Sogotrade rating

SogoTrade Review


SogoTrade Pricing and Minimum Deposit


InvestmentsCommissions
Stocks and ETFs $0 for limit orders, $2.88 for market orders
Stocks and ETFs broker assisted $25
Options $0.50 per contract
Options broker assisted $25 + $0.50 per contract
Options exercise/assignment $15

Investments stocks, options, cryptocurrencies, ETFs
Sogotrade minimum deposit to open account $0 cash account, $2,000 margin account


Overview of SogoTrade


Although not the most widely-known brokerage firm, SogoTrade does have a very impressive lineup of trading and investment services with one of the most intriguing commission schedules out there. It’s definitely worth taking a look at.


SogoTrade Pros


Paid to trade: Customers can actually make money for placing trades.

Multiple software platforms: Including an API for institutional clients.

Asset management: Advisory accounts are available.


SogoTrade Cons


Not always commission-free: Some equity trades do have commissions.

Limited customer service: Lack of branch locations and 24/7 service.

Excessive fees: IRAs, options, and more have fees in a variety of cases.


SogoTrade Investment Services


SogoTrade Investments Rating

SogoTrade offers both self-directed and advisory accounts. The former service of course has the largest selection of tradable instruments. These include:

  • Equities
  • Funds (exchange-traded and closed-end)
  • Option contracts
  • Cryptocurrencies

SogoTrade’s crypto offering is through Apex. Unfortunately, a lot of investment vehicles like precious metals, futures, forex, bonds, mutual funds, and foreign assets are simply missing.

What’s not missing is a large assortment of account types. SogoTrade manages to deliver quite a few accounts, some of which have tax breaks built into them. Besides individual and joint accounts, SogoTrade has custodial, business, estate, retirement, trust, education, and institutional accounts.

Some of these accounts can be opened by non-US citizens thanks to SogoTrade’s extensive foreign account service. Some visa holders do not need a Social Security Number, which is a really nice service. Either Chinese or English must be used on the account application.

SogoTrade customers get a free EvoShare membership, which delivers cash back into a SogoTrade account with no annual or monthly fee.


Opening an Account


SogoTrade Account Rating

It takes just a few minutes to fill out SogoTrade’s user-friendly online application. However, an account will not be approved right away. It can take SogoTrade several days to approve an application, and while this process is happening in the back office, it’s not possible to log into the broker’s website.

During our opening of a US-based account, we received an email requesting three documents: proof of residency, copy of Social Security card, and copy of other government-issued ID, such as a driving license. This obviously further increases the amount of bureaucracy involved and the total time required to get the account opened. Nevertheless, our account was opened in less than 6 hours. But it took SogoTrade 11 calendar days to enable the account for ACH transfers, and only one bank can be connected during the first 90 days.



Americans and non-Americans should both start by clicking on the orange “open an account” button on the SogoTrade website. Foreigners will be required to submit a collection of digital copies of various documents, such as passport, visa, proof of residency, etc.

Options, margin, and cryptocurrency privileges can be appended to a single account application. A managed account can be opened by selecting the Power Portfolio section on the online portal.


Customer Service


SogoTrade Customer Rating

Applicants and customers alike can reach out to SogoTrade’s customer service team during the week. And we do emphasize “during the week,” as the brokerage house is closed on the weekend. Monday through Friday, the hours of operation are 7:00 am until 8:00 pm, New York time. During these hours, we attempted to call both the company’s local number and toll-free number but received no answer on multiple attempts.

There is a human chat widget on the SogoTrade site that is available during company hours (look for the ‘Live Help’ link at the top of the site). We did receive a response through this channel, so online chat may be more consistent. There is also an email form on the broker’s Contact page.

SogoTrade caters to the Chinese-speaking community. As such, its call center is staffed with Chinese-speaking agents. This section of the company has the same hours already mentioned. There are phone numbers for clients located in China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong. The Hong Kong office is open 24 hours a day, 5 days a week.

The SogoTrade website can be displayed in Chinese (simplified or traditional). The links for this are next to the chat link. And in the bottom-right corner are accessibility settings.


SogoTrade Asset Management


SogoTrade Management Rating

Besides self-directed trading, SogoTrade offers a pretty thorough investment-advisory program. It is a hybrid robo-human service. A software program chooses the specific ETFs in the account and their target asset allocations. But every account has a dedicated human advisor attached to it.

