Advertiser Disclosure

Investing

Best IRA Account Providers 2019

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.

Individual retirement accounts (IRAs) are investment vehicles designed to help you save for retirement. If you have a company-sponsored retirement plan, like a 401(k), IRAs are an important supplement to further boost retirement savings. If you’re self-employed, IRAs are your main tool for saving up the nest egg you need to retire.

There are a variety of different IRAs available, and which one you choose depends on your unique employment and financial situation. The two main types are Traditional IRAs and Roth IRAs, which differ in the tax treatment of the funds you place in each account. With a Traditional IRA, you pay income taxes on the funds when you make withdrawals, while with a Roth IRA, you pay taxes on your contributions upfront, allowing the money to grow tax-free.

If you’re self-employed or run a small business, you’ll want to look at opening a simplified employee pension (SEP) IRA. SEP IRAs are available to anyone working as a business sole proprietor, earning freelance income or running a business with one or more employees.

Read on as we round up the best IRA account providers for both active and passive investors. For people who want to take an active role in choosing the investments held in their IRAs, we offer a selection of brokerage firms with premium trading resources. For those who would rather fund their IRA and let somebody else handle the investing process, check out our list of best robo-advisor services.

How we chose the best IRA account providers

We regularly review the latest IRA account offerings — we’ve evaluated 39 different offerings in this round — and have selected our top choices. All of the providers on this list may well be worth considering, with those at the top scoring the best in our methodology.

To determine our list of the best brokerage IRA account providers we focused on trading fees, account minimum, the diversity of investment products offered (stocks, bonds, ETFs and mutual funds) and low account fees (yearly fees, transfer fees and inactivity fees)

To determine our list of the best automated IRA account providers, we focused on management fees and account minimums and considered ease of use and customer support. See our methodology article for more details on how we created our rankings.

Best IRA providers for hands-off investors

Many people lack the time and specialized knowledge required to make the best possible investing decisions. This makes choosing a robo-advisor to manage your IRA a good bet. Robo-advisors are automated investing services operated by established brokerages and stand-alone companies. Robo-advisors generally charge annual management fees, usually 0.25-0.50% of your account balance, in addition to other fees to own ETFs and mutual funds. In return, computer algorithms written by financial professionals maximize your earnings to build a nest egg that will carry you through retirement. These are our picks for the best robo-advisors to manage your IRA.

 Annual Management FeeAverage Expense Ratio (moderate risk portfolio)Account Minimum to Start

Wealthfront

0.25%0.09%$500

Charles Schwab Intelligent Portfolios

0.00%0.14%$5,000

Betterment

0.25% (up to $100,000); 0.40% ($100,000.01 or more)0.11%$0

SoFi Automated Investing

0.00%0.08%$1

Wealthfront — Low fees, great tools

Wealthfront Advisers LLCWealthfront’s low annual costs and free financial planning tools are well-suited to IRA investors. Their annual cost is one of the lowest on this list, with a 0.25% management fee and 0.09% average ETF expense ratio. The $500 minimum to open an account is a bit higher than others on this list, but still attainable for many folks looking to build a nest egg. There is little human interaction at Wealthfront, which saves you time and helps the company keep costs low. This can be a drawback for those who would have complicated tax situations or who prefer a bit of personal attention.

Wealthfront Highlights:

  • An annual management fee of 0.25%; average ETF expense ratio of 0.09%
  • Investments are diversified and automatically rebalanced across four to five asset classes using a portfolio of low-cost ETFs tailored to your risk profile
  • IRAs available: Traditional IRAs, Rollover IRAs, Roth IRAs and SEP IRAs. Wealthfront does not offer inherited or beneficiary IRAs

Charles Schwab Intelligent Portfolios — Automated investing from a leading brokerage

The Charles Schwab Corporation Charles Schwab Intelligent Portfolios can be a smart choice for automating your IRA investments, but do not let the 0% management fee mislead you: Instead of charging a fee, Charles Schwab requires that Intelligent Portfolios clients hold 6-30% of deposited funds in cash at a 0.70% APY, which will decrease overall returns in years where the market returns above 0.70%. In addition, Charles Schwab charges a higher expense ratio for owning their ETFs, which averages 0.14% for a moderate portfolio. The minimum deposit requirement of $5,000 to open an account may be a touch high for investors just starting out. Customer service is one of Schwab’s highlights. As a well-established broker, the company has over 350 branch locations where you can get in-person assistance with your IRA investing questions. Plus, 24/7 phone support is available.

