VG vs. Fido - The Grass Is Not Always Greener (or Is It?)

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darkhorse346
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VG vs. Fido - The Grass Is Not Always Greener (or Is It?)

Post by darkhorse346 » Thu Jun 30, 2016 8:55 pm

As discussed in a previous post, we are eligible to upgrade to VG brokerage accounts. At the present time, we are going to wait before moving forward. It appears that we will HAVE to convert to brokerage accounts in the future.

SO, that brings up some questions:

1. Is Fidelity a better place to have brokerage accounts or is Vanguard?

2. Are there any BH that transferred their assets to Fido only to regret having left VG?


Thank you for sharing your opinions and experience.

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Re: VG vs. Fido - The Grass Is Not Always Greener (or Is It?)

Post by 123 » Thu Jun 30, 2016 9:00 pm

Fidelity has Fees/Commissions to purchase Vanguard products (ETFs and mutual funds).
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Re: VG vs. Fido - The Grass Is Not Always Greener (or Is It?)

Post by TheTimeLord » Thu Jun 30, 2016 9:05 pm

123 wrote:Fidelity has Fees/Commissions to purchase Vanguard products (ETFs and mutual funds).
And they have commission free iShares which Vanguard charges for plus low ER Fidelity index funds.
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Re: VG vs. Fido - The Grass Is Not Always Greener (or Is It?)

Post by Yesterdaysnews » Thu Jun 30, 2016 9:11 pm

I have account at both and prefer VG overall because I like VG funds. VG index funds are slightly better imo, especially tax efficiency. Better selection of index funds as well. Customer service and technology wise Fido is ahead. However, I also think it is easier to "stay the course" at VG and not trade too much. Fido makes money when you trade a lot and thus they make it extremely easy to do so.

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Re: VG vs. Fido - The Grass Is Not Always Greener (or Is It?)

Post by stlutz » Thu Jun 30, 2016 9:20 pm

Actually it's easier to trade more at Vanguard Brokerage than Fidelity.

If I'm choosing from the no-commission ETFs at Fidelity, I must hold for 30 days before I sell or I will get charged a commission. At Vanguard there is no such restriction.

I have accounts at both. I prefer Fidelity. Ironically, the reason I still have an account at Vanguard is that I don't have complete confidence that if I converted my mutual fund shares to ETFs (in order to transfer out) that something wouldn't get screwed up in doing so. So I keep my account there and just don't do any trading.

When I opened my Fidelity account several years back, I commented on this board that I had a reached the point in my financial life that I'd rather spend $100 a year in brokerage commissions if it meant getting superior service. I've gotten the superior service and have yet to spend $100 in commissions.

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Re: VG vs. Fido - The Grass Is Not Always Greener (or Is It?)

Post by TOJ » Thu Jun 30, 2016 9:26 pm

I have both and prefer the Fidelity site.

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Re: VG vs. Fido - The Grass Is Not Always Greener (or Is It?)

Post by njboater74 » Thu Jun 30, 2016 9:34 pm

I'm at Fidelity. I've found that Vanguard has a better selection of Municipal Bond Funds. Fidelity's comparable funds all have substantially higher fees and higher minimums. I considered opening an account at Vanguard, but was able to find a Vanguard ETF at Fidelity that suited my needs.

Fidelity's huge network of No Transaction Fee non-Fidelity funds doesn't do me much good, since I stick with their (formerly) Spartan funds anyway. Their Mutual Fund Screener makes it very easy to filter out the Index Funds.

I like their website, mobile app, and customer service, but I really don't know how good Vanguard's are as I've never experienced them.
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Re: VG vs. Fido - The Grass Is Not Always Greener (or Is It?)

Post by Lafder » Thu Jun 30, 2016 9:41 pm

Fidelity solo 401k beats Vanguard for 2 reasons:

1) Fidelity solo401k allows roll ins from other retirement accounts. Vanguard does not allow roll ins.

2) Fidelity solo401k allows spartan index funds at the lowest cost. Vanguard only has higher cost investor shares in their solo401k.

Sadly for me , either alone was enough to choose Fidelity for now the bulk of our holdings.

I like Vanguard's business model better and that most of their funds are low cost vs only a few of Fidelity's.

I don't buy many individual stocks, so I don't know enough to pick VG vs Fidelity for that.

I think I prefer VG's website, but I am less experienced with Fidelity's which biases me.

lafder

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Re: VG vs. Fido - The Grass Is Not Always Greener (or Is It?)

Post by darkhorse346 » Thu Jun 30, 2016 10:14 pm

I would think that Fidelity's iShares ETF availability, adequate index fund selection, and great web-based tools and features would be attractive to investors. OTOH, VG's low cost index and actively managed funds, and ETF selection is great too.

You probably will turn out okay at either one. :beer

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Re: VG vs. Fido - The Grass Is Not Always Greener (or Is It?)

Post by Pete12 » Thu Jun 30, 2016 10:31 pm

Lafder wrote:Fidelity solo 401k beats Vanguard for 2 reasons:

1) Fidelity solo401k allows roll ins from other retirement accounts. Vanguard does not allow roll ins.

2) Fidelity solo401k allows spartan index funds at the lowest cost. Vanguard only has higher cost investor shares in their solo401k.
+1 for me. The whole account opening and asset roll in process at Fidelity was a breeze as well.

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Re: VG vs. Fido - The Grass Is Not Always Greener (or Is It?)

Post by jjface » Thu Jun 30, 2016 10:33 pm

Web communication is light years ahead at Fidelity - online chat, faster response times with secure messages. Also Vanguard are not available on the phone over the weekend. I've had a few issues with communication with vanguard.

