In a recent survey, Americans reported being more concerned about finances than in previous years. They report health problems and lack of sleep due to money worries.
Further, one in three have shifted the dates of their planned retirement, some as many as ten years later. A large factor – having little or nothing saved for retirement.
According to BMO Real Financial Index, Americans have reduced their retirement savings due to inflation, and around 60% of young people decreased their 401(k) contribution.
To make the most of your money, you must “seek advice from a financial expert on ways to successfully manage your finances, from learning ways to save and which types of accounts to use, to moving from knowing what you should do with your money, to doing it,” suggest Paul Dilda, head of Consumer Strategy for BMO Harris Bank.
If you're ready to move from knowing to doing, you should start by looking at investment brokerage firms. Brokerage firms use their expertise to invest on your behalf in hopes of increasing your net worth. Investments can include:
- Mutual Funds
- Exchange-traded Funds (ETFs)
- Money Market Funds
- Certificates of Deposit (CDs)
- Precious Metals
Depending on your financial goals, time frame, and risk tolerance, they will help you to get where you need to be on your financial journey.
For example, you may be saving for a down payment on a house, fighting inflation, increasing your money to retire early, or working to become financially free. If your investment time frame is more long-term, you have more time for your portfolio to rebound from any downturns in the market. But if you need access to your money sooner, you should focus on more conservative investments.
That's where a brokerage firm and financial advisors come in. After the last two years of pandemic instability, more Americans are looking to have professional help with their investments. Two brokerage firms are highly regarded in the industry. Here's what sets them apart from each other and the rest of the market, and why you should check them out before the year ends.
Invest in One of These Brokerages
Fidelity Investments is an American multinational financial service headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts. It offers a wide range of services from financial planning and wealth management to retirement planning and more.
Fidelity offers both “Fidelity Go” and “Fidelity Personalized Planning & Advice” advisor services. The first service is a robo-advisor. It works well if you prefer a hands-off approach to letting someone manage your investments. The second service is a hybrid robo-advisor. It's ideal for people who want to be more involved, may have questions, and would like to speak to an actual advisor from time to time.
They also offer wealth management ($250,000 eligibility) and private wealth management ($2 million eligibility, plus $10 million+ in total investable assets) advisory services if you have an extensive portfolio to be managed.
Investment choices include stocks, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), mutual funds, options, bonds and certificates of deposit (CDs), international investments, precious metals, and custom index investing. There are no minimums for opening an account.
For commissions, there is no cost for online US stock, ETF, and options trades. For margin trading, rates can range from 5.50% to 9.825%; for bonds and CDs, there is a $1 fee per bond or CD.
There are also advisory fees ranging from 0.50% to 1.50% or a flat rate per month, dependent upon the size of your portfolio.
The best part about Fidelity is that it offers commission-free online US stock and options trading with no fees when you open a brokerage account. Fidelity is a very beginner-friendly platform, which many people love.
Like Fidelity, Vanguard is a registered investment advisor. They're headquartered in Malvern, Pennsylvania. It is a top brokerage firm known for pioneering work in creating and marketing mutual funds and ETFs to investors.
Vanguard offers investors a wide selection of ETFs, mutual funds, stocks, CDs, bonds, and money market funds. Most Vanguard mutual funds require a minimum investment of $3,000, but some funds begin with $1,000. There is no cost to trade stocks, ETFs, and Vanguard mutual funds online for commissions. Vanguard also charges annual account service fees for its brokerage accounts and mutual fund-only accounts.
They offer “Personal Advisor Services” if you have a minimum investment of $50,000. Additional personal advisor services (tax and estate planning, etc.) are available for “ultra-high-net-worth” investors.
“Vanguard Digital Advisor” is an automated service (robo-advisor) that requires a smaller minimum investment – just $3,000. It automatically adjusts your portfolio to remain on track with your predefined financial goals.
Both advisory services also charge fees, based on your investment amount.
The best part about Vanguard is that it excels at low-cost investing, making it ideal for investors who want to keep their money in the market long-term. The company also has no outside investors, meaning it is owned by its fund, people who invest with Vanguard.
Which Brokerage Firm Is Right for You?
Choosing a brokerage firm will depend on several factors, including the amount of money you have to invest, how financially savvy you are, and how hands-on you want to be with your money.
Your first investment should be one of time – check both of their websites and online brokerage firm reviews and contact their staff with questions you may have. Your level of knowledge also plays a role in whether you want more interaction with an advisor or if you're content with a more automated approach. Both brokerage firms are well-established, with trillions in assets and 30 to 40 million investors.
The Big Decision
Doing your due diligence is key when it comes to investing your money. You want to see a healthy return on your investment, whether you want to build wealth, retire early, or diversify your income streams. After completing your research, your overall comfort level will determine which brokerage firm is the best place for your investment. After all, it's your money.
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Featured Image Courtesy of Shutterstock.
Cindy started her blog, The Money Dreamer, when she realized the 9-5 job was not the lifestyle she wanted anymore. After designing for a while, she wanted a more meaningful life, so she decided to venture out. She took action and decided to learn how to save, budget, and invest while helping others along the way.