How to check actual fees?

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anewboglehead
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How to check actual fees?

Post by anewboglehead »

About 3 years ago, I read the Common Sense Book of Investing by Jack Bogle, and I've converted to a three fund portfolio since.

I use the funds listed in the Wiki (https://www.bogleheads.org/wiki/Three-fund_portfolio).

I thought it would be an interested exercise to see what actual fees I paid (and if there were any hidden ones I did not anticipate), but I cannot find anywhere on any statements (Vanguard, Schwab, Fidelity) that lists fees I paid.

I just see a "-" or "0.00" under "Commissions and Fees" column of the transactions section, but that's it.

Is there any way to check for the totality of fees paid - things like Account Management fees (from previous employer 401(k)s, for using BrokerageLink, etc), load fees, or any other fees. I mean, I don't think there are any and my ERs are low, but is there any way to actually check the actual fees paid?

I did try asking customer service, and they said, "Nope, no fees!" Hard to take that at face value though...
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retired@50
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Re: How to check actual fees?

Post by retired@50 »

For a workplace plan the fees are generally disclosed in the Summary Plan Description.

If you don't work there anymore, access to a current document might be a challenge but you could always refer to an old one, assuming you still have a copy laying around somewhere. Could be a PDF document in an email too.

Regards,
This is one person's opinion. Nothing more.
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anon_investor
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Re: How to check actual fees?

Post by anon_investor »

anewboglehead wrote: Wed Jan 13, 2021 12:11 am About 3 years ago, I read the Common Sense Book of Investing by Jack Bogle, and I've converted to a three fund portfolio since.

I use the funds listed in the Wiki (https://www.bogleheads.org/wiki/Three-fund_portfolio).

I thought it would be an interested exercise to see what actual fees I paid (and if there were any hidden ones I did not anticipate), but I cannot find anywhere on any statements (Vanguard, Schwab, Fidelity) that lists fees I paid.

I just see a "-" or "0.00" under "Commissions and Fees" column of the transactions section, but that's it.

Is there any way to check for the totality of fees paid - things like Account Management fees (from previous employer 401(k)s, for using BrokerageLink, etc), load fees, or any other fees. I mean, I don't think there are any and my ERs are low, but is there any way to actually check the actual fees paid?

I did try asking customer service, and they said, "Nope, no fees!" Hard to take that at face value though...
Currently, Schwab, Fidelity and Vanguard charge 0 fees for their IRA and taxable brokerage accounts. It has been that way for some time...
Topic Author
anewboglehead
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Re: How to check actual fees?

Post by anewboglehead »

retired@50 wrote: Wed Jan 13, 2021 12:21 am For a workplace plan the fees are generally disclosed in the Summary Plan Description.

If you don't work there anymore, access to a current document might be a challenge but you could always refer to an old one, assuming you still have a copy laying around somewhere. Could be a PDF document in an email too.

Regards,
This is true, though I would still want to check the actual fees. The listed fees are what is supposed to be charged, vs the actual fees are what is actually taken out.

For example, on my bank statement each month, there is a section that is like "total fees" and would list any overdraft, bounced check, interest, etc. If I ever see a number there, I immediately think something is off and go to check, because I *should* have no fees.

So I would like to see if there is some way to see the sum of actual fees I paid?
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anewboglehead
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Re: How to check actual fees?

Post by anewboglehead »

anon_investor wrote: Wed Jan 13, 2021 12:36 am
anewboglehead wrote: Wed Jan 13, 2021 12:11 am About 3 years ago, I read the Common Sense Book of Investing by Jack Bogle, and I've converted to a three fund portfolio since.

I use the funds listed in the Wiki (https://www.bogleheads.org/wiki/Three-fund_portfolio).

I thought it would be an interested exercise to see what actual fees I paid (and if there were any hidden ones I did not anticipate), but I cannot find anywhere on any statements (Vanguard, Schwab, Fidelity) that lists fees I paid.

I just see a "-" or "0.00" under "Commissions and Fees" column of the transactions section, but that's it.

Is there any way to check for the totality of fees paid - things like Account Management fees (from previous employer 401(k)s, for using BrokerageLink, etc), load fees, or any other fees. I mean, I don't think there are any and my ERs are low, but is there any way to actually check the actual fees paid?

