5 largest broker dealers by assets under management. Top ranking biggest broker dealers in the United States by total AUM in 2019.

The 5 Largest Broker-Dealers Overview

The five largest broker-dealers have millions of customers with trillions of dollars in assets. Together, they have the lion's share of the investment market. Let's take a closer look at these firms and see how they compare to each other.

Fidelity Investments

There are more than 23 million brokerage accounts at Fidelity, resulting in almost half a million commissionable trades every market day. The company has $5.4 trillion in totalĀ  customer assets. This is easily the largest broker-dealer in the United States. Nearly $2 trillion of the company's $5.4 trillion in assets are deposited in Fidelity funds. Obviously, the broker's customers trust the company not just in performing broker services, but in managing their money as well.

Why do investors deposit so much money with Fidelity? Simply put, because the firm delivers a lot. The broker offers a cash management account that comes with free checks and a Visa debit card. Fidelity reimburses all ATM fees incurred while using its card, and the account has no minimums and no fees. Life insurance and long-term care policies are also available through Fidelity, as are college savings plans, annuities, and professionally-managed portfolios. The company offers IRA's and 401(k) plans as well.

The Fidelity website has a wealth of educational and research tools. A large library of learning materials contains videos, articles, infographics, webinars, and courses. These can be sorted by experience level, and they cover a very wide range of financial information. Topics include commodities, volatility, agency bonds, ETF valuation, and much more.

Fidelity manages 329 of its own mutual funds and 21 ETF's. In total, there are more than 11,400 mutual funds available for purchase on the broker's website, and of course all U.S. exchange-traded funds are available. Fidelity offers its customers 84 ETF's commission-free, including all Fidelity funds.

Fidelity traders have access to useful technology. In addition to a well-designed mobile app, it has a platform for Apple Watch. The website is unsophisticated for trading, although an advanced desktop system can be used by frequent traders.

Learn more in Fidelity Investments review.


Charles Schwab

Next up is Schwab. The broker has $2.7 trillion in client assets. This includes 1.6 million corporate retirement plan members and 1.1 million bank accounts with Schwab Bank. The $2.7 trillion in assets includes $213 billion in managed accounts. Schwab has 1,200 financial advisors and serves 7,000 registered investment advisors. The company has written over 100,000 financial plans for its clients.

Like Fidelity, Schwab manages its own line of mutual and exchange-traded funds. There are 71 Schwab mutual funds and 21 Schwab ETF's. Of course, these products are free to trade on the broker's website. The firm offers a total of 5,331 mutual funds that are available for purchase. Of these, 3,247 are no-load, no-transaction-fee products.

Schwab clients can take advantage of the company's 325 branch locations across the United States for in-person service. The company also operates its own FDIC-insured bank that offers checking accounts with free checks and a Visa debit card. ATM fees are reimbursed worldwide.

The Schwab website recently had a new menu added at the top of the screener for a better browsing experience. There is an extensive educational section that has articles, videos, and webinars on a range of topics. These include cash flow, technical analysis, debt-to-equity ratio, and tax strategies.

Investors at Schwab have access to a range of trading tools that make buying and selling securities easier. The broker has an app for Apple Watch. Its mobile app for phones and tablets has a variety of features, including live streaming of CNBC. Its most sophisticated software is StreetSmart Edge, a desktop platform that only requires a $1,000 account balance.

Learn more in Charles Schwab review.


TD Ameritrade

Third largest is TD Ameritrade with over $1 trillion in client assets. This translates into over 10 million accounts, with clients placing around 600,000 trades each market day.





Like Fidelity and Schwab, TD Ameritrade offers a user-friendly website with a lot of research and educational tools. Free stock reports are available from Credit Suisse, S&P Capital IQ, TheStreet.com, and more. Educational articles, videos, and courses cover a large area of the investment landscape. These topics include forex trading, hedging strategies, managing a 401(k) plan, and many more.

As to be expected for a large firm, TD Ameritrade has more than 450 brick-and-mortar locations across the United States. These locations can provide general customer service or investment advice from a licensed professional. A company associate can be reached over the phone 24/7, although strangely the broker's website doesn't have on-line chat.

