April 2015: Annual Review of Brokerage Account Fees

For this Broker Monitor Report, we review standard, retail investment and retirement accounts at the 18 discount and full-service brokerages within our coverage group. In addition to covering various account fees, we provide an overview of common cash management and service fees to which clients may be exposed. To present this information as concisely as possible, we provide a series of detailed matrices.

For the most part, firms remained constant in the fees they charge clients since our last report. Seven discount brokerage firms do not require initial minimum deposits to open a standard brokerage account. For the discount firms that do, the initial deposit is low, ranging from $500 to $1,000. Additionally, of the ten self-directed firms in our competitive set, only one imposes a minimum account balance requirement. The firm requires that clients maintain at least $2,500 in assets and trade at least once a year in order to waive the $50 account inactivity fee.

The fee schedules of full-service firms in Broker Monitor maintained essentially unchanged from last year. As has become the norm, none of the full-service brokerage accounts tracked by Broker Monitor have a set minimum initial deposit when clients invest with a broker – though one firm does state that clients can open an account for as little as $500. Similarly, several brokerages give advisors some discretion in terms of minimum balance requirements. Four brokerage firms, however, state minimum account balance requirements for full-service accounts.

Additional key findings include:

  • Only one firm charges a fee for Bill Pay.
  • Three firms offer unlimited ATM fee rebates to all clients.
  • Seven firms do not charge a fee for check copies.