WellsTrade Review (2020): Good for Research-Focused Traders

Wellstrade Review

Wells Fargo created WellsTrade as a way for bank customers to monitor their portfolio and offer some special tools for investors.

While it is not the most robust tool and is not suited for day trading, investors have some research help and analyst recommendations. In addition, WellsTrade offers 24/7 phone support.

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Wellstrade - Reviews & Ratings

Although WellsTrade is not the most robust tool and is not suited for day trading, investors have some research help and analyst recommendations. In addition, WellsTrade offers 24/7 phone support.

FAST FACTS:
• Account Minimum: $0
• Fees: $0 for stocks & ETFs
• Best For: Current Wells Fargo customers
• Highlight: Ability to easily monitor passive income

Investor Warning: Options involve risks and are not suitable for all investors. When you apply for a Wells Fargo Advisors options account, you will receive a copy of the Characteristics and Risks of Standardized Options.

WellsTrade is the brokerage platform under the superbank Wells Fargo. It features tools like Wells Fargo One Stop that lets you see all of your accounts at the bank and brokerage together to give you one total picture of your financial health.

You can break down holdings by asset type, and there are some useful charting tools for those who like simple numbers. This helps bank customers see gaps in their portfolios, but there are some things that the bank brokerage could do better.

Overview and Summary

  1. It’s more difficult to trade online with WellsTrade due to slower quotes, lack of charting tools, and manual ordering.
  2. WellsTrade does not require a minimum account balance, and it does not charge commission fees for stocks and ETFs.
  3. The interface on desktop and mobile is simple compared to modern tools from other virtual brokerage firms.
  4. Active traders will not want to use WellsTrade as it’s best tools are for casual, beginner investors and retirement planning/
  5. Lack of research tools and automated trading make this app quite dated for most frequent traders.

How Does WellsTrade Work

photo of someone adding an order to their Wells Fargo Account portfolioIf you have an account with Wells Fargo, it’s easy to sign up for a brokerage account at WellsTrade. Setting up your account takes longer if you do not have a bank account already, but you can sign up online. Once you receive your login information, it’s easy to see your accounts and navigate through each screen, but it may feel slower compared to other online brokers and mobile apps.

All orders must be placed manually, so the platform is best suited for those who want long-term trades. Investors are able to enter manual stock orders, as well as ETFs, mutual funds, and single-leg options. You can use Portfolio Tracker to monitor your accounts, but it’s only accessible separately from the main brokerage platform on desktop.

The WellsTrade platform allows you to view quotes, but you have to refresh manually to see the latest numbers. The trade execution is also not as advanced, so it isn’t the best for active investors.

WellsTrade also has a mobile app, which syncs up to your brokerage across all platforms. If you make a change with the desktop browser application, then it appears immediately in the mobile app. However, order entry can be difficult for advanced order types, and quotes are quite delayed. You can access a few charters, but it’s not as deep of an analysis compared to other platforms such as TD Ameritrade.

The WellsTrade Experience

WellsTrade Mobile AppWhen you sign up for a WellsTrade account, you can instantly fund the account through your bank and access the “Trade,” “Brokerage Portfolio,” and “Research” tools. While the technology here is not very broad, you can access everything within the browser or mobile app, including search and analysis features, basic charting, and simple order types.

You have to manually refresh the website, so it’s not known if the quotes are in real-time. They appear to be delayed. You can search for a stock in the upper right corner. A drop-down will appear with details including price, details, set alert options, watchlist options, or select to trade.

If you decide to trade, a new web page loads with multiple order types and two-time limit options. While this is pretty basic, the charting tools offer a bit more for analyzing different stocks. There are 30 different technical studies available including popular ones like Linear Regression and Time Series Forecast. You can change the style of the chart to bar, dot, filled candles, mountain, candlestick, or OHLC. You can set the timeframe to 10 years or the maximum, which could go back to the 1980s if you have a stock like IBM.

The mobile app does allow for trading, which is pretty great if you are a banking customer and want to try your hand at simple investing. You can stream financial news, monitor your position, and deposit a check into your account if have a bank attached.

While the information is pretty simple within the app, you can see Morningstar ratings and charts. For equities and ETFs, there is a bid-ask spread option plus bid and ask features. You can also access real-time news articles for stocks, and option chains are available for certain securities. You can also sign up for alerts.

Pros

  • Straightforward investment options for casual investors
  • $0 commissions on stocks and ETFs
  • 24/7 customer support
  • Great retirement planning tools
  • Access to human advisors and robo-advisors

Cons

  • Higher costs for options traders
  • Not suitable for active traders
  • Orders are all manually entered
  • Underwhelming education and research tools

Are you a Wells Fargo banking customer already? Then monitoring your accounts through WellsTrade may be a convenient option for you. The best thing about this platform is that it integrates with all of your Wells Fargo accounts and offers analyst recommendations. It also comes with 24/7 customer support, and you have access to advisors through the phone and physical store locations.

