Review of Indian stock brokers by a trader



I have been trading and investing in Indian Stock Market for more than a decade now and during this time have done day trading, swing trading, position trading and also invested for long term. As far as trading instruments are concerned have traded in commodities, currencies, futures and options. Started as a part time trader, then stopped trading altogether and now I can say that I am a full time trader focusing mainly on day trading. During my decade long career in stock market have used services of various online brokers in India (predominantly online trading). Every brokers have their own strength and weaknesses and following article is to highlight my experience using them.

Following are some of the brokers I used during last decade:

  • ICICIDirect.com
  • Sharekhan.com
  • Angelbroking.com
  • Zerodha.com

Disclaimer: This article is not an endorsement of any particular brokerage firm and is based solely on my personal experience. I may not have used all the features provided in the broker’s trading platforms and therefore these reviews may not be complete. Also note that some of my reviews might be stale as I may have used the broker service some years back and now the product/service might have changed a lot. Also many of these brokers give recommendation for trading and investing and this is not reviewed as I have not used them much.

ICICIDirect.COM

When I started trading and investing around 10 years back ICICIDirect.com, which is part of ICICI Securities Ltd, was one of the famous online trading brokerage firm in India and naturally I opened a trading account with them. I was new to trading and investing and ICICIDirect.com’s web platform looked convenient. When I started trading was not aware of the negative impact brokerage cost can have on trading results. Even though for first 3 years I used only ICICIDirect.com for all my trading and investing, later on moved to other platforms (which are mentioned below) for trading activities.

My overall experience using ICICIDirect has been:

  • ICICIDirect.com's 3 in 1 account , where in your trading, demat and bank account is seamlessly integrated, is very good. This is one of the best feature and miss this seamless integration when I am using services of other online stock brokers in India
  • After initial hiccups/learning was able to use the website features to collect data and calculate the income/loss for filing annual tax returns. This is very important feature if you are a volume or a full time trader
  • ICICIDirect.com has good RMS (Risk Management System) and if margin requirement is not met your positions would be squared off automatically. I like this feature as this would protect you from catastrophic events like May crash that happened in 2007. But some traders may not like this as they would not be able to request for an extra day to meet margin requirements.
  • For a new trader or investor ICICIDirect is a good trading platform as all the features are arranged nicely in their website
  • Brokerage charged by ICICIDirect is very high and this impacts your profit margins if you are a trader. Yes, ICICIDirect is a full services broker, but they need to reduce their brokerage fee to become more competitive.Even for investor the brokerage for delivery buying is high compared to other brokers
  • Charting capabilities are very minimal for a trader in ICICIDirect. I am talking about website and not aware of their recent Trade Racer tool as I have moved to other platforms for trading some years back
  • During initial years, one of the most painful experience with ICICIDirect had been the performance of the website and I am not aware whether they have improved the performance recently. ICICIDirect.com goes down now and then citing technical reasons, sometimes during peak load experienced difficulty to even login or performance became very slow to place trades. This had impacted my trading many times and this is one of the main reason along with high brokerage to look out for alternate online brokers.
  • Now I hardly use ICICIDirect.com for trading, but still use them for my long term portfolio. Recently traded in F&O as my money was in ICICI Bank and just comparing the brokerage charged by them with Zerodha I regretted for doing it.
  • Long term investor who wants to buy stocks, MF, IPO, Bonds etc then this is a nice platform. But you can do extra research and find cheaper alternatives in the market

Sharekhan.com

Sharekhan is one more full service broker I used for couple of years during last decade and around 2007 closed the account. Only used Sharekhan.com web trading platform and not tried their TradeTiger platform.

Following sums up my limited experience using Sharekhan.com

  • Overall experience with Sharekhan has been positive and brokerage is not as high as ICICIDirect, but it can be reduced further
  • Finding data for calculating Tax Returns was cumbersome ( hope they have improved now). ICICIDirect was cool here.
  • Missed the seamless integration of bank and trading account like you have in ICICIDirect. At that time felt Sharekhan.com was not as organized as ICICIDirect.com
  • Recently I met a person who uses Sharekhan’s trading software and he seem to be happy with it ( I cannot add anything here as I have not used it). I saw the trading terminal when he was analyzing stocks and looked nice. For an active trader this is very important feature to have
  • Sometimes had issues getting through their customer service number.
  • Sharekhan is a full service broker so you can invest in IPO, MF, Bonds etc from single platform ( I have not used this either)

Angelbroking.com

I opened trading and demat account with Angel Broking couple of years back and mostly use this for swing trading. Angel Broking is again a full service broker and like any of the above full service online brokers they give recommendations for both short term, swing and position trading.

Following are some of points which I observed while trading with Angel Broking

  • Opened Angel Broking trading and demat account through sub broker and got good discount on brokerage. If you negotiate you can reduce the brokerage by around 20% which would directly get into your bottom line
  • Angelbroking.com web portal for trading is OK , but usually trade with their trading terminal called Angel Speed Pro which is good. All recommendation come directly onto your trading terminal and you can take a call based on your trading style.Like the News Flash feature which helps trader to be quickly updated on market
  • Angel Broking's mobile trading platform is OK
  • Angel Broking's customer support and offline trading is OK
  • Angel Broking’s trading terminal is good but their intraday chart displays real time 5 min data and not 1 min data, which is required for active day traders.Traders can open multiple chart windows and this helps to track multiple stocks at one glance.
  • There is no seamless integration of trading and bank account like ICICIDirect
  • Angel Broking back office website is very confusing. There are old and new versions and I had hell of a time to collect data and calculate my tax returns
  • Currently using Angel Broking for swing trading of stocks and sometimes day trading

Zerodha.com

When initially heard about Zerodha couldn’t believe that they charge just Rs 20 brokerage per trade. I went through their materials and other information to understand whether there are any hidden clauses and didn’t find any.With little skepticism opened a trading account with Zerodha and didn’t open demat account as I wanted to do only intraday and future trading using Zerodha

Following are my observation regarding trading with Zerodha

  • Cost of trading with Zerodha is very low, in fact their brokerage is almost equal to service charge of some big brokers when you buy Nifty. Intraday I can aim for 5 points in Nifty and still make money, which was not possible for me earlier
  • Cheap brokerage doesn't mean that service is bad. Zerodha is as good or bad as any other online brokers in India.
  • Other than initial hiccups of understanding Zerodha trading terminal, I didn't had any issues until now. Customer support is good
  • As Zerodha is discount brokerage firm, they don’t offer any recommendations. So this is not suitable for people who are new to trading and investments.
  • Nest Trader platform of Zerodha is good and I like the charting tool which is one of the best free charting tool I have worked with. Cannot open multiple chart windows of different securities like you can do with Angel Broking's trading terminal and this is one feature Zerodha need to add soon
  • Zerodha constantly try to improve the product by adding new features for traders like they recently added Bracket Order facility. Being a discount broker never once felt that their trading website or terminal performance is below any other online brokers in India

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