My wife and I recently came into money (i.e. I just got a job!). We are looking to open Roth IRA accounts for the two of us. We currently have a brokerage account at Scottrade and my employer retirement is through TIAA-CREF. We are trying to figure out which firm to open our Roth IRA's with (e.g. Vanguard, TIAA-CREF or Scottrade). We have a few questions.
What is the fee structure for TIAA-CREF? I looked long and hard on their website and could not find an explicit description of fees. Are the only fees collected the management fees for their mutual funds?
It appears that you are pigeonholed into their particular TIAA-CREF managed funds, am I right?
Vanguard (htps://investor.vanguard.com/mutual-funds/fees) is more explicit about their fee structure, which I appreciate. It appears that you can purchase their funds and other funds (e.g. even TIAA-CREF managed funds). However it appears that they charge a hefty fee (e.g. $35 for trading TIEIX). To purchase funds other than Vanguards seems to be prohibitively expensive especially if you are trying to cost average and purchasing monthly. Am I understanding this correctly?
Scottrade (www.scottrade.com/online-brokerage/trading-fees-commissions.html#tab2) charges $17 per trade for any mutual fund. This also seems to be expensive if you are cost averaging over 12 months because you'd wind up spending at least $200 / year on fees per mutual fund you purchase and a $1000/year if you were trying to diversify into 5 different funds. Am I correct?
So realistically it seems that if one was to cost average over the year, one would really only want to choose either TIAA-CREF and Vanguard because you can purchase their funds without any trade fees (but of course there are those pesky management fees). So really it boils down to which (TIAA-CREF or Vanguard) manages a set of funds with sufficient diversity that I like, am I correct?