However, there are some issues with order types, especially if you are an options trader due to the $5.95 plus $0.75 contract fee. However, stocks and ETFs have a $0 commission. These higher costs for options, limited research tools, and delayed quotes won’t help active traders that much.

For long-term investors and retirement portfolios, WellsTrade offers traditional tools and buy-and-sell recommendations that can be accessed on desktop and mobile. For banking customers, the integration, detailed analysis, and 24/7 support may be what’s best for their wealth management.

What Can You Trade with WellsTrade

If you already have a Wells Fargo account and want to try your hand at investing, you will be happy to know that the traditional products are all available through their desktop and mobile app platforms.

Specifically, WellsTrade offers the following:

  • Stocks
  • ETFs
  • Mutual funds
  • Fixed income trades
  • Options

However, WellsTrade does not offer:

  • Futures
  • Futures options
  • Crypto trading
  • Forex trading

For these reasons, WellsTrade is best for casual, passive investors who want to manually enter important trades, possibly for long-term retirement investments.

As for investment advice and recommendations, WellsFargo actually does better in this area and offers more value. If you want a low-cost advisory service, WellsTrade does offer robo-advisors that provide buy-and-sell recommendations within the app. You also have access to human advisors, but these are not directly available via chat. You will need to call or make an appointment at a Wells Fargo location to access these special advisors.

Opening an Account

WellsTrade makes it easy to add a brokerage account to your existing bank account, but you can also open an account if you are new to Wells Fargo. You can set up a standard account, traditional IRA, or Roth IRA account.

The process takes a few minutes to complete, but you’ll have to wait to be approved, which can take some time. Once your account is open, you may not have access to all of the capabilities. You’ll need approval for options and margin accounts, which also requires some additional paperwork.

Once you have your account setup, you can access all of the research, charting, and mobile app features.

Analysis, Charting, and Research Tools

Wellstrade Account AnalysisWellsTrade is not a discount brokerage due to its fees and account costs. However, it does provide value to those who want portfolio analysis and investment breakdown. You can use charts and tables that break down your investments by asset type as well.

The performance reporting option lets you see your trades over specific time periods. You will know when stocks are performing well, but you can’t customize these reports to send alerts to your phone or other notifications that are more helpful in real-time. There are also tax accounting reports, which are useful when it comes time to report to the IRS.

Charting is simple and not very customizable, but you’ll be able to see overall performance for different assets. If you wish to improve your portfolio, you have access to advisors for an additional fee. Some investors may find this more useful to fill in the gaps than simply working with the traditional analysis and reporting platform.

Account and Investment Costs

For those who like traditional stocks and ETFs, excluding penny stocks, you’ll find that WellsTrade offers $0 commission fees. However, there is an annual fee of $30 per household to use the service. There’s also a $95 outgoing account transfer fee and a $15 per hour rate for a human advisor. In addition, you’ll pay $5 per document for account research and documental retrieval.

Options are also more expensive with WellsTrade. Investors pay $5.95 plus $0.75 for each contract, which is considered a pretty old school based on other online brokerages. For this reason alone, it’s more costly overall to invest with WellsTrade than other platforms like Fidelity or even TD Ameritrade.

Investor Education

Besides a few frequently asked question pages and hover tips, education courses and other content like you might find on E*Trade is not available with WellsTrade. If you are a new investor looking for strategies and testing tools, you won’t find these on WellsTrade.

In fact, you may only be able to access 24/7 phone support or walk through the app with an advisor at a physical location to learn about the platform in greater detail. You will need to navigate the application mostly on your own and figure things out for yourself.

The retirement planning tool is the most robust when it comes to education, but it doesn’t match the depth of a historic brokerage platform like TD Ameritrade or Charles Schwab. Instead, you’ll find the basics here and access to a robo-advisor for recommendations.

Manual Order Types

Unfortunately, you can not automate anything with WellsTrade. All of the trades are manually entered, so you’ll need to do your research before using the platform if you are unfamiliar with order types.

While the order entry process is pretty standard for stocks, funds, and options on desktop, it’s different on the mobile app and maybe confusing to use. For example, the mobile app does not allow you to enter advanced order types, and the quotes are slow to update.

Account Minimums

Your account requires no minimum investment, but you will pay some fees, such as the $30 per household fee that is charged annually. You can remove this fee by enrolling in e-delivery or having a qualifying account balance, but there is still a $95 IRA distribution fee and a $95 outgoing transfer fee.

Mutual Funds

WellsTrade Mutual Funds

For retirement investors, WellsTrade shines in no-transaction-fee mutual funds. There are over 2,000 NTF mutual funds available through the desktop and mobile app platforms. You can use the mutual fund screening tool to find the best offerings for your portfolio as well.

Margin Accounts

You can set up a margin loan with Wells Fargo as long as you are a banking member with decent credit. It’s a convenient way to access liquid funds, and you can use it to purchase securities or borrow against them if they are already in your account.

