Who’s it for?
At first glance, you might think the Ally Invest website is for newbie investors, as the website’s offbeat fonts, purple lettering, and simple infographics suggest an introductory feel. The “Get My Recommendation” on its managed portfolios section of the website asks for a Mad-Libs style “fill in the blank” activity for Ally to make plan recommendations. Example: “I’m ___ years old, and I want to ______. I’m investing for the ____ term, and my risk tolerance is _____. I have liquid assets of $_____ and plan to start investing with $______.” In reality, it breaks down the complexity of investing in a simple manner that is suitable for all experience levels of trading.
Ally Invest offers beginning investors a way to break the ice. Beginning investors shouldn’t feel intimidated by Ally Invest’s relatable approach to investing and does offer conveniently managed investment products for brand-new investors.
For Advanced Traders
A self-directed trading option through Ally Invest can appeal to the hands-on, advanced investor, and advanced charting tools and numerous calculators can make tech-savvy investors happy as well. Research and tools for DIY investors include streaming charts, market and company snapshots, watch lists, profit/loss calculators, probability calculators, option chains and market data—all great for frequent traders.
Ally Invest offers the following products for self-directed traders:
- Options (equity, index, and ETF) and Binary Return Derivatives (ByRDs)
- Mutual funds
- Fixed Income (corporate, agency, treasuries, municipals, strips and zeros, CDs and new issues)
Commissions and Fees
Compared to other well-known online brokerages, Ally Invest’s self-directed equity trade pricing, margin rates, and fees (including load and no-load mutual funds) are extremely competitive. For a complete breakdown, see below.
|Stocks and ETF Trades||Fees|
|Standard Pricing||$4.95 per trade|
|Volume Pricing 30+ Trades per Quarter||$3.95 per trade|
|Balance $100,000+||$3.95 per trade|
|Pricing||65¢ per contract + $4.95 base|
|Volume Pricing 30+ Trades per Quarter||50¢ per contract + $3.95 base|
|Balance $100,000+||50¢ per contract + $3.95 base|
Ally’s low commission of $4.95 per stock/ETF trade is discounted even more ($3.95 per trade) for active traders who make 30 or more trades per quarter or who have a $100,000 or more account balance.
Similarly, for options trading, it’s $4.95 + $0.65 per contract and $0.50 per contract if making 30+ trades per quarter or for $100,000 balances).
Mutual fund commissions stand at $9.95, a steal compared to a lot of other brokers. For example, OptionsHouse is comparable in most areas (stock/options trading through OptionsHouse is $4.95 as well) but OptionsHouse charges $20 fees for mutual funds.
Commissions on bonds are $1 per bond with $10 minimum, $250 maximum. Treasuries are commission-free and CDs are $24.95.
Margin rates are low as well. For balances between $0.01 and $9,999, Ally Invest’s margin rate is 8.75%, compared to TDAmeritrade’s 9.50% and ETrade’s 9.75% at that same margin balance. For balances at $1,000,000+, Ally Invest’s margin rate is a low 4.25% compared to TD Ameritrade’s 6.75% and ETrade’s 6.25%.
Platform and Tools
Ally Invest LIVE is the name of Ally Invest’s platform and is free to anyone who opens an account, which is a huge benefit, considering other brokers require certain account minimum levels to be able to access their platforms.
Ally Invest LIVE is relatively user-friendly and includes a dashboard, trading, investment accounts, managed portfolios, research and tools options, as well as real-time streaming, quotes, and dashboards you can customize yourself, as well as interactive options chains and charts.
Ally Invest Live
Ally has a simple and intuitive Dashboard that gives you a birds eye view of your investments.
You can quickly get a report of your realized gains and losses. You can see that we like our fast food at Benzinga :).
Ally Invest LIVE Dashboard
Simple to view your watchlist, holdings, option chains, balances, and more.
Speaking of charts, one of the best features of Ally Invest LIVE is the over 90 chart studies and drawing tools available to analyze stock and ETF performance. Accessible drawing tools, such as ellipses, horizontal lines, and Fibonacci tools exist, and six chart types, including candlestick, bar, mountain, and line types are also available for Ally Invest LIVE users. Different intervals, such as daily or monthly intervals, can also be easily absorbed by traders or investors.
