Wellstrade rating

Wells Fargo Brokerage Review (WellsTrade)


WellsTrade Pricing and Minimum Deposit


InvestmentsCommissions
Stocks and ETFs $5.95
Stocks and ETFs (broker assisted) $30.95
Options $5.95 + $0.75 per contract
Mutual funds $35
Auction of Treasury Bills, Notes and Bonds $50 per transaction

Investments stocks, options, mutual funds, bonds, ETFs
Wellstrade minimum deposit to open account $0
FeesWellstrade fees


Overview of Wells Fargo Investment Services


If you're thinking about opening a brokerage account with Wells Fargo (member of SIPC), you can choose Wells Fargo Advisors, or for a lower fee schedule, you can go with the company's online discount broker WellsTrade. This low-cost brokerage firm rivals some of the leaders of the industry in a few areas, but falls short in others. After reading this 2018 review of Wellstrade brokerage account, you'll know if the broker is worth it or not.


Banking Features


WellsTrade Banking Rating

If you thought WellsTrade would be a good pick for cash management needs because of its parent company, you need to think again. The brokerage arm doesn't provide any standard banking features with an investment account. You can request checks and a debit card, but they are only available if you choose the Wells Fargo command account as your core position; and this costs $100 per year.

One workaround is to open a savings or checking account with Wells Fargo and then link the bank account to your WellsTrade account. You'll be able to access both of them with a single login. Wells Fargo's bank products aren't the best in the industry (they have monthly fees), and the bank has been hit with multiple scandals in recent memory.


Mutual Funds


WellsTrade Mutual Funds Rating

While we weren't impressed with WellsTrade's banking options, we did like its selection of mutual funds. Using its very effective screener, we were able to find 9,232 securities available for purchase by new investors. Out of these, there were 2,203 funds that carried neither transaction fee nor load.


Wells Fargo investments reviews


The screener itself comes in basic and advanced modes. In the first, you can select Morningstar rating, return and risk values, and an expense ratio. It's also possible to search by fund family, category, and asset class.

With advanced mode, there are more options. For example, you can select the timeframe for a return history. It's also possible to select manager tenure, total assets, and minimum investment.

On the results page, funds are displayed in easy-to-read rows. They can be sorted vertically by a variety of characteristics, such as 10-year performance or Morningstar category. One feature we really liked was the ability to shuffle through columns by clicking on a link at the top of the results.

Clicking on a fund's ticker symbol will take you to the security's profile page. Here there is brief information on the fund in question. A portfolio section shows the top 10 holdings and asset allocation. We were impressed with the risk metrics shown. These include not just the standards like R-squared and the Sharpe ratio, but also less-well-known figures such as Kurtosis, Upside Capture ratio, and Skewness. They extend out to 20 years, which should help long-term investors.


ETF's


WellsTrade ETF Rating

WellsTrade's ETF performance doesn't quite live up to its mutual fund showing. The first thing we noticed is that WellsTrade doesn't offer any exchange-traded funds without commissions. Of course, all US-listed funds are available for trading.


Wells Fargo ETF reviews


The ETF screener is similar to the mutual fund screener. It's possible to search by Lipper rating, tax efficiency, and expense ratio. Other criteria include market cap and 3-year return history. When we clicked on advanced screener, the criteria were the same as on the basic version, another tumble in the ETF category.

The results page wasn't quite as good as what we found on the mutual fund screener, either. ETF results only display the categories you choose on the screener, for example. It is possible to sort these.

On an ETF's profile page, there is a very handy Lipper Scorecard. This shows ratings for several categories on a scale of 1 to 5, and they come in multiple time frames. There is also information on investment objective, return history, sector allocation, fund manager, ticker symbol, and geographic exposure. Option chains are also available for funds that have them.


Customer Support


WellsTrade Customer Rating

In this WellsTrade review we found one nice feature that the broker offers is the customer support department 24/7 phone service. You can pick up the phone any time of the day or night and reach a live rep. Every time we have called in, we have been able to do so very quickly.


