Opening a brokerage account allows you to buy and sell stocks, bonds, mutual funds, ETFs and other securities. With a brokerage account, you have access to invest in the financial markets. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to open a brokerage account:
Choosing a Brokerage Firm
The first step is selecting a reputable brokerage firm to open your account with. Some top brokerage firms include:
- Fidelity Investments
- Charles Schwab
- TD Ameritrade
Consider factors like account minimums, trading commissions, investment choices, research tools and customer service when comparing brokerage firms.
Types of Brokerage Accounts
There are a few main types of brokerage accounts:
- Taxable brokerage account – You invest after-tax dollars. You pay taxes on capital gains and dividends. There are no contribution limits.
- Traditional IRA – Tax-deferred account for retirement. Contribution limits apply.
- Roth IRA – After-tax contributions that grow and are withdrawn tax-free in retirement. Income limits apply.
- 529 college savings plan – Tax-advantaged account for education expenses.
Determine what type of account best suits your needs. Many brokerages offer all these options.
Opening and Funding Your Account
Once you’ve picked a brokerage, opening an account is straightforward:
- Go to the brokerage’s website and find the “open an account” link.
- Provide personal information such as your name, birthdate, address, Social Security number and employment status.
- Select the type of account you want to open.
- Accept the brokerage agreement and disclosures.
- Fund your account via electronic bank transfer, check deposit or wire transfer. Some firms have minimum deposits to open an account.
The account opening process is typically simple and can often be completed fully online.
Placing Your First Trade
You’ll be ready to start investing once your account is open and funded:
- Research – Use the brokerage’s trading platforms, research tools, analyst reports and educational resources to find investment opportunities. Consider stocks, bonds, mutual funds, ETFs and other products offered by your broker.
- Enter your order – When you’re ready to trade, log in to your account and enter the details of your trade, including the security name/symbol, number of shares, order type (market order, limit order, etc), price and account.
- Preview and submit – Review your order details thoroughly before submitting the trade. Make sure everything is correct.
- Check order status – You can check your account to confirm the order was filled as intended. The money to purchase securities gets deducted from your account balance.
It’s that easy! Now you have the tools to start investing and building your portfolio.
Brokerage Account Features
Here are some key features and services to utilize once your brokerage account is up and running:
- Mobile app – Monitor your account, execute trades, receive alerts and more, all from your smartphone.
- Account statements – Receive monthly statements detailing your account balance, trades, dividends, etc. Many firms also provide real-time streaming quotes and account balances.
- Customer service – Brokerage reps are available by phone, chat or email if you need anything.
- Retirement planning – Guidance on saving for retirement with IRAs and other tax-advantaged accounts.
- Wealth management – Full-service financial advisors provide personalized guidance for fees.
- Robo-advisors – Automated investment management using algorithms.
- Banking – Checking accounts, debit/credit cards and bill pay may be available from your broker.
- Portfolio analysis – See performance metrics, asset allocation and other data on your investment portfolio.
Now that you know the key steps for how to open a brokerage account, you can get started investing in the financial markets! Pick a reputable brokerage firm, open and fund the right account type for you, place your first trades and take advantage of all the helpful features.
- Investopedia. (2022, August 3). How to Open a Brokerage Account. https://www.investopedia.com/articles/basics/06/brokerageaccountbasics.asp
- Fidelity. (2022, September 21). How to open an investment account in 7 easy steps. https://www.fidelity.com/open-account/overview
- Securities and Exchange Commission. (2022, September 30). Opening an Account: What Investors Need to Know. https://www.investor.gov/introduction-investing/getting-started/opening-account
- Merrill Edge. (2022). How to open an investing account. https://www.merrilledge.com/openaccount
- Charles Schwab. (2022). How to open an account. https://www.schwab.com/open-account