Smart Money reviews brokers every single year and they recently just gave a preview to their results. Rather than give the straight ranking, they discussed some headline categories (Commissions & Fees, Research, Trading Tools) and then listed the best and worst from each category.
For best commissions and fees, they listed Interactive Brokers, a brokerage firm I hadn’t heard of but does charge pretty rock bottom fees (half a cent per share on equity trades). They also showed the spread was anywhere from $4.95 for TradeKing  to $112.50 for Fidelity on broker-executed trades.
For research, my Roth IRA brokerage, TD Ameritrade, took the top honors with Zecco and SoGoTrade splitting the worst place ribbon. One interesting point made was that J.D. Power’s research showed that good research trumps trade execution and customer service with regards to overall satisfaction. I found that pretty surprising since there is a wealth of free investing information out there but trade execution and customer service is where the rubber actually meets the road. If they can’t execute your trade or if you can’t get on the phone with someone in a few minutes, that’d be a deal breaker for me.
Last but not least, E*Trade and TD Ameritrade snatched the number one and one-a spot for trading tools with Sharebuilder playing caboose. It’s not surprising because Sharebuilder isn’t for the typical trader, it’s for people looking for an easy way to reinvest their dividends back into equities. TradeKing’s social networking area got a shout out as did Zecco and WellsTrade, but that was because they offered less than half the thirteen tools their researchers were looking for. Thirteen tools? Wow.
Anyway, check out the preview, I’m eagerly anticipating their results and whether TradeKing  will need to update their current banner and call it a three-peat.