Brokerage Account Change to Fidelity - Pros and Cons

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vested1
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Brokerage Account Change to Fidelity - Pros and Cons

Post by vested1 » Mon Jan 22, 2018 11:31 am

I have struggled with the decision to move our portfolio from Vanguard to Fidelity for various reasons. As stated in previous threads, I value honesty and tend to reward it whenever possible, but there comes a time when circumstances may dictate a change. I am past the point, where earlier in my investment life I allowed Fidelity to take advantage of me through using their PAS (Portfolio Advisory Service). I recently explored the possibility of signing up for VG PAS at .3% simply for the advantages of management for my wife if I should die, but found their suggestions contrary to my own AA in stocks to bonds and international, and their intransigence in following my wishes. They insisted that I had to purchase international bonds to become a customer for instance.

With that in mind I set up a meeting with Fidelity this week to see what they will offer. If we decide to transfer we will hold about 1 million at Fidelity, where we currently have over 18k in a left over cash annuity which we have been using to fund our SS delay.

Last week on Thursday I sold all of our MF positions at Vanguard in VTSAX (Total U.S Stock), VTIAX (Total International Stock), VBTLX (Total U.S. Bond), and VICSX (Intermediate Term Corporate Bond), buying the equivalent ETF's within 24 hours of the sales. I briefly considered delaying the purchases, but recognized that as market timing and dove right in. These IRA's are tax deferred so there was no tax consequence. The change resulted in no appreciable net loss or gain. The only indigestion was created by wondering what the close of the MF's would be at 1pm Eastern. The purchases on the ETF side were instantaneous last Friday. I can now either keep the ETF's at VG or transfer them to Fidelity. I have no plans to trade on these positions but will continue to stay the course. VTI, VXUS, BND, and VCIT (the equivalent ETF's) have the same ER at Fidelity as they do at VG.

Reasons to transfer to Fidelity:

- Brick and Mortar. Fidelity opened an office in my town recently, which makes it easy to get things done on an expedited basis, face-to-face.

- If I should die, my wife can transition more easily to a brick and mortar storefront, with instructions from me on how to hold investments, with an easier transition of income for her. I will impress upon her the need to avoid PAS.

- Working with VG on basic necessities has been a pain at times. When my wife retired 3.5 years ago I set up her IRA there. Establishing her beneficiaries required us to fill out forms and have them notarized with a Medallion signature, sending them back via snail mail. The same was required to link the accounts, which we never did as I can log in separately and look at both, just not at the same time. I have gotten different answers to questions I have asked at the call in number, causing me to search elsewhere for the correct answer.

- The 18k left in the Fidelity annuity used to fund our SS delay will be consumed before the delay is complete. I redirected dividends to the settlement fund at VG a few months ago, which is filling up nicely. If the past is any indication, the snail mail forms needed at VG to accomplish what I want would add to my frustration.

- I will pay the exact same amount to VG that I am right now by using their ETF's, and will pay Fidelity nothing for the privilege of easier, more expeditious transactions for disbursement of assets. I wrote down a series of questions for Fidelity, one of which is how much it costs to sell shares in an ETF to make funds available for disbursement once RMD's begin.

- Fidelity has assured me that all of the things I have had trouble with at VG can be handled on the spot in person at their office, including linking the accounts. No need for snail mail.

- I will play hardball with Fidelity over a transfer bonus, hopefully getting back a fraction of those onerous PAS fees.

- I can still use the VG website tools for obtaining unbiased assessments of funds I may be considering, not having to rely on a perhaps biased assessment from Fidelity, who may try to persuade me to purchase one of their funds or use their PAS.

- Of minor concern are the anecdotal negative experiences that other members here have been commenting on. I can't imagine the anxiety of moving a large amount and having mistakes made for cost basis, for instance. All of my transactions with VG went seamlessly.

- I find both VG's and Fidelity's website to be valuable, so on that account the decision is neutral.

Reasons to stay with Vanguard:

- The desire to reward honesty is emotional, but valid.

