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Free Services etc - Vanguard v Fidelity v TRP?
Old 11-13-2014, 12:21 PM   #1
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Free Services etc - Vanguard v Fidelity v TRP?

As I have gotten further into the question of where to consolidate mega-corp 401K, previous IRAs, and taxable holdings, I am learning a lot about the pros/cons of what I would consider to be (at least so far) the top three broad financial companies.

There are multiple levels of service and products with various pricing for things like equities and ETF purchases - TRP offers WSJ and TurboTax free, etc ... hard to keep track.

I know everyone is generally happy with their particular choices, and I will probably end up with at least two of the companies - my question is: at the $1M level of holdings, which company offers the "best deal?" (i recognize this means different things to different people ...)

My world in the future will be doing 20-50 trades a years ... ETFs and individual securities. Nothing fancy. Don't need much help, but free help from competent advisors is better than expensive help.

Anyone beat this particular horse down into basic summary?

Thanks!
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Old 11-13-2014, 08:44 PM   #2
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I am in process of moving everything to vanguard. Admiral funds have nice expense ratios and with 1m you should get very low fees for security trades.

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Old 11-13-2014, 09:07 PM   #3
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At that level I'd go with Vanguard.
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Old 11-13-2014, 09:25 PM   #4
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I have accounts at Vanguard, Fidelity, TDAmeritrade, and WellsTrade.

I pay no commissions at all four of them for the things I want to own: Index mutual funds and ETFs. 20-50 trades a year is a lot of trades.

It turns out that Vanguard is nothing particularly special even if you have $1MM there. They will let you do an investment plan for plan, but their answer is always the same: 3 funds: Total Stock Market Index, Total Int'l Stock Market Index, Total Bond Market Index. They will also give you a free copy of TurboTax. I figure these perks are worth no more than $50.

In contrast, Fidelity will give you frequent flyer miles worth about $1000 in flights. TDAmeritrade will give you cold hard cash worth even more. WellsTrade is very good for folks grandfathered into their free trades system because you get free ATM, free international ATM, free checks, etc, but not cold hard cash.

So I recommend starting at TDAmeritrade for the cold hard cash, then switching to Fidelity for the frequent flyer miles, then maybe switching to Schwab for cold hard cash, then to Vanguard for a free investment plan, then back to TDAmeritrade, and repeat.

None of them have advisors that I would use.
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Old 11-13-2014, 10:40 PM   #5
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In contrast, Fidelity will give you frequent flyer miles worth about $1000 in flights.
I'm curious, what are you doing to get this benefit?
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Old 11-14-2014, 07:20 AM   #6
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I appreciate the thoughts ...I have another thread related to getting Fidelity to hold other taxable mutual funds for me ...Fidelity offered cash for me to transfer the funds to them ...obviously, their biz case is potential for me to sell out of those funds into Fidelity funds at some time in the future. The cash more than offset the $100 future charge to sell the funds that Fidelity didn't already have an agreement with ...

I do like airline points ...I hadn't heard that about Fidelity ...could you offer how this works?

T Rowe Price offers free WSJ and Turbotax and Morningstar ...I have account with them, but it isn't a primary so I don't meet their level for these.


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Old 11-14-2014, 07:28 AM   #7
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I would say E*Trade is your best bet. With 1 Million you will be "Platinum" customer.
They will pretty much band backwards to make you happy. If something costs money you can ask for freebie. Phone is answered on 1-2 rings by dedicated team handling Platinum level customers

BTW with that size of portfolio Fidelity would at a bottom of my rating. This is because I care more
about getting answer/help on my question/problem then some few hundred dollars to transfer account.
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Old 11-14-2014, 07:33 AM   #8
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Do the differences in ERs offset the free benefits? I would be cautious of getting drawn in for the benes and not recognizing the higher expense cost. The $1000 of free flights is only 1 basis point on $1 million, so a few basis points of expenses can more than pay for the benefits. Actually, now that I think about it I feel better oabout paying for my own WSJ.
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Old 11-14-2014, 07:33 AM   #9
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All my trades with Fidelity and Vanguard are free......BUT.......Vanguard has far lower expenses because of index and ETF funds that don't exist at Fidelity. I save a bundle on Vanguard small cap, mid cap, REIT and emerging market index funds. Their rates on bond funds are lower than Fidelity. So, depending on your investments, saving 20 to 40 basis points and having greater selection for diversification means anything, my Vanguard savings runs into the thousands each year......., and, I've made good money, over the years on each of the funds I've mentioned.....a greater return than on the total stock market index fund available at Fidelity. But, I do use Fidelity for a few stock trades, I keep some money in their total Stock index fund and since mega corp has the 401k there and I have a large balance with that, my trades are free. Also, Vanguard does an evaluation of my portfolio every couple of years and makes recommondations. One of them was to move my "safe" bond money from their short term muni bond fund to their limited term fund....doubled my dividends and didn't increase my risk by a lot. So, it all depends on what's important to you.....for me, I both save and have more investment choices by having the majority of my funds with Vanguard.
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Old 11-14-2014, 08:44 AM   #10
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Fidelity has a very good online portfolio analysis tool that will compare your port vs the overall market, their reps are very good either on the phone or in person, their offerings are very broad in scope, they provide lots of investor education presentations and they have local offices if you want to speak with an advisor face to face. Fidelity advisors are salaried and not paid based on commission.
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Old 11-14-2014, 09:05 AM   #11
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Here is how I got FF miles at Fidelity:

First, I got a bonus at TDAmeritrade. Then at TDAm, I bought VBR (Vanguard Small-cap Value) shares for no commission. Then after awhile, I transferred the VBR shares to Fidelity "in-kind". It took less than 5 minutes. Those shares are just sitting there. I have not paid a commission to Fidelity for buying Vanguard shares. I have no plans to sell those shares, but intend to transfer them back to TDAmeritrade eventually to get a cash bonus.

