This is a followup to my initial review of the new broker SureTrader based out of the Bahamas. I've copied that initial review into this post so as to add to and comment on my previous ideas. I will also modify the color of the initial reviews text to make it easier to follow along.
Also just to give some context to this review, I was a customer for about 3 months and I only used the free web-based SureTrader 2.0 platform. Since I use another broker for market data, I am not subscribed to any premium SureTrader service.
The account opening process was also a huge hassle for me (it took about a month and half). My wire bounced back the first time, and the second attempt went through but wasn't properly attributed to my account. Eventually I was able to contact them and they were able to identify the wire that came from me and credit my account. I've opened several other brokerage accounts in the past and never had so much trouble as I have with SureTrader.
So after deciding to setup an account I was quickly met with some troubling aspects of the brokerage. Basically, their website it horrible. The first thing that tipped me off was the fact that it is formatted so all your typing is in caps. The second clue was a typo of the word "your" as "yout" which means they didn't even bother to spell check their web content and generally just indicates they threw this together too quickly.I still maintain their website is pretty bad but it is manageable. Now that I'm more familiar with it, I find the lack of features more troubling. There is no way for me to view my past trades which is a major shortfall.
Now to the more serious qualms. Compare the URL bar of your trusted broker with that of Suretrader. Whenever you are dealing with sensitive info/documents at a place that cares about your privacy and security, you will see the prefix https://... which is indicative of a secure connection. This is sadly not the case at Suretrader which makes me apprehensive about submitting my personal information to them. It's not even that I don't trust them but rather that the information is retrievable by third parties with malicious intent. My fears were further realized today when I was posting a document to my dropbox. Upon doing so, the page refreshed and I was somehow looking at dropbox files from several other accounts. I mean how disturbing is that? The only reassuring thing is that since you can't even access your own dropbox files after submitting them, I wasn't given the ability to look at other peoples files but I was able to see the file names and descriptions. Thus I think it is important to warn others at least to exclude any personally identifying information from these fields in case such an error occurs again.Since writing this, the problem has been resolved, at least in terms of the secure website with a "https" web address. Since I don't need to use the dropbox anymore as an approved customer I can only assume that this issue has been resolved as well. However, I have had issues with letting my session time-out and then when I refresh the page I am redirected to a server error page rather than a custom error page. Admittedly this is a minor and aesthetic issue but again speaks to the amount of time that went into the website before its launch.
Overall though I think I would have to recommend against this broker since its main appeal is the lack of the PDT rule since it resides outside the jurisdiction of the SEC. The reason for my discontent is the commissions which really eat into a small account (which you have if you're looking to avoid the PDT rule). At the time of this writing they are $4.95 for the first 1000 shares and then $0.00495 for every 1000 shares after that. While this isn't horrible, it really sucks for penny stocks which you might be interested in if you were referred to SureTrader through Timothy Sykes. Consider the following scenario:
You have only $2,500 in your account and want to buy SNPK at 0.67, so you purchase 3,000 shares (risking 80.4% of your account). That is $14.85 in commissions just to open your position. The stock runs to 0.72 and you look to get out. So in making this best case scenario trade, you only make $120 while risking a huge amount of your account. That's certainly an inherent disadvantage of a small account but it just feels aggravated by SureTrader's fees. You have to trade perfectly to make money since mistakes cost you big time in terms of commissions. If the previous scenario doesn't bother you, than cool. This is just my opinion after all. I just wanted to point out that the two attractive qualities of SureTrader at first glance (low account minimum + no PDT rule) may not be so attractive once you've thought about it a bit more.
Another supposedly great feature of SureTrader is their great borrows for shorting stocks. From my limited experience at this broker, I have not seen good borrows. In fact, I've attempted to short 5 or 6 stocks that were available to borrow elsewhere and not been able to get shares. This is a HUGE problem for me and if you have any plans to short with SureTrader I suggest you wait to open an account when they get their superior borrows back. In the mean time you can make more money by keeping your capital in an account such as Interactive Brokers (Tim is in the process of making sure SureTrader can get Interactive Brokers' borrows as well so this may be a non-issue in the future).
One good thing I can say about SureTrader is that I have found their customer service to be helpful. It is far from efficient but every problem I have had, I get an answer to in a very reasonable amount of time by seemingly friendly staff. Other brokers just send you an automated response that vaguely relates to your issue and they let you figure out the details on your own.
Some additional complaints I have heard from others:
ST software occasionally goes down during trading hours. This complaint seems only to occur for those using the free web-based trading platform and not the premium PRO platform. One customer who experienced this allegedly lost money as a result of this downtime and received the following response from support following the incident: "SureTrader does not reimburse clients for losses incurred due to trading malfunctions or system disruptions. Please make reference to our risk disclosure found on our website."