Fees may not be the only factor clients consider when comparing prospective brokerages, but they are surely a major consideration. And, with the rise of passive investing and digital advice platforms, cost-conscious investors have a growing array of options to examine. To remain competitive in this increasingly congested marketplace, brokerage firms should keep prices as low as possible for their clients. With this in mind, we provide our Broker Monitor annual review of account and service fees for the brokerage industry.
In this report, we examine minimum requirements and common fees for the brokerage and IRA offerings within our 18-firm coverage group. The fees tracked by Broker Monitor have mostly remained the same since our April 2015 report on this topic, with a few minor exceptions. Firms continue to use fees and fee waivers to incentivize clients, charging small fees for receiving paper statements to encourage e-delivery and waiving fees for high net worth or actively-trading investors. Full-service firms continue to lag behind their discount counterparts in regards to pricing transparency on their sites, though some, such as Wells Fargo, have made progress in this area.