Can't beat vanguard index funds though. I have a few at fidelity and was okay paying a little for them. I don't do many transactions so the extra cost is very small and infrequent. I'm waiting for a Fidelity small cap value index mutual fund - hopefully they will launch one in the next couple of years.

I tried out vanguard but I am happier at fidelity. I really wanted to like investing direct with vanguard as I already like the funds.

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Re: VG vs. Fido - The Grass Is Not Always Greener (or Is It?)

Post by Lobster » Thu Jun 30, 2016 10:56 pm

I am happy with service from both. I chose to move all but my 401k to Vanguard because I believe in their company and mission. Both will work out well; for me investing my money with a company I believe in and that puts my interests ahead of theirs is worthwhile.
Last edited by Lobster on Sat Jul 02, 2016 11:01 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: VG vs. Fido - The Grass Is Not Always Greener (or Is It?)

Post by Horsefly » Thu Jun 30, 2016 11:15 pm

I had an account at VG for many years, and have had one at Fidelity for more years. I ended up closing out the one at VG a few years ago and consolidating at Fido. I probably could find justification for both, but decided to consolidate for simplicity. I really do like Fidelity though. I've been really happy with their customer service, both in terms of their attitude and their knowledge / efficiency. I do some amount of low-cost index funds, some ETFs (more so in our taxable account), but also do some "play" shifting stuff in and out of 4-5 Fidelity Sector funds, based mostly on the Fidelity Insight / Monitor newsletter. That play money has actually done very well over the 12 years or so I've been working it.

I really like Fidelity's web, tools, and mobile app. Although VG may have improved things since I left, I was frankly appalled at how bad their web / app presence was. At the time, there really wasn't much comparison with Fidelity, and since then Fidelity's site and app have gotten much better. Hard to think that VG would have somehow miraculously caught up.

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Re: VG vs. Fido - The Grass Is Not Always Greener (or Is It?)

Post by carolinaman » Fri Jul 01, 2016 6:11 am

I had accounts at both for many years. Recently consolidated everything into VG as an AA simplification step. Primary reason for VG was preference for VG funds. However, Fidelity has a much better website and has excellent customer service plus they have a retail location if you prefer face to face. I miss some of those things, but since I have a simple portfolio and do not trade, it really does not matter. I find the VG website a little clunky on some things and Fidelity's website seems to be very intuitive.

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Re: VG vs. Fido - The Grass Is Not Always Greener (or Is It?)

Post by fandango » Fri Jul 01, 2016 6:24 am

I had both Vanguard and Fidelity for many years.

Recently moved almost everything to Vanguard.

The Fidelity Account Representatives always seemed to be running around with their hair on fire.

I got tired of the sales pitch and crisis of the month.

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Re: VG vs. Fido - The Grass Is Not Always Greener (or Is It?)

Post by oldcomputerguy » Fri Jul 01, 2016 6:48 am

My 401k and Roth accounts are at Fidelity, my taxable is at Vanguard. They both have pluses and minuses. The Fidelity web site has a richer user experience, and has (I believe) a lot more in the way of educational and analytical tools available to customers. But the selection of funds at Vanguard, taking into account ERs, asset class availability, and so on, tilts in their favor.

Each fund family has basic asset classes available in low-cost investment options / index funds, either as mutual funds or (in the case of Fidelity small-cap value) ETFs. So one can build a decent portfolio in either house.

I believe it comes down to individual temperament. If you're a long-term buy-and-hold investor, you'll probably be well-served at either. Fidelity seems to be geared more than is Vanguard toward the "speculative" (i.e. short-term) investor. That's okay, to each his own.
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Re: VG vs. Fido - The Grass Is Not Always Greener (or Is It?)

Post by WJW » Fri Jul 01, 2016 6:53 am

My DW and I have accounts both at Fidelity and Vanguard and invest in only low-cost index funds. Even though Fidelity is a great company with many successful funds, in my opinion, Vanguard is better for investors who are building a portfolio of basic asset class funds. Vanguard is actually owned by the shareholders of its mutual funds. If the company is profitable (and it is), those profits go to the people who own Vanguard funds, not to outside investors. Fidelity, on the other hand, is owned by the company's employees and by a series of family trusts. This brings us to the topic of fees and expenses paid by investors. Vanguard has no incentive to charge any more than necessary to keep the company healthy. But the owners of Fidelity do better when the company charges more to investors. So Fidelity's incentive is to charge what the market will bear. And as most investors know, higher charges mean lower returns. So it isn’t really about whether to use Vanguard or Fidelity. The important lesson is never forget the potential damage high expenses, turnover and active management missteps can cost you in the long run.

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Re: VG vs. Fido - The Grass Is Not Always Greener (or Is It?)

Post by nisiprius » Fri Jul 01, 2016 7:08 am

See the Wiki article, http://www.bogleheads.org/wiki/Fidelity for some information and insights.

I had accounts at both Fidelity and Vanguard at the same time for about seven or eight years.

I really think the main consideration is what you want to use as the core of your portfolio, because Fidelity charges a meaningful transaction fee for Vanguard funds and Vanguard charges a meaningful transactioin fee for Fidelity funds. If you have decided for whatever reason that your portfolio is going to consist mostly of Vanguard mutual funds, then you are better off at Vanguard; if Fidelity, then Fidelity. It's my personal view that Fidelity Spartan (oops, they dropped "Spartan," didn't they?) FIdelity's low-cost index funds are about as good--not better, but about as good--as Vanguard's. However, Vanguard has a wider range of them. {I give Vanguard's a teeny tiny edge but that most just brand loyalty and Bogle appreciation.)