TD Ameritrade shines brightest in its technical offerings. It has two trading platforms, one that is web-based and the other is a desktop software. The latter, called thinkorswim, has very advanced charting capability with 400 technical studies. Both platforms offer live streaming of CNBC, watchlists, markets news, and more. There are a total of three TD Ameritrade mobile apps. One of them is a thinkorswim version that somehow incorporates the powerful graphing capability of the desktop system. An app for Apple Watch is also available. Amazingly, the firm charges nothing to use any of its advanced trading systems.

The broker offers customers over 2,000 mutual funds and ALL(!) ETFs commission-free.

TD Ameritrade also offers the best promotional offer for clients opening new account: $0 commission stocks/ETFs + get up to $600 cash. It allows investors to build a portfolio without paying any brokerage commissions.

Learn more in TD Ameritrade review.


Edward Jones

Next in the list is Edward Jones. This full-service broker specializes in managing accounts for a fee. It currently has more than $800 billion in client assets with over 7 million customers. The fee the broker charges is a percentage of assets under management. It is based on multiple factors, such as size of account, and what type of securities the portfolio is invested in, such as stocks, bonds, ETF's, or some mix of them. The charge varies between 0.85% and 2.5%, and it can be negotiated in some cases. In addition to the management fee, clients must also pay commissions on trades.

Edward Jones can boast that it has the largest network of brick-and-mortar locations of any broker in the United States. The firm is located in all 50 states and the District of Columbia with almost 12,000 offices and over 14,000 financial advisors. This far outstrips Scottrade, who has around 500 locations. Edward Jones has also ventured into Canada, and currently operates roughly 600 locations there.

Learn more in Edward Jones review.


Raymond James

Rounding out the survey is Raymond James. Like Edward Jones, this firm concentrates on supervising client accounts for a percentage of assets under management. The total amount of these assets is currently over $600 billion. The management fee is based on portfolio balance, and ranges from 1.0% to 2.25%. Like Edward Jones, Raymond James also charges commissions on trades of securities. An account with the firm carries a $50 annual fee for accounts below $100,000. IRA's are available, although closing one costs $100.

A Raymond James location can be found in small towns and big cities alike. The company operates over 2,800 brick-and-mortar offices, which host roughly 7,100 financial professionals. Customer service over the phone is available during the weekday.

Investors who open an account with Raymond James have access to the firm's security research, which spans nine economic sectors and includes commentary on over 1,300 stocks. The company also gives its clients free information on mutual funds and debt instruments.

Raymond James has its own bank, which is FDIC insured. This gives the firm's clients several options for cash management. Free cash balances can be swept into multiple FDIC-insured banks, creating up to ten times the normal $250,000 FDIC insurance. Another option is the Capital Access account. This is a separate account linked to a brokerage account. It comes with check writing and a debit card. However, Raymond James charges an uncomfortable $150 fee for accounts below $500,000. Investors who want free ATM reimbursements must have a quarter million dollars in assets, and even then the offer is limited to $100 per year in rebates.

Learn more in Raymond James review.


Comparison

Active traders would probably do better at Fidelity, given that it has the lowest stock and ETF commission at $0. TD Ameritrade is at $0, and Raymond James and Edward Jones both charge $9.95. While Fidelity's trading platform does require 36 trades per year, most active traders will be able to meet that requirement.

Investors who live in small towns won't be able to take advantage of the branch locations of the three largest broker-dealers, because their offices are all located in big cities. Edward Jones or Raymond James would be a better choice for them; although if they want to manage their own finances, then the latter two firms may not be the best choice. A very small town is more likely to have an Edward Jones location since it has the largest number of locations.

Both Raymond James and Edward Jones charge $30 for mutual fund transactions. Schwab and TD Ameritrade are higher than this for funds that carry a transaction fee, and Fidelity can be higher in some cases as well. However, the three biggest firms have lists of NTF funds, with Schwab offering the most. Neither Raymond James nor Edward Jones offers its clients exchange-traded funds that are free to trade. Fidelity has 84, TD Ameritrade offers over 100, while Schwab clients have access to more than 200.

Fidelity is the lone broker in the list to offer live streaming of financial news on its mobile app in high definition for free (courtesy of Bloomberg). It is also the only firm to offer an app for Apple TV.


Largest Broker Dealers in U.S. Recap

The five biggest broker-dealers manage an enormous amount of money for large numbers of people. Despite their many strengths, some investors might actually find better values at smaller firms, such as Ally Invest.



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Largest Broker Dealers reviewed by TopRatedFirms.com. Rating: 5