Exchanging commodities is a centuries old means of investing, trading, and managing money. It is believed by some historians that variances of the modern commodity exchange have been in existence for nearly 800 years. Exchanges that deal with company stocks are a much more recent development. It has been just over 200 years since the first American stock exchange opened on Chestnut Street in Philadelphia, and 190 years since that exchange moved to lower Manhattan and the New York Stock Exchange rang its first opening bell on Wall Street.
In the years since, the fortunes of American business and American investors have been made and lost countless times on the floors of that exchange, and usually with the help of stock brokers who, as members of the stock exchange, act as agents for buyers or sellers by facilitating transactions in accordance with the law. However, recent years have seen a change in the traditional broker-client relationship, and the advent of the Internet has spawned a new group of investors who eschew the help of brokers and try to make their fortunes trading stocks online.
When you purchase stock you are purchasing a share of ownership in a corporation. In the past, stock brokers acted as the intermediary agent that connected the client to the market. Typically, stock brokers would also be Certified Financial Planners, a qualification that allowed them to provide the client not only with market access, but with financial advice and management of their account.
In exchange for the service of the account and access to the markets the brokerage earned a commission in the form of a flat fee or a percentage of the trade, and those commissions could be quite sizable, especially if you were engaged in frequent trading. The desire to eliminate commissions while still accessing financial markets is the primary reason that so many investors can now be found trading stocks online.
The Internet has allowed investors the option of controlling their own financial direction and decisions. By trading stocks online an investor can avoid a significant portion of the fees and commissions that a traditional brokerage would charge – trades can cost as little as $5 dollars – but those savings come at a price. When trading stocks online through a discount online brokerage, the brokerage is only responsible for executing your trades in the market.
When it comes to advice, research, and account management, you are truly on your own. Therefore, trading stocks online is not something that should be entered into lightly. Successful investors usually have experience, expertise, research tools, and a basic market savvy that allows them to successfully, and profitably, navigate the complicated financial world. Investors who lack those skills are not likely to be good candidates for trading stocks online.
A hot tip on a new stock is usually not a good reason to get into trading stocks online. Experienced investors know that today’s hot tips are often tomorrow’s trash, and it takes more than some quick hits to be a successful online investor. However, if you are an individual with a strong financial background and an understanding of markets then you may be equipped to successfully manage your financial future on your own.
However, if you are not sure of the difference between a market order and a market maker, or ex-dividends and earnings per share, then saving money on commissions and fees probably will not offset the trading losses you are likely to incur. Trading stocks online is not for everyone, but if you want to try your hand then the Internet is the easiest way to access reputable discount online brokers who can provide you with the access you need to control your own financial destiny.