Intelligent Portfolios Highlights:

  • No annual management fee, although customers must keep 6% to 30% of portfolios in cash; average expense ratio of 0.14%
  • Investments are diversified across up to 20 different asset classes and auto-rebalanced
  • Starting at Schwab can benefit investors who anticipate opening other account types down the road
  • IRAs available: Traditional IRAs, Rollover IRAs, Roth IRAs, SEP IRAs, inherited IRAs and Custodial IRA

Betterment — Low fees for balances under $100K

Betterment Holdings Inc.Betterment is one of the most prominent names in automated investing. They offer a full suite of robo-advisor features for IRA investors at low cost, with no minimum deposit. Annual management fees for accounts under $100,000 are 0.25% plus an average 0.11% expense ratio. The annual management fee jumps to 0.40% for accounts $100,000 and up. Betterment gives another advantage to accounts with over $100,000 deposited, allowing those clients to actively manage some assets. If active management is your goal, though, you can avoid Betterment’s 0.40% fee by opening a free brokerage account. If you are managing more than $100,000, you may want to consider a different robo-advisor.A feature that sets Betterment apart versus peers is its Tax-Coordinated Portfolio, which attempts to decrease the amount you pay in taxes. It does this by placing assets that will be taxed highly into IRAs, which have big tax breaks, while placing lower-taxed assets in taxable accounts.

Betterment Highlights:

  • No minimum deposit and low fees for balances under $100k
  • Betterment invests your deposits in ETFs diversified across 12 different asset classes with a strategy personalized to your risk profile
  • The tax-coordinated portfolio feature works to lower your tax bill by placing high-tax items in a tax-advantage IRA account
  • IRAs available: Traditional IRAs, Rollover IRAs, Roth IRAs, SEP IRAs, inherited IRAs and inherited Roth IRAs

SoFi Automated Investing — Low costs, great perks

SoFi Securities LLCSoFi Automated Investing is one of the most competitively-price automated IRA providers, featuring no annual management fee and an ultra-low 0.08% average expense ratio. Valuable perks come with opening a SoFi account, including free access to SoFi financial advisors who can help you create a retirement plan, plus free career counseling and discounts on loans. SoFi also offers an attractive 1.60% APY on deposits in their checking/savings product, though customers must open that account separately.Automated Investing’s main downside is that their portfolios are less customizable than peers’ offerings, with only five different risk levels to choose from, as opposed to at least 10 available from others.

SoFi Automated Investing Highlights:

  • No annual management fee, an average expense ratio of 0.08%, and a $1 minimum deposit
  • IRA and Roth IRA portfolios contain less municipal bonds and more corporate bonds to maximize returns for these tax-advantaged accounts
  • Investments are invested in low-cost ETFs diversified across 16 different asset classes and automatically rebalanced monthly
  • IRAs available: Traditional IRAs, Rollover IRAs, Roth IRAs and SEP IRA

Best IRA providers for active investors

If you are confident in your ability to make financial decisions and are willing to put in the time and effort needed to maintain an investment portfolio, a traditional brokerage IRA can be a good option. With the selected IRA providers below, you have complete control over how investments are allocated within the account. The best part: You pay no management fees.

 Fee per tradeCommission-free ETFsNo transaction fee mutual funds

Charles Schwab

$0.005143,457

Fidelity

$0.005033,636

TD Ameritrade

$0.005713,985

E-Trade

$6.952774,222

Charles Schwab — Free fixed-income consultation

The Charles Schwab CorporationBroker Charles Schwab’s multitude of low-fee investment options and customer service offerings make them a top pick for IRA investors. Schwab offers a number of ways to keep fees low with a low $0.00 per trade commission, $0 minimum to open an account and a large selection of commission-free ETFs and no-transaction fee mutual funds.Especially relevant for investors approaching retirement, Schwab offers free consultations with fixed-income specialists. Customer service is a highlight at Schwab with over 350 branch locations if you need in-person help and 24/7 phone support available. High fees for transfers out of your account or for foreign stock trading are gotchas to look out for.

