Mar
20
2008

  How Did thinkorswim Rank So High?

Today, I started placing trades using my "paper" account on thinkorswim. It wasn't long before I discovered that they overstate portfolio gains by not adding commissions to the stock cost. They take the commissions out of the available cash, so why not add the cost to the stock basis? Once again I logged onto their "live chat" to discover that there is no setting that will enable me to quickly see true gains and losses, nor is there another screen (outside of the "profits and losses" screen) that I could use to find this out, either.

TDAmeritrade adds their commission to the cost of the stock right off so you can track your true gains and losses. This is such a dumb thing for thinkorswim to not do. They also have a number called "Net Liquidating Value", but all it really is is the current market value of your portfolio plus the cash in the account. I think a true "Net Liquidating Value" would take into consideration the commission fees to sell all existing shares. Thinkorswim shouldn't mislabel these things, I would be less annoyed if they were just upfront about the numbers they were presenting. How about "Current Account Value" and "Gross Profits and Losses" instead of "Net Liquidating Value" and "Profits and Losses".

I really don't know how they ranked so highly on the Barron's Survey. I might want to phantom trade based on TradeStation and see if I could still hit my target numbers with their fee schedule. The per-trade costs are lower, but they have a $99 monthly flat fee for use of their trading platform. But if it makes it easier to place good trades, then it might be a better deal anyway.