CI Editor’s Note: A new regular feature in the monthly Computerized Investing E-Newsletter is the Discussion of the Month. Each issue we highlight a question posted by a reader at the Computerized Investing discussion board. You have the opportunity to post your own response, which we may highlight in a subsequent newsletter. The discussion boards are an excellent way to interact with thousands of fellow investors. Visit it today and then click on the Computerized Investing board. Below is the discussion highlighted in the June 2010 CI E-Newsletter. If you have an answer for RailFan, click here.
Does anyone have any thoughts on the differences, advantages, or disadvantages of the XLQ Excel plug-in from QMatix (reviewed in the Fourth Quarter 2009 issue of Computerized Investing) versus AnalyzerXL? Are there any other Excel plug-ins you would recommend?
CI Editor’s Note: Our revamped Online Discount Brokers Comparison, which appeared in the Second Quarter 2010 issue, was for the most part well received by our readers. A few of you did voice your concerns about the new format. We are always open to constructive criticism in our attempts to provide the most useful information and analysis possible.
Your 2010 Online Discount Brokers Guide was most disappointing. The most important consideration given by your members in your survey of discount brokers continues to be commissions. Yet you chose to eliminate this information in your 2010 analysis. The actual commission per trade is not as important as the maximum number of shares that can be traded at the flat fee.
—F.D. via Computerized Investing online inquiry
CI Editor’s Response: Thank you for your comments. These days, brokers differentiate themselves more by the services they provide than the fees they charge. However, as you stated, commissions are still an important consideration. We will remember this for next year’s comparison.
On page 26 of your 2010 Online Discount Brokers Comparison, it states:
“E*Trade offers Power E*Trade for free to all investors.”
When I inquired, E*Trade stated that its more advanced and powerful trading platforms, including Power E*Trade Pro, were available only on a subscription basis. Power E*Trade costs $99.95 per month.
—W.C. via e-mail
CI Editor’s Response: Our apologies for the confusion. We make every effort to confirm the information we provide prior to publishing, but sometimes mistakes do occur. That is why we always suggest verifying the information with the provider before making use of their services.
According to the E*Trade website, “commission-free” trading is available via Power E*Trade for those opening a new account with a $2,000 minimum balance. New account holders receive a maximum of 500 free trade commissions for each stock or options trade executed within 60 days of opening the account. However, you pay the commission rate of $9.99 for your first 149 stock or options trades (plus an additional $0.75 per options contract). You also pay the commission rate of $7.99 for your 150th to 500th stock or options trades (plus an additional $0.75 per options contract). Your account will be credited $9.99 for your first 149 stock or options trades and $7.99 for the 150th to 500th stock or options trades within eight weeks of trade execution (excluding options contract fees). Also, the Power E*Trade platform is available at no additional cost to active traders placing at least 30 stock or options trades per calendar year. After spending a good deal of time at the E*Trade website, we did not find any mention of the $99.95 monthly fee.
I have been using the Captools program for over 19 years to monitor my investments. As your past comparisons indicated, it is by far the best program for this purpose and I continue to use it despite Captools’ decision to abandon the “individual investor” model. However, I am starting to experience problems with price downloading scripts, which are obviously in need of updating. There must be other Captools users out there having these same problems and I wonder if there is any support group that has sprung up to help. Do your readers have any suggestions?
—T.G.V. via e-mail
CI Editor’s Response: As this column has highlighted on numerous occasions over the last few years, Captools had (and still has) a devoted following among individual investors that was left scrambling when Captools decided to focus on professional investors with its Captools/net product. We still use Captools here at AAII to monitor and track the performance of various portfolios. About two months ago, we began experiencing the same problems. We have yet to find a solution and are currently entering prices by hand.
We are not aware of any Captools user groups, but online forums such as the AAII Discussion Boards are an excellent place for users to communicate and exchange information and ideas. If you know about a Captools group, please pass this information along to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.