Security

While Wells Fargo has made some changes to increase security, the bank has had several data breaches over the past five years. Client information has been accidentally leaked and accessed by malicious hackers multiple times.

Today, Wells Fargo offers two-factor authentication and uses Face ID on the mobile app. Since WellsTrade overlaps with the bank, there may still be security problems and issues with future breaches based on past experiences.

Funding, Payments, and Withdrawal

There are several ways to fund your account, but the most convenient is through your bank account, which automatically connects and instantly transfers funds to your brokerage account.

You can also make a deposit at a physical branch, deposit a check, run a wire transfer, or transfer from another investment account at another firm.

WellsTrade does not charge any account closure fees. There is a $95 charge to terminate an IRA account though.

When ready to withdraw, you can send funds instantly to your bank account from your brokerage account.

Customer Support

This is one area where WellsTrade excels if you want to speak to a human. With their 24/7 customer support, you can access customer service reps and brokers with more knowledge. The hold times are not that long, and it’s the best way to get detailed information as the online app offers limited information beyond frequently asked questions. In addition, there are no chat options.

Access to human advisors at physical locations vary depending on where you live. In larger cities, customers report that it is easier to talk to an advisor, but you may have to make an appointment.

Tricks to Using WellsTrade Like a Pro

  • Sign up for Portfolio by Wells Fargo to get more analysis and recommendations from advisors.
  • Use the 24/7 customer support and in-person advisor options at physical Wells Fargo locations.
  • Avoid account fees by signing up for electronic document delivery or integrating Portfolio by Wells Fargo.

Latest News About WellsTrade

  • Wells Fargo dropped commissions on stocks and ETF trading just like many other brokerages in December 2019.
  • Wells Fargo recently created the Investment Institute to help with guidance and custom questions. You can also access their recommendations for the new year with their annual foreshadowing reports.

What Rocks About Trading with WellsTrade

Thanks to the domino effect started by TD Ameritrade in October 2019, WellsTrade now offers $0 commission fees on stocks and ETFs like many other discount brokers. This is a huge savings for anyone who has been trading with Wells Fargo for many years. However, it really just places Wells Trade-in balance with all other virtual brokers.

For those who already have an account with Wells Fargo, you will love being able to see all of your accounts in a glance. WellsTrade integrates fully with the bank, so you can see your entire portfolio with retirement planning tools. This is the main reason why WellsTrade was started to begin with so that casual retirement investors could monitor their passive income.

The integration also means quick transfers to liquify funds from your brokerage to the bank account. In fact, it’s pretty much instant in comparison to transferring funds from an online brokerage to your bank account.

You do not have to keep an account minimum to trade with WellsTrade. There are certain fees if you don’t keep a rather high balance of $250,000 in the account or sign up for their e-delivery program. It’s also not that much different in comparison to other brokerages as most of them do not require an account minimum anymore.

What WellsTrade Could Do Better

Manual Orders and Mobile App Trading

Most trading platforms allow for automated trades within their desktop and mobile apps by now, but that isn’t the case with WellsTrade. You will need to understand different order types and enter them manually, and the trade quality may not be as fast or high-quality as with other virtual brokers like Interactive Brokers or Fidelity.

Options Trading

If you trade-in options, you probably want to use another brokerage. WellsTrade has kept its $5.95 base commission fee plus $0.75 per options contract. You should also consider that this is up to $0.25 higher than typical options pricing. This makes WellsTrade higher than most in the business. In fact, only Vanguard seems to be higher.

Penny Stock Investments

You will also pay more for penny stocks. If any stock is priced less than $1, you pay $34.95 or 3.5 percent of the principal per individual trade. You won’t want to trade these types of stocks on WellTrade either.

Account Fees

If you aren’t careful, you’ll get stuck with a $30 account fee each year. You can keep an account balance of $250,000 or opt into e-delivery for account statements to remove this fee. You can also link your account to another platform called Portfolio by Wells Fargo.

In addition, you’ll be charged $95 if you terminate any IRA accounts. This fee does not apply to customers who are over 70.5 in age or accounts closed to disability or death. Outgoing account transfer fees are higher-than-most at $95 as well.

Conclusion: Should You Invest with WellsTrade?

If you have little trading experience and already enjoy Wells Fargo as your bank, you can enhance your wealth management and retirement planning by integrating WellsTrade with your bank account. You can easily monitor your accounts and see the stock performance. However, it’s not for active investors looking for robust trade tools.

For the casual investor who has a Wells Fargo bank account, there’s nothing wrong with using WellsTrade to monitor your accounts more closely and access lower-than-average human advisors for recommendations. However, the platform simply feels clunky and difficult to use whether on desktop or mobile.

About Author

Tim Fries Tim Fries is the cofounder of The Tokenist. He has a B. Sc. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Michigan, and an MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. Tim is also the co-founder of Protective Technologies Capital (protechcap.com).