Interactive Brokers, commonly called IB, was one of the first brokerage firms to spearhead electronic trading and they did it in a big way. The result is a brokerage firm that trades virtually every major market in the world on a very technically advanced trading platform. And as a result you benefit with very low commissions and a solid electronic trading platform.
Interactive Brokers’ trading platform is the Trader Workstation. You have the option of using the browser-based version or you can download their software and run from your PC. You are able to place virtually every type of order through their software and their system is excellent at tracking trades in your portfolio. The main feature of the Trader Workstation is speed. The whole platform was designed for quick placement of trades with programmable “hot keys” and one-click order entries. You are also able to trade stocks, futures and options from the same platform.
One common theme from users of Trader Workstation is that it is very difficult to learn. They do offer various webinars and a wealth of information is available to assist in the learning process, but don’t expect to be able to use this if you don’t know what you are doing.
Trader Workstation is not the most advanced and the charting capabilities could use an upgrade. Also as you might expect with the lowest commission rates, their customer service is not the best. Do not expect a lot of hand holding here. Online support is encouraged, since they obviously need to keep their costs down. IB specializes in low rates and quick trade executions.
More active futures traders who are comfortable trading on their own may be better suited for this online futures broker than a new trader. You can fill-out their online application to open an account, which is a very thorough application. The initial deposit to trade futures and futures options is $5,000. It is highly recommended that you read the online manual to learn how to work their trading platform before you begin trading.