Charles Schwab Highlights:

  • Free consultation with fixed-income specialist, an advantage for investors close to retiring
  • Low trading commissions at $0.00 per trade
  • There is no minimum deposit to open an IRA with Schwab, so it is easy to get started
  • IRA available: Traditional IRAs, Rollover IRAs, Roth IRAs, inherited IRAs and Custodial IRAs.

Fidelity — Strong mutual fund offerings

Fidelity Brokerage Services LLCFidelity is a top pick among investors saving for retirement, and for good reason. Their vast selection of no-fee mutual funds and ETFs help investors hold onto more of their retirement savings. Fidelity’s lineup of mutual funds with 0% expense ratios are especially noteworthy for fee-conscious investors. Low $0.00 per trade commissions will attract investors who likely actively manage trades in retirement accounts.Fidelity also offers several options for hands-off retirement investors, including its robo-advisor, Fidelity Go, a lineup of well-regarded target date mutual funds, and private client services. For folks looking for in-person help, Fidelity offers over 190 branch locations, and can help by phone 24/7 if you would rather stay home. Low fees and a wide offering of investments make Fidelity a compelling option for beginners.

Fidelity Highlights:

  • 500+ commission-free ETFs, 3,600+ no-transaction fee mutual funds and some proprietary Fidelity funds with 0% expense ratios
  • No fees on early IRA withdrawals or transfers in or out of accounts
  • Great educational resources and useful checklists for retirement
  • IRAs available: Traditional IRAs, Rollover IRAs, Roth IRAs, SEP IRAs, inherited IRAs and custodial IRACustodial IRAs.

TD Ameritrade — Broad selection of no-fee funds

TD AmeritradeTD Ameritrade has a strong IRA offering with almost 4,000 no-fee mutual funds and over 500 commission-free ETFs, paired with strong customer support offerings. Investors comfortable managing their own funds will appreciate TD’s selection of analyst reports, charting tools and watch lists. The high $0.00 per trade commission is TD Ameritrade’s main drawback. If you plan on doing heavy stock or options trading inside your IRA, a broker with lower fees may be a better choice. If you’re willing to pay a premium on trades for full-service customer support and a strong assortment of ETFs and mutual funds, TD Ameritrade is a solid choice.

TD Ameritrade Highlights:

  • Large selection of no-transaction-fee mutual funds
  • Special offers available for qualifying TD Bank customers including free trades and account rebates
  • No fees for early withdrawal, over-contributing, or recharacterizing IRA contributions
  • IRAs available: Traditional IRAs,Rollover IRAs, Roth IRAs and SEP IRAs.

E-Trade — Wide assortment of investments, be careful of fees

E-Trade Securities LLCE-Trade offers one of the broadest assortments of no-transaction-fee mutual funds in the industry with over 4,000 no-transaction-fee mutual funds available, making them an excellent home for your IRA. Their robust research tools make it easy to select your investment portfolio and no minimum deposit to open an account makes it easy to get started. Trading fees are higher than some peers at $6.95 per trade, though they do drop to $4.95 per trade when you place more than 30 trades per quarter.Be aware, however, that E-Trade charges $25 for any early distribution, even those that can be taken penalty-free from IRAs and Roth IRAs, such as first-time home purchases, medical expenses or education expenses. They also charge a $25 fee if you accidentally overfund an IRA or if you need to recharacterize an IRA contribution to a Roth IRA contribution or vice versa.

E-Trade Highlights:

  • Deposits of more than $25,000 in a new E*Trade retirement account qualify for cash bonuses and 500 free trades
  • Expansive selection of no-transaction-fee mutual funds, over 4,200 in total
  • Offers proprietary robo-advisor Core Portfolios for hands-off investors
  • IRAs available: Traditional IRAs, Rollover IRAs, Roth IRAs, SEP IRAs, inherited IRAs and Custodial IRAs.

Individual retirement account FAQs

What is a Traditional IRA?

A Traditional IRA is the most basic variety of IRA. With a Traditional IRA, your contributions are tax-deductible in the year you make them and funds in the account grow tax-deferred. You pay regular income tax on distributions made from the account in retirement.

For 2019, you are allowed to contribute $6,000 per year to a Traditional IRA ($7,000 if you’re 50 or older). These contributions are in addition to one made to a 401(k) employment savings plan, however there are limits to how much you may deduct from your taxes depending on how much you make.

