OT: How many brokers do you use?

Considering the greater and greater values of BRK holders’ accounts, I was wondering if folks keep all their holdings with one broker or if you diversify with several?

I’ve kept several different brokers mostly by accident than design. At one point, Fidelity offered an easier set-up for Self-Employed 401Ks and with higher contribution limits than Schwab (this shouldn’t be, since it’s US law, but Schwab insisted only 20% when Fidelity said 25% limit on contributions of income), so that explained that. Wells Fargo offered 100 free trades when few were doing so. Same with eTrade… I know Jim and the more serious traders among us use Interactive Brokers (is that the name? mind is foggy…)

I’d start a poll, except polls only give you raw data and I’m more interested in hearing personal anecdotes and reasoning. Anyone concerned with broker failure?

Thanks in advance for whatever you wish to report.

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I have used TD Ameritrade forever

Bought by Schwab. I still expect good service


Considering the greater and greater values of BRK holders’ accounts, I was wondering if folks keep all their holdings with one broker or if you diversify with several?

Looong ago, my boss’s wife was a registered representative at a stock brokerage place, so I had an account there. Later, she left the business and I dealt with her replacement. At some point, that brokerage had problems, and it took many many months to get my stock certificates out of there.

Meanwhile, I had part of my salary put into a company savings plan, like a 401(k), but that was before there were 401(k)s. When I retired, the company did not want to run it anymore, and transferred my account to Fidelity as a regular IRA. This was about the time brokerages started operating on-line and charging somewhat lower commissions. Around that time, I got another job for the fun of it, and I discovered The Motley Fool. I was soon interested in the Foolish Four, Unemotional Value and Unemotional Growth that required frequent (monthly sometimes) trading, so I switched from Fidelity to Karl Aufhauser that, for a fixed annual fee, permitted 20 Free trades a month with no commission at all. Since Fidelity would not lower their commissions (they did a couple of years later, but I no longer cared). I moved my Fidelity account to Aufhauser. Soon after, Ameritrade bought Aufhauser, so I mainly traded with Ameritrade since then.

At some point, my post-retirement job started paying part of our salary into a SEP-IRA (I think that is what it was) at Charles Schwab. Well, Schwab had an annual fee if your investments were under $25,000 or $50,000 (I forget which), so I topped up to that. A year or so later, Schwab started charging me a fee, and when I complained, they said I had to have a minimum of $50,000 or $100,000 for a no-fee account, so I closed the account and moved it all Ameritrade.

As far as using multiple brokerages to diversify my risks, I do not do that, but I did take delivery of my BRK.A certificates (one share for each certificate) and keep them in the safe deposit box at my bank. So if the DTCC and Cede&Co screw up, I will still have those.

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Until 4th qtr last year, six. Now five. I diversified amongst brokers back in 2008-9. I don’t trade much. My logic at the time, with banks failing, was:

I wanted to get under the SIPC insurance limit with most of the accounts. (Currently up to $500k in securities and up to $250k in uninvested cash.)

It allows a broader range of investment advice and recommendations. (Alas, I haven’t found this to be hugely helpful.)

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I switch brokers once/year/account (roughly) to get account opening bonuses. They’re not huge percentage wise, but getting thousands of dollars/year for a few hours of effort, on shares that I’m not trading in any event, is worth the trouble. Currently have Ally, Schwab, E*TRADE, and M1 (mostly just to see how a “new tech” trading platform works - there’s no way I’d use their auto-rebalance feature).

It’s also useful to get some sense of the quality of customer support. Brokerages like Merrill that no longer provide any kind of live electronic support (chat / secure messaging) and insist you make phone calls are a PITA to deal with.

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I have two, roughly equal in terms of assets.
Specifically for the reason of institutional diversification.

If a broker runs into some kind of difficulties, you may well not lose anything.
Modern economies try to protect individual investors.
But your account might be frozen, prohibiting trades or withdrawals, for many months while the dust settles.
And of course, modern economies are not perfect in meeting their goals of protection…you might lose, period. Stuff happens.
Consequently I have about half my assets at each of two different brokers to minimize the chance of either of those outcomes.
One discount, one full service, in different jurisdictions.

For reasons unrelated to the safety of diversification, I’m in the process of moving to a three way split.
A new broker offered me something I couldn’t get at the existing ones.



I’ve learned over the years never to rely on any one account of anything. Right now I have too many accounts (due to sign up bonuses, jobs, and waiting for mergers to complete).

Growing up we had a S&L mess in Maryland and I can recall one relative waiting a year or more to get his CD money back. I had an issue with a bank that had an issue where they kept cycling my bill payment (not auto payment) until my account was zero. Happened to a lot of people but was fixed while I was sleeping.

I’ll probably keep 2 accounts plus my TSP account with the government.

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I am embarrassed to say pretty much all of them :slight_smile:
Wells Fargo, B of A (Merrill Lynch), Vanguard, Schwab, Fidelity, Robinhood and TD Ameritrade. No IBKR. I also used to use the one that allowed basket trades of upto 30 stocks with fractional shares (forgot its name - started by an ex Microsoft employee, backed by Pershing Square).
Some because we had 401Ks from previous jobs, some because of good service, some because of free trades, some because of fractional trading needed to create home-made ETFs.

I have 6 (E*Trade, Interactive Brokers, Fidelity, Wells Fargo, Merill Lynch, Morgan Stanley). IBKR is trading accounts and Morgan Stanley is company RSU, Fidelity is 401K. Separately once the magic $$ is reached, I open a new account. So, if there is a glitch or whatever, I can still sleep.

I opened an account with Scottrade years ago, then they became TDAmeritrade. It’s the only trading account I have … but I almost NEVER trade … only buy with dividends. Never had a problem with them.

Rich (haywool)

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I also used to use the one that allowed basket trades of upto 30 stocks with fractional shares (forgot its name - started by an ex Microsoft employee, backed by Pershing Square).

Motif investing

Originally with National Discount Brokers → Ameritrade → TdAmeritrade.
That was the broker that I used for our IRA and Roth accounts for years.
I have two accounts and my wife, one.

Then, upon my mother’s death a few years ago, just because it was simple, I kept the funds I inherited with Fidelity, which is what she had used.

Then, when we transferred my wife’s 401(k) to an IRA, we also used Fidelity.

So, we each have accounts with TdAmeritrade and Fidelity. Either seems to meet our needs.

Not particularly worried that either is in any danger of going away, but I figure it is good to have accounts with more than one broker, just in case there is a website problem or something that makes it impossible to reach one for any period more than a day or two. We’re over the maximum insured amount of $500k on one account, but I have no desire to break it up into multiple accounts.