Tell me about TD Ameritrade

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ahnathan
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Joined: Wed Oct 17, 2018 2:10 pm

Tell me about TD Ameritrade

Post by ahnathan » Tue Aug 13, 2019 10:25 pm

I have just started my company 401(k), first contribution last week.

The 401(k) is solid and through Vanguard but the options are fairly limited. There are some Vanguard funds and some others with higher ERs

There is an option for a "self-directed brokerage window" which allows me to move the money into a self-directed brokerage account with TD Ameritrade and opens it up to any investment I want.

I know nothing of TD Ameritrade. Anyone have experience? Pros and Cons?

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ResearchMed
Posts: 9088
Joined: Fri Dec 26, 2008 11:25 pm

Re: Tell me about TD Ameritrade

Post by ResearchMed » Tue Aug 13, 2019 10:36 pm

ahnathan wrote:
Tue Aug 13, 2019 10:25 pm
I have just started my company 401(k), first contribution last week.

The 401(k) is solid and through Vanguard but the options are fairly limited. There are some Vanguard funds and some others with higher ERs

There is an option for a "self-directed brokerage window" which allows me to move the money into a self-directed brokerage account with TD Ameritrade and opens it up to any investment I want.

I know nothing of TD Ameritrade. Anyone have experience? Pros and Cons?
Our 403b used to have as one option to be entirely with Vanguard (since about 2010). However, starting earlier this year, they split off that Brokerage Window and moved it to TDA, while keeping the limited "core" section at Vanguard.

One thing that was important is that although ordinarily there is a fee at TDA to purchase Vanguard funds, our "costs" are "as if" everything were still at Vanguard, so there are NO fees to purchase Vanguard funds, other than the few/small fees that also exist at Vanguard.

I preferred the display at Vanguard, especially in terms of showing each holding and "YTD" changes. However, that may be because I was already quite used to the Vanguard format. (Except for one thing: The YTD is NOT actually "up to date", but is always something like "as of the end of the previous month". All other accounts/plans have "YTD" meaning YT*DATE*, where "date" is the most recent close, or sometimes the day before.

Everything else seems to work well.
The TOTAL of the Brokerage Window is shown on the our 403b's Vanguard website as a single total, without any breakdown.

RM
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HawkeyePierce
Posts: 542
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Location: Colorado

Re: Tell me about TD Ameritrade

Post by HawkeyePierce » Tue Aug 13, 2019 10:47 pm

My 401k is administered by Vanguard but when I logged in last week I also found that the brokerage window now redirects to TDA but I have yet to be given login credentials. :annoyed

That said, I've been using TDA for my HSA for a while now and it's fine. They have a pretty healthy list of commission-free ETFs including plenty of low-cost index ETFs.

For Bogleheads, the funds to look for are from SPDR and iShares—commission free and low cost. SPTM is the best total stock market fund of that bunch (0.03% ER) and SPAB is roughly equivalent to Vanguard's total bond fund (0.04%). The only thing missing is a total international fund but you can combine SPDW (developed world ex-US) and SPEM (emerging markets) to approximate one.

I also use SPTL at TDA which is a long-term Treasury ETF.

There are hundreds more that trade commission free but I haven't seen any need to look further down the list than that.

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ResearchMed
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Re: Tell me about TD Ameritrade

Post by ResearchMed » Tue Aug 13, 2019 10:52 pm

HawkeyePierce wrote:
Tue Aug 13, 2019 10:47 pm
My 401k is administered by Vanguard but when I logged in last week I also found that the brokerage window now redirects to TDA but I have yet to be given login credentials. :annoyed

That said, I've been using TDA for my HSA for a while now and it's fine. They have a pretty healthy list of commission-free ETFs including plenty of low-cost index ETFs.

For Bogleheads, the funds to look for are from SPDR and iShares—commission free and low cost. SPTM is the best total stock market fund of that bunch (0.03% ER) and SPAB is roughly equivalent to Vanguard's total bond fund (0.04%). The only thing missing is a total international fund but you can combine SPDW (developed world ex-US) and SPEM (emerging markets) to approximate one.

I also use SPTL at TDA which is a long-term Treasury ETF.