Anyone can open a Traditional IRA if they earn taxable income in the year in which they make a contribution. However, the funds you contribute to a Traditional IRA aren’t allowed to grow indefinitely. Holders are subject to or required minimum distributions, which means you’ll need to start taking distributions from the IRA once you reach the age of 70 ½. In addition, you pay a 10% penalty if you withdraw funds before the age of 59 ½.

What is a Roth IRA?

A Roth IRA is the other main variety of IRA. Contributions to a Roth IRA are not tax-deductible in the year you make them, but your money grows tax-free in the account and you pay no taxes on the income when you withdraw the money in retirement.

The contribution maximums are the same as a Traditional IRA: for 2019, you may add $6,000 per year to a Roth IRA ($7,000 if you’re 50 or older). Like a Traditional IRA, these contributions are allowed on top of ones made to a 401(k) employment savings plan, however there are strict rules capping the annual totals you may put into a Roth IRA depending on how much you make.

One big advantage of a Roth IRA that’s different than a Traditional IRA is that you can withdraw money from a Roth IRA at any time without paying penalty. Note that there are rules dictating how much and when you may make early withdrawals from a Roth IRA. Also, Roth IRAs do not have required minimum distributions.

The rules prevent people earning above a certain amount from opening a Roth IRA. However, there is a tax strategy called a “backdoor IRA” that lets you open a Traditional IRA and then convert it to a Roth IRA.

What is a SEP IRA?

A simplified employee pension (SEP) IRA is designed to let the self-employed and small business owners save for retirement. With a SEP IRA, you get a tax deduction on contributions and funds kept in the account grow tax-deferred. SEP IRA withdrawals in retirement are taxed at regular income tax rates.

Maximum annual contribution limits for SEP IRAs are much higher than other IRAs, because the holders of this type of IRA do not have access to 401(k)s. The maximum contribution for 2019 is $56,000. Eligible SEP IRA owners cannot contribute more than 25% of their annual compensation.

For small business owners that have employees, owners must contribute to their employees SEP IRA accounts at the same rate that they contribute to their own SEP IRA account. Small business employees generally can’t contribute to a SEP IRA set up by their employer — although they can make Traditional IRA contributions in some cases.

What is an IRA rollover?

An IRA rollover is an IRA used to house funds that initially accrued in a different retirement account, such as a 401(k). If you change jobs or otherwise find yourself without access to an employer-sponsored retirement plan, a rollover IRA can help keep your assets invested and growing — while keeping you from paying the taxes and penalties you would face if you cashed out the old account.

The easiest way to perform an IRA rollover is to have your existing account custodian transfer the funds directly to the new account or write a check made out to the new trustee in your benefit. You also can do an “indirect rollover,” where you cash out the account and reinvest the funds manually, but there are some important caveats to keep in mind before taking this approach.

As required by the IRS, your retirement account manager must withhold 20% when writing you a distribution check, even if you intend to reinvest it later. Although you have a 60-day window in which you can redeposit the funds without incurring a penalty, you must redeposit the entire amount, which means you’ll need to make up the difference out of your own pocket.

How do I open an IRA account?

You can open an IRA at your bank, at a wealth management firm, at a brokerage or through online robo-advisors. The specific steps required to open an IRA will depend on your chosen account custodian. You’ll be asked verifiable identification information, such as your Social Security number, and you may also be required to meet a certain minimum initial deposit.

Once your account is open and funded, you can begin to research and invest in specific stocks, bonds and other securities and investments. The investments you choose will dictate how the account will generate income from capital gains over time, so it’s important to select and properly allocate your assets as soon as you open your account.

What are the advantages/disadvantages to managing my IRA myself?

Some folks want to handle their investments by themselves. In order to manage your own IRA, you should feel confident in your ability to invest and make decisions with meaningful sums of money? — it is your retirement savings after all. With a brokerage IRA, you will have full control over where and how your money is invested, and by doing it yourself you will not pay any management fees.

The downside is that you will have to spend time and energy researching investment decisions and rebalancing your portfolio. You also do not get the advantage of having a professional money manager in your corner. Luckily, a number of brokers will offer free consultations to get you going, and by investing in mutual funds and ETFs, you can leverage the expertise of some of the best money managers in the world.

What are the advantages/disadvantages to automating my IRA?

Many people would prefer to have a professional manage their investments, either because of lack of time or investing expertise. Choosing an IRA managed by a robo-advisor lets a computer algorithm written by investing professionals is a great strategy a hands-off investor.

