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Old 02-08-2008, 01:45 AM   #1
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Best Brokerages

I have an account with Vanguard and T Rowe Price and I'm looking to maybe start an account with Fidelity or Scottrade.

So far TRP was a total pain to set up an account with and other than one customer service rep that was horrible at Vanguard things could not be smoother with them.

So far I can recommend Vanguard they have been great.

Anyway I just wanted to see what brokerages that others were happy with,

Thanks

Jim
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Old 02-08-2008, 02:39 AM   #2
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We have accounts with Vanguard and Fidelity. Both have been satisfactory.
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Old 02-08-2008, 05:30 AM   #3
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Personal investing professor--major anal case and smart guy with a Doctorate in all this--said you can't go wrong with Vanguard, T. Rowe or Fidelity. He had Vanguard, tho, and swore by them. Just passing it on.
The only negative with Vanguard that I can find is that I cannot use them when I am out of the country.
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Old 02-08-2008, 08:36 AM   #4
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I just recently set up an account with Vanguard. It was very simple and the one time I called to ask a question the rep I talked to was very helpful and professional.
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Old 02-08-2008, 08:44 AM   #5
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Let me add that this professor stressed how qualified and able the help line was at Vanguard, which is one of the main reasons he was so sold on them. And this guy knew his stuff, so I tended to pay attention when he said something.
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Old 02-08-2008, 09:06 AM   #6
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We have brokerage accounts at TDAmeritrade and Wells Fargo. We prefer WellsFargo because everything is free including our free checking and 100 free trades a year. There are even no commissions on buying/selling mutual funds such as Vanguard funds.
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Old 02-08-2008, 09:35 AM   #7
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vanguard and fidelity here. Both are great - very knowledgeable and helpful.
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Old 02-08-2008, 09:42 AM   #8
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We have mutual fund accounts directly at Vanguard. They are outstanding.

But we do NOT use the poorly rated Vanguard brokerage. For the folks who have responded mentioning Vanguard ... are you actually using the brokerage VBS, or are you just responding based on your mutual fund accounts?
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Old 02-08-2008, 09:46 AM   #9
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We have brokerage accounts at TDAmeritrade and Wells Fargo. We prefer WellsFargo because everything is free including our free checking and 100 free trades a year. There are even no commissions on buying/selling mutual funds such as Vanguard funds.

IIRC, free is a relative term... I think you have to maintain a big balance somewhere else than the brokerage account...
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Old 02-08-2008, 09:48 AM   #10
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I have Vanguard brokerage as part of my IRA... only made 3 trades and they went well...

But I like TDAmeritade better... and I do trades in my mom's ETrade which is good..

To me, if you are doing online trading, the cheapest has an advantage... I have never talked to any person at any of the brokerage firms.
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Old 02-08-2008, 09:53 AM   #11
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If you can meet WF's PMA requirements ($25k in combined accounts including 1/10 of mortgage balance), you get the 100 free trades per year.

The interface is kind of.. archaic, but if all you do is buy no-load funds and ETF's like me its more than sufficient.
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Old 02-08-2008, 10:06 AM   #12
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My professional opinion (and vote) would go to Schwab.

There is very little you could ever want to do with investments that Schwab doesn't do well and cheaply.
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Old 02-08-2008, 10:48 AM   #13
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ScottTrade, 'cause he flies around in that kewl helicopter...
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Old 02-08-2008, 10:56 AM   #14
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IIRC, free is a relative term... I think you have to maintain a big balance somewhere else than the brokerage account...
You are thinking of Bank of America and not Wells Fargo. As innova writes with WF you need to maintain a combined $25K, but that includes assets in your brokerage account(s), IRAs, 10% of mortgage balance, checking, savings, etc.

I would not use WF for buying individuals bonds though.
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Old 02-08-2008, 11:09 AM   #15
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I would not use WF for buying individuals bonds though.
Agreed.

I'll take that a step further and recommend not buying individual (non-govt) bonds at all, especially in a taxable account
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Old 02-08-2008, 11:17 AM   #16
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You are thinking of Bank of America and not Wells Fargo. As innova writes with WF you need to maintain a combined $25K, but that includes assets in your brokerage account(s), IRAs, 10% of mortgage balance, checking, savings, etc.

I would not use WF for buying individuals bonds though.
Hey, thanks... maybe I will look into them and see if it is worth moving...
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Old 02-08-2008, 11:33 AM   #17
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My professional opinion (and vote) would go to Schwab.

There is very little you could ever want to do with investments that Schwab doesn't do well and cheaply.
I generally agree. I'm pleased with their web site and right now, while doing taxes, quite pleased with their gain-loss reporting. Stock and ETF trades at $10 are competitive. Lots of mutual funds available at zero trade cost. But, and it is a pretty big "but", many funds (including Vanguard's funds) carry a trade cost of about $45. The Vanguard funds I own have been purchased in big lumps and seldom adjusted/balanced with small buys or sells due to the trade cost.
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Old 02-08-2008, 11:45 AM   #18
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We've been really happy with Scottrade. $7 trades on equities; free trades on mutual funds in their "free" families, and $17 commissions on mutual funds not in their "free" fund families. The above figures are for online trades; if you use a phone or a broker you pay higher commission fees, but still comparable to some of the other brokerages I've seen. If you're an active trader (we're not) they have higher service levels with free trades.

Since you've already got a Vanguard account and so have free trades for their funds, I'd set up a Scottrade or Schwab account for equities, bonds and options (should you want to go there...).

We've also found Scottrade's online interface to be user-friendly, and their GainsKeeper feature is nice when figuring out the cost basis and gains/losses on holdings.
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Old 02-08-2008, 12:55 PM   #19
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So far TRP was a total pain to set up an account with and other than one customer service rep that was horrible at Vanguard things could not be smoother with them.
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.

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Let me add that this professor stressed how qualified and able the help line was at Vanguard, which is one of the main reasons he was so sold on them. And this guy knew his stuff, so I tended to pay attention when he said something.
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.
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Old 02-08-2008, 01:13 PM   #20
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I opened an account with Benham when Jim Benham was running it, seemed like an okay guy and doing business with that company was sort of a family tradition--I heard about it from my uncle who retired to study his portfolio. Now that American Century has taken over Benham funds, it still seems okay.

My company Keogh plan is with Schwab which also seems okay.

If anyone has anything negative to say about either company, I'll listen. Thanks.
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