Up until a few years ago, the only way individuals could buy and sell shares on the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX) was via a stockbroker. Now, with the rise of online broking companies, it is possible to set up an account and then buy and sell shares from your home, office or even a smartphone. Online broking allows you to choose what kind of securities you wish to invest in. Remember that most online broking companies don't limit you to stocks listed on the ASX, and many will allow you to trade managed funds, options, warrants and even in some cases stocks listed on overseas stock exchanges. There are many online broking platforms in Australia, and amongst the best known are Commsec (which is owned by the Commonwealth Bank), etrade (which is owned by ANZ Bank), Bell Direct, Suncorp, Westpac, and Macquarie Bank. In choosing your online broking platform, you should think about how many trades you are likely to do every month, and the kinds of securities you wish to trade. You should also look at the fees the online broking platform will charge you, both the brokerage fees that apply to every trade and the ongoing or monthly fees as well. You should also compare the research and tools that the online broking platform provides, as these may help you make more informed decisions on buying and selling securities. For example, some online broking firms have built a reputation for having very strong research arms that can give you excellent insights and recommendations on individual companies or sectors.