This comes at a price. Most robo-advisors charge an annual management fee of around 0.25-0.50% of your account balance. Additionally, you lose some of the customization that comes with managing your own investments. Most robo-advisors will assign you one of their predetermined portfolios based on a questionnaire. As a result, you could end up with a portfolio that isn’t as optimal as a custom one or that contains companies that you would rather not own.

One last thing to consider is that many of these robo-advisors are relatively new. If you are young, chances are that the industry and robo-advisors’ offerings will likely change by the time you are retiring.

What investments should my IRA broker offer?

Ensure that the broker you choose has a strong selection of commission-free ETFs and mutual funds along with screening and portfolio-building tools to help you choose the right investments. Most brokers offer a “select list” of mutual funds, which often feature funds created and managed by the same broker. As with all investing decisions, be skeptical and make sure to compare funds from a number of different companies to try and get the best return while paying the lowest fees.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Joshua Rowe-Heupler
Joshua Rowe-Heupler |

Joshua Rowe-Heupler is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Joshua here

Jamie Cattanach
Jamie Cattanach |

Jamie Cattanach is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Jamie here

Advertiser Disclosure

Investing

Great Financial Planning Networks for Millennials

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.

The youngest millennials turn 24 in 2020, and most of this generation has already entered the workforce. Whether it’s to evaluate retirement plans or simply to start budgeting more effectively, many millennials are seeking out the help of a financial advisor.

Financial planning is a great way to improve the health of your personal finances. However, just grabbing the first financial planning professional you come across is not an effective option. You need to take thoughtful, deliberate steps to evaluate your options and choose the right advisor.

Check out our advice for pursuing your own search for a millennial money advisory that measures up to your own expectations. In addition, we’ve provided brief profiles of five financial planners tailored to the unique needs of millennials.

Millennial financial planning: How to find the right advisor

With a variety of financial planning services designed to appeal to their generation, millennial clients should explore their options before choosing an advisor. It’s important to find the person who will be a match for your unique personality and needs. The planner you choose to hire will depend on a variety of criteria, and before you sign on the dotted line, take these five steps to find the right fit.

Look for the CFP designation

When choosing an advisor, check if they’ve received a CFP designation. “This means the person has completed extensive education and experience requirements and are held to high ethical standards,” said Lindsay Martinez, certified financial planner with Xennial Planning in Oceanside, Calif.

CFP professionals have to pass a comprehensive certification that test their abilities to apply financial planning knowledge to real-life situations. The exam covers the financial planning process, tax planning, employee benefits and retirement planning, estate planning, investment management and insurance, to ensure the planner understands the complexities of the changing financial climate and know how to make recommendations in your best interest.

Get referrals, do background checks

Ask family, friends and professional colleagues if they use a financial planner and if they’re satisfied with their services. While your needs may vary depending on your life situation, it can help to hear about the experiences of others.

Whether your advisor candidates come from referrals or your own search, you should also do a background check on your advisors. The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) is not-for-profit industry group that oversees all entities in the United States that sell securities products. FINRA offers BrokerCheck, a website where you can research the background and experience of securities brokers and dealers.

Another place to find information is through the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). As it applies to the public, the mission of the SEC is to protect investors and maintain fair, orderly and efficient markets. The SEC helps you check an advisor’s background with search features on investor.gov.

If the financial planner claims to be a certified financial planner, take the extra step to verify their credentials by checking the CFP website. And you can also check for reviews of financial advisors at the Better Business Bureau.

Schedule a consultation

Don’t underestimate the importance of finding an advisor that fits your personality. An advisor may be smart and savvy, but if you don’t feel like they’re a partner who wants to take time to make sure you understand and feel good about your choices, the relationship could end badly.

Financial planning networks for millennials ditch the suit-and-tie meetings and offer a more relaxed way to interact and share ideas, via phone or web-based consultations.

“Since many planners provide complimentary getting-to-know-you-style consultations, take advantage of the offer to see whether they’re a good fit for you,” said Sarah L. Carlson, certified financial planner and founder of Fulcrum Financial Group in Spokane, Wash. “Do they talk to you or talk down to you? They need to speak in terms you understand.”

Carlson recommends looking for an advisor who has been in the business for at least five years. “Anyone who can pass the tests can come into the business,” she said. “Only advisors who are successful at helping people can stay in the business more than five years.”

