I have had an account with interactive brokers (IB) for over 20 years. They used to be about the only broker, for the working man, that had a direct pipeline to trade in the market and are very fast when it came to filling orders.
Their software was the bomb in its day and was touted as software for professionals and institutional investors. It had and still has a steep learning curve. Unless you are a programmer you have to rely on third parties to provide decent proprietary indicators. The software has not really changed much and is still a bear to use. I realize this is subjective.
The IB software has it’s quirks and has a sort of cult following. If you say it’s hard to use and is clunky, fanboys will make excuses for its shortcomings and say it was made for professional users. Poppycock, I know professional traders and none of them use IB software. They may use the IB backbone for pipelines into the market, but my friend’s firms have their own proprietary software. Over the years the market and technology have changed. IB has not changed its platform that much. I feel they have not really kept up with technology as they should have.
IB started charging for data subscriptions when most other brokers gave it with their service unless you wanted level II data. When this happened there was a preamble to why they were doing this and it was to keep prices down and data speeds fast. To sign up for IB’s data matrix was so extensive, I actually had to call them to help me set up what data lines I needed for the markets I was trading in. This was added costs to trade.
Fairly recent apps such as Robinhood and Webull for smartphones started offering no commission trades. Most of the major brokers followed this model as those apps were taking market share of new investors, mostly Millenials. IB finally joined the game with their IB light.
This version limits the data in the sense It does not provide direct order flow pipelines to the market. This would mean possibly slower fills. This is why I would not use it or any of the other smartphone apps. I have an Etrade brokerage account that I kept my retirement accounts in. They offer 0 commissions, include data feed, and do not limit order flow that I know of. I am not sure why IB cannot compete with Etrade.
I had an account with Options House. Etrade bought them and merged the software and now calls it Power Etrade that is web-based. It is pretty good. Etrade also has the Etrade Pro Software that you download onto your computer. Not many people seem to be aware of it. It is pretty decent and has a lot of nice built-in features. I like it better than IB’s software.
I have a subscription to tradingview which allows me to do my technical analysis with ease, draw on my charts, easily come up with my own indicators, and save them to study for later. IB does not even come close to this.
What finally was the straw that broke the camel’s back with IB is when I received a letter from them telling me that my tax id was not on file correctly and that IB would automatically hand over 25% of my account to the IRS unless I corrected the issue online. The link that I was given in the letter to rectify the situation did not work.
I went into my IB account and found that somehow my tax ID was incorrect. I am not sure how that happened since I have had the account for years and the tax ID was always correct when I filed my taxes. This was something IB broke.
Anyhow, I was not able to fix the problem online. I called and went through their long cue and spoke to a first-line tech. He gave me the correct link, but the area I needed to fix was grayed out and locked. He did not understand and could not help. He told me I would have to be sent to another department that could handle my issue.
I was told I would have to wait a day and go online to fix my tax id. The next time I went online it looped me into the area I was supposed to change my id. It was still grayed out and locked and I could not log into my account and trade unless I fixed the id. This was a vicious cycle.
I had to call again and got sent to another department that had programmers. They were actually very friendly and tried to fix the issue by logging into my account. They found it was a bug and told me to give them a few days and they will have it fixed as they escalated the issued to the proper programming department.
Long story short, I am currently in the process of moving my funds from interactive brokers to TastyWorks. This brokerage seems to have everything I need built-in one platform and is pretty sophisticated for options trading. They have inexpensive commissions that will beat IB for the way I trade. The only thing I do not like is that they use a third party clearing house, so I know my fills may be slow on options and stocks that do not have a lot of volumes.