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Ally Invest Review: The Artist Formerly Known as TradeKing

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A low-cost investment platform and the online investment arm of Ally Bank, Ally Invest offers both self-directed trading and managed portfolios options. Formerly known as TradeKing, Ally Invest is a discount online broker that allows its users to invest in stocks and ETFs with minimal or no transaction fees.

A relatively new kid on the block, Ally Invest’s biggest competitors are TD Ameritrade and Merrill Edge. But do they have the right stuff? NKOTB deep cut! Our Ally Invest review will answer that question and more.

How it Works: Robo-Advising for Beginners

Ally Invest users can use a self-directed approach with their investments or utilize the platform’s “robo-advisor” option, also called a managed portfolio, while enjoying some of the lowest fees in the industry. Ally Invest is ideal for new investors looking to break into the world of stocks and ETF trading.

To get started with Ally Invest, you’ll need to select the option that best fits with your needs. Are you an active trader that likes to take a more hands-on approach? Then self-directed trading is for you. With this option, there are no commission fees on U.S. listed stocks, ETFs, and options trading, with just a $0.5 fee per contract on the latter. Free trading? Sign us up. Ally Invest also touts a variety of investment choices, as well as in-depth research and market analysis tools. You can invest in stocks, ETFs, options trading, bonds, mutual funds, and margin accounts with this option. There is no account minimum.

Or, if you prefer to invest your money, sit back, relax, and reap the rewards, then you might choose the managed portfolio option. With just $100, you can open your managed portfolio, which will include a mix of diversified and low-cost ETFs. There are no advisory fees, rebalancing fees, or annual charges. Thirty percent of your account is set aside as an interest-earning cash buffer.

Like many robo-advisors, this portfolio option will keep tabs on and automatically rebalance your portfolio. What we like about this option? It offers several different types of portfolios, from socially responsible to tax-optimized to core to income-focused.

Easy Application Process

Once you’re selected your approach (I chose the managed portfolio option,) you’ll have to fill out an application. It takes about 15 minutes and includes everything from personal information to financial goals to risk tolerance. You’ll also need to input your investment goal, the type of portfolio you wish to open (remember, socially responsible, core, tax-optimized, and income-focused). You’ll also need to decide if you want to open a taxable account or a retirement account to invest in. Keep in mind that the latter has annual limits. Then you link your bank account, fund it, and you’re good to go.

Once that’s all done, you’ll have access to Ally Invest’s many trading tools, from streaming charts that provide an analysis of certain securities’ performance to watchlists to a probability calculator and of course, market data.

What's Good? What's Bad?

Here’s the crux of this Ally Invest review— it’s a great option for newish investors looking to dip their toe into the world of ETF and stock holding. It’s ideal for Ally Bank customers. That’s because the two user interfaces are tightly intertwined—users can toggle between the two and seamlessly transfer funds.

Pros

  • Users also rave about Ally Invest’s InvestLIVE tool, which provides investors with a real-time snapshot of their investments and other quotes.
  • You can also customize your InvestLIVE experience, selecting the tools and even the color scheme that you wish to appear on your dashboard.
  • This digital financial institution boasts some of the lowest fees in the industry, limited or no minimums to get started, commission-free trading, and plenty of investment options, from stocks and bonds to mutual funds, ETFs, and options.
  • There’s also real-time customer service options with interactive brokers.

Cons

  • Users who have been around since the platform’s TradeKing days complain that the platform’s analytics are much more limited, and harder to find on the app or web version.
  • Mutual funds traded on the platform also carry a hefty fee.
  • The mobile option doesn’t allow you to trade certain securities.

Frequently Asked Questions

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