In a broker you will want several things:
- You want a competitive commission price compared to other brokers with the same services.
- You will want the ability to get on the phone with a person quickly when you need technical help due to problems with the platform.
- You want to be with a broker that provides for your specific needs, whether it is speed of execution for day traders or financial reports for investors.
- Good fills on your trades. You want to see that your trade was filled quickly and close to the bid/ask spread when you executed the trade.
- You want quick availability of borrows on the stocks that you want to sell short.
- Beware of brokers that take the other side of your trades instead of executing your trades in the open market. Some forex brokers and binary option brokers are bucket shops not brokers.
- Focus on using a broker for the execution of trades only, there are many other real time chart providers.
- There is no reason in 2016 for anyone to use an expensive full service broker. They do not add value they generally just add the desire for activity for commissions. Always go with a discount broker.