How much money do you want to invest?
A full-service broker costs more than an online broker, which is self-serve. So it may be that your fees end up costing more than any gain on your investment if your investment is only a small amount.
How much do you know about investing?
Do you need access to research or advice on which shares to buy? Only the investor can answer this question. There is no right or wrong answer. It depends on what you want.
How much control do you want over your investments?
Do you want to have full control or do you want someone else to do the buying or selling for you?
Will you be trading intraday, end of day or weekly?
Will you need access to live data or will 20-minute delay in data be okay?
How often will you likely to be trading? More frequent traders can access sophisticated trading platforms for free; otherwise you may have to pay ongoing monthly fees for advanced access.
Will you want to trade direct international shares and contracts for difference (CFDs) as well as Australian shares and will you need access to currency exchange?
Are you comfortable using the internet or do you need help placing orders?
Most online brokers will help you to become familiar with their platform and provide over the phone advice on how to place an order, if you are comfortable using the internet.
How much contact do you want and what type of research reports will you need?
A full-service broker is a person and therefore will contact you by phone and email. An online broker is technology and therefore there is no person to contact you. You will receive the odd newsletter, but no one will phone you or email you. You self-serve when looking up the research on the site. Again, the investor needs to think about what they want and there is no right or wrong answer.