Why did TD Ameritrade murder Investools?

Investools removed by TD AmeritradeWe’ve just had the rug pulled out from under us.  Investools called a couple months ago refunding the subscriptions fees and with good news.  The tools AND the classes were now going to be free if we moved our trading accounts to TD Ameritrade.  Investools subscribers received a notice that Investor Toolbox would no longer be available after Oct 1.  When I inquired for more information, TD Ameritrade’s and Investools’ client services explained that the Investor Toolbox was going to be moving to the Think or Swim platform.

Free Investools tools and courses were pretty exciting news.  I have been paying to subscribe to Investools for at least 15 years. I have really gotten to know their dashboard and harnessed it to get our analysis of a ticker symbol down to under 4 minutes each.  That included looking for any red flags on the dashboard, (particularly in the Phase 1, Phase 2, Big Chart, and news sections) and the time to calculate an intrinsic value from numbers pulled from 6 of the left  nav bar sub menus.

The big October 1 date came and I logged into my Investools.com with TD Ameritrade credentials.  Sure enough, the toolbox was gone but the classes were there.

I then logged into my new TDAmeritrade.com accounts.   Not able to find where the Investor Toolbox had been moved, I called client services.  I was told that the toolbox wasn’t moved… it was REMOVED.  I got offered “several useful tools” to help me analyze that were available on TD Ameritrade’s website.

I’m in shock. I’m both hit with the feeling of being deceived into opening a TD Ameritrade account AND the terrible sinking feeling of the dozens of hours in front of us, as a club, going through the learning curve of new proprietary tools and adapting them to our process.

It hurts to be lied to and to grieve the loss of a system we’ve mastered to a 4 hour process per month gaining us almost double the returns of the stock market over the last 15 years.

I barely had enough time in my life to fill out simple TD Ameritrade rollover forms none-the-less have hours of research and learning and hunting in front of me to find all the figures I need and adapt them to an entirely different propriety toolset.

“But the TD Ameritrade classes are free!”  You know what’s NOT free?  My time learning a new system! Is it possible that system could yield us greater returns?  Unlikely.  We were reaping the rewards having mastered the right tools at Investools the great returns we had over the many, many years of fine-tuning.

What’s the reason for canceling the tools, that TD Ameritrade admitted, so many of their clients have relied on?  What would motivate them enough to make it worth angering so many of their clients (and newly transferred clients)?

I can’t fathom finding the time to do our analysis slowly on a new system in the next few months. There will be a large opportunity loss just from the efficiency reduction alone.  There go tens of thousands of future dollars lost.

Please comment if you have any insight into TD Ameritrade’s motives.

Do you know of an alternative Investor Toolbox platform with a nice dashboard view that isn’t TD Ameritrade?


41 Replies to “Why did TD Ameritrade murder Investools?

  1. I’m absolutely frustrated with TD Ameritrade for killing off Investools. I’ve been with Investools since 2004 when it was part of Success Magazine. The platform was pure genius and developed by a PHD. One place to go and everything on one page. Now we’re forced to use an old clunky option trading platform that is absolutely unintuitive. I watched the video a few weeks ago when the TD Ameritrade’s management team talked about the changes. You could tell by their facial expressions and their comments that something wasn’t right. None of them seemed excited about the changes which should have been a clue…especially when they offer the education for free.

    What’s even more disturbing is the lack of planning of TD Ameritrade’s management team. Why wasn’t their Instructors more in the loop of the changes? Why did they switch all their instructor’s computers to MACs during the transition? I waste more time now on the webcasts watching the Instructions fumble around learning how to navigate on a MAC. Why are the Instructor’s going through their “licensing” during the transition? Wouldn’t it have been more practical to have the Instructors licensed before the transition so they can be more visible during the transition and help talk their students through the changes?

    It’s sad what has happened, but it’s all about money and consolidation of platforms and unfortunately the old 1958 Think or Swim Edsel is cheaper to maintain than the Investools Ferrari. Expect little enhancements to the Think or Swim platform going forward and expect a lot more restrictions on what the Instructors will be able to say and teach in the future. Compliance will put the kibosh on just about everything they said and did in the past years at Investools. A lot of changes??? You better believe it.

    Happy trading everyone!!!

