Vanguard, Fidelity, Schwab

Clark favorite sites for low cost index investing have been Schwab, Fidelity and Vanguard. Recently Clark has discussed the problems with Vanguard’s customer service include Vanguard’s app and website. A positive for Vanguard is that the Vanguard cash account has a higher yield than those of Fidelity or Schwab. There are of course other factors in deciding between the 3 companies.
Below is a link to an article on this topic by Alan Roth an influential CFP.

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If you qualify for Flagship Services you shouldn’t experience much of a wait for Vanguard phone responses.

My wife had flagship services and eventually moved her IRA to Fidelity. She had an assigned rep, but s/he turned over once or twice a year. She could never call and get her rep, and it took a day or two for a return call. My wife also always got seemingly new reps, and finally changed to Fidelity after getting off the phone with her rep and telling me that that she was tired of dealing with reps who knew less about financial planning than she did.

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That was pretty much my experience for the most part. Although I did have the same rep for about two years. But they no longer do that as explained to me they have gone to a team model. They sure aren’t John Bogle’s VG when I started with them in 1984 but their client numbers and base are completely different. I’m also not sure I care for the advertising I see them do on CATV now.

I don’t use their advisors, I acquiesced to the pitch for a free analysis once and didn’t like what the report said, so I told them thanks but no thanks.

But when I want to get something done, like adjust fund balances, adjust FIT withholding or time an RMD, QCC, etc. I call the Flagship phone number and usually get a pickup by the third ring.

On one occasion, last year, I called the help line on their website and didn’t get an answer for a while and a recording announced they had 10 minutes or so wait time. I hung up and dialed the Flagship number and got an answer right away. Based on that experience I figured it made a difference.

I only call them 2 or three time a year.

I have accounts at Fidelity too, but I only call them once or twice year and I’d say the response was average but not as quick or helpful as Vanguard.

Same for me which led into a pitch for their Advisor Services, something like .03% fee if I recall. I don’t use that either. We remain self-managed. I do wish VG had HSA accounts available to supplement my wife’s employer HSA but we ended up going with Fidelity. We could have used the employer HSA with only bank options and higher costs.

I am probably used to the VG web interface but I find Fidelity’s to be very difficult and busy with info on each page.

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I had it split between Vanguard and Fidelity but few months ago I moved Everything to Fidelity except our sponsor 401k.

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If you go to the Schwab reddit today, there is some truly awful stuff there today about Schwab’s security team locking down accounts for no reason, or little reason, and money is locked up for weeks. This totally terrifies me, and I have been with Schwab for 30+ years. They screw people with the low interest paid on cash. Their trades are not as good as Fidelity (you lose more on buying and selling). No HSA. No fractional shares. Nah… there’s a reason 90% of my stuff is at Fidelity. My wife and Mother are still at Schwab, and a small brokerage account, and small checking, and their AMEX and nice debit card with no currency fees, and a young cousin’s 529 account but I don’t see adding more money there. As those accounts get drawn down, I will be out of Schwab.

Can you be more specific about their advisor service.
Is it too conservative… too many bonds etc?

I tend to stay with Stock funds but with a good amount of cash for the rough times. At my age, most will go to the kids, hopefully at a stepped up basis, so not inclined to change much.

BTW, since Retirement Accounts do not get the stepped up basis, they will be the first to go.

Schwab has had fractional shares ($5 minimum) for almost two years.

Yes but only S&P 500 shares. Not for ETFs, I’m an ETF investor mainly.

It’s too much advice. These guys get paid to give advice. That advice leads to what they think is the smart direction for me to go tailored to my individual tastes and stated needs.

The problem is, is that they are often wrong. And when they are wrong it’s my money at stake.

Given the chance that they might be better at managing my little individual pot of money vs the guys who have been managing a fund like Vanguard Wellington for the last 97 years, and given the fact that the guys offering me “Flagship Service” advice charge an add-on fee and Wellington Admiral fees & expenses are just 0.17%, I’ll take the guys with the no-fee 97-year performance record of 8.2% and double my money every 7-9 years.

Daniel Khaneman’s book “Noise” explains how the “experts” do in the long run.

So, with my paper investments, I’m a buy-and-hold guy. I have lottsa friends who like to be proactive in their market investments. They don’t seem to do so well in the long run.

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Same here but I like to take a a small flier when I see the market opportunities. I have taken well timed flyers on Google, Exxon and Delta and done well although they are not the backbone of my portfolio… mainly in MFs.

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Small point, but they do offer fractional shares. You can only buy from the S&P 500 members as best I can tell and only market orders. They call it Schwab Slices or something like that. I was with them for awhile…but now with Interactive Brokers. Its a much better platform for experienced investors.

All the more reason to have accounts with 2 of the 3 or all 3.

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Interesting article Why I am not leaving Vanguard. Good for him! He ain’t dead yet.

Based upon kind words of Clark about Vanguard, I suggested its usage for my kid, and he did an IRA as I recall. Well the kid croaked and I became the Independent Administrator. Think “sole heir.” So here I have this stinking Vanguard account along with all the proper documentation and you would not believe the crap I went thru. I got most of it relatively easily with a rollover to a less obnoxious institution, but the dregs (well under $100 I think) were also painful. Not going there again!

Fidelity in my book is not that bad, though I fought with them for years as they administered a company 401K where I worked and essentially treated me like scum.

Just received my email that they want to start charging me $20 a year per account.

Vanguard? $20 per year per account?

Yes if you have an older mutual fund account they are charging $20 per year per account. For some reason they want you to move mutual fund only accounts into some type of brokerage account. Before I paid them I will probably move the accounts to Fidelity.

What is the problem with a Vanguard Brokerage Account?
They kind of nagged me into switching. Do not recall the $20 fee but its been a while.

There is no obligation to buy stocks etc. For some reason Vanguard found this was a better way.

I have really experienced no difference.

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