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Thoughts on VG vs. TD Ameritrade?
Old 07-21-2018, 04:45 PM   #1
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Thoughts on VG vs. TD Ameritrade?

Yes, I get this question is as loaded as "Chevrolet vs. Ford" or "City v. Country" but I am asking anyway...

I have used VG almost exclusively and have little experience with TDA. Recently, my DD passed away and his brokerage house was TDA. I have since inherited said holdings and have taken care of everything in regards to the stepped up basis, etc. I have discovered that I actually *like* the TDA application/website a little better than Vanguard, but not sure if that's enough reason to leave those assets w/ TDA and not move it all to VG.

My holdings in VG are a few equities, but mostly VTSAX (a brokerage account and tIRA). In Dad's account(s), there *were* quite a few equities that I sold and would move to VG and put into VTSAX, or put it in SPTM if that cash remains w/ TDA.

So, what are your thoughts? I haven't had to talk to anyone in person w/ VG so can't really tell how the customer service is. I *have* talked to several folks at TDA, and while initially I was having issues, once I got to talk to the correct department, they were able to help. AND...the local branch called me later to make sure everything was taken care of, which I haven't had with another bank/broker EVER.
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Old 07-21-2018, 05:38 PM   #2
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I have used all 3 and like Fidelity the best by far. Bricks & mortar offices where you can go talk with a live person, an excellent website, and great 24/7 phone service. And the fees are very close to VG’s and lower than TDA’s.
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Old 07-21-2018, 05:52 PM   #3
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JMHO
TD's website is Superior to VG's, but Thats about the only benefit I could find. I have an account there but with a zero balance.
As far as my brokerage accounts go I'm about 80% Fido, 20% VG. Lately I have bought a few T-bills and found VG extremely simple and easy to use to purchases these, while I have not yet even figured out how to buy them in Fidelity. I'm serious, I must be stupid or something, but I can't for the life of me figure out how to buy a treasury in my fido account!
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Old 07-21-2018, 07:06 PM   #4
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I made survey visits to TD, Fido and Schwab in preparation for an adult-ed investing class that I teach. It was maybe 6 months after they bought Scottrade.

With Fido and Schwab they seemed to be fairly close in capabilities so it would boil down to specific advisor personalities.

With TD, it was apparent that they were trying to make the transition from serving individual stock pickers and day traders to becoming a Schwab or a Fido. The web site was indeed a strength because of the market they served. They needed a customer interface that didn't involve expensive personal contact. When I visited they were trying to "grow" the personal touch part of the business and attract the bigger accounts that would support it.

For investors with low to moderate six-figure portfolios all three would assign a personal rep at no charge. The thresholds varied slightly so you would have to ask.

My first choices would be ask the branch managers to interview a couple of reps each at Schwab and Fido but it would certainly be easy to do the same at TD. I would brokercheck them before bothering with an interview. (In my case I would tell the branch manager that I wanted people whose experience at least started before the housing crash and preferably before the tech bubble. People getting into the business more recently have never seen a "normal" interest rate environment. But YMMV.)

Edit: Oops. Forgot to mentions VG. They are not on my list because they do not have local presence. I did recently work on an advisor survey for a nonprofit looking for someone to manage $4M. VG was the lowest bidder by a lot (bid 40bps IIRC) but they were rejected because it would only be a telephone relstionship and the nonprofit is a fairly high touch outfit.
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Old 07-21-2018, 07:22 PM   #5
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You could keep both if you wanted. An advantage to that is that if one of them does something wrong that you don't want to live with, or you have other reason to leave them, it should be very simple to transfer the assets in kind to the other. OTOH, you could get some incentive bonus to open or perhaps re-open an account with another brokerage.

One reason to consolidate is if you can get some better status at one or another based on assets held there, like Flagship at Vanguard. It's arguable whether Flagship has any real value but I feel like I probably get a little better and quicker response with it.

Certainly look at fees, both for funds and trading costs.

If being able to visit a local branch means much to you, TDA has the advantage there (or maybe Fidelity).

If you do much trading, you may look at which one actually does better with the bid/ask spread. I'm out of my element here since I've been all mutual funds for a few years now, but my impression is that some places are better for actual trades than others. I could be wrong.

Personally I'm with VG because they had the lowest cost funds when I was looking, AFAIK that still holds true or the difference is negligible, and I'm happy enough with the service.
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Old 07-21-2018, 07:24 PM   #6
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I have used all 3 and like Fidelity the best by far. Bricks & mortar offices where you can go talk with a live person, an excellent website, and great 24/7 phone service. And the fees are very close to VG’s and lower than TDA’s.
I have accounts at all three and prefer having bricks and mortar facilities like Fidelity and TDA have. Near as I can tell, stock trades at TDA and VG are the same price, $7/trade, while Fido's are $2 cheaper.

