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TD Ameritrade Holding Corp. (AMTD), E TRADE Financial Corporation (ETFC): Is Your Online Broker the Best in the World?

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If you’re a U.S. investor and you use an online broker, chances are high that you’re feeling good. Really good. In fact, you’re probably among the most satisfied online-broker customers in the world.

Satisfied, that is, except in two glaring areas.

In its first “Global Online Broking Report,” research firm Investment Trends compiled feedback from more than 92,000 investors in six countries and found that online-broker customer satisfaction is tops in the U.S.

With an overall satisfaction rating of 79%, U.S. online brokers edged out Germany, which clocked in at 72%. Singapore, at 62%, had the lowest satisfaction scores of the six countries surveyed. “Of the top 10 online brokers for overall satisfaction,” the report states, “nine are from the U.S.”

According to Investment Trends, the reasons for the top-notch scores in the U.S. included:

–Customer service

–Value for money

–Website functionality and reliability

–Costs and commissions

–Research tools and charting

For Vanguard, the top-ranked online broker in the world according to this report, that’s good news — a happy customer is a loyal customer. It’s likewise good news for competitors like TD Ameritrade Holding Corp. (NYSE:AMTD) — which ranked No. 2 for its thinkorswim service and No. 8 for its main platform — Charles Schwab Corp (NYSE:SCHW) (No. 3), and Interactive Brokers Group, Inc. (NASDAQ:IBKR) (No. 4 for its U.S. operations, No. 5 for its offering in Germany).

TD Ameritrade Holding Corp. (NYSE:AMTD)

Opportunity or risk?
While U.S. online brokers excelled in the areas listed above, they fell comparatively flat on “trading ideas and strategies” and “stock picks and recommendations,” where satisfaction levels were 51% and 48%, respectively.

This shortfall could be a future opportunity for U.S. brokers. There’s an obvious synergy: Provide investors with ideas, and give them the venue to execute those ideas. Given the lackluster scores, customers would likely respond to better offerings in this area.

But it could also be a risk. For example, my broker — E TRADE Financial Corporation (NASDAQ:ETFC) , which is conspicuously missing from Investment Trends’ top 10 list — offers investment ideas and opinions in part through research from Wall Street house Credit Suisse Group AG (ADR) (NYSE:CS). While it may sound great for retail investors to access Wall Street research, it’s not what it’s cracked up to be. As my fellow Fools John Reeves and Ilan Moscovitz highlighted, for financial analysts, “the profitability of [their] stock recommendations” and “the accuracy and timeliness of [their] earnings forecasts” were at the bottom of the list when they ranked the most important aspects of their job.

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