Howdy, Stranger!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

In this Discussion

Here's a statement of the obvious: The opinions expressed here are those of the participants, not those of the Mutual Fund Observer. We cannot vouch for the accuracy or appropriateness of any of it, though we do encourage civility and good humor.

    Support MFO

  • Donate through PayPal

looking for input: amount of brokerage information to share

Hi, guys.

Several months ago a reader asked if we could include brokerage availability information with all of our single-fund articles (profiles, Elevator Talks, Launch Alerts). That seemed like a reasonable request, so I started hunting. The information used to be available on but no longer is.

I was in conversation with the folks at Morningstar and they offered to provide their master list of brokerage availability to use with our articles; the only condition was that the list of "for internal use only," which means that I can extract information about an individual fund's availability in the course of an article but I can't give folks access to the list itself.

Fair enough. Generous, actually.

Here's the place where I'd like your help. How much brokerage information should we list? The easy answer is "all of it," but "all of it" is a swamp. FAMEX, for example, has 80 listed brokerage options including multiple listings for many platforms (Schwab One Source, Schwab NTF, Schwab Institutional ...). Here's what it looks like, straight from the master list:

Ausdal Financial Partners Inc;Cetera Advisors LLC;Cetera Advisor Networks LLC;E TRADE Financial;Mid Atlantic Capital Corp;Pershing FundCenter;EP Fee Small;Shareholders Services Group;JPMorgan;Merrill Lynch;T. Rowe Price;TD Ameritrade Trust Company;LPL SAM Eligible;Fidelity Retail FundsNetwork;Fidelity Retail FundsNetwork-NTF;Fidelity Institutional FundsNetwork;Fidelity Institutional FundsNetwork-NTF;DATALynx;Dreyfus NTF;Federated TrustConnect NTF;Mony Securities Corp;SunAmerica Securities Premier / Pinnacle;Vanguard NTF;ETrade No Load Fee;SunGard Transaction Network;Royal Alliance;Bear Stearns No-Load Transaction Fee;CommonWealth Universe;Robert W. Baird & Co.;JPMorgan INVEST;WFA MF Advisory Updated 2/01/2019;RBC Wealth Management-Network Eligible;DailyAccess Corporation RTC;DailyAccess Corporation FRIAG;Sterne, Agee & Leach, Inc.,;EP Fee Large;ING Financial Ptnrs PAM and PRIME Approv;Ameritas NTFN;Ameritas NTF P;Firstrade;Scottrade NTF;Standard Retirement Services, Inc.;TIAA-CREF Brokerage Services;Pershing FundVest NTF;Matrix Financial Solutions;Trade PMR Transaction Fee;ING Financial Advisers - SAS Funds;Mid Atlantic Capital Group;HD Vest - Vest Advisor;Securities America Advisors;Bear Stearns;Securities America Advisors Top Rated;Protected Investors of America NTF;JP MORGAN NO-LOAD NTF;JP MORGAN NTF;JP MORGAN NO-LOAD TRANSACTION FEE;TD Ameritrade Retail NTF;TD Ameritrade Institutional NTF;TIAA-CREF NTF;MSWM Brokerage;WFA Fdntl Choice/PIM Updated 2/01/2019;DailyAccess Corporation Mid-Atlantic;RBC Wealth Management-Wrap Eligible;E-Plan Services, Inc.;Investacorp NTF;ING Financial Partners Inc.;Securities America Inc.;Nationwide Retirement Flexible Advantage;JP Morgan No Load;Merrill Edge;DailyAccess Corporation Matrix;DailyAccess Corporation MATC;LPL SWM;Schwab All (Retail, Instl, Retirement);Schwab OneSource & NTF (No Load & No Transaction Fee);Pershing Retirement Plan Network;HD Vest;Commonwealth (NTF);Commonwealth (NTF - PPS/Advisory);Commonwealth (PPS/Advisory);

Uh ... ick.

This project is being handled by David Welsch, who is learning to do all of the technical stuff as part of our business continuity planning. Good guy. Bright. Good spirited. But not a fund industry obsessive, so I'll need to provide very specific directions to keep it manageable and consistently high quality.