There are hundreds more that trade commission free but I haven't seen any need to look further down the list than that.
Our 403b only allows mutual funds, and no single stocks or ETF-type instruments. I don't mind the "no single stocks", but I wish we could include ETF's.
The "Vanguard Brokerage Window held at TDA" has the exact same restrictions.

RM
This signature is a placebo. You are in the control group.

HawkeyePierce
Posts: 542
Joined: Tue Mar 05, 2019 10:29 pm
Location: Colorado

Re: Tell me about TD Ameritrade

Post by HawkeyePierce » Tue Aug 13, 2019 10:56 pm

ResearchMed wrote:
Tue Aug 13, 2019 10:52 pm
HawkeyePierce wrote:
Tue Aug 13, 2019 10:47 pm
My 401k is administered by Vanguard but when I logged in last week I also found that the brokerage window now redirects to TDA but I have yet to be given login credentials. :annoyed

That said, I've been using TDA for my HSA for a while now and it's fine. They have a pretty healthy list of commission-free ETFs including plenty of low-cost index ETFs.

For Bogleheads, the funds to look for are from SPDR and iShares—commission free and low cost. SPTM is the best total stock market fund of that bunch (0.03% ER) and SPAB is roughly equivalent to Vanguard's total bond fund (0.04%). The only thing missing is a total international fund but you can combine SPDW (developed world ex-US) and SPEM (emerging markets) to approximate one.

I also use SPTL at TDA which is a long-term Treasury ETF.

There are hundreds more that trade commission free but I haven't seen any need to look further down the list than that.
Our 403b only allows mutual funds, and no single stocks or ETF-type instruments. I don't mind the "no single stocks", but I wish we could include ETF's.
The "Vanguard Brokerage Window held at TDA" has the exact same restrictions.

RM
According to our plan rules this is what we're allowed and not allowed to hold thorugh our brokerage window:

Allowed:

Individual bonds.
Individual stocks.
Mutual funds.
Stock options.
U.S. Equities.
Vanguard Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs).
Non-Vanguard Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs).
Fixed Income.
U.S. Treasury Securities.
Corporate Bonds.
Mortgage-backed Securities.
Certificates of Deposit (CDs).
Options (Covered Calls and Protective Puts).
American Depository Receipts (ADRs).

Not allowed:

Commodities.
Foreign securities not traded domestically.
Funds offered as main investment options in your plan.
Futures.
Private placements.

I don't know if that's a difference between 403b and 401k plans or something that's down to individual plan choices.

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whodidntante
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Re: Tell me about TD Ameritrade

Post by whodidntante » Tue Aug 13, 2019 10:58 pm

I've found them to have good, low-cost commission-free offerings and excellent customer service. The trading platform is kind of busy but works well, has the features I need, and nothing crazy has happened to me. TDA angered some Bogleheads by taking their favorite Vanguard ETFs off the commission-free list, but in most cases offered replacement funds that were also quite good. I don't know if the Bogleheads are still mad about that en masse, but it didn't upset me beyond the level of minor annoyance.

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unclescrooge
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Re: Tell me about TD Ameritrade

Post by unclescrooge » Tue Aug 13, 2019 11:07 pm

I've used TD since they were datek, back in 1999.

Excellent platform and customer service.

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ResearchMed
Posts: 9088
Joined: Fri Dec 26, 2008 11:25 pm

Re: Tell me about TD Ameritrade

Post by ResearchMed » Tue Aug 13, 2019 11:19 pm

HawkeyePierce wrote:
Tue Aug 13, 2019 10:56 pm
ResearchMed wrote:
Tue Aug 13, 2019 10:52 pm
HawkeyePierce wrote:
Tue Aug 13, 2019 10:47 pm
My 401k is administered by Vanguard but when I logged in last week I also found that the brokerage window now redirects to TDA but I have yet to be given login credentials. :annoyed

That said, I've been using TDA for my HSA for a while now and it's fine. They have a pretty healthy list of commission-free ETFs including plenty of low-cost index ETFs.

For Bogleheads, the funds to look for are from SPDR and iShares—commission free and low cost. SPTM is the best total stock market fund of that bunch (0.03% ER) and SPAB is roughly equivalent to Vanguard's total bond fund (0.04%). The only thing missing is a total international fund but you can combine SPDW (developed world ex-US) and SPEM (emerging markets) to approximate one.

I also use SPTL at TDA which is a long-term Treasury ETF.

