TradeKing CEO, Don Montanaro, has been around. He started at Quick & Reilly which was famous as a pioneer in customer service at discount brokerage firms. And, the lessons he picked up there have stayed with him.
24/7 Wall St. has a chance to talk with Montanaro and Roberto Donovan, the firm’s VP of client experience. TradeKing has done unusually well in the Barron’s and SmartMoney surveys of discount broker customers, and Montanaro attribute much of that to the firm’s willingness to offer online service like live chat and telephone support, which some firms have dropped.
TradeKing has also developed the equivalent of social networking for customers. They can post blogs at the tradeking.com site and share their portfolios online.
The firms also offers sophisticated analytics packages and has just added MarketGrader to that list. 24/7 Wall St. uses that software, which is also available on Barron’s, for some of its analysis. The platform has the advantage of upgrading its ranking on 5,800 stocks quickly when news comes out on a rated company.
One of Montanaro’s beliefs is that customers get what they pay for. Discount broker fees have dropped and some brokers are even offering "zero commission" packages. TradeKing says that its skill is in attracting customers who want a good deal of care, something that is not available from every competitor.
Strong customer service is not inexpensive. That is the risk TradeKing takes. But, it appears to be paying off nicely.
Douglas A. McIntyre