Wells Fargo investing reviews


On the downside, WellsTrade's website doesn't have an on-line chat service, which will be an inconvenience to many traders. There is also no AI chatbot, which is becoming more common nowadays. Even more strange is the inability to send an internal message to customer service. While there are many Wells Fargo branch locations, WellsTrade doesn't have a single one.

The self-help section on WellsTrade's site contains some useful information, such as the ability to change a password or to setup document delivery preferences. There are also downloadable forms, such as an IRA distribution request and transfer-on-death kit.


WellsTrade Commissions, Fees, and Account Requirements


WellsTrade Fees Rating

For stock and ETF transactions, WellsTrade charges $5.95. As we have already noted, there are no $0 exchange-traded funds available. However, some Wells Fargo customers do receive a $3 discount (which will brong it to the same commission charged by Firstrade). To qualify, WellsTrade requires either $25,000 in bank deposits or $50,000 within the Wells Fargo family of companies (this includes brokerage accounts). Alternatively, you can pay $30 per month for membership in the Portfolio by Wells Fargo program to receive the discount.

Penny stocks at WellsTrade carry a very steep commission of $34.95 or 3.5% of trade value, whichever is greater. The broker-dealer defines penny stock as any equity under $1. Any trade placed over the phone with a live representative carries a $25 surcharge.

Option traders pay a flat $5.95 plus 75 cents per contract. The $3 discount mentioned above does not apply here, although the $25 agent-assisted surcharge does. While only charged the regular stock commission, exercises and assignments can only be done over the phone, an expensive and unnecessary inconvenience.

The broker's no-load, no-transaction-fee mutual funds carry no trading fees when placed online or with WellsTrade's automated phone service. Transaction-fee funds cost $35 per transaction. Using a live agent to complete a mutual fund order costs an extra $25.

WellsTrade charges a $30 annual household fee. The brokerage firm will waive the fee if you have $250,000 in household balances, only have a SEP IRA, are enrolled in Portfolio by Wells Fargo, or have signed up for e-documents.

Transferring an account to a rival broker costs a very steep $95.


IRAs


WellsTrade IRA Rating

If you're saving for retirement, WellsTrade has a collection of IRA's that may be what you're looking for. SEP and SIMPLE accounts are designed for small business owners and self-employed persons. Also available are Roth, Traditional, and Rollover accounts.

Some of the mutual funds in the lengthy list we looked at above are target-date funds. These are securities that are managed specifically for retirement savers. However, it's not possible to search exclusively for them. We were able to locate them by doing a keyword search for ‘target' and ‘retirement.' Some of the available fund families include BlackRock and Allianz.

During our research, we found only one retirement calculator and no retirement information either in the form of articles or videos. The calculator is called My Retirement Plan. After you input various pieces of information, such as level of emergency savings, age at retirement, and current income, it then guesses how much you need to save each month up until retirement. My Retirement Plan is able to incorporate Social Security income if you want to consider it.

When we called in to ask about individual 401(k) plans, we were routed to several departments in hopes of finding someone who even knew what a solo 401(k) plan was. We were on hold for several minutes. No one knew what a self-employed 401(k) was, so we weren't able to find out what the fee schedule looks like. The company obviously doesn't have the customer service to back this product up, although Wells Fargo's website says they offer one.


Investment Advice


WellsTrade Investment Rating

If you haven't had a lot of success investing on your own, you could try Wells Fargo's portfolio management services. If you want a traditional financial planner, you'll need to go to Wells Fargo Advisors, because WellsTrade doesn't offer this service.

What WellsTrade does offer is something called Intuitive Investor. This is a hybrid robo-human management system that costs 0.50%, much less than a traditional investment advisor costs. WellsTrade offers a 0.10% markdown if you qualify for the discounted commission schedule mentioned above.

The way the system works is that Wells Fargo human advisors build a selection of portfolios and update them periodically. The robot scrutinizes questionnaire answers to place you with one of these pre-defined portfolios. It also performs tax loss harvesting, dividend reinvestment, and daily monitoring.

Intuitive Investor buys and sells only low-cost ETF's. The typical portfolio costs between 14 and 18 basis points each year. There are no commissions charged on trades placed within an Intuitive Investor account, and there is a $10,000 minimum to start the service.


