I use Morningstar for mutual fund picks, but my broker (Merril Lynch) does not offer many of them. It's a pain because sometimes they don't offer good fund alternatives.

Is my only option to move to a new broker?
If so, which brokers have a reputation for offering the most fund options, especially the higher risk ones?

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    That seems odd to me. My experience is that most brokerages offer most funds that a publicly traded. I've never found one yet that I couldn't get through Schwab. – JohnFx Jan 21 '12 at 22:18

Schwab has a largest variety of mutual fund offerings, mostly no-fee, and is a discount brokerage.

Fidelity offers no-fee and loaded funds. Since the question mentioned this, note that Morningstar selected Fidelity funds as three of their Top 5 ranked funds of 2011 (in a fixed-income category maybe? I don't recall). This was just announced a few days ago.

Vanguard is good too, certainly for index funds. However, Schwab or Fidelity are better if you're interested in funds with higher-risk profiles.

Consider E*Trade, for mutual funds and ETF's. There's a little variation, but as of today, E*Trade offers 7600 mutual funds!

Merrill is your broker. I assume you have a fee-based account. If you pay fees, you should get the widest range of fund alternatives to pick from! That is puzzling. I can't imagine why a full-service broker would have a smaller selection of funds than Schwab or Fidelity. A full-service broker should also be able to offer you specialty funds, e.g. those with higher risk, as you expressed an interest in, more easily.

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  • For more detail about Vanguard offerings see this answer money.stackexchange.com/a/5715/3361 – Ellie Kesselman Jan 23 '12 at 19:23
  • I take issue with the notion that anything that isn't Vanguard is "higher risk". Vanguard is just another fund family. It's tough to invest in Vanguard through a broker, as they refuse to refund broker transaction fees, and you will generally pay a commission to purchase a fund. – duffbeer703 Jan 24 '12 at 0:16
  • @duffbeer703 Both Schwab and Fidelity offer index funds. Schwab has many lower-risk AND high-risk (e.g. emerging markets) index funds. I didn't intend to imply that anything that isn't Vanguard is higher risk. Nor the converse, that any Vanguard fund is low risk. I agree with you, that Vanguard seems more restrictive, often resulting in fees. Of course, one could use Vanguard as full-service broker personal.vanguard.com/us/whatweoffer/stocksbondscds/… so they could be more than just another fund family. – Ellie Kesselman Jan 24 '12 at 8:16
  • @duffbeer703 Consider ETF's at Schwab versus Vanguard. Schwab seems a lot less restrictive, in terms of fees and universe of fund family choices that Vanguard. But comparisons are not straightforward! personal.vanguard.com/us/funds/vanguard/… The fine print at the bottom of the page corroborates quite well what you alluded to. – Ellie Kesselman Jan 24 '12 at 11:42
  • In other words, this is something to keep in mind about Vanguard: money.stackexchange.com/a/6169/3361 – Ellie Kesselman Jan 25 '12 at 4:02

You can research what different discount brokers offer on their websites. Try out TDAmeritrade or Fidelity. Anyone can go and research on their sites without getting an account.

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