Brokerage accounts


Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
Jul 12, 2002
Recently, my Edward Jones broker found another job and moved on. EJ assigned me to another broker, a real young newbie.

Haven't really been impressed with any of the other Edward Jones folks I've been with. This account is my taxable, primarily individual stocks and bonds holdings. Refuse to buy any mutual funds through them, I can do that myself. Last broker that was any good was with Merrill Lynch but once they changed there broker compensation plan in about 2000 pushing % of assets, she started ignoring me.

To get to the point, I'm considering moving my whole account over to Vanguard, Fidelity, or T Rowe Price. I'm also considering slowly liquidiating most individual stock holdings and moving into no-load funds. Have not found a broker since ML that was much good at recommending individual stocks and not inclined to spend much time on my own doing research and monitoring my holdings.

Looking for any feedback or experiences using any of the above companies for brokerage services. FYI, I'm considering moving about $300K, with about $120K of that as capital gains. I (or my wife) already have retirement accounts with each of the three firms, though I'd also like to begin cutting down the number of accounts I have.

Thanks for feedback on any of these firm's brokerage services.

My two cents, go to either Fidelity or Vanguard and invest in no load index funds. Read some Bogle in the meantime and you will sleep better at night.
I recently transferred two of my accounts to Fidelity (from Smith Barney and Merrill Lynch), one an IRA and one a taxable, and have been very happy with their services... I initially went into the Fiedelity office and consulted with one of their reps, came back to her to make the transfer, solve problems, ask questions....all handled very well. Their online (the primary way I do business) and telephone services were wonderful also. Fidelity also raised my "status" and lowerred my fees ($8 transaction) more than my account balances warranted..... Indeed, I was so pleased that I transferred a second account. I also checked out Vanguard, but preferred Fidelity (it was close, though).

I also have a fairly sizeable account at T Rowe (both taxable and retirement) since I like their mutual funds and I've been very happy with their services too. I had a small brokerage account there too, but found their software a bit more cumbresome their fees higher than Fiedelity's. (While my T. Rowe Brokerage account is still officially open, I've sold my individual stock holdings and moved them to mutual funds).

Hope that helps!
What do you guys think of using the new Wellstrade free commision deal? With your amount of assets, you get 100 trades for free, and have access to both Vanguard and T Rowe Price and don't need to worry about any commissions.

Is the interface directly at vanguard or fidelity better than getting the funds from a supermarket like wells if you don't have to pay any transaction fees?
My fidelity account is almost all individual stocks and Fidelity has excellent tracking, trading, and research services. I'm not a frequent trader and still haven't used up the 25 free trades they gave me, but at $8/trade thereafter, I haven't really worried about trading costs much either.
I switched to Fido and couldn't be happier with the low commissions and great customer service. I phoned and e-mailed them first about some minor things to make sure the customer service was okay. It was light years better than anyone else I've dealt with in the financial services industry and has continued to be great since they have assigned account reps that you can call with problems (FWIW, the account rep has never tried to sell or suggest anything). I opened up an IRA just to check out the website interface and found it to be light years ahead of my old brokerage. There are some other small things that please me too, like the fact that my dividends actually show up on the date they are supposed to instead of them working the float (like my old broker) and transfers actually happen faster from my Fido account to my bank account than they did from my bank-owned brokerage to my bank account. And you can decide stock-by-stock whether you want to reinvest dividends. They also have a fair amount of research available online which means I don't need to sit at the library any more to get the data out of Value Line (S&P reports have the same data in a decent format). And to boot Fido covered the transfer fees that the old brokerage was charging to move my accounts which saved me about $300.

The biggest "negatives" are that they don't have as many low fee funds to choose from as Vanguard does, but the ones they have work for my needs as mostly I own individual stocks anyway. But you can get around a lot of those choice limitations by buying Vanguard ETFs where you need them since the commissions are so low anyway.
I am in the middle of deciding where to move my 401K when I 'hit the ripcord'.

I had decided on Vanguard only because most posters here seem to be Bogleheads and have also pointed me to diehard forum, ...etc. I have trapsed around the VG site and found it easy and enlightening. Also my index fund picks are all VG because that's all I looked at.

Should I do a 'do over' and look at Fidelity too? Or is it not worth the effort? So far all the votes seem to be for Fido. Thanks.
megacorp-firee said:
Should I do a 'do over' and look at Fidelity too? Or is it not worth the effort? So far all the votes seem to be for Fido. Thanks.

Looks like a "less filling" vs. "tastes great" arguement. I don't think you will go wrong with either one.

Disclaimer: My experience (very positive) is with Vanguard only.
megacorp-firee said:
Should I do a 'do over' and look at Fidelity too? Or is it not worth the effort? So far all the votes seem to be for Fido. Thanks.
Take whichever one gives you the best costs & most freebies for consolidating your accounts at one shop.

I'm happy with Fidelity but I'd blackmail them in an instant if Vanguard offered me a better deal.

If you expect to need considerable customer service, though, I'd hesitate to go with the company that spends the least amount of money on customer service. If you only make two phone calls and a couple e-mails a year then it probably doesn't matter.
Nords said:
If you expect to need considerable customer service, though, I'd hesitate to go with the company that spends the least amount of money on customer service. If you only make two phone calls and a couple e-mails a year then it probably doesn't matter.
OK, I'll bite, ... which one do you think spends the least bucks on customer service?
After I started reading this board 3 years ago it didn't take me too long to move away from AGEdwards and ML to Vanguard.