The quality of the brokerage services is frequently debated here. I think it's fair to say that if you have a smorgasbord of investments--ETFs, mutual funds from several companies, individual stocks and fonds--you might be happier with Fidelity. Fidelity has a first-rate brokerage, famous for actively managed funds, that also has perfectly adequate index funds. Vanguard is a mutual fund company, famous for its index funds, that also has a perfectly adequate brokerage.

I have very good feelings about both firms. I liked Fidelity a lot, but when Vanguard began to offer no-fee TIPS transactions my last reason for keeping any investments at Fidelity no longer applied.
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Re: VG vs. Fido - The Grass Is Not Always Greener (or Is It?)

Post by bondsr4me » Fri Jul 01, 2016 7:17 am

WJW wrote: This brings us to the topic of fees and expenses paid by investors. Vanguard has no incentive to charge any more than necessary to keep the company healthy. But the owners of Fidelity do better when the company charges more to investors. So Fidelity's incentive is to charge what the market will bear. And as most investors know, higher charges mean lower returns. So it isn’t really about whether to use Vanguard or Fidelity. The important lesson is never forget the potential damage high expenses, turnover and active management missteps can cost you in the long run.
+1 on the above...yes, cost do matter...

I have accounts at VBS, Schwab, Fidelity & TDAmeritrade. Each one has it's own advantage/disadvantage for me.
I do honestly feel VG is the best as far as investor best interest, although the VBS reminds me of when I did accounting by hand (ledger papers, pencils (no ink pens) and erasers, 10-key adding machine (now I'm really dating myself!).
But, ya know, the end result is still balanced books (whether hand prepared or machine prepared)....
the same with investing....VBS may be "old-hat", but it's results that count. I remember seeing on the VG's Facebook page
a picture of the "index cards" they used to use to keep track of their funds....maybe they still do! (just kidding).

I don't think you can go wrong choosing any of the above investment companies...it just depends on your wants, needs, and expectations.
Happy Weekend to all you BH'ers!
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Re: VG vs. Fido - The Grass Is Not Always Greener (or Is It?)

Post by Polymath » Fri Jul 01, 2016 7:49 am

You will get lots of opinions - there are many more in previous threads.
It will be situation dependent is my answer after reading through many of the threads.

I can tell you I recently decided to move what I could from F to V. But that doesn't really help.

If you post your specific goals the responses could be tailored to situation as there are minor differences that could be relevant to what you are trying to do.

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Re: VG vs. Fido - The Grass Is Not Always Greener (or Is It?)

Post by BolderBoy » Fri Jul 01, 2016 2:51 pm

I was helping a workmate this morning with her workplace retirement plan, hosted by Fidelity. She went browsing the fund selections available to her and looked at the Index fund page, where Fidelity shows that their Index fund expense ratios are [marginally] lower than VG's.

But Fidelity isn't comparing apples-to-apples. In each case my workmate found that the Fidelity fund she tried to select had a HIGHER buy-in amount (mostly $10k) than the equivalent fund at VG.

So after fixing up her workplace plan, we looked at her small tIRA with Fidelity, presently sitting in cash. In frustration with the above, I suggested she simply move it to VG where she could get into the fund she wanted (Total Bond Index) without running up against the $10k minimum requirement.

While we were looking around I pointed out that Fidelity doesn't put the expense ratios right up front and in your face the way that VG does. One difference between privately-held Fidelity and investor-owned VG.
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Re: VG vs. Fido - The Grass Is Not Always Greener (or Is It?)

Post by mhalley » Fri Jul 01, 2016 3:18 pm

I think You are looking at the Fidelity premium class instead of the investor class. Like vanguard admiral funds, they have a lower er and higher buy in. The fidelity investor class funds actually have a lower buy in at $2500 vs $3000 for vanguard investor funds (excluding tr and star). Fidelity does seem to make it hard to find their index offerings.
This article talks about the recent fee cuts at Fido and has tables of fund classes, ers, etc.
http://finance.yahoo.com/news/fidelity- ... 00478.html

Tried to copy a table from the article, hopefully it is readable.

The investment minimums for each of Fidelity’s four index mutual fund share classes are:

Investor Premium Institutional Institutional Premium
Employer
sponsored
retirement plans
No minimum No minimum
$5 million
(refers to plan sponsor’s investment in fund)

$100 million*
(refers to plan sponsor’s investment in fund)

Fee-based
wrap programs

No minimum No minimum $5 million
(refers to wrap program provider’s investment in fund)
$100 million*
(refers to wrap program provider’s investment in fund)

Fund of funds No minimum No minimum $5 million
(refers to top-level fund’s investment in fund)
$100 million*
(refers to top-level fund’s investment in fund)

Fidelity-managed
529 plans
No minimum No minimum No minimum No minimum
Other accounts $2,500 $10,000 $5 million

The key is the last line, which states investor class have 2500 and premium have10 k minimum for other accounts, which would include taxable and Ira accounts.
Last edited by mhalley on Fri Jul 01, 2016 3:33 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: VG vs. Fido - The Grass Is Not Always Greener (or Is It?)

Post by supernova » Fri Jul 01, 2016 3:29 pm

I use both. Fidelity and VG use different indexes for their Total Stock and Total International indexes, so I keep my IRAs at Fidelity and my taxable with Vanguard. This allows easier TLH without worrying about a wash sale.

Fidelity has all the index funds you need for a three-fund portfolio with similar or lower costs than VG, although I do wish they had a corporate bond index.

