Fool Poll: How's Your Broker Handling the Panic?

You've seen lots of advice on how to get through the panic. But if you rely on a full-service broker to guide you, are you happy with the advice you're paying for?

Changes on Wall Street have done more than attack the underpinnings of the financial system. They've also destroyed the confidence of millions of investors. When you know that brokers at firms like Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MS  ) , Merrill Lynch (NYSE: MER  ) , and Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS  ) are worrying about their own life savings, you might wonder how much attention they have left to think about your investments.

Going after business
For a long time, discount brokers like Charles Schwab (Nasdaq: SCHW  ) and TD AMERITRADE (Nasdaq: AMTD  ) have sought out investors looking for cheaper alternatives to full-service brokers. With tools to help you do your own research, discount brokers can save you commissions and help you learn more about investing.

Now, with stocks sinking nearly every day, even some long-time full-service brokerage customers have finally had it. With newcomers like Interactive Brokers (Nasdaq: IBKR  ) arguing that they're in better financial shape than some of their Wall Street competitors, discounters have one more way to draw customers.

Whether you use a full-service or discount broker, we're curious about your experience during these tough times. Are you satisfied with the service you're getting, or are you looking for a change? Please take a moment to answer our Fool poll below, and feel free to share your experiences in the comment section below.

What now? The Motley Fool is here to answer your questions about this financial crisis. Send us an email at AsktheFool@fool.com, and check back at Fool.com as we answer your questions and cover the latest on the Panic of 2008.

Fool contributor Dan Caplinger has had some trade glitches with his discount brokers, but on the whole, he's satisfied. He doesn't own shares of the companies mentioned in this article. Charles Schwab is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendation. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days. The Fool's disclosure policy won't panic on you.


Read/Post Comments (5) | Recommend This Article (8)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On November 22, 2008, at 8:00 PM, wilyboyshere wrote:

    I have done business with four different brokers and have had the following experiences starting with the worst and ending with the best.

    The worst brokerage firm I have ever done business with is Etrade. I haven't left them because my employer has chosen them to handle their ESPP & ESOP. They have provided misinformation on their site that has cost me over $1000 stating in multiple places on their website that CORS was paying a substantial dividend months after the company had suspended it, they could not execute a sell order for SOLF for 8 hours over 2 trading days when I was trying to sell it at $19.95 (currently selling under $5), their home loan department promised a reduction in rate of .50% on a 60k loan in 3 months after the loan was originated-knowing at the time that their loan division was being sold lock, stock and barrel within a week. Etrade's misinformation, and lack of any corporate integrity has cost me about 5k in two years.

    Smith Barney was pretty decent neither noticeably good or bad.

    Merrill Lynch brokers thought they were much slicker and cooler than they were. If you had over 250k to play with, they would take some time with you; less then 50k and they were doing you a favor talking to you. One exception Mike Royer who went to Hambrecht and Quist was one of the most considerate people in the industry I've ever done business with-I have no idea if he is still in the biz anymore.

    Charles Schwab. I didn't used to like them and only kept some IRA $$ there. Recently, I had 1 unpleasant experience and wrote to them about it. They handled it with more care and consideration than I have ever expected from a brokerage firm. Without my asking they waived commissions on about a dozen trades. I was so impressed with their service-and so depressed by Etrade's complete indifference that I'm going through with the hassle of moving my retail account and will be more than happy to pay the extra couple of $$ in transaction fees.

  • Report this Comment On December 03, 2008, at 11:35 AM, notrustfas wrote:

    Never trust financial advisors. Two firms we used were ok in rising market, but any idiot can make money there by buying index funds. When market goes down these people do not act to protect you.

    I talk to many people and not one has had an advisor who really looked out for them in this awful market.

    Too many of these guys preach "buy & hold" and

    are too lazy & incompetent to do what is best for clients. One even told his clients in their 70s "we don't know what to do" while he watched them drift into near poverty.

    We have lost plenty and are filing suit against our former financial advisor not just because we lost a lot, but he would not follow my written instructions regarding sale of assets before great loss.

    The financial advisory field is composed of people who should NEVER BE TRUSTED with your hard earned dollars. Do your own research and look out for yourself. These guys are the snake oil salesmen of this era. If they were doctors the whole population would be sick !

  • Report this Comment On December 04, 2008, at 10:00 PM, who78 wrote:

    In response to the comment from notrustfas.

    The answer is to hold on to your equity investments throughout this economic crisis. Equities are meant for your long term money and now is not the time to sell but to buy. You need to remain calm even when you are plauged with fear and panic. You broker doesn't have a crystal ball that allows for them to "sell assets before a great loss" That's ridiculous. If a 70 something has all their money in the stock market then the problem is suitablilty not the "buy and hold" advise. Your Doctor doesn't call you to ask you if you've had your flu shot. You are responsilbe for your health and finances as much as your Dr and financial advisor. Your brokers portfolio is down as much as yours. If you don't have the discipline to to stick to your goals during a market correction then you should be buying bank CDs and not stocks.

  • Report this Comment On December 05, 2008, at 4:11 PM, theconehead wrote:

    In response to the comment from who78.

    I agree with notrustfas, Advisors are snake oil salesmen!!! I left my advisor for the same reason. When the market was peaking I told my advior I wanted out, instead of getting me out he encouraged me to stay in and hold. I had to strong arm him to get him to sell. When I did finally get out of stocks he added to by bond ladder and bought be 30 year 0 Coupon California, Florida, TX, NY, WA and OHIO bonds. I had no idea the bond market was falling apart. I just recently get out of the bad bonds that he had purchased and lost more than if I would have kept my money in the stock market. And to think I paid money for that advise. Nice!!!

  • Report this Comment On January 03, 2009, at 3:03 PM, 163clout84 wrote:

    Bailing out of Etrade...

    I've been with Etrade for a number of years and have been satisfied by in large. However, after their recent fiasco with poor investing resulting in them falling from grace, withering from a Large Cap down to Penny Stock, I've experienced nothing but problems. On several occasions they've refused to let me trade online with specific companies requiring me to contact a broker to make a trade which takes about 15 minutes. Not exactly timely when the market is moving. A costly trade indeed.

    Also they can't seem to return my sells to my account for reinvesting as "Funds Available for Buying" in a timely "Consistent" manner. Sometimes the funds are returned, sometimes not. Another very costly "Delay". I've qualified for the 3 day settlement period, but they seem to be running their own little Ponzi scheme for allocating their Sweep funds. This has cost me several thousand dollars in lost trading opportunities.

    I've also had a Broker Account with TD Ameritrade. I make the same trades with them simultaneously and they perform flawlessly. Money is returned to my account immediately as funds available for trading. I'm moving the rest of my money from Etrade to TD Ameritrade.

    I expect to have to compete with other traders for timely trading. I DO NOT expect to have to compete with my Broker as well. Not a preferred way to conduct business.

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