- Fidelity burned me in the past by overcharging me for bad advice, which cost me a bundle for acting upon it.

- No possibility of holding Admiral shares of VTSAX, VTIAX, VBTLX, or VICSX with Fidelity. Holding these as ETF's should not have consequences since I don't intend to engage in frequent, or even infrequent trading.

I would welcome comments on the pros and cons of making this move. Some may say that the same things can be accomplished at VG, which I'm sure is true, but in my experience it takes twice the effort to do so.

123
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Re: Brokerage Account Change to Fidleity - Pros and Cons

Post by 123 » Mon Jan 22, 2018 11:50 am

The truth is that a Boglehead could be happy and properly serviced at any of the Big 3 as mentioned here frequently, Vanguard, Schwab, and Fidelity. We have accounts at all 3 for a variety of reasons. We tend to put accounts that are on "auto pilot", like an inherited IRA with automatic RMDs, at Vanguard. I like the availability of 24 x 7 customer service at Schwab and Fidelity. We probably call about something once every 2 or 3 years but nevertheless it is a joy to get an immediate answer. When I've called Schwab or Fidelity I've always been pleased with the response and the prompt resolution of any issue.

Even though my investing is currently limited to ETFs, mutual funds, CDs, and Treasuries at Schwab and Fidelity I know that should anything new come along they will have it and likely handle it well. The advantage of brick and mortar locations is one of the reasons we use Schwab and Fidelity, I don't use them but they would be useful to my spouse upon my passing. The risk of brick and mortar is that my spouse night succumb to the "We have an adviser who can help you now that your spouse is gone" spiel, hopefully I've prepared her enough with a fund-of-funds approach that will suffice on auto-pilot.
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Re: Brokerage Account Change to Fidleity - Pros and Cons

Post by vested1 » Mon Jan 22, 2018 11:51 am

BTW, I used the opportunity when purchasing the ETF's to rebalance since I had drifted to 6% off target. I also duplicated holdings in both accounts, whereas my wife's previously held only 2 of the 4 funds. Now 60/40 again on both accounts at VG.

vested1
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Re: Brokerage Account Change to Fidleity - Pros and Cons

Post by vested1 » Mon Jan 22, 2018 11:56 am

123 wrote:
Mon Jan 22, 2018 11:50 am
The truth is that a Boglehead could be happy and properly serviced at any of the Big 3 as mentioned here frequently, Vanguard, Schwab, and Fidelity. We have accounts at all 3 for a variety of reasons. We tend to put accounts that are on "auto pilot", like an inherited IRA with automatic RMDs, at Vanguard. I like the availability of 24 x 7 customer service at Schwab and Fidelity. We probably call about something once every 2 or 3 years but nevertheless it is a joy to get an immediate answer. When I've called Schwab or Fidelity I've always been pleased with the response and the prompt resolution of any issue.

Even though my investing is currently limited to ETFs, mutual funds, CDs, and Treasuries at Schwab and Fidelity I know that should anything new come along they will have it and likely handle it well. The advantage of brick and mortar locations is one of the reasons we use Schwab and Fidelity, I don't use them but they would be useful to my spouse upon my passing. The risk of brick and mortar is that my spouse night succumb to the "We have an adviser who can help you now that your spouse is gone" spiel, hopefully I've prepared her enough with a fund-of-funds approach that will suffice on auto-pilot.
I know that some advocate having multiple firms to house their investments, and understand the peace of mind that can come from not putting all your eggs in one basket. One of the questions I've written down for the meeting with Fidelity is concerning their guarantees.