There are hundreds more that trade commission free but I haven't seen any need to look further down the list than that.
Our 403b only allows mutual funds, and no single stocks or ETF-type instruments. I don't mind the "no single stocks", but I wish we could include ETF's.
The "Vanguard Brokerage Window held at TDA" has the exact same restrictions.

RM
According to our plan rules this is what we're allowed and not allowed to hold thorugh our brokerage window:

Allowed:

Individual bonds.
Individual stocks.
Mutual funds.
Stock options.
U.S. Equities.
Vanguard Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs).
Non-Vanguard Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs).
Fixed Income.
U.S. Treasury Securities.
Corporate Bonds.
Mortgage-backed Securities.
Certificates of Deposit (CDs).
Options (Covered Calls and Protective Puts).
American Depository Receipts (ADRs).

Not allowed:

Commodities.
Foreign securities not traded domestically.
Funds offered as main investment options in your plan.
Futures.
Private placements.

I don't know if that's a difference between 403b and 401k plans or something that's down to individual plan choices.
Ah, "If only..." :(

We can't even get CD's!
The closest is a basic Money Market Fund or Bond funds (lots of choices for bond funds, but they aren't quite my choice at this point).
I'm not sure why "no CD's", other than it wouldn't work with a "Mutual Funds ONLY" orientation. And that decision is way above my pay grade!

Oh, and we can't have the "core fund choices" in the Brokerage Window, either, but that's not a problem, as we could get them "back at Vanguard" among the core holdings.

RM
This signature is a placebo. You are in the control group.

CurlyDave
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Re: Tell me about TD Ameritrade

Post by CurlyDave » Tue Aug 13, 2019 11:27 pm

unclescrooge wrote:
Tue Aug 13, 2019 11:07 pm
I've used TD since they were datek, back in 1999.

Excellent platform and customer service.
+1

I still have a datek baseball cap they gave me way back then, I think that was before 1999, I know it was with a 2400 baud modem and a landline. No complaints at all.

livesoft
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Re: Tell me about TD Ameritrade

Post by livesoft » Wed Aug 14, 2019 3:27 am

We came to TDAmeritrade via TDWaterhouse where we started an account in 1994.

My spouse has a 401(k) with TDAmeritrade as the custodian and many Vanguard funds along with the Self-Directed Brokerage Account (SDBA) option. They are a good serviceable brokerage firm.

However, her 401(k) and SDBA have different web sites with different "look and feel" which is a PITA. The SDBA is the same as TDAmeritrade's retail brokerage accounts, HSA accounts, and individual 401(k) accounts and quite good.

The TDAmeritrade custodial 401(k) platform for companies is terrible. But a good thing about my spouse's 401(k) plan is that many of the usual Vanguard index funds are available: Total US Stock Market, Total International, Total US Bond, and some others all with no fees (except the usual low expense ratios) since her company pays all the other fees.

It seems that every company plan is different so that the funds that one is offered will depend on one's company. If one has the basic Vanguard funds (or perhaps other index funds), then there is probably no reason to use the SDBA. The fees to use the SDBA will also vary among plans. There can be quarterly fees to have the account and fees to move money back and forth between the SDBA and the regular 401(k) funds and fees to open / close the SDBA. Those fees were negotiated by your company and could be zero -- or not. For my spouse's plan, it requires a phone call to move money from the fund platform to the SDBA and back. One cannot do it online. It is not seamless and is very clunky.

Folks who have regular TDAmeritrade retail accounts may not have been exposed to their 401(k) / 403(b) platform and vice versa, so just be aware that the platforms are quite different and comments about one won't necessarily apply to the other.


CurlyDave wrote:
Tue Aug 13, 2019 11:27 pm
unclescrooge wrote:
Tue Aug 13, 2019 11:07 pm
I've used TD since they were datek, back in 1999.

Excellent platform and customer service.
+1

I still have a datek baseball cap they gave me way back then, I think that was before 1999, I know it was with a 2400 baud modem and a landline. No complaints at all.
Ameritrade acquired Datek in 2002.
Ameritrade acquired TDWaterhouse in 2006 and named themselves TDAmeritrade.
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3-20Characters
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Re: Tell me about TD Ameritrade

Post by 3-20Characters » Wed Aug 14, 2019 4:43 am

I used them for my hsa brokerage (linked to hsa bank) prior to moving hsa to fidelity. It was fine—no problems. The interface has more bells and whistles than I need or want but some may like that. I prefer mutual funds to ETFs, so stodgy places like vanguard and fidelity with their own funds are more my speed, but I have nothing bad to say about TDA.