    1. Hi Jay. I love the comment saying it’s about consolidation of platforms and the Edsel/Ferrari comparison. It’s right on the money.

      We are hoping to get enough people to “speak with their wallets” about their dissatisfaction about the decision. Best case scenario is that Investools gets turned back on, moved to Think or Swim, or sold to a third party. Another possibility is that another service fills the hole left behind.

      We think the best way to affect change, it to make our voices heard. Here’s our new post on the matter:

      1. It was even better when I started with the Disks . It was called Telscan . Telscan was unbelievable as just a search engine it was turned into prosearch and the nicest part was left out . It was a chart that showed you what that search and stocks would have gained or lost after one year if you bought them a year earlier . Every tweak of the search would change the percentage . Someone still has that software but it is not us . They bought it and never used all of it .

    2. Yes, I had just started using the Toolbox and was very happy with it. It is one thing to know what to look for in a stock, but another to have a tool that helped you scan the market and nail down five or six good, prospective buys. Looks like TD saw an opportunity to kill off the tool and herd clients into coaching sessions-leveraging their ability to ding clients for fees. Is there any other tool out there that is somewhat equivalent, even fee based?

    3. I was deep into my 2nd 5-year subscription when I got the refund notice. It never occurred to me that TD AMERITRADE would not just offer the Investor Toolbox. I moved a small amount of money to TD to try to get up on ThinkorSwim, but I have a day job, and have the same frustrations expressed by lots of people here.

      I got interested in Trend Following Trading. Found a website called ChartLabPro. It is different than Investools, but it “is” effective. I’ve had a subscription for 3-4 years or so. The one limitation is that is designed for S&P 500 index, primarily. So if you like small caps, there’s not much help. That said, it is Trend Following model, teaches risk management, and the system keeps you in stocks when straight charting indicators will flash sell signals. You get less whipsaws. They have excellent commentary. They are right alot. Commentary is sporadic, but they don’t write to write. There are a couple broad market trend tools that are flat out “killer”. The “Counter Trend” tool is fantastic, as is the rating system. If you simply bought the systems “Strongest 20” (S&P 500 stocks), you would have made north of a 40% return on the year.
      No system has the Trend Analysis data like Investools had, which I miss a ton, but ChartLadPro is worth the time. Brett Golden is the key owner, will do trainings. Lots of prerecorded training.
      It’s different….but it makes money.

  2. I am sick about all of this myself. I have been using their Prosearch screener since before Investools used it. I think I may have started using the screen back in the 1980s when Telescan owned it, then it was available at WallStreetCity.com, then Think Or Swim bought it, and then TDAmeritrade bought Think Or Swim. I have found no better screener and have made a lot of money using it. Now it is gone. Talking to support at Investools to try and find out who the data provider was was to no avail. Terrible move by TDAmeritrade.

  3. https://www.hahn-tech.com/

    To all fellow Toolbox users – I feel your pain. I no longer use it but did for years. I am not associated with the gentleman who runs this site, but he may be able to help you develop the detailed thinkorswim scans needed to replicate essentials of the Toolbox. He charges, so there would be a cost for the project. He would likely need input and assistance from you. Alternatively, he also designs custom scripts which he sells . You may just convince him to take on the project and to offer the scripts for sale. In either event, there would not be yearly renewal fees!

    1. Jeff, thanks for emailing me a link to this article. Also a big thank you for promoting my services.

      I feel it’s best to provide some clear expectations of what I can contribute…

      I have zero experience with Investools. About all I know, is that it was called Investools. Had no idea they provided their own proprietary scanning toolbox. So I am not prepared to take on the task of building out a suite of scans to replace what was lost.

      However I am very much willing and able to assist individuals with their own scanning needs. They must be able to provide all the specifications and should understand I don’t have the slightest clue about what they used to have available with Investools.

      If we find that Thinkorswim scans cannot handle the specifications, I can investigate whether those specifications can be handled using the TradeStation platform.

      Looking forward to providing services where I am able.


      1. Thanks, both of you. This is great information. Pete, you just might be able to supplement our needs for the club. So far, we’ve found that ruleoneinvesting.com’s Toolbox has replaced about 50% of the tools from Investools we used. We have one technical member that is very technical to create advanced macros to grab data and screen it even further. It’s tough because ruleoneinvesting used Flash to develop their tables and searches. I think another 30% will be able to be grabbed from TD Ameritrade’s profit charts where they still have the “red green” arrows for Phase 1 and Phase 2.