SogoTrade’s human advisors are available for in-person consultations, although the company only has two branch locations (in New York City and St. Louis, Missouri). Phone and teleconferencing appointments are available.

The account management service comes in two varieties: one that attempts to track market indexes and another that tries to outperform them.

An online form begins the managed account application. Only six questions appear on the standard robo questionnaire, and this we consider a significant weakness. Examples of questions include:

- How much would you like to invest?
- How much risk can you handle?
- How much investment experience do you have?


Sogo Robo Review


SogoTrade’s algorithm uses the answers to create a portfolio of ETFs. There are two fund families: Vanguard and iShares.

In addition to this standard managed account program, SogoTrade Asset Management also offers an enhanced program. It includes some additional services like tax-loss harvesting, a financial plan, debt reduction, retirement planning, and more.


SogoTrade Self-Directed Pricing


SogoTrade Pricing Rating

Now we come to the all-important question that virtually every trader will want to know: what does all of this cost? Like most other brokerage firms, SogoTrade has updated its commission schedule in recent years to reflect the growing trend to less-expensive trading.

For self-directed accounts, SogoTrade has removed its previous low-balance fee, which means taxable accounts now have no recurring charges. There is an annual IRA fee of $25. Closing an IRA costs $75.

Trading fees have changed as well. Limit orders qualify for $0 commissions if they are for at least 100 shares or if they result in an execution of at least $2,000. Otherwise, the commission is $2.88.

And here’s where SogoTrade becomes really interesting: those limit orders can actually receive rebates. The payment amount is $1 for every 1,000 shares traded. There is some fine print on this deal, of course. For example, it is only valid during the regular day session. And the limit order must be at least a penny below the ask for a buy or a penny above the bid for a sell. Basically, the order can’t execute immediately.

Other types of orders will have trading fees of some kind, and there are no rebates. There is a commission of $2.88 for market orders and trades of OTC stocks or penny stocks. Penny stocks also have a surcharge of $0.0003 per share or 0.25% of trade amount (whichever is greater).

Option trades have no base commission but do have a per-contract fee of 50¢. Assignments and exercises are $15.

Cryptocurrency trades are 1% of trade value with a $1 minimum commission.

Then there are the miscellaneous charges. Placing a trade over the phone with a live rep has a $25 surcharge. A paper tax document is $10, which is perhaps the most disappointing fee.


Asset Management Fees and Minimums


SogoTrade Fees Rating

Advisory accounts pay no commissions at all, although they have some different numbers in other areas. There is a minimum deposit requirement this time. It is $1,000 for the index-tracking program and $25,000 for the setup that attempts to beat the market.

The company’s management fee is 0.75% per year, and this is billed on a monthly basis. The minimum fee is $5 per month, which means small accounts will end up paying a lot on a percentage basis.

The enhanced advisory program mentioned above costs an additional amount that is negotiable. It is not more than 0.75% annually.


SogoTrade Margin Rates


SogoTrade Margin Rating

A cash account can easily upgrade to margin status on the SogoTrade website. It’s also possible to downgrade a margin account to cash status.

Margin accounts get decent, albeit not great, interest rates on borrowed funds. Currently, the sliding scale starts at 13.5% and drops to 8.75% at a debit balance of $1 million or more.

The broker’s trading platforms (which we’ll look at shortly) show overnight and day-trading margin requirements for entered ticker symbols for both long and short trades. There is up to 4:1 leverage for both overnight and day-trading positions for some symbols.

The platforms also show the amount of buying power a margin account has. This information sits right next to the trade ticket on SogoOnline.


SogoOnline


SogoTrade SogoOnline Rating

Self-directed accounts at SogoTrade get multiple software platforms to choose from. The first one we’ll look at is SogoOnline. This platform is the most basic trading software the broker has, so it’s a good place to begin. It is browser-based and can be launched by hovering over the Trade tab in the top menu on the website and clicking on the relevant link in the drop-down menu.


SogoOnline Review


SogoOnline can submit orders for stocks and options. There are no chains for options, though, so you really need to know what you’re doing. All of the relevant fields, such as option type, expiration, and trade open type, must be manually selected.

The stock tab has 6 order types. These include stop and trailing stop limit. There is a discrete choice for sell short.