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Re: VG vs. Fido - The Grass Is Not Always Greener (or Is It?)

Post by mervinj7 » Fri Jul 01, 2016 3:40 pm

BolderBoy wrote:I was helping a workmate this morning with her workplace retirement plan, hosted by Fidelity. She went browsing the fund selections available to her and looked at the Index fund page, where Fidelity shows that their Index fund expense ratios are [marginally] lower than VG's.

But Fidelity isn't comparing apples-to-apples. In each case my workmate found that the Fidelity fund she tried to select had a HIGHER buy-in amount (mostly $10k) than the equivalent fund at VG.

So after fixing up her workplace plan, we looked at her small tIRA with Fidelity, presently sitting in cash. In frustration with the above, I suggested she simply move it to VG where she could get into the fund she wanted (Total Bond Index) without running up against the $10k minimum requirement.

While we were looking around I pointed out that Fidelity doesn't put the expense ratios right up front and in your face the way that VG does. One difference between privately-held Fidelity and investor-owned VG.
There two main classes of funds that retail investors use for both Fidelity and Vanguard. The investor class for Vanguard is $3k. The Admiral class has lower fees and has a $10k minimum. For Fidelity the investor class has a $2.5k minimum and the lower fee Premium class has a $10k minimum. For example, here's the Total Bond Index Fund for both brokerages. The fees are listed in both pages.

Vanguard Total Bond Market:
Investor ER 0.16% : https://personal.vanguard.com/us/funds/ ... IntExt=INT
Admiral ER 0.06% : https://personal.vanguard.com/us/funds/ ... IntExt=INT

Fidelity U.S. Bond Market:
Investor ER 0.15% : https://fundresearch.fidelity.com/mutua ... /315911107
Premium ER 0.05% : https://fundresearch.fidelity.com/mutua ... /316146372

For a list of comparisons of ERs between comparative index funds, see below:
https://www.fidelity.com/mutual-funds/i ... ndex-funds

There are many good reasons to hold accounts at Vanguard. There are also many good reasons to hold accounts at Fidelity. However, the ERs and minimum investments amounts are practically the same. In your friends case, if she already has to have an account at Fidelity to manage her work 401k, it will probably be easier for her to keep the tIRA at Fidelity.
Note: the ERs I posted are effective as of July 1st, 2016
https://www.fidelity.com/about-fidelity ... s-and-etfs

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Re: VG vs. Fido - The Grass Is Not Always Greener (or Is It?)

Post by William4u » Fri Jul 01, 2016 5:59 pm

I have both brokerage accounts. They are both fine. I have a preference for Vanguard, specially for taxable accounts.

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Re: VG vs. Fido - The Grass Is Not Always Greener (or Is It?)

Post by mervinj7 » Fri Jul 01, 2016 6:14 pm

supernova wrote:I use both. Fidelity and VG use different indexes for their Total Stock and Total International indexes, so I keep my IRAs at Fidelity and my taxable with Vanguard. This allows easier TLH without worrying about a wash sale.

Fidelity has all the index funds you need for a three-fund portfolio with similar or lower costs than VG, although I do wish they had a corporate bond index.
supernova, if you are willing to use ETFs, iShares LQD (Investment Grade Corporate Bond) is a decent commission-free option. I use it for 1/3 of our bond allocation. The other 2/3 is in AGG.
https://screener.fidelity.com/ftgw/etf/ ... ymbols=LQD

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Re: VG vs. Fido - The Grass Is Not Always Greener (or Is It?)

Post by radiowave » Fri Jul 01, 2016 6:51 pm

William4u wrote:I have both brokerage accounts. They are both fine. I have a preference for Vanguard, specially for taxable accounts.
OP, you'll find a number of similar threads VG vs Fido ( or Schwab or . . . . ). There are lots of opinions both ways, interesting, I prefer Fidelity over Vanguard for a taxable account. My opinion is based on experience with both brokerages. Fidelity has a better website for cash management and can integrate multiple non-Fidelity accounts to give you a better picture of credit cards, other bank accounts etc. Fidelity also have a 2% cash rewards credit card.
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Re: VG vs. Fido - The Grass Is Not Always Greener (or Is It?)

Post by darkhorse346 » Fri Jul 01, 2016 7:36 pm

Polymath wrote:If you post your specific goals the responses could be tailored to situation as there are minor differences that could be relevant to what you are trying to do.
Thank you for the question, Polymath. Basically, we're eligible to upgrade to brokerage accounts, but will hold off until we are ready or VG forces the issue. Having said that, I'm researching brokerages and educating myself so we make the best, long-term choice. We have been with VG for a long time and have been pleased with their traditional, mutual fund structure. We've historically been boring, total market (via target retirement funds) investors.

If VG and Fidelity total market funds are generally similar to each other, then I want to evaluate which is the better brokerage for the long term. We do like the idea that we have broader options in brokerage accounts, if we ever wanted to go outside the total market approach. We are also a little leary of VG's brokerage because of problems other BHs have articulated in other threads

Thanks again for opinions and experiences of both VG and Fidelity brokerage accounts. Comparisons, pros and cons of each, etc. are greatly appreciated!

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Re: VG vs. Fido - The Grass Is Not Always Greener (or Is It?)

Post by Polymath » Sat Jul 02, 2016 10:12 am

I understand the due diligence here, makes sense. Nothing you shared would have me suggesting you go elsewhere based on your goals. However, one thing to consider is if you want to differentiate providers simply for diversification sake, some people believe in that. Personally I prefer simplicity and would stick with what you have knowing you have had many years of solid service.