        I have screen captured video recordings of our analysis for club meetings using Investools so luckily we captured a bit of the history that TD Ameritrade eliminated. I outlined all the tools we used in Investools in the next article, actually. But it doesn’t show them “in action”: How TD Ameritrade eliminated Investools, cut services, and angered fundamental traders

  4. Being an old dog with many years of training and experience using Investools, I’m still struggling trying to find something comparable to the toolbox to help me monitor my portfolios. I just don’t have the time or energy to take on ThinkorSwim and find myself drowning. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

    1. Hi Steven. We agree. TD Ameritrade seems to have taken the stance as big corporation that squashes little ones do, “Life’s not fair. You are going to have to suck it up and learn our system.” We won’t stand for that mistreatment of its customers and have voiced our discontent and are looking for a new home. If they bring Investools back, they can be forgiven. But currently their roadmap only has plans for “some” features rolling out over the next 6 months.

      We’ll be posting a review of the first Investool-like tool we found, Rule #1 Toolbox, soon, but it’s doesn’t replace it all.

  5. I too used the toolbox a lot and am very dissappointed by its loss. When I checked out the free classes on TD Ameritrade I found them to be the same pablum you find on all brokerage sites. Strickly dedicated to modern portfolio theory and guaranteed not to get the brokerage sued for deviating from investment industry script. The Investools classes were based on the toolbox, where the parameters had a lot of thought behind them. Since they are not teaching it in their classes anymore, they obviously have no intention of bringing it back.
    If anyone finds a substitute for the old toolbox please let us all know.

  6. I echo the comments herein. Please let us all know if other tools are found where we can quickly and easily navigate the health of a stock. I am just sick about the amount of time I will have to spend to trade now without Investools charts and arrows – but it sure won’t be with Ameritrade! Thank heavens for the discipline and knowledge gained in the classes years ago. If only we had the original Investools app loaded onto a PC – I would take the version from 10 years ago over any other tools I have seen.

  7. I have been contacted by Ameritrade several times now, following up on my concern. Nobody had an answer for why they killed it, but from some of the comments I heard, I surmise that Ameritrade wants to sell coaching services, hence it made sense for them to kill off a tool that would give investors no need to use coaching services. I for one, will back away from Ameritrade and tell everyone I know not to use them.

    1. Hi Peter. I agree. TD Ameritrade can’t be rewarded for their decision by not feeling the pain of fleeing customers.

  8. This is amazing. I’m glad I’m not alone. I was literally building an everything formula to cure all world poverty (for me at least :-P) and went on hiatus due to some external events. Come back and it’s like a bad movie ending where the guy doesn’t get the girl 🙁

  9. Well, I am SO glad I didn’t waste my time setting up a TD Ameritrade account!! I can’t believe they just lied to all of us saying they would move the Investools Toolbox over! I have been using it for the past 15 years and loved the charts with the arrows, the big chart, alerts, etc. I have no idea what to do now. I can’t believe they took a tool that worked so well, that had been developed over all these years, and killed it!!!!

  10. Dang!! I have been away from it for awhile… I was just getting ready to renew with the sudden swings in the market this week. I loved using the red / green arrows for the mutual funds in my 401k plans… could always tell me when to move from stocks to bonds/money markets. Now, I don’t know what to do.

    1. Me too. You can use think or swim to some level doing search criteria, but it sucks a bit. After today, I am investing in whiskey…. 😉

  11. Hi I’m also a 15 year investools user. I took the $5000.00 course to start and paid my renewal fees all those years till it was taken away. I’ve invested huge amount of time over the years. If any one knows of an alternative or a way to get investools back please contact me.

  12. I’m so frustrated with TD Ameritrade. Their two platforms … the standard one and Think or Swim can’t keep the same balances. I’m a First in First Out trader … I make trades with a huge profit to find it was really a loss. I’d like to leave, but I hate to learn a new system.

    The market was down yesterday and I wanted to hear comments from Investool coaches … gone.

    Has anyone else had problems with account balances? If I want to make a trade I have to go to the Gains Keeper and I cannot depend on it…. You’d think they could at least keep a balance.