I will say this: when I transferred out to fidelity, TDA was quick and professional and didn’t charge any fee. That’s an event that many places would make difficult or costly for obvious reasons.

Disclaimer: I’m a low expectations guy. Basically just need a handful of low cost index funds to pick from and for things to work as expected.

Atilla
Posts: 1355
Joined: Tue Feb 09, 2010 7:44 pm

Re: Tell me about TD Ameritrade

Post by Atilla » Wed Aug 14, 2019 6:38 am

HawkeyePierce wrote:
Tue Aug 13, 2019 10:47 pm

That said, I've been using TDA for my HSA for a while now and it's fine. They have a pretty healthy list of commission-free ETFs including plenty of low-cost index ETFs.

....

There are hundreds more that trade commission free but I haven't seen any need to look further down the list than that.
I believe if you compare, the expense ratios they charge for commission-free ETFs is higher than the "normal" rate. That's how they get you.
Moderator Warning-Free Since 2017.

HawkeyePierce
Posts: 542
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Location: Colorado

Re: Tell me about TD Ameritrade

Post by HawkeyePierce » Wed Aug 14, 2019 6:52 am

Atilla wrote:
Wed Aug 14, 2019 6:38 am
HawkeyePierce wrote:
Tue Aug 13, 2019 10:47 pm

That said, I've been using TDA for my HSA for a while now and it's fine. They have a pretty healthy list of commission-free ETFs including plenty of low-cost index ETFs.

....

There are hundreds more that trade commission free but I haven't seen any need to look further down the list than that.
I believe if you compare, the expense ratios they charge for commission-free ETFs is higher than the "normal" rate. That's how they get you.
I just checked SPTM (total stock market) and SPAB (total bond) and there’s no difference in the ER shown at TDA and the one shown on the issuer’s website.

TallBoy29er
Posts: 646
Joined: Thu Jul 18, 2013 9:06 pm

Re: Tell me about TD Ameritrade

Post by TallBoy29er » Wed Aug 14, 2019 7:44 am

I've used them in the past. They still don't have 2 factor authentication for login, which is really annoying in this day and age.

David Althaus
Posts: 79
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Re: Tell me about TD Ameritrade

Post by David Althaus » Wed Aug 14, 2019 7:47 am

We came to TD via the Scottrade merger. There are some better features on their website and have had no problem in any way. Have noticed there is more effort to sell via at least quarterly calls. Then, too, there is the issue of Vanguard ETFs not qualifying for commission free trading. This is more annoyance than problem. By the time you account for higher spreads on the free compared to the comparable Vanguard I calculate the true cost of sticking with Vanguard ETFs is $4 or so on a $10k trade. It's worth it to us to blow the four pennies and stick with Vanguard funds--three fund portfolio with yearly rebalance.

Guess it boils down to this: you can run your own portfolio easily with TD and you should be prepared (if you have sufficient resources for their version of a dedicated account executive) for efforts to provide more HELP.

All the best

Nowizard
Posts: 2176
Joined: Tue Oct 23, 2007 5:33 pm

Re: Tell me about TD Ameritrade

Post by Nowizard » Wed Aug 14, 2019 8:00 am

Also, moved with Scottrade merger. Was quicker than Vanguard on wire transfer of money and has been fine otherwise. Site has much more information than Scottrade did, but it is more complicated to negotiate. A person said he would call about "Opportunities" when we first funded the site, but never has...…..thankfully!

Tim

galectin
Posts: 252
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Re: Tell me about TD Ameritrade

Post by galectin » Wed Aug 14, 2019 9:42 am

We have a brokerage acct., Roths, and tax-deferred individual IRAs at TDA. We consolidated all our retirement funds to TDA when we retired for convenience's sake. The rep. at the local office has handled everything in an efficient and competent manner. We like having the local office and rep. available, but seldom go to it.

We told the rep. that we are three-fund indexers and have never had any attempt to get us to go to an AUM model. The rep. told us that he agreed with our approach.

While we did have to switch from Vanguard ETFs when TDA dropped them from the commission-free list, their replacements have performed the same with similar low ERs, so I regard this as a non-issue.

