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Old 02-08-2008, 02:45 PM   #21
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i've had etrade for years but may switch now

used to be i could execute a trade no problem at whatever price Yahoo had for the bid/ask. i'm playing trading games with QQQQ and the execution is not as good as it used to be. had the same problem with Fidelity and i thought it was because they routed the order to the Boston Stock Exchange.

might try TD Ameritrade or Scottrade
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Old 02-08-2008, 06:16 PM   #22
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What I want from a brokerage account is
- competitive pricing
- access to the products I want
- simple and easy access to the data I need to when making trades
- quick and straightforward settlement
- account information presented in a logical and easy to understand format
- cost and tax information so I can quickly see things like YTD taxable income and unrealized gains/losses per issue.

I guess right now Id choose Schwab if I only needed to buy and sell equities and EFTs. My biggest problem with them is their offerings in bonds are pricey and mutual funds are limited. Brokerage at Vanguard is tough, they are not easy to do business with they dont seem to want that business a whole lot. I have had problems with all, but T Rowe Price was the most difficult to deal with. I guess would choose Fidelity if I needed all-around brokerage equities, bonds, and funds.

Michael
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Old 02-08-2008, 06:59 PM   #23
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I have both Vanguard and Fidelity and manages my Mom's flagship relationship with Vanguard.
For total service, great web access and processing, and overall more reliable backroom services, Fidelity is a hands-down winner for me.
Vanguard managed to completely screw up my Mothers account when they shifted to a TOD system for beneficiaries last fall. They dropped off beneficiaires, changed relative "shares" and overall left a mess. Since my Mother has a Flagship relationship, there is a designated account rep. When I could get in direct contact with her (usually a couple of days elaspe) the Vanguard rep did a reasonable job but was incredibly limited by Vanguard bureacratic processes and lock step requirements. Vanguard tends to want hard copy primary information to manage many of the personal elements whereas, Fidelity will let you do them directly on your account once you are logged-in. Without question, Fidelity's website is easier to use and has more resources. I can easily find and purchase bonds and CD's. In the Vanguard site, you need an advanced course in "query' mechanics to even find what is available. When you do buy, forget about "low cost"
Another example of Vanguard absurb mechanics is their email communications. Even at the Flagship level, the email does not actually go to your designated rep until it has been reviewed by some vetting group. Their involvement seemed to add 2-3 days to any process and the more complicated the longer.
If your needs are all mutual funds, you don't do much research and are only interested in the absolute lowest expense ratio, Vanguard is for you.
If you want customer oriented support, lots of breath, very competitive pricing ($8 trades if you are Gold, 15? with 100K), you get a whole whole lot more IMH from Fidelity.
nwsteve
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Old 02-09-2008, 12:00 AM   #24
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I guess right now I’d choose Schwab if I only needed to buy and sell equities and EFTs. My biggest problem with them is their offerings in bonds are pricey and mutual funds are limited.
Why do you say "mutual funds are limited?" I believe I can buy just about any open mutual fund through Schwab.
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Old 02-09-2008, 01:49 AM   #25
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I have been happy enough w/Schwab. Never tried any of the others.
You can get Vanguard funds and so forth; it's just that you'll pay a higher transaction cost than if you had a Vanguard acct. Since I trade so rarely and am not into mutual funds it's not an issue. I guess it would be for people enamored of fund-hopping&swapping for low/no fees w/in a certain family like Fidelity/Vanguard.
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Old 02-09-2008, 07:19 AM   #26
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Why do you say "mutual funds are limited?" I believe I can buy just about any open mutual fund through Schwab.
I like the PIMCO institutional funds, most of which you can get at Vanguard or Fidelity for $25K minimums. Schwab asks $100K - out of reach.

Schwab did revamp it's commission schedule and bond offerings last year, becoming more competitive.

Michael
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Old 02-09-2008, 08:22 AM   #27
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I took a somewhat different approach. I will ER this December at age 56. My concern is that my wife will probably outlive me and I was looking for brokerage which might make the transition easier. Selected Merrill Lynch - has offices in most any city we would live in so my wife could have a person and not a phone to talk to. Right now I handle all activities without a broker - but if something happens to me we can bring in some help without having to move all the funds, electronic transfers, ACH debits, etc. to another place. Since I invest mostly in mutual funds I don't see any real cost penalties compared to lower cost options. Anyone have a similar idea or other options to consider.