  13. Apparently the SEC forced Ameritrade to offer Investools to their clients for free (a TD AMTD broker told me about this) because of something having to do with AMTD somehow stepping over the line in regard to improperly giving advice to clients or something, somehow related to Investools (???). When I learned recently about the Rule #1 Toolbox, I kind of assumed / wondered if Ameritrade had sold off the Toolbox to Phil Town so that they (Ameritrade) could at least recoup some money from it, since the SEC wouldn’t let them charge their own clients for it any more – $3,000 is what a broker told me I’d have to pay for access to it, then just a few months later it was . . . . FREE !?!? So, that was apparently just before the SEC forced them to stop charging clients for it. Is it possible that the Toolbox at Rule #1 is a tweaked version of the Investools Toolbox? Like I said, I’d semi-assumed that Phil Town had purchased the Toolbox portion of it and/ or entered into some sort of deal with Ameritrade regarding the use / sale / promotion of it, then perhaps customizing it for “Meaning, Moat, Management” etc.). Any info? A neighbor of mine was enraged that Investools told him he’d have lifetime access to everything Investools, and when they pulled the rug out from under him he raised hell; got some major concessions. Perhaps you who paid so much could get some sort of satisfaction from one company or another. (Maybe call the SEC?lol The Better Business Bureau? Your attorney . . . ?)

    1. There exists a website which I’ve been using for years which helps you find Rule #1 stocks, or tell you if your stock is a Rule #1 stock: https://stock2own.com/ I use it all the time. It was really nice when Ameritrade had the screeners where I could find a list of Phase 1 and Phase 2, then cross reference with stock2own.com, but I guess those days are gone.
      Anyway, check out stock2own.com!

  14. Go to Tastytrade!!!! He was the developer of TOS and has charts with arrows etc. they are the BEST.

  15. I am a former Investools subscriber and was looking to resubscribe. Very disappointed to learn this news.
    Does any one have any recommendations on programs that may be as good as Investools?

  16. So TDAmeritrade bought Investools because they wanted to own the very best stock and option research tool on the planet. Now in their idiotic wisdom they have killed off our beloved Investools Toolbox because they can’t stand us using tools they did not invent, even thought they own Investools it looks like they hate their red-headed step child so they killed it! TDAmeritrade tools are archaic compared to Investools. Using the Investools Toolbox I and search for, gather, analyze, and decide to buy/sell 50 stocks in about 10 minutes. Let me see any monkey working for TDAmeritrade show me how to do that with crappy TDAmeritrade tools. Investools consolidated every tool I needed on 1 or two pages. With TDAmeritrade I have to hunt through 10-35 pages and menu options just to analysis one single stock. How am I supposed to analyze 50 stocks? Since you own the very best stock and option research tool on the planet, Investools, why not embrace it and promote it? Why did you kill it off?

      1. Have you found anything? One of my friends uses IBD stuff…. I’m not a huge fan of the CANSLIM thing…. I also use E-trade… it “almost” resembles Investools on some of their pages, but just not quite cutting it….

  17. I’m super pissed off about it. I had been killing it using Investools. Doubling and Tripling my money every year. I feel like I built a formula 1 race car and had the league take the car away. I’m looking hard for an alternative. TD Ameritrade is a rip-off!

    1. Have you found a replacement? I was heavy into Investools around 2006… took their courses and learned A LOT. I made some good money, but then started a business and invested all my capital into it. I’ve now developed a large capital base and was looking for Investools and sad to find it’s gone.

  18. I’m late to this party and have not subscribe to them yet. But the closest thing that I’ve found to the Fundamental Analysis that we could do on Investools is incometrader.com. Here’s the link to their website tour – https://incometrader.com/tour.php. Just click on the video link. I’ll honestly probably subscribe soon!

    Here are the similarities that I noticed in their video,
    • They have the 3 green (or 3 red) arrows.
    • They show the Fair Value.
    • They have the market, sector, industry, company analysis.
    • I think they show Phase 1, I don’t remember what Phase 2 was.
    • They have a quick search criteria, then it displays like Investools used to with a thumbnail view of the price action for each result.
    • They quickly curate the news like I remember Investools doing.
    • They have custom watch lists with the thumbnail view of the price action.

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