Discount stock brokers are the most common type of brokers but there are other brokers like full service brokers and money managers.
Just about thirty years ago there were only full service stock brokers, offering order execution and investment advice at extremely high costs. Then the first discount brokers came in with low fees just for trade execution. They gained market share pretty quickly because many investors were making their own investment decisions and were just looking for cheap order execution at the stock exchange.
The trend continued with the help of the computer technology and the invention if the Internet. Today online discount brokers are huge companies in a multi billion dollar industry. Order execution by phone got rare. Now self-educated investors and traders get highly sophisticated trading platforms from their stock brokers at no additional costs.
These software trading platforms offer everything from instant order execution at all US stock exchanges to real time quotes, news and charts. Even advanced technical analysis is available today at minimal costs. Transaction costs came down so much that they are not really an issue anymore. Only day traders who do sometimes up to several hundred trades a day have to watch their trading costs.
The full service broker is still an option for many. If you don't have the time to watch quotes and read the news all time then you may want to have somebody who does this for you. This is where the full service broker comes into play. He offers personal service and attention, takes care of your financial planning, gives you investment advice, discusses all trading decisions with you and executes the trades for you. All these at a higher price of course.
If you don't even want to bother which stocks to buy and why, then the money manager is your choice. He makes all the decisions for you and just reports to you what has happened.
The online discount brokers can also be divided into three groups. The first one is the classic discount broker which offers extremely cheap order execution through a simple and easy to use software platform. The second type of discount broker offers additional services upon request, for instance phone orders at extra costs or access to research information.
The third type of online discount broker targets professional private or institutional traders who need advanced order execution and direct access to different markets and order routing ways. They give you the option to choose between dozens of order routing ways and order types to improve the order execution speed or quantity.
No matter what broker you want to use, he should be member of the SIPC in the case the discount stock broker gets into financial problems. Then your account is insured up to $ 500,000.-