What's in your email inbox? You probably have some emails from friends and relatives, and some from work. And like me, you probably also get occasional unsolicited emails about how you can buy inexpensive inkjet cartridges or enlarge various body parts. But unlike me, I'll bet you don't hear from a bunch of brokerages -- ones you don't even have accounts with.
Here, for starters, are two announcements I've received:
- Someone at Charles Schwab
(NASDAQ:SCHW)told me: "Selena -- We're announcing ... reduced account minimums for all main brokerage and retirement accounts (reduced account minimums to $1,000 and waived minimums for clients who deposit $100 per month), and thought this might be of interest to you."
- And someone at Scottrade wanted to be sure I knew that for "the second year in a row, Scottrade, the leading online and branch-supported brokerage, was named the top online brokerage for customer loyalty. After more than 27 years in business, and with its 300th branch opening just a few weeks away, Scottrade continues to stay competitive and keep its customers."
These announcements are a good reminder to review the brokerage landscape now and then, because things do change over time. The brokerage you use today might not still be the one that can best serve your needs. Odds are, you can find a better brokerage -- perhaps one that charges you less than you're paying or that offers more of the services or protections you want. A few minutes in our Broker Center may help you. So might this article on finding the right brokerage. And keep in mind that some very reputable brokerages now charge commissions of $5 or less per trade. (Our comparison table will tell you more.)
What the news means
Obviously, lower minimums can be important to investors with limited means. You might think it's not worth investing only $100 or $200 per month, but it is. That's still $1,200 to $2,400 per year, and if that $2,400 grows at the market's historic average of 10% annually, it will become $26,000 in 25 years. Not too shabby from just one year of modest investments.
Brand loyalty is worth considering, too. After all, the brokerage with the most loyal customers must be doing a bunch of things right, especially when you consider that switching things like banks or brokerages takes phone calls, paperwork, and other types of significant effort. It's not as easy as switching to a different pair of jeans.
More brokerage news
Meanwhile, preparing this story made me wonder what was up at other brokerages. Here are a few more tidbits.
- In March, Barron's named TD Ameritrade
(NASDAQ:AMTD)the No. 1 Web-based brokerage. The company, which now encompasses the former Ameritrade and TD Waterhouse brokerages, has also unveiled a newly designed website.
- Investors in brokerage optionsXpress
(NASDAQ:OXPS)will be happy to learn that it recently raised its dividend by 25%.
Fidelity Investments announced three new "enhanced index funds," focused on large-cap companies. For each of the funds, at least 80% of assets will be held in a large index, such as the S&P 500 or the Russell 1000. Fund managers will carefully select the remaining 20%. It will be interesting to see how well these funds outperform broad indexes, given that so much of their holdings will be in familiar index dwellers such as General Electric
(NYSE:GE), American Express (NYSE:AXP), and Verizon (NYSE:VZ).
So now, armed with your new knowledge, head to our Broker Center, do your due diligence, and see whether you run across a better brokerage than the one you have. At optionsXpress, first-quarter earnings came in 18% higher than year-ago levels, while TD Ameritrade's recent quarterly revenues were up 6%.
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Longtime Fool contributor Selena Maranjian owns shares of General Electric. For more about Selena, view her bio and her profile. Charles Schwab and optionsXpress are Stock Advisor recommendations. Try any one of our investing services free for 30 days. The Motley Fool is Fools writing for Fools.