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Re: VG vs. Fido - The Grass Is Not Always Greener (or Is It?)

Post by stlutz » Sat Jul 02, 2016 10:59 am

Thank you for the question, Polymath. Basically, we're eligible to upgrade to brokerage accounts, but will hold off until we are ready or VG forces the issue. Having said that, I'm researching brokerages and educating myself so we make the best, long-term choice. We have been with VG for a long time and have been pleased with their traditional, mutual fund structure. We've historically been boring, total market (via target retirement funds) investors.
In your case, the answer = Vanguard. Their TR funds are simply better than Fidelity's (including their index ones). Fidelity adds cash/money market and commodity exposure to theirs which is a downgrade from using stocks and bonds only like Vanguard does.

If you are using a TR fund, you are buying and holding and otherwise doing more interesting things. Most of the people here who have an aversion to VG as a custodian are doing more complicated things with their portfolios.

Keep in mind that "more complicated" does not equate to "better" or "higher performing". (Livesoft probably does more trading than the entire rest of this board combined and he frequently observes that it's really hard to beat/outperform a Vanguard Life Strategy or TR fund).

If "more complicated" becomes an attraction to you in the future, then revisit the question. The answer to the question, "Which brokerage is best" will yield a different answer now than it will 10 years from now.

I have a brokerage account at Fido and a mutual fund account at Vanguard. I currently have no interest/plans to convert my VG account to brokerage. They cannot do so without your consent. In your situation, I wouldn't worry about it at all unless they start offering you $5000 to convert or something like that.

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Re: VG vs. Fido - The Grass Is Not Always Greener (or Is It?)

Post by SpringMan » Sat Jul 02, 2016 11:14 am

Recently Fidelity has expanded and lowered prices on their index funds. There are previous threads on this. Low cost index investors can be accommodated at either firm. Difference is like that of Coke vs Pepsi IMO. Sure Fidelity charges more to buy Vanguard funds and Vanguard charges more to buy Fidelity funds. I moved our IRAs from Fidelity to Vanguard because I wanted Wellesley Income Admiral fund and have no regrets. I am monitoring Vanguard customer service which is so far so good. If I perceive VG customer to be an issue, I can always go back to Fido.
Best Wishes, SpringMan

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Re: VG vs. Fido - The Grass Is Not Always Greener (or Is It?)

Post by Ged » Sat Jul 02, 2016 11:17 am

I've had both Vanguard and Fidelity accounts. A few years ago I closed my Vanguard account and consolidated at Fidelity because of superior cash management features, their donor advised charitable fund, and a very positive experience with their estate services when my father passed. I've also used their walk-in sites on occasion. I also like their excellent integration with TurboTax.

I still invest in some Vanguard ETFs and willingly pay the Fidelity trading fees when I rebalance.

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Re: VG vs. Fido - The Grass Is Not Always Greener (or Is It?)

Post by jjface » Sat Jul 02, 2016 11:17 am

stlutz wrote:
Thank you for the question, Polymath. Basically, we're eligible to upgrade to brokerage accounts, but will hold off until we are ready or VG forces the issue. Having said that, I'm researching brokerages and educating myself so we make the best, long-term choice. We have been with VG for a long time and have been pleased with their traditional, mutual fund structure. We've historically been boring, total market (via target retirement funds) investors.
In your case, the answer = Vanguard. Their TR funds are simply better than Fidelity's (including their index ones). Fidelity adds cash/money market and commodity exposure to theirs which is a downgrade from using stocks and bonds only like Vanguard does.
I have to agree with this. Fidelity's freedom index funds (TR) just aren't as good. I'm not entirely sure why as the make up of them should mean similar performance but they seem to lag. Fidelity only have one decent all in one fund in my opinion - FFNOX Fidelity four in one. However this is aggressive at 85% stocks.

One option though is to transfer your vanguard target retirement funds in kind to fidelity. If you want to add to the same ones you can use automatic investing (turn on and off at your pleasure) and just pay $5 a transaction to buy more instead of the usual $75.

I am not sure why you want to switch to fidelity though if you have been happy with Vanguard. Perhaps just fear of change? Give the new system a go first and see how you feel - it is supposed to be an upgrade.

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Re: VG vs. Fido - The Grass Is Not Always Greener (or Is It?)

Post by frugalecon » Sat Jul 02, 2016 11:26 am

Our household has accounts at both, and our experience has been similar to what others have reported, in terms of customer service and website. Perhaps I am a little paranoid, but I prefer to diversify a bit between the two institutions. Our big decision will be when we retire and can choose to roll over our tax deferred accounts. More than half of our investable assets are in my TSP account. I could see an argument for going either way.

I guess I value having FIDO's branches available, but in truth I have seldom visited one. The last time I did pick up some nice luggage tags, though. I suppose at some point finances might be less on autopilot.

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Re: VG vs. Fido - The Grass Is Not Always Greener (or Is It?)

Post by gerntz » Sat Jul 02, 2016 11:32 am

I'd do whichever doesn't cost me cap gains taxes; i.e., I'm not moving to new funds at a large tax cost. If not changing funds, do whatever.

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Re: VG vs. Fido - The Grass Is Not Always Greener (or Is It?)

Post by darkhorse346 » Sat Jul 02, 2016 7:36 pm

stlutz wrote:
Thank you for the question, Polymath. Basically, we're eligible to upgrade to brokerage accounts, but will hold off until we are ready or VG forces the issue. Having said that, I'm researching brokerages and educating myself so we make the best, long-term choice. We have been with VG for a long time and have been pleased with their traditional, mutual fund structure. We've historically been boring, total market (via target retirement funds) investors.
In your case, the answer = Vanguard. Their TR funds are simply better than Fidelity's (including their index ones). Fidelity adds cash/money market and commodity exposure to theirs which is a downgrade from using stocks and bonds only like Vanguard does.

