Of the nation’s 17 largest brokerage firms, discount firms continue to offer lower rates, Corporate Insight found. In fact, since the research company published its last Broker Monitor report in 2003, it found that a number of discount brokers have even lowered their rates.

“The past few years have seen some positive changes as far as commissions, including reduced commission rates and fewer discount firms charging handling fees,” said Corporate Insight Senior Analyst David Rosenberg, author of the report. “Seventy percent of the discount brokers lowered their fees since 2003, which we think is a significant move, especially given the fact that 30% also stopped charging handling fees. Full-service firms, however, continue to add these charges to their sometimes hefty commissions, most of which have increased since 2003.”

One of the most interesting developments, he added, is the introduction of a commission-free trade program to qualified investors at three firms.

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