For folks who trade stocks, I think TDA is superior as they cater more to stocks since that was their origin (Waterhouse and Ameritrade brokerages.) You can argue about that but I will give a concrete example that occurred earlier this year. When volatility went wild, so did many of the derivatives based on it. Some that represented inverse volatility (e.g. SVXY and XIV) were decimated. Fidelity, after all the damage had been done, closed the barn door and refused to allow clients to trade those vehicles for a period of time. That's a bit too much of being a nanny for my taste. I don't know if VG had a similar policy but it wouldn't surprise me. For TDA, it was trading as usual in those vehicles. I also see that Vanguard does not offer after hours trading in contrast to Fidelity and TDA. That's a very useful feature IMHO.
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Old 07-21-2018, 07:34 PM   #7
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I have accounts at TDA, Schwab, and Fidelity. I don't buy mutual funds or ETFs and have no use for VG. Depending on how much you are holding at a brokerage, you will get a different level of service. Keep that in mind. I have been with all three for over 25 years, and TDA has by far the best investor education seminars followed by Schwab. All were free of charge. TDA also has some pretty good online investor training also. Fidelity for the most part wants to sell you their funds or advisory services. TDA has the best technology and best site. It is really for the self-directed investor who wants to trade equities and options. Fidelity is better for fixed income trading due to their inventory and more fair pricing, but their order entry and execution really sucks. As for fixed income adviser, TDA has much better and knowledgeable fixed income analysts and traders followed by Schwab. Fidelity's advisers are pretty much clueless and only useful for order entry when inventory of a particular issue is not available. The local office assigned to me at TDA is in Encino, CA. For Schwab and Fidelity, Burbank CA All three have personal advisers (free of charge) that call at least 2 times per year to see if We need any assistance. TDA calls me about 4 times per year. Schwab has the nicest office. All three send their perks (free dinners, free lunches,gifts baskets, gift cards, concert tickets etc...). I would keep the TDA account if I were you.
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Old 07-21-2018, 07:52 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by jjflyman View Post
JMHO
Lately I have bought a few T-bills and found VG extremely simple and easy to use to purchases these, while I have not yet even figured out how to buy them in Fidelity. I'm serious, I must be stupid or something, but I can't for the life of me figure out how to buy a treasury in my fido account!
Under News & Research on the top, click on Fixed Income, Bonds & CDs. Click on the New Issues tab if you'd like to buy at auctions or click on your choice of bond type and maturity on the Yields tab.
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Old 07-21-2018, 09:02 PM   #9
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We have had a TDAmeritrade (nee TDWaterhouse) account for almost 25 years. We have had a Vanguard account for 36 years.
We have used Fidelity for a couple of decades, too, but not for much.
We have other accounts as well.

Of the 3 above, I prefer TDAmeritrade if I had to only have one single brokerage firm. We use the no-commission ETFs and follow the rules. My spouse's employer uses TDAmeritrade as their 401(k) custodian with a plan that has DFA and Vanguard funds among others. I do use the local TDAmeritrade office about once a year to hand deliver some forms since it is so conveniently located next to a lunch place that I go to.

I'll say that the TDAmeritrade 1099-B and 1099-DIV are timely and accurate. They download into tax prep software accurately as well. The web site is functional and has the Morningstar portfolio X-ray available, but Fidelity has the same thing, and Vanguard has a faulty thing called Portfolio Watch.

TDAmeritrade lets one customize the "Positions" view and uses the GainsKeeper tool to keep track of realized and unrealized Capital Gains and Losses.

I don't use Research nor News at any of these financial institutions. Their web interfaces to buy/sell things are all pretty much the same, though I do use the TDAmeritrade real-time Level II quotes and trading platform(s) even when I make trades with my other brokers.

ACH in/out of TDAmeritrade to external checking account is trivial.

So bottom line: One can do everything at TDAmeritrade without paying any fees and without paying any commissions. They do have terrible interest rates on the cash sweep (aka settlement) account and lousy money market funds, but the way around that is to not hold cash there or to buy a T-bill ETF such as BIL for that money. Vanguard still has the best money market funds.
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Old 07-21-2018, 10:08 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jjflyman View Post
JMHO
TD's website is Superior to VG's, but Thats about the only benefit I could find. I have an account there but with a zero balance.
As far as my brokerage accounts go I'm about 80% Fido, 20% VG. Lately I have bought a few T-bills and found VG extremely simple and easy to use to purchases these, while I have not yet even figured out how to buy them in Fidelity. I'm serious, I must be stupid or something, but I can't for the life of me figure out how to buy a treasury in my fido account!
I found this very straightforward.

