Investing classroom: Using financial services

Stocks lesson 2.1: The first in our Level 2 stocks investment lessons discusses the pros

Morningstar 03.11.2009
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Once you decide what type of investment account you'd like to open, the next nuts-and-bolts decision involves actually choosing a broker.

When thinking about a stockbroker, a picture of Charlie Sheen from the movie "Wall Street" often comes to mind. Thoughts of cold calls interrupting your dinner and pushy salesmen trying to sell the latest "hot stock" can scare investors away from buying stocks. In reality, however, it isn't so bad, and there are many options to choose from. In this lesson, we'll aim to provide the information you need to pick a broker that will help you reach your financial goals.

Think of a broker as the middleman between you and the person you are buying your stock from or selling your stock to. When you place an order to either buy or sell a stock, your broker will find a party that is willing to take the other side of your transaction. Of course, the broker will charge a fee (commission) for this service. There are hundreds of brokers and other financial advisers, and they provide varying levels of service. We'll focus on three types of service providers: full-service brokers, fee-based financial planners, and discount brokers.

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