If you are using a TR fund, you are buying and holding and otherwise doing more interesting things. Most of the people here who have an aversion to VG as a custodian are doing more complicated things with their portfolios.

Keep in mind that "more complicated" does not equate to "better" or "higher performing". (Livesoft probably does more trading than the entire rest of this board combined and he frequently observes that it's really hard to beat/outperform a Vanguard Life Strategy or TR fund).

If "more complicated" becomes an attraction to you in the future, then revisit the question. The answer to the question, "Which brokerage is best" will yield a different answer now than it will 10 years from now.

I have a brokerage account at Fido and a mutual fund account at Vanguard. I currently have no interest/plans to convert my VG account to brokerage. They cannot do so without your consent. In your situation, I wouldn't worry about it at all unless they start offering you $5000 to convert or something like that.
Stlutz,

I appreciate your well-reasoned response above. You are correct that VG cannot convert us from mutual fund accounts to brokerage accounts without our consent. My understanding in talking with VG is that they are not requiring us to convert "at this time". Now assuming we DO have to convert in the future, are you going to stay with VG under a brokerage account structure, or are you going to consolidate everything over at Fidelity?

I'm also doing long term planning and know, that at some point, other accounts (such as inherited IRAs, taxable accounts, etc.) will need a home. If I open up the accounts at VG, they will have to be brokerage accounts. I will not have the option to open just Inherited IRA account with VG's mutual funds.

Also, while we have historically used Target Date Retirement Funds for a number of years, we certainly can qualify for Admiral Shares at Vanguard and Premium Shares at Fidelity on individual index funds. We are not opposed to crafting our portfolios using total market index funds that resemble Target Date Retirement Funds.

Again, thank you for your thoughts. All insights/suggestions are greatly appreciated by all! :beer

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Re: VG vs. Fido - The Grass Is Not Always Greener (or Is It?)

Post by darkhorse346 » Wed Jul 06, 2016 7:27 pm

Bump.

Again, would love to get more informed opinions on who has the better brokerage, Vanguard or Fidelity?

Any real word experiences, good or bad are greatly appreciated.

Like I said earlier, we are eligible to upgrade to brokerage at Vanguard. I want to make sure I have a reasonable comfort level with Vanguard's brokerage before taking the plunge. I've read some things that aren't that reassuring about Vanguard's brokerage division.

Thanks again!
:beer

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Re: VG vs. Fido - The Grass Is Not Always Greener (or Is It?)

Post by radiowave » Wed Jul 06, 2016 10:12 pm

darkhorse346 wrote:Bump.

Again, would love to get more informed opinions on who has the better brokerage, Vanguard or Fidelity?

Any real word experiences, good or bad are greatly appreciated.

Like I said earlier, we are eligible to upgrade to brokerage at Vanguard. I want to make sure I have a reasonable comfort level with Vanguard's brokerage before taking the plunge. I've read some things that aren't that reassuring about Vanguard's brokerage division.

Thanks again!
:beer

Better at what? Both brokerages are well regarded here on the forum, both have their own strengths and weaknesses. If you are already in Vanguard, I don't see there would be enough to move everything to Fidelity. If you are doing a lot of things with cash management and taxable accounts, I would say Fidelity is the better choice. For tax advantaged accounts either will work fine. For a Solo 401k, Fidelity takes in Rollover IRA funds, VG does not. Fidelity has a 2% Visa rewards card and you can automatically dump the rewards into a Fidelity account (or buy funds). VG does not have anything equivalent. VG has some of the highest quality low expense ratio funds available, Fidelity has a core set of equivalent index funds but not as many options as VG. Fidelity has a better web site, VG is more late 90's look. I've had some minor issues with changing cost basis = that's been discussed here on the forum. That's all I can think of off the top of my head. If you're not sure, you can have accounts at both brokerages and mitigate your risk of a brokerage failure.

I have accounts at both brokerages I tend to favor Fidelity over VG for the above reasons. I have some intermediate municipal fund (VWITX) at VG and the total domestic stock fund at VG (VTSAX) hasn't spewed out long term capital gains. My FSTVX Fidelity total stock fund this past year I had a few hundred in capital gains in taxable. I like the cash management features at Fidelity. Both are about the same in moving funds in/out by ACH transfer. I have a local Fidelity office I can get to in about 30 min drive and go there a couple times a year for paperwork, meet with the account rep, etc. Overall the Fidelity customer support has been consistently excellent both in person, on the phone, chat room and secure email. I've had less stellar experience with VG customer support. If i had to choose just one brokerage, it would be Fidelity, not that I don't like VG, but Fidelity fulfills our needs quite well.
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Re: VG vs. Fido - The Grass Is Not Always Greener (or Is It?)

Post by Earl Lemongrab » Thu Jul 07, 2016 9:35 am

Fidelity has a brokerage transfer bonus program, Vanguard does not. So for me it's an easy choice between those two. Now, if you opened it up to all brokerages, then it's a tougher analysis.

Earl
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Re: VG vs. Fido - The Grass Is Not Always Greener (or Is It?)

Post by bondsr4me » Thu Jul 07, 2016 1:12 pm

As I have posted previously, I have accounts with a few brokerages....VG, Schwab, Fidelity, TDAmeritrade (no longer use Interactive Brokers because I could care less about trading like a race horse).

I like them all. Each has it's own advantage/disadvantage for me.

