5 Lessons I Learned From ETrade

October 3, 2010

The online broker Etrade, is one of the top discount brokerages online today and for several years I had the opportunity to learn from them. 

Etrade was one of the biggest clients of the software group I was hired into right out of college so I got to see some of the behind the scenes work that went into making their customers happy. I learned a lot from both a technical and business perspective while contributing to their projects; here are five lessons I learned working with Etrade.

1) Customers First
Etrade always put the customer experience first.  When we were preparing estimates for new projects we would design the fastest and cheapest solution but Etrade would often come back and request enhancements to improve the customer experience. 

Even though the revised estimates would raise the cost of the work, Etrade managers always approved them if it made things better for the customer.  As a new programmer, the additional work would frustrate me but once we had the changes in place it was usually obvious their enhancements made sense for the customer.

2) Communication is Key
Any time we made a change to the way things worked, added new functionality, or even sent out an email to lots of customers about the account Etrade would have a plan in place for answering questions or dealing with concerns.

Anytime there was a customer question sent to us for research there was an emphasis not only on speedy resolution but also on keeping everyone updated so people knew their questions were being addressed.

3) Innovation is Important
Investors have several quality discount brokers to choose from so Etrade was always listening to their members and adding new functionality to help make them one of the best online brokers.

Needless to say adding and enhancing features kept me really busy.  We always had several projects going at once and I worked some late nights and long weekends but the work seemed to pay off for the brokerage.  The feedback for almost every project was great and definitely gave investors reasons to keep using Etrade.

4) Quality is Everything
The quality and availability of their online services was vitally important to Etrade and they enforced those principles via strict rules in their contract with vendors.

Of course this required extensive testing on our end to prepare for upgrades and installations.  Unfortunately it also meant that we’d be up between midnight and four am on the weekends for installs, when the fewest amount of people were using the system.

Although it wasn’t much fun, I learned lessons about quality control that continue to serve me well and I’m sure Etrade customers appreciated having a site that was fast and functional.

5) Offer a Solution
When we started working with Etrade all I knew about them was that they offered online stock trading so I quickly opened an Etrade IRA in order to see our projects from a customer perspective.

As I got to know the company better and as they grew I saw how they focused on the whole investing experience.   Instead of offering just a place to buy and sell stocks, they created more of an investing solution for their customers. 

While things like adding a banking option or the ability to buy and sell options or mutual funds sometimes meant more work for me, I appreciated them as a customer because it gave me more investing choices.

Since I switched groups and then companies I no longer work with Etrade but I’m glad I had the opportunity to learn a few things from how they did business and can certainly understand why they’re considered one of the best online brokers today.


Will this article help you save or earn more money? Get others like it simply by entering your email address below. Your email is used only for delivering daily money tips and you can opt out of delivery at any time. Click here to see all your free subscription options.


Ben Edwards, the founder of Money Smart Life, saved up enough to buy a Nintendo back when he was 12 years old. When he used the money to buy shares of Wal-Mart stock instead, he knew he wasn't like the other kids... His addiction to personal finance has paid off for his family and now he's helping you to afford the life that you want. Check him out on the web at Google Plus, Twitter and Facebook.

All posts by


3 Responses to 5 Lessons I Learned From ETrade

  • Ben

    Bret, I remember when Etrade bought Brown & Co. One of the last projects I worked on was helping convert customers from some of the Brown Co systems to the system I was working on.

    I think you’re right, most of the feedback we heard from former Brown & Co customers about having an Etrade account were positive. Glad it worked out for you!

  • Bret @ Hope to Prosper

    I have been an Etrade customer for three or four years now. I originally signed up with Brown & Co, but Etrade bought them. At the time, I was annoyed by the acquisition, but I soon grew to love Etrade. Their customer service and website are top notch for a discount broker. And, their fees are very reasonable. Now, if only their stock would go up, since I own some of their shares too.


  • is capitalism the answer, or the problem? (and links) | brip blap