Fidelity is a global financial services company headquartered in Boston. Founded in 1946, the firm has more than $2.50 trillion in assets under management. It offers a full suite of products and services, including annuities, mutual funds, retirement plans, 529 plans and exchange-traded funds (ETFs). In addition to its brokerage arm, Fidelity also has a robo-advisor service called FidelityGo and a financial advisor division called Fidelity Investments for anyone who wants a full-service wealth management experience.
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Fidelity brokerage accounts are best for experienced investors who want to be actively involved in investing. The low cost of stock trades makes this an appealing option for someone who wants to make frequent trades rather than buy and hold their investments. On the other hand, the lack of a minimum investment for some indexed mutual funds could also be attractive to investors who want a lower risk, less active approach. Still, having some experience and an idea of what you want is going to be helpful for anyone who wants to use a Fidelity brokerage account.
A Fidelity brokerage account pushes you towards Fidelity products. There are no fees on a number of Fidelity and iShares mutual funds and ETFs, while you pay $4.95 per trade for other ETFs and $49.95 per purchase of non-Fidelity funds that have a transaction fee. Note that you won’t pay anything for non-Fidelity funds without a transaction fee, but you’ll pay $49.95 on redemption if you hold the mutual fund shares for less than 60 days. If you want a more agnostic approach to investing where the fees are the same no matter which company offers the fund, Fidelity might not be the right choice for you.
Fees Under Fidelity
One of the things that Fidelity markets heavily about its brokerage service is its competitive rate for U.S. equities. At just $4.95 per trade, Fidelity’s rate is indeed lower than the rate offered by some comparable firms. Fidelity also has its own line of mutual funds and ETFs. It offers free trades on select ETFs and mutual funds within the Fidelity and iShares family.
Additionally, Fidelity offers purchases of new issue bonds and some U.S. Treasuries at no cost. It does not charge a fee for non-Fidelity mutual funds if there is not a transaction fee associated.
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Fidelity Features and Services
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Fidelity offers a number of brokerage products and services, including myriad investment products and financial advice services.
The core product that Fidelity offers is its trading account. With this, you can buy and sell stocks, mutual funds and other securities. You can manage your investments by looking at charts showing the performance of your investments over different periods of time to see if you are making effective investments or if you need to reassess.
Fidelity also offers a number of research and educational tools that can help you with this. There’s more than 20 years of data available for you to mine, plus the option to test your strategy and see if it is likely to produce your desired returns. There are also a number of articles, webinars and videos that you can use to brush up on any unfamiliar topics.
Another important service the company offers is its cash management account. This can effectively replace a traditional checking account at a bank. It allows you to have all of your assets, including cash and investments, under the same umbrella. As part of this service, Fidelity will reimburse any ATM fees that you pay to other banks.
If you need more guidance or would like more management assistance with any of the above, the Fidelity company also has a financial advisor division as well as a robo-advisor.
Fidelity Online Experience
Fidelity offers a robust online experience for those who want to trade at their desktop. You can look at a variety of data and use tools like Active Trader Pro(R). This lets you look at streaming market data, follow stocks you’re interested in watching and use advanced option analytics, including a probability calculator and a profit and loss calculator. If you want to see how a company is doing before you decide whether or not you want to invest, you can look at the company’s summary page to see its history and make an informed decision.
Even if you aren’t actively making trades, though, there are features that apply to you. You can check your account and see how your investments are doing. This allows you to track investment performance and decide whether or not you want to make adjustments.
Fidelity Mobile Experience
If you prefer to do your trading on the go, Fidelity’s mobile app is available on iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, Kindle Fire and all Android devices. Fidelity’s app averages 4.7 out of 5 stars in the Apple App store, where it ranks 52nd among all finance apps.
You can make trades, buy and sell on the various apps. You’ll also have access to all of the same research and data available on the desktop version. The mobile app allows you to set up push alerts that you can customize if you want to know when market shifts or other events occur. There is also a notebook feature where you can take notes or write down ideas you have for investing.
When you log on to the site, you’ll be greeted by a main page that will show you the current time. If the markets aren’t yet open, the app will show you how long you have until you can start trading.
There is a lot of other information the mobile app can show you, too. For instance, it can give you an overview of your account or show you what is happening with a specific stock you are considering purchasing. You can even set up a watch list and access it to monitor specific stocks you want to track.
Fidelity Customer Support
Fidelity offers a number of ways to get in touch if you need customer service. One option is to use the company’s automated virtual assistant. You can also call the company at 800-343-3548 to ask questions. Within the Fidelity mobile app, you can click a single button and automatically connect with a Fidelity representative.
If you want to speak to someone in person, you can visit a Fidelity investment center, if there is one near you. Fidelity has a branch locator tool you can use to find the nearest physical location to your home.
Who Is Fidelity For?
Fidelity is for anyone who wants access to a lot of research and data. It is especially good for experienced investors who anticipate making a lot of trades rather than simply buying and holding.
While anyone can use Fidelity, as it is primarily an online brokerage, it may be even better for people who live close to one of Fidelity’s investment centers. Fidelity has investment centers across the country, as shown on the map below:
How Does Fidelity Compare?
Different brokerages are going to be better for different people. When choosing which brokerage you want to use, you should compare things like cost per trade and account minimum. You should also make sure to check out the desktop and mobile platforms to determine if you’d be comfortable and satisfied with using them.
This table provides information on other major brokerages that compare to Fidelity. It can give you a sense of which type of customer each brokerage is designed for and what fees are associated with each.
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|Merrill Edge||$6.95||$0|| |
Fidelity: What’s the Catch?
Fidelity is not just a brokerage. It also has a huge array of mutual funds and ETFs. Understandably, the firm wants its brokerage clients to use its investment vehicles, and it encourages this by offering many of its products with no transaction fee. While this might suit you just fine, if you want a truly agnostic platform where all investment options are treated the same, an independent broker may be a better fit.
Also, the firm does have disclosures on its record, which we cover in more detail below.
Fidelity has 131 disclosures on its record according to FINRA Brokercheck. This includes 20 regulatory events and 111 arbitrations.
The most recent regulatory event was in 2017. Fidelity did not admit fault but consented to sanctions for effecting 15 customer transactions in a municipal security at an amount less than the minimum denomination. For this, the firm was fined $45,000 and censured.
In another event, Fidelity was fined $500,000 in 2015 for failing to prevent or detect the conversion of more than a million dollars by a since convicted felon from nine customers, most of whom were senior citizens.
Fidelity: The Bottom Line
Fidelity’s brokerage arm offers low prices for stock and options trades and has a big menu of in-house mutual fund and ETFs, many of which are available at no commission. It also has a robust suite of research and investment tools available and a well-designed and well-reviewed mobile app for those who prefer to do their investing from their phones or tablets. However, it does have some disclosures that current and potential clients should note. In general, Fidelity is better for more experienced investors and those who want to invest in mutual funds and ETFs from the Fidelity family of products.
Tips for Finding a Financial Advisor
- A brokerage account is good if you want to do your investing yourself, but if you want more help then you might want to consider finding a full-service financial advisor. SmartAsset can help with our free financial advisor matching service. You answer a few questions. We match you with up to three advisors in your area, all of whom we’ve fully vetted and ensured are free of disclosures. From there, each of your advisor matches will reach out so you can ask questions and see if one of them is a good fit for you.
- When you do talk to a financial advisor, make sure to know which questions to ask. It’s important to ask the right questions so you can figure out if the advisor is the right person to guide your financial life.
Photo credit: Fidelity.com