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Re: Brokerage Account Change to Fidelity - Pros and Cons

Post by aj76er » Mon Jan 22, 2018 12:06 pm

For a 3-fund portfolio, the Fidelity index fund offerings are great (especially in a tax-advantaged account). Tracking is as good (or sometimes better) than Vanguard, and the fees are as low (or sometimes lower) than Vanguard. I would consider those over Vanguard ETF's in a tax-advantaged account. In a taxable account the IShares ETFs (ITOT, IXUS, IAGG) are good choices and trade commission-free at Fidelity. For infrequent trading, Vanguard ETFs are also good in a taxable account (@ $4.95 per trade). Personally, I prefer mutual funds in tax-advantage space (for ease of div reinvestment and rebalancing and where capital gains distros are not taxed). I prefer ETF's in taxable space because they are generally more tax-efficient.

When you do the transfer, if you'd like to stick with Vanguard ETFs, then be sure to press Fidelity for a bunch of free trades. Even if they are not offering this as a special, many times they will acomodate for large balances.

I think another advantage to Fidelity is the Cash Management Account and 2% Cash back card :happy
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vested1
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Re: Brokerage Account Change to Fidelity - Pros and Cons

Post by vested1 » Mon Jan 22, 2018 12:09 pm

aj76er wrote:
Mon Jan 22, 2018 12:06 pm
For a 3-fund portfolio, the Fidelity index fund offerings are great (especially in a tax-advantaged account). Tracking is as good (or sometimes better) than Vanguard, and the fees are as low (or sometimes lower) than Vanguard. I would consider those over Vanguard ETF's in a tax-advantaged account. In a taxable account the IShares ETFs (ITOT, IXUS, IAGG) are good choices and trade commission-free at Fidelity. For infrequent trading, Vanguard ETFs are also good in a taxable account (@ $4.95 per trade). Personally, I prefer mutual funds in tax-advantage space (for ease of div reinvestment and rebalancing and where capital gains distros are not taxed). I prefer ETF's in taxable space because they are generally more tax-efficient.

When you do the transfer, if you'd like to stick with Vanguard ETFs, then be sure to press Fidelity for a bunch of free trades. Even if they are not offering this as a special, many times they will acomodate for large balances.

I think another advantage to Fidelity is the Cash Management Account and 2% Cash back card :happy
Good advice. Can you provide the equivalent 3 fund portfolio tickers offered by Fidelity as mutual funds? Having MF's would make disbursement a bit less cumbersome if I'm not mistaken. I haven't had to sell anything for income yet, and likely won't until RMD's in 2023.

relaxtothemax
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Re: Brokerage Account Change to Fidelity - Pros and Cons

Post by relaxtothemax » Mon Jan 22, 2018 12:17 pm

I have had the same experiences as I was with Fidelity with PAS during the early 00's until early 2008 when I exited PAS and went to Vanguard early 2009.
I prefer simpler investments and all the trading in PAS was confusing. I also consider what would work best for my wife if I were to pass before her. I decided to go with Vanguard's .3% investment plan as I already hold international bonds. I do understand your concerns and I currently self manage and just ignore their recommendations after a financial checkup. We are not far off, just don't want to sell and readjust as it creates a taxable gain. So far it seems to be working fine. I have confidence that VG will serve my wife's needs just fine as I'm sure Fidelity will for you. Good luck.

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Re: Brokerage Account Change to Fidelity - Pros and Cons

Post by student » Mon Jan 22, 2018 12:28 pm

vested1 wrote:
Mon Jan 22, 2018 12:09 pm
aj76er wrote:
Mon Jan 22, 2018 12:06 pm
For a 3-fund portfolio, the Fidelity index fund offerings are great (especially in a tax-advantaged account). Tracking is as good (or sometimes better) than Vanguard, and the fees are as low (or sometimes lower) than Vanguard. I would consider those over Vanguard ETF's in a tax-advantaged account. In a taxable account the IShares ETFs (ITOT, IXUS, IAGG) are good choices and trade commission-free at Fidelity. For infrequent trading, Vanguard ETFs are also good in a taxable account (@ $4.95 per trade). Personally, I prefer mutual funds in tax-advantage space (for ease of div reinvestment and rebalancing and where capital gains distros are not taxed). I prefer ETF's in taxable space because they are generally more tax-efficient.

