Online brokers (also known as discount brokers) have business models geared to the efficient execution of securities transactions and mostly refrain from offering their clients personal advice. They are thus aimed primarily at experienced investors.
As a rule, the business model is centred on a browser-based trading and information platform that clients use to look up the information they need, such as market prices, and enter trade orders directly. The core functions offered include securities search, the latest price information (including chart and analysis tools) and various order types. The business model entails custody account administration and, in many cases, also technical support as well as introductory and training seminars. Online brokers are increasingly expanding their offering to cover traditional banking services like foreign-currency accounts, personal advice, customized financial products and mortgages.
Online brokers achieve cost advantages as a result of their business model, and they pass these on to clients in the form of lower fees. In practice, this means that custody account maintenance is almost always free of charge, and brokerage fees are lower than those of the traditional commercial banks. Brokerage fees may be charged either as a flat fee or on a sliding scale depending on the size of the order. The exchange fees arising from order execution are billed separately. Further fees may also be charged for additional services.
Swiss online brokers (please note that this list is not exhaustive):