The easiest option is to include every platform, but just once. That cuts JPMorgan from six to one, and reduces the list from 80 to 43:

Ameritas NTF P; Ausdal Financial Partners Inc; Bear Stearns; Cetera Advisors LLC; Commonwealth (NTF); DailyAccess Corporation RTC; DATALynx; Dreyfus NTF; EP Fee Large; E-Plan Services, Inc.; ETrade No Load Fee; Federated TrustConnect NTF; Fidelity Retail FundsNetwork; Firstrade; HD Vest; ING Financial Advisers ; Investacorp NTF; JP MORGAN NO-LOAD NTF; LPL SWM; Matrix Financial Solutions; Merrill Lynch; Mid Atlantic Capital Group; Mony Securities Corp; MSWM Brokerage; Nationwide Retirement Flexible Advantage; Pershing FundVest NTF; Protected Investors of America NTF; RBC Wealth Management; Robert W. Baird & Co.; Royal Alliance; Scottrade NTF; Securities America Advisors; Shareholders Services Group; Standard Retirement Services, Inc.; Sterne, Agee & Leach, Inc.; SunAmerica Securities SunGard Transaction Network; T. Rowe Price; TD Ameritrade Retail NTF; TIAA-CREF NTF; Trade PMR ; Vanguard NTF; WFA Fdntl;

So the Ausdal's of the world continue to clutter the list and lots of those brokerages have details (SWS versus SAM in the case of one firm, Fdntl for another) that are significant but not worth our time to suss out.

The second option is to include only the top tier brokerages, once we fiqure out who those are (it's Schwab but is it LPL? Baird?). So:

The fund is available through 80 platforms or programs including ETrade, Fidelity, Firstrade, JP Morgan, Merrill Lynch, Pershing, Robert W. Baird & Co., T. Rowe Price, TD Ameritrade, TIAA-CREF and Vanguard.

Which works only if we agree on which names to have David look for. It also strips out the infinite variety of fee levels; JPMorgan had six entries because it is sometimes NTF, sometimes Institutional, sometimes Load ...

Curious, as ever, about your thoughts.



  • edited November 2019
    Hi David,
    Perhaps a survey here of users, to establish a top ten (or other cut off number) list of platforms/brokerages used and to add that other platforms may be available.
    Whatever variables may exist for a particular investment within a brokerage remains with the account holder to sort the investment.
    If I discovered a "most interesting" investment and it is not available at Fidelity, well, too bad; as I'm not going to open an account elsewhere to chase such an investment, but that's just me.
    One would suspect going forward, that if a list is too large; managing such a list would be very difficult when accounting for the ever changing environment at brokerages, and their offerings.
    ADD: An example of where one may or may not be able to purchase FDGRX. This fund was closed to new investors in April, 2006. Except: if one already held the fund, monies may be added, and the fund is still open to "new" money inside of 401k, 403b, etc. platforms where offered. Sorting an available platform list for such a fund would be beyond the scope of reasonable information.

  • edited November 2019
    First I would survey to see if this platform list needs to be added.
  • Agree with @Derf. Sounds like a nice thing to have if it weren't to complicated, but it sounds like it is complicated.

    It is an easy thing for an individual to check their brokerage account for availability of a fund or specific share class. In fact you have to anyway in order to answer the next question, "is it transfer free" or am I going to have to pay a fee or load to buy the fund (which I refuse to do either for any fund). I guess what I'm getting at is, I see limited value if you still have to dig for more information at your brokerage anyway.
  • To put the FAMEX list in perspective, here's what it looks like on the M* legacy page:

    Not nearly as ugly as it appears in the machine readable format in the OP.

    So long as the legacy pages continue to exist, duplicating the info here doesn't seem to be more than a "nice to have". Thus, no rush.

    As to what's useful, it gets a little tricky. I'm sure people could fairly easily identify the "useful" providers, but boiling multiple listings for a provider down to one may not be that simple.
  • If it's that complicated then why don't people just go to their own brokerage's website and look it up?
  • Why do it? At base, we actually try to follow up on every serious suggestion that folks make. Charles does it on the Premium/screener side of things and I try to do it on the monthly issue side. Sometimes the result is discovering a gem of an idea, sometimes it's discovering that our budget and my workload don't permit. It rarely comes down to "dumb idea."

  • sfnative said:

    If it's that complicated then why don't people just go to their own brokerage's website and look it up?

    People can do that to answer the question "does my brokerage sell this fund?" And that's all some people care about. But that's only one of the questions one might ask.

    If my brokerage doesn't offer the fund, are there other brokerages that do? I might feel it's worth it to open an account elsewhere for the fund. Or my brokerage might charge a transaction fee for the fund, while I could get it NTF elsewhere (something that the M* data shows explicitly). Or worse, my brokerage might charge me a load while other brokerages offer the fund load-waived and NTF.

    Sure I could check out all the usual suspects, but that seems like such a waste of effort when there's a ready-made list available. And some of the brokerages don't make it easy (or even possible) for non-customers to find out if they sell a fund - at least without calling them up on the phone.

    Other information that M* provides on its fund "purchase" pages is a list of all the share classes and their ERs. I often try to buy institutional class shares to reduce my total cost of ownership (even if I have to pay a TF). To do that effectively, I rely on the M* pages to identify candidate share classes. I then use the M* pages for those other share classes to locate places where I might have access to the shares.
Sign In or Register to comment.