I did try asking customer service, and they said, "Nope, no fees!" Hard to take that at face value though...
Currently, Schwab, Fidelity and Vanguard charge 0 fees for their IRA and taxable brokerage accounts. It has been that way for some time...
Good to know, thanks. I only buy Schwab funds at Schwab, Fidelity funds at Fidelity, and Vanguard funds at Vanguard, and I don't think I have any load fees etc, but just wanted to see if there is some place I can confirm on a statement or document or something?

It just seems strange to me to be very concerned about paying low fees, but then not actually confirm that I am indeed paying low fees. :confused
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anon_investor
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Re: How to check actual fees?

Post by anon_investor »

anewboglehead wrote: Wed Jan 13, 2021 12:46 am
anon_investor wrote: Wed Jan 13, 2021 12:36 am
anewboglehead wrote: Wed Jan 13, 2021 12:11 am About 3 years ago, I read the Common Sense Book of Investing by Jack Bogle, and I've converted to a three fund portfolio since.

I use the funds listed in the Wiki (https://www.bogleheads.org/wiki/Three-fund_portfolio).

I thought it would be an interested exercise to see what actual fees I paid (and if there were any hidden ones I did not anticipate), but I cannot find anywhere on any statements (Vanguard, Schwab, Fidelity) that lists fees I paid.

I just see a "-" or "0.00" under "Commissions and Fees" column of the transactions section, but that's it.

Is there any way to check for the totality of fees paid - things like Account Management fees (from previous employer 401(k)s, for using BrokerageLink, etc), load fees, or any other fees. I mean, I don't think there are any and my ERs are low, but is there any way to actually check the actual fees paid?

I did try asking customer service, and they said, "Nope, no fees!" Hard to take that at face value though...
Currently, Schwab, Fidelity and Vanguard charge 0 fees for their IRA and taxable brokerage accounts. It has been that way for some time...
Good to know, thanks. I only buy Schwab funds at Schwab, Fidelity funds at Fidelity, and Vanguard funds at Vanguard, and I don't think I have any load fees etc, but just wanted to see if there is some place I can confirm on a statement or document or something?

It just seems strange to me to be very concerned about paying low fees, but then not actually confirm that I am indeed paying low fees. :confused
At Schwab, Fidelity, Vanguard, they have many commission free mutual fund/ETF investment options (aka no load). I assume you use those. It means you pay $0 comissions. If you sell ETFs there may be a small SEC mandated fee, it is a little over $100 per $1 million sold (see https://www.sec.gov/ofm/Article/feeamt.html); but that is not a fee by the brokerage but a government fee. Thanks to Jack Bogle and his efforts to pionner low cost investing, we really are paying next to nothing, basically the few basis points in expense ratio.

Unfortunately, 401k and similar retirement plans are where you will see a lot of expenses and fees still.
pkcrafter
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Re: How to check actual fees?

Post by pkcrafter »

anewboglehead wrote: Wed Jan 13, 2021 12:11 am About 3 years ago, I read the Common Sense Book of Investing by Jack Bogle, and I've converted to a three fund portfolio since.

I use the funds listed in the Wiki (https://www.bogleheads.org/wiki/Three-fund_portfolio).

I thought it would be an interested exercise to see what actual fees I paid (and if there were any hidden ones I did not anticipate), but I cannot find anywhere on any statements (Vanguard, Schwab, Fidelity) that lists fees I paid.

No hidden fees at Vangaurd, Fidelity, or Schwab. All the funds have expense ratios which you pay, but those are disclosed and taken daily. The posted returns are after fees.

I just see a "-" or "0.00" under "Commissions and Fees" column of the transactions section, but that's it.

Is there any way to check for the totality of fees paid - things like Account Management fees (from previous employer 401(k)s, for using BrokerageLink, etc), load fees, or any other fees. I mean, I don't think there are any and my ERs are low, but is there any way to actually check the actual fees paid?

There probably some fees associated with the 401k, and they would have to be disclosed in the plan summary

I did try asking customer service, and they said, "Nope, no fees!" Hard to take that at face value though...