Trading Tools


WellsTrade Trading Tools Rating

WellsTrade doesn't have much in the technology category. The brokerage house doesn't provide its clients with a desktop platform, nor does it have a browser-based trading system. All trading takes place on its website, which is pretty basic. There is no trade bar, either, so orders are submitted via web pages.

In the upper-right corner of the WellsTrade site, there's a search box where a ticker symbol can be entered. After you type one in, a drop-down info box appears. Here, you can select trade, option chain, details, set alert, or add to watchlist.


Wells Fargo trading reviews


Clicking on trade produces the website-based trading ticket. There are only four order types and two durations. It is possible to select a tax lot, and a security's vital data can be refreshed.

Although most of this sounds rather elementary, we found charting on the WellsTrade website to be a little more impressive. There are roughly 30 technical studies available, including Time Series Forecast and Linear Regression. Chart styles include bar, line, dot, filled candles, OHLC, mountain, and candlestick. There are several drawing tools as well. These include lines and Fibonacci arches and circles.


Wells Fargo Stock trading review


The timeframe can be set to 10 years or max. For IBM, price history went back to 1988. The shortest period is 1 minute. Company events, such as earnings and dividends, can be overlaid. Comparisons can be made to an index or another stock.

Unfortunately, that's about it for trading tools at WellsTrade. Hopefully the broker will add some more features soon.

Learn more in Wellstrade platform review.


Mobile App


WellsTrade App Rating

Moving from the website to WellsTrade's mobile app didn't improve things very much. The app is missing several important features—namely streaming financial news and mobile check deposit. Strangely, it is possible to deposit a paper check if you have a Wells Fargo bank account. (They use the same app with the same login.) Also missing are bill pay and funds transfer.

We did like the fact that mutual funds can be traded on the app. Brief information is available, and this includes Morningstar ratings, minimum investment amount, and management fee. There's also a chart that shows the growth of $10,000.


Wells Fargo brokerage account review


For stocks and ETF's, there is bid-ask spread plus bid and ask share amounts, a nice feature. There are also news articles for stocks that have any news circulating. Option chains are available for securities that have them. Unfortunately, complex strategies are not on the app.

During our testing, we were disappointed in the simplicity of the app's charting. There are no technical indicators and only one graph style. Price history only goes back five years, and there are no comparisons. Unfortunately, there is no way to customize a chart's colors, either.

One feature on the mobile app we did like was the ability to sign up for alerts. There are several triggers to choose from. For example, price greater than, new 52-week low, and % volume greater than 90-day average. The alert can be sent either as a push notification or as an email.

As for market news, there are index numbers for the major U.S. exchanges. Tapping on one of them produces a profile page with detailed information and a small chart. Global exchanges are shown as well. News articles from the Associated Press cover financial topics.


Investment Education and Research


WellsTrade Research Rating

The educational section on the WellsTrade site is rather brief. There is market news in article format from a variety of sources. Earnings announcements are shown as well. Unfortunately, we couldn't find any video news.


Wells Fargo Research review


Commentary from Wells Fargo Advisors is posted online. These are articles in pdf format that cover a large territory of investment issues. Some of the topics we found include global bonds, NAFTA, and REIT valuation.

One thing we did like was the collection of tiles that show the day's price performance of individual assets, such as gold and the S&P 500. A small graph is included with green for gains and red for losses. Interest rates, currencies, and prominent futures contracts are also shown.


Comparison


When we compare WellsTrade against some of its major competitors, the judgment isn't very good for the former. WellsTrade is more expensive than Fidelity, Schwab, and Firstrade. While it's true that WellsTrade offers a discount, many traders won't meet the minimum level of funding.

Trading tools at WellsTrade just don't measure up to today's standards. Most brokers offer at least a browser-based platform (Ally Invest is one example). Other brokers like TradeStation have a desktop platform.

Not providing any commission-free ETF's puts WellsTrade behind a long list of brokerage firms that do offer some. They include E*Trade and Vanguard. Firstrade offers over 700 (!) commission-free ETF's.

WellsTrade has done a good job rolling out Intuitive Investor. But the program is more expensive than M1 Finance that charges nothing.