Know the right questions to ask an advisor

Millennials should be asking the right questions, said Janice Cackowski, a certified financial planner with Providence Wealth Partners, in Rocky River, Ohio.

Cackowski suggests asking whether an advisor works with other people in your age bracket. Do they have account minimums or a minimum annual fee? How are they paid? Do they offer tax planning?

“In my opinion, [tax planning] is the most important part of planning for young people,” Cackowski said.

Kashif A. Ahmed, president of American Private Wealth in Bedford, Mass., adds two more questions: Is the planner a fiduciary? And can the planner be compensated by being paid for their time and advice instead of being required to purchase a product directly from them?

Advisors who are fiduciaries hold themselves to a standard where they put your financial interests above their own. “If they hesitate or say ‘no’ to either of these, run away,” Ahmed said.

Understand your advisor’s fee structure

Millennials are known to be impervious to sales pitches and are highly cognizant of hidden costs. They want to know exactly how much they’re paying and what they’re getting in return. For this reason, many find that they prefer a fee-only financial service. It’s important to understand the difference between fee-only and fee-based.

“‘Fee-only’ indicates the advisor does not sell products or work on commissions, so there are inherently fewer conflicts of interest,” said Martinez. “These folks have a fiduciary responsibility to act in their client’s best interest.”

Fee-based planners, however, collect money from clients as well as other sources, such as commissions from companies whose products they sell. Both fee-only and fee-based advisors can give a client investment and financial planning; however, the input you receive from a fee-based advisor might be different from a fee-only advisor due to how they get paid. In some cases, this can create a conflict of interest.

5 financial planning options for millennials

From networks to solo practitioners, financial planners designed specifically for millennials are making waves in the marketplace. These five financial planners and planning networks have business models geared to millennials. They offer digital platforms not tied to any one location, no minimum deposits and fee-only services.

XY Planning Network

XY Planning Network The  XY Planning Network includes more than 500 certified financial planners (CFPs) who specialize in financial planning for millennials. Advisors in the XY Planning Network are fee-only, which means they do not accept commissions, referral fees, or kickbacks. There are no minimums required to get started as a client.

These advisors offer comprehensive financial planning help, including debt management, estate, insurance and retirement planning, real estate analysis, and investment advice and management. Advisors are available to work with clients either in person or online.

Garrett Planning Network

Garrett Planning Network Garrett Planning Network is a network of nearly 300 financial planners who check many key boxes for millennials. Members charge for their services by the hour on a fee-only basis. It does not accept commissions, and clients pay only for the time spent working with their adviser.

Members of the Garrett Planning Network requires no income thresholds or investment account minimums to access its hourly services. Garrett Planning Network advisors help clients with cash flow issues, investment management questions, tax preparation, pensions and retirement plans, estate planning, insurance issues and savings opportunities. Members must either already have their CFP designation or agree to become certified within five years. Clients can set up an in-person meeting or work with a member by phone or online.

Millennial Wealth

Millennial Wealth Millennial Wealth is a small fee-only financial advising firm that specializes in planning and investing for millennials by millennials. Planners are not compensated with commissions or kickbacks. Located in Seattle, customers can also meet virtually via meeting software or other technology.

Millennial Wealth doesn’t have account minimums, and it has designed its fee structure to work primarily with young professionals just starting out and wanting to build a solid foundation to achieve financial goals.

Gen Y Planning

Gen Y Planning Gen Y Planning is run by certified financial planner Sophia Bera and specializes in clients in their 20s, 30s and 40s who have high incomes but haven’t had time to do proper financial planning. Gen Y Planning offers help and advice for the life stages millennials are likely facing, such as navigating new jobs, purchasing a first home, getting married and starting a family.

The team works with clients across the country online. Gen Y Planning offers fee-only services, with an up front planning fee followed by a monthly retainer. The CFP also offers a robo-advisor for investment advice as an add on service for 0.70% annual management fee. Gen Y Planning does not require account minimums.

Grow

Grow Grow is a millennial-owned service that focuses on serving other millennials. The company takes a holistic approach by offering solutions that improve its clients’ lives and finances with financial planning, investment management and personal growth coaching.

Grow is a fee-only advisor that receives no commissions. Clients do not have minimum account requirements, and Grow doesn’t charge a fee for managing assets under $10,000; instead the balance is left in cash or market ETFs until increases.

