The TWS Trader Workstation offered by Interactive Brokers is a beast of a trading software!
In order to use this platform you have to be a client of Interactive Brokers ("IB"). If you are serious about trading you definitely want to consider IB as your broker.
You can trade any asset class from TWS. This day trading software has a ton of features for scanning opportunities, analyzing ideas, managing your positions and reporting performance.
The one major thing everyone says though...the learning curve is steep. They have a web platform that is very easy and intuitive to use. However, the desktop TWS trading platform will take some time to wrap your head around all the robust capabilities.
There are so many different UNIQUE FEATURES!
Check out the review below! I'd like to note that many people that trade might use IB as their broker but rather use another trading platform for executing orders. The great thing about IB is you can have their data feed connect into many other trading platforms since IB is so widespread in the industry. Or perhaps you might want to use TWS when managing other people's money (see "model portfolio" details under Advantages below).
Asset Classes All
Ease of Use 2/5
Value for Money 5/5
Customer Support 3/5
Cost of the platform is FREE!
HOWEVER, I would like to describe the charges you will need to pay to trade with IB (apart from general commissions) which you might not be aware of. Not that they hide any of this information - they are explicit about it, it just might be overwhelming to figure out quickly as there is a lot of info on their site.
Overall I think the fees are very reasonable.
The basic breakout is:
$10 - Min. Activity
$10 - Market Data
These guys cater to active traders. They charge $10/month if you do not trade at all. However, for any trade that you do, the commission from that trade reduces the $10. So if each stock trade is $1, if you get in and out 4 times your total commission will be $4 which will reduce the activity fee down to $6 for the month.
Really this fee is nothing - if you do ONE trade with one of the "big names" like Scottrade, Fidelity, they charge about $8-$10 per trade. If you did ONE trade with them you would reach the "minimum activity" fee that IB charges. It is funny because if you are not active, it will actually be hard to hit $10 in commissions per month with IB since they are so cheap.
*Note: If you have less than $2,000 in your account then the minimum activity becomes $20/month. Once again, they cater to more serious/active traders and not those with barely any capital to trade. If you think having $2,000 in your account is a lot of money, you probably do not have much capital and you should save up a bit more - there is not a whole lot you can do in trading with $2,000.
** If you are less than 25 years old, they charge $3 in minimum activity. If you generate at least $3 in commissions, no fee is charged.
Interactive Brokers offers some of the lowest commissions in the industry. That does come at a price though - if you want any sort of charts populating with data, you will need to subscribe to their data feeds. (Regardless if you want to trade live or just want to use the platform for paper trading).
Depending on what you trade you will need to subscribe to multiple feeds which have a monthly fee.
You can view the costs here.
IB has a great option of a value bundle which costs $10/month. IB makes it really easy to subscribe to data. This package pretty much gives you everything you need to get started trading.
This value bundle includes:
*Top of book means gives you the current bid and ask with no market depth as to what orders are sitting below these prices. (i.e. Level 1 pricing vs Level 2 pricing)
The bundle is free if you generate $30 of commissions in the month.
If you want Level 2 data for stocks, NASDAQ Totalview is a good option which is $15/month - this is pretty standard no matter where you go. You won't find cheaper.
If you want market depth for futures - I recommend getting a futures broker separately. It'll be cheaper.
TWS Trader Workstation is definitely a platform for those who are serious about trading. There are tons of features and the capabilities of this trading software are huge. Obviously with that comes the fact that learning it will dedicate some time. Interactive Brokers has various resources to help you learn the platform as at the end of the day they want you to enjoy what it has to offer! Take a tour of the platform and see if you like it.
Note that some people just use IB as the broker and hook up other platforms to the IB data feed as they don't feel like dedicating the time to learn the platform.
Even if you are not expecting to use TWS because you do not trade actively nor have complicated strategies, I would strongly consider using IB as a broker since they offer such cheap commissions - believe me commissions sneak up and take out huge chunks of your account. If you do more than 2 trades a month, opening a brokerage account with them would be worthwhile.