SogoTrader


SogoTrade SogoTrader Rating

Next up is SogoTrader. Launched from the same tab on the website (Trade), this one is a little better. Here, an entered ticker symbol actually produces a graph. However, a chart cannot be displayed the full width of the screen, and there are almost no tools. Line and candlestick are the only two display choices.


Sogotrader Review


At the top of the screen sits the same order ticket we saw on SogoOnline. There are two duration choices, day and GTD. The second must have an expiration date added to it.


SogoOptions


SogoTrade SogoOptions Rating

Although SogoOnline can submit orders for derivatives, it is a very basic platform. SogoOptions delivers a much more advanced experience. It will be found under the same Trade tab.


Sogooptions Review


The dedicated options platform has many useful resources. These include:

- Greek values with charts of them
- Profit-loss diagrams
- Integrated spreads
- Build-your own order tool
- Probability calculator

The integrated spreads can be filtered by outlook on the underlying symbol (bullish, bearish, neutral, or volatility). Examples include bull put ladder spread, long straddle, and covered call. The platform shows a general P/L diagram of each strategy along with a detailed description.

An order ticket can be populated by simply clicking on a bid or ask price on the chains screen.

During our testing of SogoOptions, sometimes various tabs wouldn’t load during the market day on Google Chrome, an obvious downside. The problem was fixed by going to Microsoft Edge.


SogoElite


SogoTrade App Rating

Finally, there is SogoElite. Despite the name, this platform isn’t that advanced. In fact, it has no trading capability, which really questions the purpose of the software. SogoElite is used for charting and watchlist management.

In order to gain access to a program that can’t submit any orders, an account must be funded and enrolled in real-time quotes. There are fees for real-time data at SogoTrade ($1.25 per month to $3.00).


Mobile App


SogoTrade App Rating

SogoTrade’s mobile app functions on both Apple and Android phones and tablets. The software delivers charts with three display choices: bar, candlestick, and mountain. A graph can be rotated horizontally, which helps for viewing, although there are no tools at all.


SogoTrade App Review


Chains are available for calls and puts, but there are no strategies. It is possible to create custom multi-leg trades, though.

The order ticket, once again, is the same one we have already seen. This ticket has a special order type called GP2T, which is the order type that needs to be selected in order to get paid to trade (GP2T: get paid 2 trade).

There is a watchlist that doesn’t sync with the website. Alerts can be added to a security. Unfortunately, there’s not much left to report on. There’s no video news, and mobile check deposit is missing.


Supplementary Services


SogoTrade Services Rating

Initial Public Offerings: IPO trading is not available.

Extended Hours: SogoTrade offers early-bird trading from 7:00 am until 9:25 am, Eastern Standard Time. The broker’s late-night trading session runs from the closing bell until 7:00 pm. Phone orders are not accepted during either session.

Individual Retirement Accounts: U.S. citizens and permanent residents can open Roth, SEP, and Traditional retirement accounts.

Fractional-share Trading: Only whole shares of stocks and ETFs can be traded. Cryptocurrencies can be traded in fractions, though.

DRIP Service: Dividends can be reinvested as additional shares inside a SogoTrade account (clients must send a request to services@sogotrade.com).

Recurring Mutual Fund Purchases: Not available. Mutual funds themselves are not available.


Recommendations


Individual Retirement Accounts: With multiple IRA fees, we cannot defend SogoTrade. Schwab has more IRA types with zero fees on them.

Mutual Fund Investors: Firstrade has thousands of funds without any transaction fees.

Beginners: A robo account with SogoTrade Asset Management would be a decent start.

Active Stock and ETF Trading: SogoTrade’s software isn’t the most advanced we have used. Webull has better trading platforms with fractional-share trading to boot.

Long-Term Investors and Retirement Savers: TD Ameritrade has a long list of lifecycle mutual funds plus annuities, individual 401k plans, branch locations, IRA calculators, and much more.

Small Accounts: For self-directed trading, SogoTrade has no minimum. For robo investing, we recommend Chase, who has only $100 minimum.


SogoTrade Review Summary


SogoTrade has a decent investment-advisory service, although its self-directed program needs improving, especially in the software category. The paid-to-trade program is worth considering, and its foreign account service is a rare find.


About the Author
Chad Morris is a financial writer with more than 20 years experience as both an English teacher and an avid trader. When he isn’t writing expert content for Brokerage-Review.com, Chad can usually be found managing his portfolio or building a new home computer.