When you do the transfer, if you'd like to stick with Vanguard ETFs, then be sure to press Fidelity for a bunch of free trades. Even if they are not offering this as a special, many times they will acomodate for large balances.

I think another advantage to Fidelity is the Cash Management Account and 2% Cash back card :happy
Good advice. Can you provide the equivalent 3 fund portfolio tickers offered by Fidelity as mutual funds? Having MF's would make disbursement a bit less cumbersome if I'm not mistaken. I haven't had to sell anything for income yet, and likely won't until RMD's in 2023.
It should be FSTVX, FTIPX and FSITX. See https://www.bogleheads.org/wiki/Fidelity

vested1
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Re: Brokerage Account Change to Fidelity - Pros and Cons

Post by vested1 » Mon Jan 22, 2018 12:29 pm

relaxtothemax wrote:
Mon Jan 22, 2018 12:17 pm
I have had the same experiences as I was with Fidelity with PAS during the early 00's until early 2008 when I exited PAS and went to Vanguard early 2009.
I prefer simpler investments and all the trading in PAS was confusing. I also consider what would work best for my wife if I were to pass before her. I decided to go with Vanguard's .3% investment plan as I already hold international bonds. I do understand your concerns and I currently self manage and just ignore their recommendations after a financial checkup. We are not far off, just don't want to sell and readjust as it creates a taxable gain. So far it seems to be working fine. I have confidence that VG will serve my wife's needs just fine as I'm sure Fidelity will for you. Good luck.
Thanks, good luck to us both, and other members as well.

In regards to the sentence in blue; I imagine our portfolios looked similar when I used Fid PAS. 20 high expense funds along with constant emails confirming trades I knew nothing about. A different set of funds, but still 20 every time I looked. What??? Fairly recent threads by other members show that things may have changed for the worse, with one that was posted being entirely composed of 20 high fee funds, all of them with an "F" (Fidelity) as the first letter in the ticker.

vested1
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Re: Brokerage Account Change to Fidelity - Pros and Cons

Post by vested1 » Mon Jan 22, 2018 12:30 pm

student wrote:
Mon Jan 22, 2018 12:28 pm
vested1 wrote:
Mon Jan 22, 2018 12:09 pm
aj76er wrote:
Mon Jan 22, 2018 12:06 pm
For a 3-fund portfolio, the Fidelity index fund offerings are great (especially in a tax-advantaged account). Tracking is as good (or sometimes better) than Vanguard, and the fees are as low (or sometimes lower) than Vanguard. I would consider those over Vanguard ETF's in a tax-advantaged account. In a taxable account the IShares ETFs (ITOT, IXUS, IAGG) are good choices and trade commission-free at Fidelity. For infrequent trading, Vanguard ETFs are also good in a taxable account (@ $4.95 per trade). Personally, I prefer mutual funds in tax-advantage space (for ease of div reinvestment and rebalancing and where capital gains distros are not taxed). I prefer ETF's in taxable space because they are generally more tax-efficient.

When you do the transfer, if you'd like to stick with Vanguard ETFs, then be sure to press Fidelity for a bunch of free trades. Even if they are not offering this as a special, many times they will acomodate for large balances.

I think another advantage to Fidelity is the Cash Management Account and 2% Cash back card :happy
Good advice. Can you provide the equivalent 3 fund portfolio tickers offered by Fidelity as mutual funds? Having MF's would make disbursement a bit less cumbersome if I'm not mistaken. I haven't had to sell anything for income yet, and likely won't until RMD's in 2023.
It should be FSTVX, FTIPX and FSITX. See https://www.bogleheads.org/wiki/Fidelity
Thanks, I should have checked the wiki.

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Re: Brokerage Account Change to Fidelity - Pros and Cons

Post by wanderer » Mon Jan 22, 2018 12:33 pm

We have both Fido and VG self-managed, Bogleheadish accounts (no advisor fees). We strongly prefer the face-face communications of a local office and have had excellent service when using Fido's. We have had good service from their call in support too at their "Private Client" level. We have not been satisfied with VG "service". We have not used PAS at either Fido or VG.

