downloadable package, Lightspeed Trader, runs on your desktop and can be configured so that your favorite tools are always on top. Tools for trading stocks and options are built into Lightspeed Trader; strategies are pre-defined, plus you can send your order to almost any venue. The options-focused platform available to Lightspeed customers, LivevolX, is specifically designed for options evaluation and trading, and is graphically more engaging. There is a web version of the Lightspeed Trader called Lightspeed Web Trader that is considerably simpler.
Mobile and Emerging Tech
Lightspeed’s mobile app is primarily intended for closing trades. It also provides real-time account data.
Range of Offerings
Since Lightspeed focuses on frequent traders, the platform is geared for stock, options and futures trades. There is no mutual fund or fixed income trading, but those asset classes are of little interest to their target market.
News and Research
The platform has a live market scanner to help you screen for current trading opportunities. The flagship platform has customizable charting with 20 years of historical data available. TipRanks, which allows clients access to analyst recommendations while ranking the success rate of those analysts is integrated into the Lightspeed Trader front end to help drive trade idea generation. It can also be found in the client center on Lightspeed’s website, allowing analysis access for all clients regardless of trading platform.
Portfolio Analysis and Reports
The platform is designed for high velocity traders, and as such, has limited portfolio analytics. There are a variety of tools that help you stay on top of your daily profit and loss, and buying power statistics are maintained in real time. Performance reports track profit and loss by underlying symbol for both equity and options trades. Most high frequency traders dump their daily transactions out to Excel for further analysis.
Customer Service and Help
Telephone support is provided quickly during the trading day. There is an online FAQ on Lightspeed’s website, and context-sensitive (albeit brief) help built into the platform. Lightspeed’s minimum to open an account is very high, but they are not trying to attract beginners. It’s $10,000 to use the web or mobile trading platform, and $25,000 for Lightspeed Trader or LivevolX.
There is some limited education on Lightspeed's website that goes into detail on various trading strategies, charting them and explaining what they are and how they work. You can find details of futures contracts under Resources. This is not the place to go for basic trading education, however.
Lightspeed has two types of commissions: per trade and per share, or contract. Both commission tables are tiered, so the more you trade, the less you pay. The top commission is $4.50 per stock transaction, while options trades will set you back $0.65 per contract with no charge per leg. The Lightspeed Trader platform costs $130 per month, which is offset by any commissions charged. LivevolX is free.
What You Need to Know
Lightspeed offers terrific trading tools for the very frequent trader. Their flagship platform, Lightspeed Trader, can be endlessly customized. This is not the place for the beginning or even an intermediate trader. Once you grow out of your current mainstream web platform, if you’re considering becoming a professional trader, take a look at Lightspeed.
Lightspeed is a perfect fit for investors who are cost-conscious and actively trading. See how they compare against other online brokers we reviewed.
Lightspeed Broker Review 2019
Investopedia’s mission is to provide investors with unbiased, comprehensive reviews and ratings of online brokers. Our reviews are the result of six months of evaluating all aspects of an online broker’s platform, including the user experience, the quality of trade executions, the products available on their platforms, costs and fees, security, the mobile experience and customer service. We established a rating scale based on our criteria, collecting over 3,000 data points that we weighed into our star scoring system.
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.
Our team of industry experts, led by Theresa W. Carey, conducted our reviews and developed this best-in-industry methodology for ranking online investing platforms for users at all levels. Click here to read our full methodology.