The web access has been fine and we can write checks on the brokerage acct. Occasional wire transfers to the checking acct. where we pay bills from have all gone through without any problems.

I can't comment on the plan-associated service, but would recommend them to anyone needing the basic services like we use.

Rudedog
Posts: 95
Joined: Wed Aug 01, 2018 3:15 pm

Re: Tell me about TD Ameritrade

Post by Rudedog » Wed Aug 14, 2019 9:55 am

I've used TD for several years, came over from Scottrade merger. They do have two-factor authentication, I use it every time I sign on. I have no complaints. I have about a dozen individual stocks in my account, dividend payers, I may trade five times a year, no issues.

rich126
Posts: 565
Joined: Thu Mar 01, 2018 4:56 pm

Re: Tell me about TD Ameritrade

Post by rich126 » Wed Aug 14, 2019 10:13 am

This doesn't really apply to your situation and isn't a BH style of investing but they do have a stand alone app for those who like tinkering with charts, and trading options, futures, etc. It came from ThinkOrSwim (TOS) which was another brokerage they acquired. TOS was very friendly to people using Apple products and their CTO was a big Apple proponent so I was happy to download their stand alone app for the iMac and played around with it. It can be pretty intimidating.

As others mentioned, I don't have any major issues with them. When I lived in MD I would get messages from one of their people in the local MD office who kept asking what he could do for me. I tried to explain "nothing, I pretty to do my own investing" and he eventually left me alone. Now that I moved to Scottsdale I had one guy introduce himself and said if I need anything just to call him. Other than that one call he hasn't bothered me although he was supposed to get back to me regarding a higher interest sweep account.

I don't usually do mutual funds so that part doesn't bother me although free or reasonably cheap access to Wellington/Wellesley would be nice.

Good luck.

Beach Guy
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Re: Tell me about TD Ameritrade

Post by Beach Guy » Wed Aug 14, 2019 10:56 am

I had a self directed plan at Vanguard for years. I am the plan administrator. Several years ago I was informed by Vanguard that they no longer would support those types of plans and I had to move the accounts to another brokerage firm. I could choose any brokerage firm but Vanguard had made an agreement with TD and actually helped with the transfer of all the accounts. I have been using TD ever since and I am very happy with them. I can buy any mutual fund, stock, bonds, CD's or ETF I want except Vanguard Admiral. TD tells me that Vanguard won't allow it. I can buy Vanguard Investor so I loose a little in the cost. I have used their bond desk to buy individual bonds. Their customer service has been good and I make the contributions for our business every two weeks on line using their funding website and transfer the contributions using ACH.

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Quercus Palustris
Posts: 56
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Location: Maryland

Re: Tell me about TD Ameritrade

Post by Quercus Palustris » Wed Aug 14, 2019 11:13 am

I use TDA through my Lively HSA, and access to the SPDR ETFs is great for a 3-4 fund portfolio (SPAB, SPTM, SPDW, SPEM). Of course that doesn't much help if you need or want mutual funds! Fortunately, they have a pretty good fund screener (have the VG engineers never used TDA, Fido or Schwab's??).

You can use these no fee/load funds (bonds, US, international) based on your amounts:
TBIRX (0.37%) TIAA US bond index, no min
BMOAX (0.35%) iShares US aggregate Bond, $1000 min

TIQRX (0.30%) TIAA Equity Index, no min (Russell 3000 index)
SVSPX (0.16%) State Street S&P 500, $10,000 min

TRIEX (0.31%) TIAA International, no min (MSCI EAFE index)
BDOAX (0.41%) iShares international, $1000 min (ACWI ex-Us index)

Depending on your investment amounts you can probably make a decent portfolio with those - yeah, not as cheap as the ETFs or other brokerages, but we'll under 0.5%.

TallBoy29er
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Re: Tell me about TD Ameritrade

Post by TallBoy29er » Wed Aug 14, 2019 12:55 pm

Rudedog wrote:
Wed Aug 14, 2019 9:55 am
I've used TD for several years, came over from Scottrade merger. They do have two-factor authentication, I use it every time I sign on. I have no complaints. I have about a dozen individual stocks in my account, dividend payers, I may trade five times a year, no issues.
I may have misspoken then. You get a text to your phone?

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