The bottom line on millennial financial planning

When you’re in your 20s or early 30s, long-term goals like retirement or purchasing a new home may feel far off. However, it’s never too soon to start working with a financial planner. When it comes to your money, take your time to find the right person to help you.

“I’ve found the millennials I work with to be hard-working and extremely conscientious about their finances,” Cackowski said. “They want to get set up to save appropriately and make better financial decisions than their parents’ generation.”

Finding a financial planner who can help meet all of your needs and work toward reaching your goals is an investment in yourself and your future. You want to hire someone who is not only knowledgeable; you want a coach and partner you can trust to grow along with you and your account balance.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Stephanie Vozza
Stephanie Vozza |

Stephanie Vozza is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Stephanie here

Advertiser Disclosure

Investing

Thinkorswim Review 2019

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.

Thinkorswim is a free trading platform available to TD Ameritrade customers. You must have a TD Ameritrade account to use thinkorswim, which is described as a “professional-level trading platform for serious traders.” It lives up to this promise, providing one of the most feature-rich trading platforms on the market, right up there with Interactive Brokers or TradeStation.

Users get a raft of premium features, including real-time data streaming, more than 400 technical studies and advanced charting tools. For this reason, thinkorswim can be complicated for those not used to navigating an advanced platform.

thinkorswim
Visit thinkorswimSecuredon thinkorswim’s secure site
The Bottom Line: A trading platform with everything a professional trader needs.

  • All TD Ameritrade customers can use thinkorswim for free.
  • Investors can use thinkorswim to trade a variety of assets, including options, futures and forex.
  • You can trade select securities 24 hours per day, five days per week (except holidays).

Who should consider thinkorswim?

If you’re a TD Ameritrade customer, consider using thinkorswim if you’re an active trader or you want to test out investing strategies risk-free. It’s available as a desktop platform or an app for iOS and Android devices.

If you don’t have an account with TD Ameritrade, it might be worth opening one to get access to this powerful trading platform, which includes its paperMoney stock market simulator. The simulator allows you to test trading strategies and monitor progress without putting real money at risk. Because no minimum deposit is required to open an account with TD Ameritrade and all account holders can access thinkorswim for no fee, you have little to lose by giving the platform a spin.

Although thinkorswim provides the data you want in an intuitive and easy-to-use platform, TD Ameritrade charges a high fee of $13.90 if you invest in commission-free exchange traded funds (ETFs) and don’t hold them for at least 30 days. If you’re a frequent ETF trader and want to make regular trades, you might pay more for the privilege through thinkorswim.

thinkorswim fees and features

Current promotions

Get up to $600 when you open and fund an account within 60 calendar days of account opening, depending on deposited amount.

Option trading fees
  • $0.00 / trade + $0.65 / contract
Stock trading fees
  • $0.00 per trade
Amount minimum to open account
  • $0
Tradable securities
  • Options
  • Stocks
  • ETFs
  • Mutual funds
  • Bonds
  • Futures / commodities
  • Forex
Account fees (annual, transfer, inactivity)
  • $0 annual fee
  • $75 full account transfer fee
  • $0 partial account transfer fee
  • $0 inactivity fee
Commission-free ETFs offered
Mutual funds (no transaction fee) offered
Account types
  • Individual taxable
  • Traditional IRA
  • Roth IRA
  • 529 Plan
  • Joint taxable
  • Rollover IRA
  • Coverdell Education Savings Account(ESA)
  • Custodial Uniform Gifts to Minors Act (UGMA)/Uniform Transfers to Minors Act (UTMA)
  • Custodial IRA
  • SEP IRA
  • Solo 401(k) (for small businesses)
  • SIMPLE IRA (Savings Incentive Match Plan for Employees)
  • Trust
  • Guardianship or Conservatorship
Ease of use
Mobile appiOS, Android
Customer supportPhone, 24/7 live support, Chat, Email, 364 branch locations
Research resources
  • Mutual fund reports

Trading commissions on thinkorswim

As with most online brokers, thinkorswim charges no trading commission for most services, including:

However, some fees are associated with thinkorswim. These include:

  • A $0.65 per contract fee for options trading
  • A $6.95 commission for trading stocks not listed on U.S. exchanges
  • A $25 fee for broker-assisted trades
  • A $5 fee for using the interactive voice-response phone system

Tradable asset classes on thinkorswim

Thinkorswim users can invest in a full array of investment products offered by TD Ameritrade. This includes:

  • U.S. and international stocks
  • Options
  • ETFs, including more than 2,300 commission-free funds
  • Futures
  • Forex

Trading tools on thinkorswim

All the data and charting tools an investor could hope for are available on thinkorswim. When analyzing markets, you’ll have access to more than 400,000 data points from the Federal Reserve. The accessible information covers six continents, which makes it easy to examine economic indicators from around the globe.

