Investing is one of things that can get so complicated that it makes some people just want to run away from the idea. But it doesn’t have to be that way!
Read more: Vanguard crosses $4 trillion asset threshold
How to get the investment advice you need
When you’re ready to invest, here’s what you need to know…
Traditional investment advice from humans
Garrett is great for one-time hourly advice when you just want someone to look over a portfolio that you’re basically self-directing.
NAPFA is geared more toward ongoing financial advice over a lifetime rather than the occasional check-in.
For the younger crowd, XY Planning Network is geared toward people in their 20s to 40s who want to pay a monthly fee for advice and comprehensive financial planning.
There are also a lot of choices if you don’t want to talk with a person and prefer to have an algorithm build your portfolio.
Acorns, meanwhile, is a twofer. Acorns gets you to save automatically by putting money aside as you spend day-to-day, and then it builds you a robo-portfolio.
Here’s how it works: You give Acorns your log-in info for your credit or debit card accounts, and then the app rounds up every time you make a purchase so they can invest your small change for you over time.
So let’s say you buy something for $3.24. Acorns will automatically round the purchase up to $4. Then they take that extra 76 cents and put it in savings. Every time you hit the $5 threshold in your account, they take it and invest it for you based on your risk tolerance and retirement horizon.
These old standbys have low costs
As far as individual investment brokers, I’ve seen there’s a real need to tell you who plays it on the level. That’s why I’ve put together this list below.
All the companies on this list are here for two reasons: They treat their clients right, no matter whether that client is big or small. And the cost to you of doing business with them is extremely low. They all offer ultra low-cost funds that keep far more of your money working for you.
Vanguard, Schwab, Fidelity and Black Rock offer large varieties of funds and their cousin, ETFs, at an annual management fee of .05% to .15%. Compare that to the expense of a typical fund choice that can be around 10 times that cost!
Vanguard is now the second biggest financial house in the world, behind Black Rock. They offer extremely low costs on all types of investing.
Vanguard will offer a full personal advisory service for .30% per year when you have an assets of $50,000 or more. That’s less than one-third the cost of a typical fee-only planner who charges 1%.
Fidelity is a newer entrant into the low-cost world, but they’re now being very aggressive by lowering the cost of a typical stock trade to $4.95. (Schwab, meanwhile, has matched that price.)
Fidelity Go is Fidelity’s answer to Vanguard’s full personal advisory service. It is .35% per year and has only a $5,000 minimum vs. Vanguard’s $50,000 minimum. Fidelity Go uses a combo of robo-advising and human advisors.
I love T. Rowe Price. They are smaller than the others but offer excellent low-cost no-commission funds that follow the traditional active management style. It costs more to invest with T. Rowe Price in comparison to the others, but that’s because it isn’t as passive.
TIAA is my hero for anyone who works for most any educational institution, hospital or non-profit. This company offers 403(b) plans and annuities at about one-fifth the cost of the typical insurance company and does so commission-free. If you must save for retirement in a 403(b), TIAA is almost always the only smart choice.
A new robo-advisory service called TIAA Personal Portfolio is now available with a minimum account balance of $5,000 and annual advisory fees at 0.3%. Because you can talk with an investment professional at TIAA any time you want, Personal Portfolio offers a nice blend of artificial intelligence and human hand-holding.
Schwab’s Intelligent Portfolios robo-advising service is a great choice if you have $5,000 or more. Schwab charges no fee to plug you into an extremely low-cost portfolio based on the risk you can handle in an investment account or retirement account. The annual management fee ranges from .08% to around .25%. That’s almost free!
Black Rock is the largest financial house in the world and they’re really focused on rich clients. So if you’re a small retail investor, they’re not probably not the right choice for you — even though they would be a great choice for someone with tremendous wealth.
Here’s a free way to invest!
This is the total opposite of Black Rock. If you are someone who likes to buy and sell individual stocks and you don’t have a lot of money to invest, Robin Hood offers commission-free stock trading. You download their app to your Android or iPhone and you are good to go.
I’ll add to this list over time, so be sure to bookmark this page!