All They Want for Christmas Is Better, Faster Brokers

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If you think your kids have long shopping lists, you haven't run into online traders.

Last week, we asked


readers to tell us one thing they wished their online brokers would do differently. From the looks of the responses, online brokers still have some work to do if they plan to make the "nice" list next year.

"The ideal would be a broker whose site looks, feels and works like Charlie



and whose commissions were like

Brown & Co.

," wrote Dale Cook, who uses both.

That's an order on par with trying to buy a


at retail price on Christmas Eve. But as online brokers try to adapt to their evolving customer base, they have to pay close attention to what their customers want. So in the spirit of the season, we're giving online brokers a jumpstart by sharing those hopes.

Hot Wheels

Online brokers may have spent the year improving their technology and adding capacity and redundancy, but the crowd roars for more. High on the list: faster downloading and better navigation speed.

"I wish my online broker,


a unit of

Toronto-Dominion Bank

(TD) - Get Report

, could move from page to page in light speed," wrote

Margo Needle


Crash Bandicoot

Web site and trading reliability remains an issue for traders.


(AMTD) - Get Report

customers, for example, wish for better reliability all around, while


customers have a more particular request in mind.

"I use Datek. My wish list would include prompt execution during the first hour of trading," wrote

Lloyd Shenfield


Digital Stopwatch

Real-time everything is a popular request this season. For quotes,


Level II data, portfolio positions or account information, anything from a 20-minute delay to overnight updating is as appealing these days as a Cabbage Patch doll.

"I trade with

Donaldson Lufkin & Jenrette's



. The only thing I wish they had is real-time account information," wrote

Jeremy Armstrong

. "You already have access to real-time holdings, but what I would like is real-time balances and positions."

Timely delivery of information -- isn't that what the Internet is all about?

World Book Encyclopedia CD-ROM

Research and quotes are nice, but only if you know how to use them. Online traders want more instructional material.

"I wish my broker, any broker for that matter, had more educational information on different aspects of trading," wrote

Sascha Nechaevsky

, a customer of

Discover Brokerage Direct

, a unit of

Morgan Stanley Dean Witter



K'NEX Master Building Set

Traders want brokers to build better bridges between parts of their sites to cut down dreaded clicking. For example, brokers could integrate information from various accounts or more closely link trading with research information.

"If I could have a Christmas wish to improve Schwab, it would be the ability to access all my accounts through one Web page or software package without laboriously typing in every account," wrote

Tim Doucet


Sensible Prices

Shopping-weary traders are tired of different prices for different types of trades.

"I wish limit trades would cost the same as market trades," wrote

Mark Searfoss

, a


customer. The same wish goes for Nasdaq and

New York Stock Exchange

trades too. And while they're leveling prices, traders would also like more types of orders to choose from.

Who could ask for anything more?