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How to Open a Trading Account

Deciding to Start Trading Online

Make sure you have enough risk capital to invest. Risk capital is money you are free to invest. This money isn’t used in paying your living expenses, repaying your debts, or held in your retirement account. In other words, this is money you could stand to lose (but obviously don’t want to). In addition to your retirement account, most financial professionals advise that you keep about six month’s worth of wages in savings. This is a good financial cushion to cover unforeseeable life events, like losing your job or becoming ill. 1 Any money left over after this is your risk capital.
Six month’s worth salary is a minimum amount to keep in savings. For more security, consider saving a year’s worth or more.

Contribute to your 401(k) first. In addition to your emergency savings, you’ll want to contribute to your 401(k) before committing money to risk capital. This is particularly true if your employer fully or partially matches your contributions. Max out the matched contributions to your retirement account each month before putting extra money into your trading account. 2

Consider offline options. Before signing up for online trading, think about your goals and experience with trading. Would you rather have a professional handle your money? Are you more willing to trust someone you can meet in person? Offline brokers can offer you services and expertise that online broker cannot, so take these options into consideration before committing. Outside of online brokerages, you have two major options: money managers and full-service brokers.
Money managers are the most hands-off of all of the broker options. They handle all of your trades, determine goals for your portfolio, and update you on its growth and progress. However, they also charge large management fees and require initial investments upwards of $100,000 or $250.000. 3
Full-service brokers offer, as the name implies, the most amount of services. They sit down with you to determine your financial goals based on your age, retirement plans, marital status, personality, and risk tolerance. They work with you to make investment strategies and also will make direct trades if you call and ask them to They can offer advice on anything from taxes to estate planning Accounts can be opened for as little as $1,000, but fees are generally higher than those for online brokerages. 4 Back