However, when my mom died, the Inheritor Services back office handled our our transfers counter to our written instructions. Communications with them was horrible, and they refused to do anything other than their default process. Fortunately, the local office personnel were more than happy to fix the issues and they managed our special requests very well.

So my suggestion with regards to Fido is to avoid dealing with their back office personnel directly for anything outside the "standard". Go through you local advisor instead.

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Re: Brokerage Account Change to Fidelity - Pros and Cons

Post by bondsr4me » Mon Jan 22, 2018 12:36 pm

I agree with an above post that any of the 3 (Fidelity, Schwab, Vanguard in this order) will do just fine.

Good Luck with your choice.

Don

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Re: Brokerage Account Change to Fidelity - Pros and Cons

Post by nisiprius » Mon Jan 22, 2018 12:50 pm

I had parallel accounts at both Vanguard and Fidelity for nearly seven years. They were both fine. There's no need to second-guess any of your reasons. I regard both of them as "honest" firms, maybe I'll give Vanguard a teeny edge as "my kind of place" but Vanguard isn't perfect and Fidelity isn't sleazy.

The main disadvantage of Fidelity is (unacceptably) high fees for Vanguard branded index funds and ETFs, if you want Vanguard and will accept no substitutes... just as the main disadvantage of switching from Costco to BJ's is that you can't get Kirkland brands at BJ's. (Or Berkley Jensen at Costco!)

I think that the biggest advantage to having accounts at more than one firm is that you are always comparing policies, quality of customer service, nuisance fees, etc. If one of them introduces a nuisance fee and says "everybody does it now," you'll know if they're lying! On the other hand, for me, putting everything in one brokerage was a huge simplification, so big as to amount to "a weight off my back."

I moved everything to Vanguard. I dithered for a while whether to consolidate everything at Vanguard or Fidelity, and it was very close to being a coin-flip.
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Re: Brokerage Account Change to Fidelity - Pros and Cons

Post by quaternion » Mon Jan 22, 2018 1:02 pm

Fidelity's index funds and the iShares ETFs are competetive with Vanguard. Seems like they leapfrog on ERs every couple of years.

For mutual funds in a taxable account, Vanguard may have a material advantage due to their ETF share classes which let them dispose of appreciated shares without realizing capital gains. They have a patent on this method, though it expires next year. Seems probable that Fidelity, Schwab, etc. will copy their method at that point. Or you can just hold ETFs in taxable, and it should be a non-issue.

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Re: Brokerage Account Change to Fidelity - Pros and Cons

Post by whodidntante » Mon Jan 22, 2018 1:06 pm

An advisor needs to be carefully selected to determine if you click and if they would add value to what you currently do yourself or can take over to some extent. Have you considered interviewing local, fee only advisors?

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Re: Brokerage Account Change to Fidelity - Pros and Cons

Post by vested1 » Mon Jan 22, 2018 1:23 pm

whodidntante wrote:
Mon Jan 22, 2018 1:06 pm
An advisor needs to be carefully selected to determine if you click and if they would add value to what you currently do yourself or can take over to some extent. Have you considered interviewing local, fee only advisors?
I don't feel I need an advisor, either at Fidelity or Vanguard. I was assigned one previously at Fidelity, even before signing up for PAS, but that was before I switched to Vanguard. I was also assigned one at VG initially with their concierge service, but that transitioned to "just call the main number" even though the portfolio continued to grow. It would be ideal if my wife got to a point where she didn't need an advisor either, but so would world peace.