Thanks
Bob
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Old 02-09-2008, 08:29 AM   #28
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I took a somewhat different approach. I will ER this December at age 56. My concern is that my wife will probably outlive me and I was looking for brokerage which might make the transition easier. Selected Merrill Lynch - has offices in most any city we would live in so my wife could have a person and not a phone to talk to. Right now I handle all activities without a broker - but if something happens to me we can bring in some help without having to move all the funds, electronic transfers, ACH debits, etc. to another place. Since I invest mostly in mutual funds I don't see any real cost penalties compared to lower cost options. Anyone have a similar idea or other options to consider.
I know your viewpoint is not a popular one here on this forum, but, THANK YOU! I am a widow and my husband and I set up our account with a large brokerage firm like ML just before he died. I was SO grateful for those people. Real living/breathing bodies that I could see and deal with and not some far away phone buddies.
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Old 02-09-2008, 01:24 PM   #29
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I took a somewhat different approach. I will ER this December at age 56. My concern is that my wife will probably outlive me and I was looking for brokerage which might make the transition easier. Selected Merrill Lynch - has offices in most any city we would live in so my wife could have a person and not a phone to talk to. Right now I handle all activities without a broker - but if something happens to me we can bring in some help without having to move all the funds, electronic transfers, ACH debits, etc. to another place. Since I invest mostly in mutual funds I don't see any real cost penalties compared to lower cost options. Anyone have a similar idea or other options to consider.

Thanks
Bob
A good thought out process..... and if the cost are not to bad, a good choice for your reasons....


BUT, it would be good to actually get her involved with the finances... my BIL recently died... and my sister knew very little of what was going on.. fortunately she has me as a brother... but she has learned a lot in the past three months... and it was him that was the problem... told her not to talk to me about finances and not to 'worry'... he had taken care of her for over 30 years etc. etc.... but... if you are FEMALE... do 'worry'... know what is happening.. know where the money is located.. know the passwords, know how to pay bills online and transfer money etc.... you do not have to do it all the time... but at least do it every so often...

Then again.. before someone calls me sexist... I know of a guy who does nothing for their finances.. just give the wife the check and she takes care of everything... he even said he can not buy her a gift because she will see it on the credit card and ask what he bought.... but he said he will be dead before her so he does not care...
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Old 02-09-2008, 01:28 PM   #30
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I know your viewpoint is not a popular one here on this forum, but, THANK YOU! I am a widow and my husband and I set up our account with a large brokerage firm like ML just before he died. I was SO grateful for those people. Real living/breathing bodies that I could see and deal with and not some far away phone buddies.
My spouse would take a different view of my setting her up with a relationship broker...

I keep her informed, which she gracefully endures, and we keep it simple enough that even a caveman could do it.
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Old 02-09-2008, 01:41 PM   #31
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Depending on where you are.. you needn't have to sign up with a full-service broker to be able to talk to humans in person. Where I used to live, Schwab had a physical office nearby, and they also had one not far from my mom in a different state. Just in the last year they assigned me a personal contact/broker out of the blue. I've only dealt w/him on one issue via e-mail, but his response was prompt enough. I don't think Merrill Lynch could/would do more, but they'd likely cost more.

Fidelity has branch offices, too:
Fidelity Investments:
Vanguard maybe not...
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Old 02-09-2008, 01:44 PM   #32
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I know your viewpoint is not a popular one here on this forum, but, THANK YOU! I am a widow and my husband and I set up our account with a large brokerage firm like ML just before he died. I was SO grateful for those people. Real living/breathing bodies that I could see and deal with and not some far away phone buddies.
Schwab also has walk in offices. I use the local one a couple of times a year. Before you commit to a high priced outfit like ML, do check Schwab. They will give you lots of face time/help if that's what you want, but will leave you completely alone, ala Vanguard, if you prefer.
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Old 02-09-2008, 02:29 PM   #33
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Oh, my goodness! Not Merrill Lynch! As we have seen from many, many posts on this forum, ML seems to take for themselves 25% to 50% of a person's annual investment withdrawals. That's an outrageous amount to pay when one is retired.

There are many, many discount brokers with walk-in offices. In our area they are even clustered together: Schwab, Fidelity, TDAmeritrade, Scottrade to name them. Ones to avoid are AGEdwards, EdwardJones, ML, USB, SmithBarney, etc.