Here is how to search for the bonus:
Let me google that for you

One could purchase Fidelity Spartan Advantage Index fund shares at Fidelity without commission. The expense ratios are very low.

As for TRowePrice and free Morningstar, I have registered at the TRowePrice site for free and use free Morningstar there, but I have never had any assets at TRowePrice. So they give this stuff away for free. Put your money elsewhere.
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Old 11-14-2014, 09:07 AM   #12
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I would go with the firm that gives you lowest costs in terms of mutual funds expense ratio, brokerage fees, etf fees. I use vanguard and like the low costs and tools for financial planning: free retirement plan, Monte Carlo tool, financial engines, and portfolio analysis.


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Old 11-14-2014, 10:07 AM   #13
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Since you'll be making 20-50 trades per year, your criteria are likely different than mine. I only make 2-3 trades per year at Fidelity, and mainly hold ultra-low-ER Vanguard and iShares index ETFs. iShares trade commission-free at Fidelity, while Vanguard and others cost $7.95 per trade. I don't own any Fidelity mutual funds, so ER differences are not an issue. The only direct costs I've ever paid to Fidelity are the rare Vanguard ETF trade, which is of no consequence. A cup of coffee at Starbucks is a bigger financial commitment.

I would also say that free goodies like the WSJ, airline miles, or a completely predictable phone call with an "advisor" are of no importance to me in the decision. The important items to me are: online interface, analytical tools, access to research material, brokerage execution, banking services, cash-back credit cards, security, and phone service. About 2-3 years ago, I did some extensive online research about where to consolidate my accounts based on those criteria, and that's how I ended up at Fidelity. As I recall, Schwab and E-Trade were also great options. While I like owning Vanguard ETFs, they generally don't compare well as a place to house your investments. If you mainly hold Vanguard mutual funds, that's probably a different story.

I'm starting to warm up to the idea that splitting my holdings between two brokerages might be a good idea. So there might be a Schwab or E-Trade account in my near future. But I won't be making the decision based on who's giving away a bigger toaster that month.
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Old 11-14-2014, 11:09 AM   #14
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I have accounts at Fido and Vanguard (lion's share at Fido). In a nutshell, Vanguard wins on cost, Fido wins on services.

I did get $2500 for going to Fidelity 2 years ago (7 figure portfolio). That was a nice bonus.
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Old 11-14-2014, 11:41 AM   #15
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Yeah - following all the discussion ...good points, all ...while I wouldn't chase bennies, if I were engaged in a particular course of action and was weighing pros/cons, and there was a tie - the bennies might make a difference ...and, the bennies in this case are a mixed bag ...the trading cost bennie is an easy, if one doesn't trade a lot doesn't make sense to consider even a difference between $0 and $8; free TurboTax SW is worth something each year, as is free access to Morningstar (however, once you have decided which index funds to use and are happy with the result ...) , free WSJ on-line has some value, especially if you read news, etc on-line and/or are not in a metro area with access to major newspapers ...
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Old 11-14-2014, 01:55 PM   #16
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We moved our taxable accounts (checking, brokerage) to Schwab a few weeks ago as part of simplifying our finances. Ended up with $400 "bonus", but I would have made the move without the bonus.


We also moved IRA's and a 401K from Fidelity to Vanguard as part of the same process. We just wanted to have all of our retirement accounts in one place and Vanguard's ER fees were a little better. Having said that, you really can't go wrong with Fidelty, TRP, Vanguard or Schwab. All are good.
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Old 11-14-2014, 02:15 PM   #17
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I have accounts at Fido and Vanguard (lion's share at Fido). In a nutshell, Vanguard wins on cost, Fido wins on services.

I did get $2500 for going to Fidelity 2 years ago (7 figure portfolio). That was a nice bonus.
I have my 401k at Fido and the rest (Roth and DW's IRA's) at VG. We're coming up on rolling my 401k into an IRA. I'm curious about the bonus for going Fido. How does that work?
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Old 11-14-2014, 02:37 PM   #18
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I have my 401k at Fido and the rest (Roth and DW's IRA's) at VG. We're coming up on rolling my 401k into an IRA. I'm curious about the bonus for going Fido. How does that work?
Google "fidelity bonus open account".
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Old 11-14-2014, 04:01 PM   #19
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I also have a large 401(k) at Fidelity that can be rolled over to an IRA. When I talked to a Fidelity rep about an incentive to keep my money at Fidelity, he basically said, "No, to get a bonus it has to be money from outside Fidelity coming in to Fidelity." I wasn't quite ready to make a move, so I did not push him on this subject of bonus.

So it may be that one has to yank their 401(k) out of Fidelity and roll it over to TDAmeritrade to get a bonus. But perhaps one can get retention bonus if one plays their cards right.
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Old 11-19-2014, 06:59 PM   #20
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We are in VG's Voyager Select group and love how quickly they answer the phone. Just used them this morning to set up an IRA rollover. In the subsequent call to TIAA-CREF, I was on hold for 10 minutes after several additional minutes of automated hell. Grrrrr...
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