“QuickTrade” is another Ally Invest LIVE option, and it appears in the upper right-hand corner of investors’ computer screens. QuickTrade seamlessly offers traders the opportunity to complete a trade ticket at the drop of a hat. Traders can choose action, quantity, order type and duration quickly and easily—without complication.
Admittedly, Ally Invest LIVE is not as sophisticated as TDAmeritrade’s very, very customizable Thinkorswim platform. Even so, Ally Invest LIVE still holds its own—and it’s arguably even more beneficial because it’s free for account holders, no matter the size of the account holder.
Ally Invest’s mobile app includes portfolios-at-a-glance, easy-trade options (you can very easily trade on-the-go), with quick market news and quotes. In addition, traders can automatically view interactive charts, news, and options. Mobile app users can instantaneously see the last price, today’s change and volume for each ticker symbol.
An order form can be used to buy and sell stocks, ETFs, and options.
Ally Invest’s website offers two choices upon arrival at the invest section of the site: Self-Directed Trading and Ally Invest Managed Portfolios, and once one or the other is chosen, it’s possible to easily learn more about each option. The advantages and disadvantages to both options are clearly spelled out and that may appeal to beginning investors. The fee structure for all options is also very clearly laid out for all investment products.
On the investment products page, traders/investors can click for a comprehensive list of products: Stocks, options, ETFs, bonds, mutual funds, forex and futures, and refreshingly, a definition is available for each product to help beginning investors understand, for example, what an ETF is.
Planning your investment strategy starts with proper research. When comparing online brokers, which research reports are available on the platform plays a crucial role, and Ally’s research
Research and tools show a multitude of visual images of each tool and research option available to investors, which is a handy way for prospective investors to get an idea of what Ally Invest LIVE will look like once they begin investing.
Ultimately, Ally’s website layout makes sense (though some reprehensible purple fonts do exist on the site) and really does cater to multiple demographics—beginners and advanced traders and investors alike.
Technical analysis indicators
Performing technical analysis is one of the key metrics that help investors know when to buy or sell stocks. Ally Invest has helpful tools for the following indicators, and a brief definition/description is also included on each of the indicators:
Trend indicators show whether a persistent up, down or sideways trend can easily be seen.
Describes the intensity of market opinion on a certain price by examining the market positions taken by various market participants.
Refers to the magnitude of day-to-day price fluctuations.
Cycle indicators indicate repeating market patterns from recurrent events.
Support and resistance describe the price levels where markets repeatedly rise or fall and then reverse.
Momentum indicators determine the strength or weakness of a trend as it progresses over time.
If prospective clients are interested in measuring customer service through Ally’s brick-and-mortar locations, it’s impossible, as Ally does not have any physical locations. However, Ally Invest can be reached over the phone 24 hours a day, seven days a week (855-880-2559). For clients who live outside the United States, there is an international phone number available as well.
Ally Invest’s “chat with us” feature allows current and prospective clients to choose items to chat about beforehand, including trading, managed portfolios, funding an account, etc. Entering in name and account number, plus email address, are not required, but current clients will likely receive expedited service if that information is provided.
Ally Invest’s email is an easy way to communicate as well, firstname.lastname@example.org. Convenient and accessible, Ally Invest covers its customer service bases.
Ease of Use
Really, what’s the number one platform requirement by most investors?
The ability to hit the easy button.
It’s frustrating to navigate research and trading tools that are cumbersome on any site. Fortunately, Ally Invest’s instinctive platforms and website are clean, simplified, supremely intentional and geared toward beginning investors, too.
$4.95 volume discount available
- Active traders
- Beginners looking to start trading
- Low fees
- Penny stocks
If investors aren’t familiar with Ally Invest, they may be pleasantly surprised by a potential boon in savings across the board. Hard-hitting in all senses of the word, Ally Invest really does keep competitors looking over their shoulders.
Its trading platform (free!) and data and research tools alone make Ally Invest well worth considering.
The lack of transaction fee-free ETFs and mutual funds could cause certain traders to shy away, but overall, investors and traders alike could be missing the boat if they don’t bait their hooks with investment products through Ally Invest.