It makes me sick to think of all the money I spent on brokers for no apparent reason.

Run, Run away Forest!
Yes, I was blind, but now can see ....
They do a great job of making sure that the masses are kept in the dark. Not overtly, but by doing a (obviously) great job of marketing their (costly) services.

Most people think that ML or for that matter Schwab are the only game in town. Even when they do discover the deep discount brokers, they are sold on buying and selling individual stocks, that are touted by the broker, BIL, taxi cab driver, "friend', or neighbor, as the way to go.

Hmmm .. .need a massive educational push here. ESTJ sorry ...
Just a side note to all of you:

Vanguard's brokerage service is terrible and expensive. If you want to own individual securities please keep that in mind.

Other than that I would say Vanguard and Fido are on par with each other.
I trade with Vanguard all the time. The 1st 12 trades are for free and $8 after that, what's so expensive??
From the Vanguard Web Page:

Standard Rate: $25 Online
Voyager Rate: $22.50 Online
Flagship Rate: First 12 trades: no commission3 Subsequent trades: $8 each

So you must be a Flagship Customer, Great! You should remember most people dont have a million in assets with vanguard!

At the same time they still have a terrible trading platform.
Compared to what I used to spend with brokers Vanguard is the bargain of the century. Haven't had one problem trading with them. Perhaps you should look at the average net worth of the folks on this board.
At one million most are just warming up.
Hmmm, open a window, it's getting a little hot in here.
I vote for Vanguard as well. A little expensive if you're not a Flagship customer, but their tracking tools work great for me. And one you're in Flagship land, the customer service is impeccable.
I think it depends what you want. Do you want lots of research, and the ability to buy individual stocks, options, bonds cheaply? Or do you want to stick it all into a few no load index funds and be done with it?

If the former, go for a fido or td ameritrade, if you want the latter, go for vanguard and be done with it.
Well, it appears that Fidelity is the most recommended due to service, Vanguard recommendations are very mixed, and not many have experience with T Rowe Price.

I haven't checked in a very long time, but I had the impression that Fidelity charged low loads for their funds (2% or so). Our current relationship is through a 401k plan my wife has, and she left the company 10 years ago! Guess I need to do some research on Fidelity.

My only online brokerage experience has been at T Rowe Price for a self-directed IRA but in a busy year I may have 4 trades. No problems or complaints.

Thanks for the feedback, gave me some more info to consider.

Fidelity ranks very well in broker reviews and surveys. Fidelity is the most recommended of the choices that you gave us.

If you wanted to step out of those constraints, I can whole heartedly recommend WellsFargo and after that TDAmeritrade. We have accounts at both. We use them for some mutual funds, ETFs, individual stocks and broker-sold CDs. These include investments in a Fidelity fund, Dodge&Cox funds, an AmericanCentury fund. But we use Vanguard itself for Vanguard funds.
RE2Boys said:
Well, it appears that Fidelity is the most recommended due to service, Vanguard recommendations are very mixed, and not many have experience with T Rowe Price.
TRP is one of the few companies in the nation that will custody IRAs for minors, so we put our 14-year-old's IRA there.

A week after we did the paperwork I attempted to activate the online account features. No joy. I finally called TRP and it turned out that they'd entered her SSN incorrectly. They said "Log in with this SSN and then change it." I balked and had them enter it correctly before we'd proceed further. Two days later we finally had online access.

We sent them the EFT paperwork 12 days ago for transferring money directly from her checking account instead of via paper checks. I'm afraid to call and see how that's doing...

As soon as she turns 18 I'll point out to her that Fidelity will custody her IRA for a much smaller expense ratio and will consolidate her account privileges under the family umbrella. I don't think she'll stay at TRP.
If you want to stick with individual stocks, I would suggest you go with TD Ameritrade. It is cheap, and easy to do everything you need online. I don't need a "broker" to talk to, just a platform to execute trades. However, I recognize that some may feel more comfortable with greater human contact.

For the part of my portfolio that is in mutual funds, I deal directly with the relevant fund companies (Vanguard, Oakmark, Dodge & Cox). Even there, I do everything online.
Most of our assets are with Vanguard and the customer service has been good. However, there have been a few cases where their reps weren't as informed as I expected. My friend had Vanguard screw up his excess Roth recharacterization twice. I've also seen some people who've complained on the diehards site. A greater percentage of Fidelity users seem to be happy with their customer service.

I definitely agree that Vanguard's brokerage costs and interface leaves something to be desired. But we don't buy too many individual stocks so I'm OK with it. We do have a very small account with Fidelity but we don't use it much except at tax time. The main reason that I chose Vanguard over Fidelity was that most of my monthly investments are in Vanguard funds and DW's 403(b) is with Vanguard. Yeah, a few of Fidelity's funds have lower ERs than Vanguards but I get the feeling that these might be teaser rates that could change in the future. Plus, the few funds that had a lower ER at Fidelity were only cheaper when compared with the investor class ones at Vanguard; once you move to admiral status, the Vanguard funds were pretty much the same ER.
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