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Old 03-10-2009, 10:42 AM   #21
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Left Schwab ~2005 ... they wanted me to pay for EOY statements needed to do taxes. My Fidelity and Vanguard accounts gave them to me for free.

Sat on the phone with a Schwab rep for a 1/2 hour getting the info over the phone - he was annoyed. Explained why I was getting the info over the phone ... they sent the statements a couple weeks too late. Primarily with Fidelity now (megacorp 401k is there).
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Old 03-10-2009, 01:43 PM   #22
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Quote:
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Given that I buy mostly index funds and treasuries at auction, what other expenses would I care about?
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OK. I thought that perhaps you had actually compared expenses but obviously not.
Before investing I compared the expense ratios of many different funds. Thankfully, I quickly realized that index funds were the best choice for someone who thinks like an engineer, which significantly narrowed my choices. I then ordered prospectuses, and statements of additional information for the index funds I wanted at Vanguard, Fidelity, Schwab, and others. I did not give credit for "temporarily waiving fees" because I do not want to move my money, a taxable event, after "temporary" expires. For open-ended index-based mutual funds, Vanguard was unquestionably the most cost efficient option when I did my search.

My calculations indicate that I now pay Vanguard a little over $1,000 per year in management fees on my mutual funds based on my assets and the fund expense ratios. At my asset level, Vanguard does not charge me anything to purchase treasuries at auction. So for the foreseeable future, unless I sell a treasury bond early or Vanguard changes their fee structure, the only money Vanguard will make on me is from their fund management fees. They are simply not charging me any other fees.

Besides my individual account with Vanguard, I have a Fidelity account for my 401(k) and ESPP. Until I part ways with my current employer that account will remain open. Because the 401(k) is held through Fidelity, but actually invested in Vanguard Institutional index funds, I might keep the 401(k) around for a long time!

For those who want to see the Vanguard brokerage fee structure, use this link: https://personal.vanguard.com/us/acc...lueContent.jsp However, in my case such fees are simply not material. The fund ER totally dominates my investment expenses.

If I was starting from scratch today with a smaller asset base, I would be tempted to use a service like Buy Stocks Online and invest your money at ShareBuilder and purchase ETFs instead. That option was not available when I started with Vanguard. It is an option that should be seriously considered if you don't have enough assets to purchase Vanguard Admiral shares. I recommend individuals wanting to invest in equities who have less than $3,000 use ShareBuilder and Vipers. For example the new baby received $$$ from the grandparents...

As far as I know, if you want to use open-ended index-based mutual funds, Vanguard is still the clear choice. If you want to use Vanguard's funds, investing directly with Vanguard usually makes the most sense.
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Old 03-10-2009, 01:54 PM   #23
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bamsphd,

The thread is about brokerages, not MF's/ETF's. I agree with you on Vanguard MF's/ETF's. They have some of the best, especially considering the low fees, and I own several. VTI, for example, is my largest holding.

My point is that if you need a higher level of customer service than Vanguard offers, you can use other brokerages, still own Vanguard funds or their ETF equivalents, and not pay appreciably higher brokerage fees than Vanguard charges. It looks like Vanguard Brokerage is a good fit for you given your investment style and objectives and your personal situation.

Edit: the good news of this thread seems to be that we're arm wrestling over brokerages that all have relatively low fees and good execution. I can still remember 25 yrs ago being with Paine Webber and having a "full service" broker..... Now there were some staggering brokerage fees!
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Old 03-10-2009, 01:59 PM   #24
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Left Schwab ~2005 ... they wanted me to pay for EOY statements needed to do taxes. .
Ouch, that would hurt! What EOY statements do you need? Schwab supplies gain-loss reports free so you must need something beyond that. Something related to your real estate or other specialty investments?

They send me a 1099 and gain-loss report and that seems to do it.
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Old 03-10-2009, 03:41 PM   #25
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It was the gain-loss EOY report ... I was told I opted no to pay the annual reporting fee they were charging at the time. I would guess they stopped charging for the reports after a bunch of painful phone calls (this was a few years ago).
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Old 03-10-2009, 03:47 PM   #26
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Yeah..... today there is a real time gain-loss report function on the web site so you can see clearly where you stand as you go through the year. It tracks realized and unrealized gains and losses updating the unrealized daily and the realized as they occur. Right now I use the feature as a constant reminder of the sea of red I'm sailing in!
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Old 03-10-2009, 04:45 PM   #27
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If you want to buy individual bonds and also mutual funds, who is better,
Schwab, Fidelity or Vanguard ?
Schwab seems to have very knowledgeable advisors.
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bamsphd,

The thread is about brokerages, not MF's/ETF's. I agree with you on Vanguard MF's/ETF's. They have some of the best, especially considering the low fees, and I own several. VTI, for example, is my largest holding.
I beg to differ regarding the subject of this thread.

The answer to the original poster's question depends in part on what bonds and what mutual funds the poster desires. If they want treasuries and open-ended index funds, Vanguard is probably the best choice, unless they have some special need for additional customer service.

I also share ERD50's concerns if they need "very knowledgeable advisors" to tell them what to BUY, but they want to use only individual bonds and mutual funds. In that scenario I would worry the non-Vanguard options they list might steer them into much higher cost mutual fund alternatives than the Vangaurd index funds I prefer. I certainly find it hard to image that Schwab's "very knowledgeable advisors" would tell a customer to use a Vanguard index fund!

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My point is that if you need a higher level of customer service than Vanguard offers, you can use other brokerages, still own Vanguard funds or their ETF equivalents, and not pay appreciably higher brokerage fees than Vanguard charges. It looks like Vanguard Brokerage is a good fit for you given your investment style and objectives and your personal situation.
I certainly agree that if one is willing to pay more, and knows what one wants, one can buy more customer service without giving up on using Vanguard funds. I've just never wanted "more" customer service enough to pay what seems to be the going rate.
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Old 03-10-2009, 05:26 PM   #28
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We've used Schwab for years. Once a quarter our assigned "VP" calls us to check in to see if we want any help. We decline. He was useful once when there was a snafu setting up my I401K because Schwab didn't like per stirpes on contingent beneficiaries. One call to the "VP" and he resolved it all.

"VP" is in quotes because they must have zillions of them to make us all feel we are getting high-level help.
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Old 03-10-2009, 05:49 PM   #29
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bamsphd:

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It looks like Vanguard Brokerage is a good fit for you given your investment style and objectives and your personal situation.
There, I said it again.
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