I went to trade fixed income, clicked on search inventory, then they have a big table of different types of bonds/CDs and rates versus duration. Clicked on new issues tab, then treasuries under that.

I think I may have watched a video on the site before doing this. Yeah - the trade fixed income then search inventory part is rather mysterious. It should be easier to get to that bond table.
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Old 07-22-2018, 07:37 AM   #11
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I have both and frankly I like the td website and customer service better than vg.
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Old 07-22-2018, 08:29 AM   #12
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I have had both TDA and VG accounts but closed the VG account a few years ago. I prefer the TDA website and their customer service has always been top notch (for me). I primarily invest via ETFs and individual stocks, no mutual funds.
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Old 07-22-2018, 10:04 AM   #13
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Schwab

I too have migrated into/from all of these and I have concluded that the services and fees are so similar as to not be a major factor. I think ease of use online is what distinguishes them and Schwab is currently the best.
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Old 07-22-2018, 10:29 AM   #14
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I too have migrated into/from all of these and I have concluded that the services and fees are so similar as to not be a major factor. I think ease of use online is what distinguishes them and Schwab is currently the best.

The bulk of my assets are also at Schwab after some moving around, 401k rollovers, consolidations, etc. I find them satisfactory. They're all compormises in one way or another but due to family needs, I need a firm that:

1. Has local brick and mortar branches.

2. Gives me everything I need to be completely DIY now but who could provide competent, lost cost planning and management services (shark attack free) should I predecease DW.

3. Gives me outstanding service up to, but falling just short of, kissing my butt. Since my FIRE assets are there, I expect SERVICE. Prompt and accurate handling of administrative issues locally, online and via telephone, 24 X 7 phone contact with folks who know what they're doing, people who always follow-up, minimal sales pressure for purchased services, local seminars, etc.

4. Flexibility. Over the years my level of trading frequency has varied a lot. From strictly a MF and ETF buy and hold guy to "frequent trader status," I've done it all. So I need a firm whose capabilities, products and web site do it all reasonably well. (This is what kept me away from Vanguard - whose MF's I love - although I understand they are better at serving traders these days.)

While I'm using Schwab, I know other firms, such as Fidelity, could meet my needs as well. In fact, I review the financial records of a deceased friend's widow for her twice a year and she is with Fidelity so I'm somewhat familar with them and they seem fine.
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Old 07-22-2018, 06:52 PM   #15
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I’m Fidelity (70) and Vanguard (30j.

Fidelity has faster, better everything re net interfaces and service in my experience. They have a great modeling tool that is easy to use. I was hard core Vanguard until I quit wxxking - and my company hired Fidelity ... wow, what a difference.

My sense is Fidelity decided to lead and cut their rates and improved their service to ensure they were number 1.
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Old 07-23-2018, 09:38 AM   #16
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I have been using TD Ameritrade for a few years and I just opened a Vanguard account to roll over part of my 401k.

I prefer the TD Ameritrade interface too. The reason I opened the Vangaurd account is because I primarily hold Vanguard funds.

The Vangaurd interface isnt as good but it is adequate.
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Old 07-24-2018, 12:59 AM   #17
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I think it may depend what you’re used to. I used the Fido website for years when I was DIY. Then we had an FA for 5 years and had to move our money to TDA. Never liked their website and never got used to the different ways it worked compared to Fidelity. Example - on Fido’s site, you can run YTD tax activity on a daily basis if you want and see YTD interest and dividend income, plus realized and unrealized capital gains. Very easy - the data is presented in a very simple summarized format and you can click on “details” to see more. The TDA website wouldn’t do this for me. I had to call them and have them walk me through how to download reports to Excel, which I then had to format and add up myself. Just one small example of why I like the Fido website way better than TDA. But YMMV
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Old 07-24-2018, 01:37 AM   #18
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I too prefer Fido website to that of TDA.


Customer service is better at both Fido and TDA than at VG.

Trades are currently cheaper at Fido than at TDA. Have heard VG is same as Fido in this regard, but have not traded there, just hold some funds.
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Old 07-24-2018, 08:41 AM   #19
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Fido seems to have a slight edge over on bogleheads, at least in the various "VG vs. Fido vs. Schwab" threads.
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Old 07-24-2018, 10:48 AM   #20
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Have heard VG is same as Fido in this regard, but have not traded there, just hold some funds.
VG is not the same as Fido: its trade fees depend on the amount of money you have with them. For online trades in accounts under $500K, the range is $7-20 per trade. Bigger accounts' trading fees range from $0-2 per trade. VG doesn't offer after hours trading, a significant disadvantage vis a vis Fido, TDA and Schwab IMHO.
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