The Full Service Broker

A Full Service Broker provides many different types of investment services to their clients as opposed to a discount broker which usually provides a more limited number of services.

If you do decide to use a Full Service Broker, do yourself a favor and make sure you pay close attention to any statements you receive, follow up personally on any advice you are given and if you are not sure about something, don't be afraid to ask for help.

After all, you'll be paying a premium for their services so you might as well try and get your moneys worth while you're at it.

Here are some of the services you will typically find available at a Full Service Broker:

  • Investment planning and advice.
  • Retirement planning and advice.
  • Tax planning and advice.
  • Estate planning and advice.
  • The ability to have a live broker physically place trades for you.

Notice in the above items the words "planning and advice". This is one of the major differences when comparing to a discount broker. If personal planning and advice is what you are looking for, this may be the type of broker you should look into.

Full Service Broker

The target client for a Full Service Broker is someone who wants a hands off approach of their investments and wants to rely on the research, advice and recommendations of someone else.

In contrast, a discount broker typically conducts business online so most of the services available are self directed. You may be able to pay extra to have full service broker-like services, but they usually are only just that, broker-like.

Full Service Brokers typically charge either an annual maintenance fee or a percentage fee based on assets in your account. These fees as you can guess, are much higher than using a discount broker, due to the services available (so they say). This is the case whether or not you utilize the wide variety of services available to you.

Besides having higher costs, a problem with relying on a large full service broker is that you really don't know if you are being given good advice or not. 2007 through 2009 has proven this. For example, look at Lehman Brothers or Merrill Lynch. I don't think I need to say anything more, you can probably tell how I feel about this topic.

Another thing to know is that besides looking into what I call a hybrid brokerage firm which combines discount and full service features together, some of the services mentioned on this page are offered by a Financial Planner and/or Accountant. If you are looking for help in some of the area's mentioned at the beginning of this page besides investing, looking into one of these other options may be something of interest to you also.

Return From "Full Service Broker" To "Online Brokers"

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