SogoTrade, based in St. Louis, MO, offers deep discount rates to frequent traders while also supporting Chinese-speaking customers. The firm offers four desktop platforms and both native mobile apps and a mobile browser. All of the platforms can be switched to display Chinese language prompts and help by clicking a button. We looked at SogoTrader, SogoOptions, and the iOS mobile app for this review. We did not look in depth at the SogoOnline or SogoElite platforms, however.
Chinese language support for customers who want it
Options platform is tightly integrated with OptionsPlay
Customer service is prompt
Fully paid stock lending program can help generate additional income
Inactive customers are charged for real-time data
You cannot select a tax lot when selling a position
SogoOnline platform is extremely basic
Switching from one web-based platform to another requires several steps
SogoTrader, the streaming platform, displays a chart and key stock statistics when you’re looking at a quote. There are some personalization options, including how to populate the limit order price when entering an order. You can choose “passive,” which buys at the bid and sells at the ask, or “aggressive,” which enters a buy at the ask and a sell at the bid. “Semi-aggressive” calculates the midpoint between bid and ask.
SogoTrade's order routing system selects trading venues based on the order request details, avoiding venues that don’t support that particular order. The smart order router is built to react to market conditions and technical issues. The router does not go through dark pools or break up orders. The firm says that the router looks for both speed and price improvement.
The SogoTrader platform is quite simple, but it only supports trading stocks and ETFs. To trade options, you have to click on the SogoTrade logo, which takes you to a SogoOnline dashboard, then click Trade, and select SogoOptions or SogoPlay. The latter platform integrates the OptionsPlay toolset, and helps generate trading ideas. We would like to see a unified platform that doesn’t require all the switching back and forth.
Mobile and Emerging Tech
The native mobile apps have streaming data, and also synch watchlists with the web platforms. The mobile browser version has snapshot data, so you have to refresh the screen to see the current pricing. You have to be in the native app to trade options.
Range of Offerings
SogoTrade has an average number of easy-to-borrow stocks for short sellers, and allows complex options of up to 4 legs online. You have to call a broker to trade fixed income. There is no futures or forex trading. The firm does have its own integrated robo-advisory service, MarketRiders. They are keeping a wary eye on cybercurrencies, but have no current plans to offer them.
News and Research
There are several stock screeners, but the one built into the SogoElite platform is the most powerful. Customers have free access to ValuEngine, a stock valuation and forecasting service, which covers over 5,000 U.S. stocks and ADRs. ValuEngine also offers lists of market neutral strategies, designed to provide returns in good markets and bad. The SogoPlay platform helps investors understand options strategies, and their various risks and rewards. There is basic charting on SogoTrader but you’ll have to use SogoElite to customize the charts and add studies.
Portfolio Analysis and Reports
Portfolio analysis is very limited, cannot be customized, and the reports are produced overnight. This is an area that SogoTrade could improve. Buying power and margin are reported in real time.
Customer Service and Help
SogoTrade’s sites and apps are built on a backbone that seldom has performance issues. They even have a page on their website that displays service operations. You can chat with a customer agent on the website or leave an email message on the website that will be returned within a business day. There are English and Chinese language service centers for telephone support. Upon logging in, you are asked for a 4-digit PIN that you enter on an onscreen keypad. The location of the numbers changes with every login to thwart keystroke capturing malware.
Education and Security
SogoTrade’s education center provides the basics of investing in stock, options, and bonds. The SogoPlay platform is full of information about options strategies, how they should be used, and how to analyze them.
Our ranking is based on SogoTrade’s standard $4.88 per trade rate. Options trades incur a single base fee plus $0.50 per contract no matter how many legs are traded. Active traders can qualify for $2.88 commissions upon executing 150 or more trades per quarter. You can also pre-pay commissions for a year for $2.88 or $3.88 per transaction. These prepaid fees can be used for stock/ETF trades, or for the base fee for options trades. Margin fees are on the higher end of the industry average.
What You Need to Know
SogoTrade offers a stable platform and reasonable trading fees. The trading tools are fragmented across several programs, though, and could be made easier to use by consolidating them appropriately.
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