TradeMonster was formed in 2006 by two brothers, Pete and Jon Najarian, who had been trading options for a number of years. Their headquarters are situated in downtown Chicago, right at the very center of the options trading world, allowing them to easily headhunt, recruit and retain employees with vast experience within the industry. While TradeMonster does dabble in other financial markets they have placed a very strong emphasis on options trading; a focus that is highlighted by the name of their parent company optionMonster.
While TradeMonster may not be the first name that springs to mind when looking at potential brokers, they are a strong contenders for the custom of any self-directed investor and have been since 2008 when they emerged with an extremely professional team, ready for business.
TradeMonster offer all the usual ways to contact their support team such as telephone, live chat, fax, email and for those that prefer it, “snail mail”. All queries are handled by a customer service representative based in a United States call center, which we presume is located in their headquarters. The staff seem to be well trained, very polite and efficient while not coming across as if they just want you off the line as soon as possible. Unfortunately their phone lines are only open 9 till 5.
Emails are usually answered within a 2-3 hours but more complex requests are escalated to the relevant department without any communication with the trader, which made us feel like we had been ignored or they were just too busy to handle our problem. That being said, our “complex request” was dealt with within 1 working day.
If you are new to trading then TradeMonster also offer education, news, analysis and advice on strategies via their sister site OptionMonster.com.
The trading platform offering by TradeMonster is hardly the most user friendly that we have come across. Complex trades can be an absolute nightmare to get setup, with new pop-up’s seemingly appearing every time you click a new link. This can become highly confusing and will leave newer traders feeling somewhat overwhelmed very quickly, although veterans will be able to make sense of it all relatively quickly. Usually this would be a gamebreaker for us but TradeMonster pulls it back with their free proprietary trading tools that come bundled with all accounts. You will have tradeLAB, Exit Plan and strategySEEK at your disposal, all of which are extremely powerful and useful tools which will help you from start to finish of all trades should you wish to enable them.
While TradeMonster does support mobile platforms on the iPhone, iPad and Blackberry their Android platform is still in development and not expected to be released for some time.
Fees and Commission
While TradeMonster will perform no real miracles for the average trader in this department, volume traders will can take advantage of the lowest rates around. If you order over 100,000 contracts a month fees will be as little as $0.10 per contract with a $3.50 minimum, which is quite literally unparalleled right now. Anything under 100,000 is charged at $0.50 per contract with a $12.50 minimum which eventually works out to be around the industry standard. Exercise and assignments will set you back $7.50, as will regular stock trades.
Broker-assisted orders are a respectable $15, although it is a service that is offered for free elsewhere. The saving grace for the brokerage, from a smaller traders perspective, is that there are no minimum account balances or fee’s for inactivity and maintenance. Other brokerages would do well to follow this example.
For the average middle of the road trader these guys may not represent the best value, combined with their clunky platform it would be advisable to steer clear. New traders will find their educational resources to be helpful and informative and those operating with a smaller bankroll will enjoy the absence of inactivity, maintenance fees and no minimum account balance restrictions. Volume traders quite simply won’t find better value anywhere else in the market.