I would like to relate my recent experience with VG and Schwab (not trying to hijack this thread).

My wife recently retired, so I opened up an IRA account for her at VG and Schwab, both on the same day.
In less than 15 minutes, her account at Schwab was open, had an account number assigned to it, and was ready for funding.
With VG the account was opened but paperwork had to be printed, signed and mailed to VG.
It took about a week to get an account number assigned and ready for funding.
No big deal about VG's slow ways, but I really like how Schwab's technology made things so much easier.

If I had to absolutely choose ONLY one of the above, it would be a tough choice.

I really like VG (and Jack B.), Schwab and Fidelity....they are ALL very good in their own respects.

You can't go wrong with any of them.

Have a great day BH'ers.

Don

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Re: VG vs. Fido - The Grass Is Not Always Greener (or Is It?)

Post by livesoft » Thu Jul 07, 2016 5:08 pm

darkhorse346 wrote:Again, would love to get more informed opinions on who has the better brokerage, Vanguard or Fidelity?
Please list all the trades you did in the past 12 months and all the trades you expect to do in the next 12 months, then I can give an informed opinion. :)
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Re: VG vs. Fido - The Grass Is Not Always Greener (or Is It?)

Post by radiowave » Thu Jul 07, 2016 5:25 pm

Earl Lemongrab wrote:Fidelity has a brokerage transfer bonus program, Vanguard does not. So for me it's an easy choice between those two. Now, if you opened it up to all brokerages, then it's a tougher analysis.

Earl
At Fidelity, there are no fees to sell mutual funds or ETFs. At Vanguard I had a small fee for an inherited taxable account fund I brought into VG last year. So if you are considering bringing in old accounts from other brokers, you could make a few hundred dollars at Fidelity from the move compared to VG.
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Re: VG vs. Fido - The Grass Is Not Always Greener (or Is It?)

Post by nisiprius » Thu Jul 07, 2016 6:03 pm

darkhorse346 wrote:If VG and Fidelity total market funds are generally similar to each other, then I want to evaluate which is the better brokerage for the long term...
It can't be done. The meaningful information is that they are both good and they are about the same.

They are so close that any differences are going to be (a) a matter of subjective opinion, and (b) depend on exactly what products and services you are planning to use. In the "long term" both firms have changed a lot over the past thirty years (for example, I'm pretty sure that Vanguard didn't even have a brokerage thirty years ago) and both are likely to change a lot over the next thirty.

File it under Coke versus Pepsi, Toyota versus Honda, beer in cans versus beer in bottles, or what have you... anyone who seriously expresses an intense opinion that it really matters is grinding an axe. And they probably can't tell the difference in taste in a blind taste test.
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Re: VG vs. Fido - The Grass Is Not Always Greener (or Is It?)

Post by binvesting » Thu Jul 07, 2016 6:39 pm

radiowave wrote: At Fidelity, there are no fees to sell mutual funds or ETFs. At Vanguard I had a small fee for an inherited taxable account fund I brought into VG last year. So if you are considering bringing in old accounts from other brokers, you could make a few hundred dollars at Fidelity from the move compared to VG.
Is this true irrespective of what fund/etf you trade? I thought Fidelity/Vanguard will allow their own products trade free (fidelity has ishares etf for free too-but thats just to compete with VGs array of etfs) and other providers' products' will be traded for a fee. Are you referring to any promo for new account where you get x free trades? Even the ishares etf at Fido, when sold within the redemption period will have the trading fee. Not to ding fido here, i have accounts in both, but just curious about the no fees you mentioned.
nisiprius wrote: It can't be done. The meaningful information is that they are both good and they are about the same.
+1 to this.
I am giving an alternate view. I have accounts on both.
Both are good. And anybody can be bad on given day. For ex, Fido is praised for their website when compared to VG. When I sold some Espp in Fido site, they sold the wrong lot. And customer care initially said i chose the wrong lot too. I persisted and they checked with the backroom and got back saying it was a bug on their side and rectified immediately. The customer service turnaround was superb, but the mistake shouldn't have happened in the first place.
Is VG free of such things - I dont think so since no product is error free. We transferred 2 accounts from another brokerage to VG six months ago. <edit> And the transfer was successful too.</edit> But, they are still showing as transfer pending, in our account home page :D
Both are good and anybody can make mistakes, given the size and volume.
So, whenever i make a trade, i double check everything looks ok and then just move on. But for 99.99% of my usage, which is buy funds with new deposits, both work great.
*edit to fix quote,

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Re: VG vs. Fido - The Grass Is Not Always Greener (or Is It?)

Post by darkhorse346 » Thu Jul 07, 2016 8:09 pm

Earl Lemongrab wrote:Fidelity has a brokerage transfer bonus program, Vanguard does not. So for me it's an easy choice between those two. Now, if you opened it up to all brokerages, then it's a tougher analysis.

Earl
Mr. Lemongrab,

I'd be interested in understanding your views on all brokerages. I take it that you're expanding your assessment to Schwab, TD Ameritrade, et al. that might offer transfer bonuses occasionally?

Thank you.
:happy

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Re: VG vs. Fido - The Grass Is Not Always Greener (or Is It?)