Right, so look at the plan documentation.


https://www.forusall.com/401k-blog/401k-plan-documents/
Paul
When times are good, investors tend to forget about risk and focus on opportunity. When times are bad, investors tend to forget about opportunity and focus on risk.
Derpalator
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Re: How to check actual fees?

Post by Derpalator »

anewboglehead wrote: Wed Jan 13, 2021 12:11 am About 3 years ago, I read the Common Sense Book of Investing by Jack Bogle, and I've converted to a three fund portfolio since.

I use the funds listed in the Wiki (https://www.bogleheads.org/wiki/Three-fund_portfolio).

I thought it would be an interested exercise to see what actual fees I paid (and if there were any hidden ones I did not anticipate), but I cannot find anywhere on any statements (Vanguard, Schwab, Fidelity) that lists fees I paid.

I just see a "-" or "0.00" under "Commissions and Fees" column of the transactions section, but that's it.

Is there any way to check for the totality of fees paid - things like Account Management fees (from previous employer 401(k)s, for using BrokerageLink, etc), load fees, or any other fees. I mean, I don't think there are any and my ERs are low, but is there any way to actually check the actual fees paid?

I did try asking customer service, and they said, "Nope, no fees!" Hard to take that at face value though...
Be careful about 401ks. Something a bit simpler other than reviewing their Summary Plan Description is to check actual statements and look at fees. For me it was as simple as logging onto my account and pulling up statements, not too hard to figure out.

Anecdotally, I let my previous 403b and 457 "ride" for a year after going to work for a new employer. I wanted to be sure my relationship with new employer worked out. Although the Vanguard fund I was in had ER listed at 0.04 percent, FEEs charged by the 401k administrator raised the overall expense ratio to 0.5% plus another 0.5% front load fee with each new purchase (excluding dividend reinvestments). That year of waiting cost me a solid mid 4 figures in fees even though I was no longer contributing!
megabad
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Re: How to check actual fees?

Post by megabad »

In my past few 401ks, the only way that to find the admin fees was to login online and pull the account activity history and there would be a transaction every so often for the fees. These fees were not defined in the SPD nor were there any statements available. Between that and the ER from the fund docs, it is pretty easy to check what you are paying.
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retired@50
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Re: How to check actual fees?

Post by retired@50 »

anewboglehead wrote: Wed Jan 13, 2021 12:44 am
So I would like to see if there is some way to see the sum of actual fees I paid?
This doesn't seem to be how the investment industry works. Depending on the firm, some are more forthcoming than others, and some seem to actually be trying to keep the fees a secret.

401k plans, Edward Jones, Mass Mutual, The Principal and other firms will make you work to find out what you are paying.

Vanguard, Fidelity, Schwab are pretty open and honest about the fees, but they still won't compute and summarize them for you.

Regards,
This is one person's opinion. Nothing more.
Topic Author
anewboglehead
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Re: How to check actual fees?

Post by anewboglehead »

megabad wrote: Wed Jan 13, 2021 6:17 am In my past few 401ks, the only way that to find the admin fees was to login online and pull the account activity history and there would be a transaction every so often for the fees. These fees were not defined in the SPD nor were there any statements available. Between that and the ER from the fund docs, it is pretty easy to check what you are paying.
Hmm I'll take another look. I've pulled all my online statements and no signs of fees, but there is a text based account activity I did not wade all the way through.
Topic Author
anewboglehead
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Re: How to check actual fees?

Post by anewboglehead »

retired@50 wrote: Wed Jan 13, 2021 10:59 am
anewboglehead wrote: Wed Jan 13, 2021 12:44 am
So I would like to see if there is some way to see the sum of actual fees I paid?
This doesn't seem to be how the investment industry works. Depending on the firm, some are more forthcoming than others, and some seem to actually be trying to keep the fees a secret.

401k plans, Edward Jones, Mass Mutual, The Principal and other firms will make you work to find out what you are paying.

Vanguard, Fidelity, Schwab are pretty open and honest about the fees, but they still won't compute and summarize them for you.

Regards,
Yes, this seems to be the case. I suppose it is not surprising how low transparency is on fees, as this is how they make their money.

Thanks for the input, I'll keep at it and report back if I find anything unusual. The most likely case is that the fees are (as expected) very low with no account/load, etc, so nothing to find. But confirmation would be nice :D
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