My BIL died in last January. My sister is clueless, but at least she has a financial advisor that is only charging her 0.5% of assets under management. The FA has put her in Dodge&Cox funds, which is not what I would do, but going to MerrillLynch would cost her at least 3 to 4 times as much.
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Old 02-09-2008, 03:38 PM   #34
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My spouse would take a different view of my setting her up with a relationship broker...

I keep her informed, which she gracefully endures, and we keep it simple enough that even a caveman could do it.
Each to his own Nords.
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Old 02-09-2008, 04:46 PM   #35
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Originally Posted by happy2bretired View Post
I know your viewpoint is not a popular one here on this forum, but, THANK YOU! I am a widow and my husband and I set up our account with a large brokerage firm like ML just before he died. I was SO grateful for those people. Real living/breathing bodies that I could see and deal with and not some far away phone buddies.
My mom is 82 and as far as she is concerned Schwab is a guy named Dean at the local office. I keep telling her she can just call the 800 number, but she understandably prefers Dean.
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Old 02-09-2008, 05:09 PM   #36
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...............Fidelity has branch offices, too:
Fidelity Investments:
Vanguard maybe not...
I have a local Fidelity office near me and have found them to be helpful. I'm sure they wish I'd invest in more than Spartan index funds, but they assure me that they are not on commission.
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Old 02-10-2008, 07:15 AM   #37
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Folks - thanks for the comments and suggestions on a brokerage house - I will look at some suggestions before we act.
Bob
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Old 02-10-2008, 07:35 AM   #38
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We have Vanguard, Fidelity, and ETrade. Our transactions are practically all done online. All their online transactions are about the same, we cannot really tell which one is the best. There is one complain about Fidelity - they only have monthly statements, unlike Vanguard that provides a consolidated statement of transactions on a yearly basis.
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Old 02-10-2008, 09:08 AM   #39
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I have Vangard and Fidelity accounts and over the years have also had Merrill Lynch, Watchovia, eTrade, and other various accounts. Fidelity leads the pack for customer service. No big deal if things are going along without a hitch, but if you need something special or have a problem, I think Fidelity will excel. They have enough low cost index type funds for me, but nothing like Vangard.
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Old 03-14-2008, 12:52 AM   #40
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Fidelity doesn't do Roth IRAs for minors and T. Rowe Price is one of the very few who does, so we had to set up an account with them (first time since the 1970s).

I got the letter that we had online access but couldn't log in. I finally got through their phone queue to a human being. They attempted to verify my personal info over the phone but they said I had my kid's SSN wrong. After a bunch more questions they realized that they had our kid's SSN wrong and accused me of sloppy handwriting. When I offered to fax over my copy of the application to show its clarity they said I should log in under her "wrong" SSN and change it to the correct info. I asked them how the IRS would perceive this when I got two 5498s next year, at which point I was rewarded with a supervisor.

A week later it was all sorted out. Then six months later they sent us a letter telling us that the first share transactions had been incorrectly priced and that TRP's "fair value" system should have charged us $15.13/share instead of $15/share.

Compared to Fidelity's website, TRP's website sucks. Bad navigation, bloated & slow response, difficult to extract answers to tricky questions like "How much money have I put into my IRA this year?

Our kid has had quite the introduction into investing customer service. When she turns 18 I'm going to show her how to roll her IRA to Fidelity, where she'll be accorded lifetime "valuable customer" status as a member of the family. And when her income rises enough to open a taxable account, Fidelity's ready for her even as a minor.


Has anyone seen any studies or surveys of this? I could make a different claim from the chaos testified to in the old Havens claim but I realize that it's difficult to separate aggregate data from anecdotal bias.
Nords

I know exactly what you are saying with TRP!

I just set up a Roth IRA with Vanguard and this was my first time doing it. It took me maybe 15 minutes to do everything! I already had a taxable account with them already but still it could not have been smoother.

My TRP Roth 401k was like 70 pages of stuff and I kept having to resend stuff in because it wasn't to thier liking.

UNREAL the difference

The only reason I went with TRP is they were pretty much the only well known brokerage that had the Roth 401k avalible.

To me it seems this would really hurt business to make things this much of a hassle.

I was going to set up my Roth IRA with fidelity online and it just rejects my application!

So no wonder Vanguard is so popular!

Jim
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