How do we rank share trading platforms?

Online broker fees and features can be complicated. This is how we've compared them.

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To find you the best online brokers, we rely on our proprietary algorithm which calculates the rankings of our share trading platforms.

We give share trading platforms a score so that we may give them a ranking in our Finder Awards, 'Best online broker' page, top broker picks displayed at the top of selected pages and for star ratings on review pages.

Set up by Finder's data scientists and investment experts, our algorithm takes into account broker fees, trading tools, educational resources and the list of available stock markets on each platform.

Quick stats

  • Trading platforms compared: 27
  • Trading features compared: 39

How do we choose our "Top Picks"?

Our top picks are displayed at the top of many of our share trading guides and feature 3-5 'Best for X' categories.

The brokers are awarded titles using the methodology below and Finder's editorial team decides which top picks to display based on research around user demand.

How do we rank brokerage fees?

There's no getting around the fact that a lot of share trading platforms have complicated fee structures. The brokerage fee (sometimes called the commission) can depend on how often you trade per month, how much you spend per trade and which country the stocks you're buying are from.

Broker fee structures are also completely different across the board. While some brokers offers flat fees, others are "tiered", meaning the more frequently you trade the lower your fee, or percentage-based, where the more you trade the more you pay. Others are a combination of tiered, percentage-based and flat.

To narrow this down, we compare the total broker fees a person would need to pay if they made 1 to 30 trades per month at trade values of between $100 and $10,000. We also compared fees for stocks listed in Australia, the US and the UK, which are the three most popular share trading markets in Australia.

By doing this, we can evaluate which online brokers are better suited to various trading styles such as active traders, long-term investors, ASX investors and global share trading investors.

Which features do we compare?

Along with broker fees, we looked at whether share trading platforms had the following features:

  • Inactivity fees
  • Currency conversion/foreign exchange fees
  • The number of stock markets available
  • Margin trading
  • Managed funds
  • Fractional investing
  • Educational/training options
  • Conditional order types
  • Broker fees for options trades
  • News and research tools
  • Charting tools
  • Support options
  • Mobile accessible
  • Appropriateness for beginners
  • The ability to trade Forex/CFDs

How do we decide which features are more important?

Our selected brokerage fee categories and trading features are weighed based on the expertise of Finder's banking and investments team as well as user research to show which features are the most important to different investor types. The ratios may change as we update the formula to provide a better comparison experience for our users.

Does Finder compare all share trading platforms in the market?

No, but we're trying our best to make that happen. Because it takes a long time to find and properly analyse broker fees and features, and it's important that we don't share misinformation, we're not able to cover 100% of the market. However, we do list the majority of Australia's most popular and well-regarded online brokers.

The process of gathering this data in Australia is quite manual. Our banking and investment team hunts down online brokers that are available to most Australian users and exclude those that are limited to "wholesale" (i.e. professional).

We also exclude platforms that don't offer direct share trading via a stock exchange – this includes most robo-advisers, micro-investment platforms and CFD providers that only offer stock CFDs.

Star ratings

Star ratings are displayed on our broker review and 'broker vs broker' pages to help you identify strengths and weaknesses. To find an overall score, we take into account six key categories:

  • Fees
  • Available countries
  • Available securities
  • Trading tools
  • Research and education
  • Customer support
Scoring criteria
Fees
  • Brokerage on trades of $100, $1000, $10,000
  • Brokerage on 1 to 30 trades per month
  • Inactivity fees
  • Account fees
  • Brokerage fee for options
  • Currency conversion fee
Available countries
  • The number global stock markets accessible through the platform by country
Available securities
  • Australian stocks, global stocks, options, ETFs, forex, CFDs and mFunds
Trading tools
  • The number of conditional orders offered
  • Advanced charting tools
  • Margin trading
  • Fractional trading
Research and education
  • Broker analysis
  • Stock forecasting
  • News feed
  • Training options or educational material
  • Online demo
Customer support
  • 24/hour support
  • Live chat
  • Email support
  • Phone support
Overall
  • Overall score averaging the above criteria

Other questions

Disclaimer: This information should not be interpreted as an endorsement of futures, stocks, ETFs, CFDs, options or any specific provider, service or offering. It should not be relied upon as investment advice or construed as providing recommendations of any kind. Futures, stocks, ETFs and options trading involves substantial risk of loss and therefore are not appropriate for all investors. Trading CFDs and forex on leverage comes with a higher risk of losing money rapidly. Past performance is not an indication of future results. Consider your own circumstances, and obtain your own advice, before making any trades.

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