The term broker is most widely used to denote a securities broker which links buyers and sellers of securities. While some brokers do take orders from clients in person, over the phone or by mail, most brokers use online trading platforms to communicate with clients. Customers can place orders for the shares (or other securities of their choice) to brokers through trading platforms in real time. Brokers can execute many kinds of trades almost instantly on electronic exchanges. In exchange for their services, brokers charge brokerage fees.
The terms discount broker and discount brokerage denote a securities broker which charges its clients below-average brokerage fees. Today’s discount brokers typically offer their services entirely through online trading platforms. The automated order process greatly reduces the need for human time and effort, and therefore the cost of executing orders. This allows these brokers to charge lower brokerage fees than full-service brokers which provide personal consultation and accept offline orders. Some discount brokers do not charge custodial fees for the management of securities, and some do not even charge brokerage fees for certain types of transactions.
The brokerage fees charged by Swiss discount brokers are still relatively high compared to those charged by the most affordable discount brokers in the largest markets. But even in Switzerland there are major differences in the costs of trading with different brokers. Comparing trading platforms based on your individual needs is key to minimizing trading costs and maximizing investment potential.