Although WellsTrade has a decent educational section, other brokers offer more resources. Fidelity, for example, provides videos, webinars, and self-guided courses. Merrill Edge also has an extensive learning center.


WellsTrade Pros


WellsTrade's commission schedule offers a deep discount to Wells Fargo customers with significant assets. Other brokerage houses provide no discounts at all. These firms include Charles Schwab and Fidelity Investments.

The mutual fund selection at WellsTrade is larger than what's available at several of its rivals. Merrill Edge and Schwab, for example, provide fewer funds. WellsTrade's mutual fund search tools are also very good.

It's nice to have customer service available around the clock. Several brokerage firms today don't have this luxury. Vanguard and Firstrade are two examples.


WellsTrade Cons


WellsTrade doesn't offer any commission-free ETF's. This is a major failure in an era where many brokerage firms do provide at least some exchange-traded funds that are free to trade. TD Ameritrade offers good selection, and the lowest-cost Firstrade also has the largest list.

The WellsTrade order form only offers four order types. This is a smaller number, and many brokers have software that provides many more. TD Ameritrade's thinkorswim platform has 8, and TradeStation's desktop platform has no less than 20 different order types.

There are just two time-in-force choices on the WellsTrade order ticket. TradeStation, by comparison, offers twelve.

WellsTrade's mobile app doesn't have live streaming of business news or advanced charting. TD Ameritrade's thinkorswim mobile platform has both for free. E*Trade charges for live streaming of CNBC.

The lack of a desktop trading platform, a browser-based platform, and a browser-based trading ticket are all failures at WellsTrade. Other brokers do offer these products, and oftentimes at no charge. Interactive Brokers has a desktop platform, TradeStation has a browser-based platform, and Merrill Edge has a sophisticated trading ticket.

WellsTrade's IRA selection is rather small. Other brokers, such as Vanguard, offer more account types. TD Ameritrade and Firstrade charge nothing to close an IRA.


Recommendation


Mutual fund investors will probably find the best luck at WellsTrade. With the broker's large list of funds plus a good screener and a moderate transaction fee for non-NTF products, the broker delivers a lot here. Nevertheless, some brokers (TD Ameritrade and USAA, for example) do offer more funds. Ally Invest is much better priced: $9.95 per trancation versus $35 at Wellstrade.

We cannot recommend the broker for beginners due to the lack of investment education tools. Active traders who need good software will be disappointed here, too.

It's hard to recommend WellsTrade for self-directed retirement savers due to the lack of retirement resources on the broker's website. Vanguard, for example, has over ten retirement calculators on its site.

Small accounts will benefit from WellsTrade's no-fee and no-minimum account policies if they sign up for electronic statements.


Wells Fargo Brokerage Review Summary


In 2018 WellsTrade brokerage review we clearly showed that the broker has tried but failed to impress. Investors who expect a home run because of the Wells Fargo name will be disappointed. The financial conglomerate has a long list of problems on its banking side, and it obviously hasn't placed a lot of emphasis on its low-cost discount brokerage arm. Banking customers with sizeable assets may find a decent value, but many brokerage features will still be missing. Most traders should simply pass on this one.


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WellsTrade Margin Rates


Debit Balance Margin Interest Rates
under $24,999.99 11.00%
$25,000 - $49,999.99 10.50%
$50,000 – $99,999.99 10.00%
$100,000 - $249,999.99 9.50%
$250,000 - $499,999.99 9.00%
$500,000 - $999,999.99 8.50%
$1,000,000 - $4,999,999.99 8.00%
$5,000,000 - $9,999,999.99 7.50%
above $10,000,000 7.00%



WellsTrade IRA Fees


Fee Amount
WellsTrade IRA setup fee $0
WellsTrade annual IRA fee $30. Coverdell Education Savings Account annual fee: $20. Command Asset Program/Command Asset Program for IRAs: $125
WellsTrade IRA termination fee $95
WellsTrade account inactivity fee $0
WellsTrade outbound full account transfer (ACAT) fee $95


WellsTrade reviewed by Brokerage-Review.com on . Rating: 3