With so much data available, robust search features are essential, and thinkorswim delivers. Those who want to track data over time also can generate charts that include data points that span decades.

Traders also can make sure they never miss opportunities that all this data helps them to identify, because thinkorswim allows traders to set rules to trigger orders automatically. So, if you’re unavailable to enter a trade manually, you won’t miss out.

Trade 24 hours per day, 5 days per week

With thinkorswim‘s advanced charting tools and ample available data, investors might find trading opportunities outside of customary trading hours. Fortunately, thinkorswim makes that possible with 24/5 trading.

Thinkorswim’s 24/5 trading covers international markets as well as a list of securities in multiple sectors. Trades made outside of normal business hours become active immediately, which enables experienced investors to react to market moves immediately.

Investor education on thinkorswim

Because a TD Ameritrade account is required for access, thinkorswim users benefit from the robust educational resources that TD Ameritrade provides. This includes:

  • Real-time streaming of quotes
  • Financial news from third-party sources, such as CNBC, as well as market briefings that include commentary from in-house strategists
  • Courses on a wide range of subjects taught by investment coaches, which provide opportunities for new investors and seasoned traders to increase their knowledge
  • In-person educational seminars periodically throughout the year
  • More than 200 instructional videos and webcasts that appeal to investors at all levels

Strengths of thinkorswim

  • Professional level-trading tools, rich data sources: Thinkorswim provides access to advanced charting tools including visuals, Fibonacci tools, and a choice of 20 drawings. You also can use thinkorswim to analyze more than 400,000 economic data points and economic indicators across six continents, build algorithms through thinkScript. You even can access options statistics, such as the Sizzle Index, which allows you to compare current option volume with the five-day average.
  • Easy navigation and support: You can find the information you want quickly through a dedicated search engine. And if you run into trouble when you use the trading platform, a chat feature allows you to text with a trading specialist and even share your screen to get immediate assistance.
  • The paperMoney trading simulator: This stock market simulator is a great option for beginning traders and experienced investors who are more risk-averse and want to see real-world results before putting their hard-earned money to work.
  • 24/5 trading of a wide range of investments: You don’t have to limit your trading to standard market hours.

Drawbacks of thinkorswim

  • Expensive fees for active ETF traders: For traders who take advantage of commission-free ETFs, a $13.90 fee is charged if the fund is held for fewer than 30 days. This can make frequent ETF trading costly.
  • A steep learning curve: Mastering thinkorswim can be difficult for beginning investors who aren’t familiar with professional-level trading tools. A learning center is available, but it might take a lot of time to watch demos and read the training manual to learn how to navigate the platform.

Is thinkorswim safe?

Investing is never risk-free. When you buy stocks, ETFs or other investments, you assume the risk of losing money if the investments perform poorly.

However, the fact that thinkorswim is provided by TD Ameritrade should give you some peace of mind. TD Ameritrade has $1.3 trillion in assets under management and is a well-respected and well-established brokerage company.

TD Ameritrade is a member of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) and the Securities Investor Protection Corp. (SIPC), so cash that’s deposited into your account is federally insured against insolvency. And TD Ameritrade’s FINRA BrokerCheck listing attests to the fact that it’s in full compliance with regulatory requirements.

TD Ameritrade also aims to deliver the tightest security in the industry. It even promises to reimburse you for cash or shares lost from your account because of unauthorized activity that occurs through no fault of your own.

Final thoughts on thinkorswim

If you want a full-featured trading platform that provides round-the-clock trading, automatic orders and all the data you could want, thinkorswim is a great choice. The educational information and extensive data library alone make it well worth trying out this professional trading platform — particularly because it’s free to all TD Ameritrade customers.

Fees mentioned in the article are accurate as of the date of publishing.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Christy Rakoczy
Christy Rakoczy |

Christy Rakoczy is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Christy here