- There's a race to the bottom in stock trading fees right now, and
- You Invest, the bank's new zero-fee brokerage platform, offers 100 free trades for all customers, with options up to unlimited trades for premium consumers.
- We took the new platform for a spin to see how it compared to digital-only start-ups like Robinhood.
- The bottom line: it's not the most easy-to-use interface, but it works perfectly and comes with the backing of the US' largest bank.
JPMorgan's new You Invest product has a major competitor in its sights: Robinhood.
The zero-fee trading app has caused headaches among traditional brokerages ranging from Wall Street banks to online trading sites like TDAmeritrade or Fidelity, all of which have been forced to lower their commissions in response to the pricing war among platforms.
JPMorgan's latest retort has come in the form of 100 commission-free trades for all customers, with a sliding scale up to unlimited trading if you're a "Chase Private Client" customer.
I took the new brokerage offering for a spin to see how it compared to other platforms — and the results aren't looking good for JPMorgan as it tries to compete with the encroaching, digitally-native competitors. The service has all the functionality needed to hold its own as a brokerage account, but it falls significantly short in other areas.
There is no ability to trade on margin — aka buying stocks on a loan from the bank and not secured by your own cash — and it doesn't support any complex strategies, like call and put options. Still, it's a convenient place to manage your investments alongside a checking, debit, or credit account, rather than migrating between sites or apps.
Here's how the service works:
The initial application isn't touted on the apps main screen — but you'll find it in the apps main menu, accessed from the top-left hamburger button
From there, you'll be asked a handful of standard questions that any brokerage is required by law to ask of a potential customer in order to verify your identity. It also asks about your income, employment, and goals from investing.
There are options for a brokerage account (the one we're exploring here) as well as traditional and Roth IRA's.
Once your account is approved, it will show up on the app's main screen next to any other accounts you may have with JPMorgan or Chase. Here's what it looks like next to my checking and savings.
You can initiate a trade right from the home screen, or dive into any of your accounts for more options and information.
Let's make our first deposit and get to making some trades!
Unfortunately this is where simplicity goes by the wayside. After the initial deposit, there's no button from inside the brokerage account page to make another cash deposit.
To add more cash to your account (beyond the initial funding), you'll have to head back to the main screen. After tapping the "transfer" button, you'll then select where you want the money to go. In this case, we want it in our new You Invest account. Once I've set the amount and transfer date, I'm ready to fund my new account.
Now that there's cash in my account, it shows up in my account summary.
Because I've yet to make any trades, it's just showing cash. Once we buy an equity, ETF, or bond, this will change.
Time to buy some stocks
I opted to buy one share of the SPDR's SPY exchange-traded fund (ETF) for this example. It's one of the oldest ETF's, and aims to track the entire S&P 500 index, a common benchmark for investors. It also has a very low cost-ratio. Choosing such a broad investment will also help me maintain a semblance of journalistic integrity — no stock calls here, sorry!
On the second screen, there's a full rundown of the order details I selected including the full cost breakdown of the trade.
Now I can see a more fleshed-out view of my overall portfolio
In the roughly 24 hours since I bought SPY I've made about $1.08, or 0.37% — not too shabby! You Invest also has a more detailed "positions" view, which is still pretty sparse given my one share. It's easy to see how this could work to see an overview of your whole portfolio.
Unfortunately, not all the features appear to work quite yet
The "Portfolio Builder" option — which appears on the app — loads an error message when clicked and asks me to head to the desktop site or use a tablet in order to check it out. Unfortunately, you need at least $5,000 in cash available to trade in order to use the function.
Desktop appears to be more powerful — negating any hope of a truly mobile-first offering
It's accessed through the same login page as a Chase checking or savings account, and has many more options than the mobile app, including this handy chart of asset allocation and account balances.
Overall, You Invest is better than paying for trades. But if you're used to the mobile-first designs of things like Robinhood or Betterment, you may be disappointed.
By 2019, JPMorgan says there will be personalized portfolios that are custom designed and managed. That's similar to a new offering TDAmeritrade announced earlier this year.
Have you tried out You Invest? Let me know what you think at — and let us know which other platforms we should test drive next!