Post by radiowave » Thu Jul 07, 2016 10:21 pm

binvesting wrote:
Is this true irrespective of what fund/etf you trade? I thought Fidelity/Vanguard will allow their own products trade free (fidelity has ishares etf for free too-but thats just to compete with VGs array of etfs) and other providers' products' will be traded for a fee. Are you referring to any promo for new account where you get x free trades? Even the ishares etf at Fido, when sold within the redemption period will have the trading fee. Not to ding fido here, i have accounts in both, but just curious about the no fees you mentioned
Some clarification, Fidelity has a commission on most non Fidelity mutual funds/ETFs except for a suite of Blackrock ETFs. Fidelity does not place a fee or commission for selling non Fidelity products. So if you transferred an outside account funds to Fidelity, you could sell them and purchase Fidelity products with no commission/fee.
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Re: VG vs. Fido - The Grass Is Not Always Greener (or Is It?)

Post by student » Fri Jul 08, 2016 5:54 am

I am using both Fidelity and Vanguard. I like both.

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Re: VG vs. Fido - The Grass Is Not Always Greener (or Is It?)

Post by Earl Lemongrab » Fri Jul 08, 2016 12:00 pm

darkhorse346 wrote:I'd be interested in understanding your views on all brokerages. I take it that you're expanding your assessment to Schwab, TD Ameritrade, et al. that might offer transfer bonuses occasionally?
Most of the majors have ongoing bonus programs. From the time I started, I don't think I have seen TD Ameritrade or Fidelity not have at least one. The bonuses can vary at times. A good source for bonuses (I read this on Bogleheads) is:

http://www.hustlermoneyblog.com/best-brokerage-bonuses/

I move accounts around to generate the bonuses. I just maintain a spreadsheet of when the bonus was earned and the holding period so I know when I can swap them. With an all ETF portfolio, that's pretty easy when you do in-kind.

If I had to choose one forever it would be Merrill Edge right now. With a decent level of assets and linked BofA account, you get lots of free equity trades, more than I need. You also get bonus rewards on their credit cards. I use the cashback card and get a 75% bonus if the rewards are transferred to the ME or BofA accounts. That makes it 5.25% gas, 3.5% grocery, 1.75% other. That's a good everyday card.

Earl
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Re: VG vs. Fido - The Grass Is Not Always Greener (or Is It?)

Post by darkhorse346 » Fri Jul 08, 2016 8:18 pm

Earl Lemongrab wrote:
darkhorse346 wrote:I'd be interested in understanding your views on all brokerages. I take it that you're expanding your assessment to Schwab, TD Ameritrade, et al. that might offer transfer bonuses occasionally?
Most of the majors have ongoing bonus programs. From the time I started, I don't think I have seen TD Ameritrade or Fidelity not have at least one. The bonuses can vary at times. A good source for bonuses (I read this on Bogleheads) is:

http://www.hustlermoneyblog.com/best-brokerage-bonuses/

I move accounts around to generate the bonuses. I just maintain a spreadsheet of when the bonus was earned and the holding period so I know when I can swap them. With an all ETF portfolio, that's pretty easy when you do in-kind.

If I had to choose one forever it would be Merrill Edge right now. With a decent level of assets and linked BofA account, you get lots of free equity trades, more than I need. You also get bonus rewards on their credit cards. I use the cashback card and get a 75% bonus if the rewards are transferred to the ME or BofA accounts. That makes it 5.25% gas, 3.5% grocery, 1.75% other. That's a good everyday card.

Earl
Thank you, Earl.

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Re: VG vs. Fido - The Grass Is Not Always Greener (or Is It?)

Post by BolderBoy » Fri Jul 08, 2016 11:28 pm

mervinj7 wrote:
BolderBoy wrote:I was helping a workmate this morning with her workplace retirement plan, hosted by Fidelity. She went browsing the fund selections available to her and looked at the Index fund page, where Fidelity shows that their Index fund expense ratios are [marginally] lower than VG's.

But Fidelity isn't comparing apples-to-apples. In each case my workmate found that the Fidelity fund she tried to select had a HIGHER buy-in amount (mostly $10k) than the equivalent fund at VG.

So after fixing up her workplace plan, we looked at her small tIRA with Fidelity, presently sitting in cash. In frustration with the above, I suggested she simply move it to VG where she could get into the fund she wanted (Total Bond Index) without running up against the $10k minimum requirement.

While we were looking around I pointed out that Fidelity doesn't put the expense ratios right up front and in your face the way that VG does. One difference between privately-held Fidelity and investor-owned VG.
There two main classes of funds that retail investors use for both Fidelity and Vanguard. The investor class for Vanguard is $3k. The Admiral class has lower fees and has a $10k minimum. For Fidelity the investor class has a $2.5k minimum and the lower fee Premium class has a $10k minimum. For example, here's the Total Bond Index Fund for both brokerages. The fees are listed in both pages.
I used to be a Fidelity investor; found their website was a lot better than VG's. But this workplace retirement plan thing erased any idea that Fidelity has a better website for this particular workplace. Fidelity is in a very obvious way, trying to hide the better VG fund choices by squeezing them randomly in between the many dozens of Fidelity offerings with ERs 10x higher or more than the VG funds. All mixed up, not sorted by asset class and no way to sort. I suspect it is the specific way that Fidelity is presenting the options to each participant in this workplace plan - they are bent on steering folks to Fidelity funds - can't really blame them for that; they are a for-profit company.

We struggled for some time to find a list (from within the workplace plan) of Spartan funds available - no go. And every offering we looked at was a $10k minimum, low ER fund. Leaving the workplace login, we could find the lower minimum fund offerings, but entering the 5 letter fund identifier inside the workplace login went nowhere.

I'm sure the average employee investor (likely 99% of them) would simply be worn down trying to find the best choices, so simply pick a Fidelity TR fund and call it a day. Not horrible but not the best.
"Never underestimate one's capacity to overestimate one's abilities" - The Dunning-Kruger Effect

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