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Re: Brokerage Account Change to Fidelity - Pros and Cons

Post by vested1 » Mon Jan 22, 2018 2:01 pm

Thanks to all so far for your perspectives and advice. The wiki shows no MF equivalent for Intermediate Corporate Bond Index, and neither does the Fidelity website. Fidelity told me that VCIT, the VG ETF for that index would transfer at the same ER however, so I could either transfer it or leave it a VG if I decide to keep it. Funny that the Fidelity website didn't list VCIT or any Vanguard fund as a choice for that matter. Then again, VG doesn't list choices from Fidelity that can be purchased there either. The yield for the VG corporate bond index has been better than Total U.S. bond, as has been the performance, but of course, past performance is no indication and all that, and comparing the two is apple to oranges.

As for the equivalent Fid MF's for the 3 fund portfolio at VG I can see they are close with 1 basis point reduction each in ER. I do see a bit less diversity in the number (1813 vs 8345 for VG) of U.S Total bonds as compared to the VG MF however, as well as International Stock MF (4606 vs 6283 for VG), which was only established in June of 2016. All three have comparable performance statistics. I appreciate the advice on taxation and capital gains disbursement from ETF's as well.

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Re: Brokerage Account Change to Fidelity - Pros and Cons

Post by bondsr4me » Mon Jan 22, 2018 3:26 pm

vested1 wrote:
Mon Jan 22, 2018 2:01 pm
Thanks to all so far for your perspectives and advice. The wiki shows no MF equivalent for Intermediate Corporate Bond Index, and neither does the Fidelity website. Fidelity told me that VCIT, the VG ETF for that index would transfer at the same ER however, so I could either transfer it or leave it a VG if I decide to keep it. Funny that the Fidelity website didn't list VCIT or any Vanguard fund as a choice for that matter. Then again, VG doesn't list choices from Fidelity that can be purchased there either.

Vanguard's website does let you compare funds from other companies. I don't know about buying other company funds because I have never purchased any other company fund using VG website for my brokerage account.

Don

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Re: Brokerage Account Change to Fidelity - Pros and Cons

Post by welderwannabe » Mon Jan 22, 2018 3:27 pm

vested1 wrote:
Mon Jan 22, 2018 2:01 pm
Thanks to all so far for your perspectives and advice. The wiki shows no MF equivalent for Intermediate Corporate Bond Index, and neither does the Fidelity website.
I had the same problem when I went to Fidelity. I ended up just buying LQD (iShares corporate bond ETF). If I remember it has a slightly longer duration, but has done well for me. Fidelity allows you to trade it commission free as long as you don't sell within a short period of time..I think in 30 days or so.
I am not an investment professional, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night.

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Re: Brokerage Account Change to Fidelity - Pros and Cons

Post by WoodSpinner » Mon Jan 22, 2018 6:49 pm

All,

Anyone have experience with using Fidelity to buy Bond ladders? It looks really interesting but not sure of the fee structure.

Thanks
WoodSpinner

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Re: Brokerage Account Change to Fidelity - Pros and Cons

Post by Alchemist » Mon Jan 22, 2018 9:11 pm

I moved from Vanguard to Fidelity. In my Roth IRA I just invest in Fido's index funds, and in taxable I have a mix of Vanguard and iShares ETFs. I can say that I have been very happy with the move, which was motivated by some customer service/IT issues at Vanguard. I have called a couple times with simple questions and have been very impressed with the level of knowledge and helpfulness the front line customer service reps have displayed. I especially like being able to call on the weekends and immediately get a human being. Only had to do that twice since setting up my accounts, but it was a nice convenience to have. Additionally the website and app are excellent.

Something to consider, in comparing Fido to VG, is FidelityGo. It is their version of VPAS with similar fee structure of 0.35 but it includes the price of any mutual funds. It uses only Fidelity index funds, has no international bonds, and has a smaller international stock allocation compared to VPAS. I am self directed so I have not tried it out but if you want something for your spouse to use in the event you can no longer manage your portfolio, it seems like a good option to consider. Searching the forum for Fidelity Go will get you more in-depth reviews.

As far as sales pitches, I have received none. When I first opened the account I took a quick survey asking what kind of investor I was. I made it clear with my answers that I was self-directed and only interested in index funds. Refreshingly, they seem to really take that kind of feedback to heart.

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