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E-Trade Review 2020

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

E-Trade is a giant in the investing industry, and has plenty of products to offer. Whether you’re new to the investing world or make trades often, E-Trade offers a comprehensive lineup of trading platforms and user-friendly apps, plus a wide selection of educational resources.

However, there are still fees for specific types of accounts and features. You also won’t get much of a bonus for moving your money to E-Trade — unless you have tens of thousands of dollars.

E-Trade
Visit E-TradeSecuredon E-Trade’s secure site
The Bottom Line: E-Trade is a good choice for both active traders and beginning investors.

  • Choose between three customizable, feature-rich trading platforms.
  • Offers strong customer support via chat, email, phone, or more than 30 local branches
  • There is a minimum balance to open non-retirement accounts.

Who should consider E-Trade

E-Trade has solid offerings for both beginning and advanced investors. If you’re a frequent trader who needs both mobile and online platforms, E-Trade is a good choice.

Beginning investors will like E-Trade’s streamlined trading platform, many zero commission trading options, and its broad selection of commission-free mutual funds, which make diversification cheaper and simpler. And, for those who want a little more help, E-Trade provides pre-built portfolios for mutual funds and ETFs (minimum $500 and $2,500, respectively).

For advanced investors, E-Trade offers customizable trading tools and ample charting options. A full range of investment choices including stocks, options and futures allows advanced traders to take diversification to the next level.

E-Trade fees and features

Current promotions

New accounts with a deposit of at least $5,000, may be eligible for a cash bonus, which can range from $100 to $2,500 depending on the amount deposited.

Stock trading fees
  • $0.00 per trade
Amount minimum to open account
  • $500
Tradable securities
  • Stocks
  • ETFs
  • Mutual funds
  • Bonds
  • Options
  • Futures/Commodities
Account fees (annual, transfer, inactivity)
  • $0 annual fee
  • $75 full account transfer fee
  • $25 partial account transfer fee
  • $0 yearly inactivity fee
Commission-free ETFs offered250
Mutual funds (no transaction fee) offered4400
Offers automated portfolio/robo-advisor
Account types
  • Individual taxable
  • Traditional IRA
  • Roth IRA
  • Joint taxable
  • Rollover IRA
  • Rollover Roth 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, 30 branch locations
Research resources
  • SEC filings
  • Mutual fund reports
  • Earnings press releases

E-Trade trading platforms and tools

E-Trade offers three trading platforms: E-Trade Web, Power E-Trade and E-Trade Pro. There are also two mobile apps: The E-Trade Mobile app and the Power E-Trade app.

The standard E-Trade Web platform is for investors who are just starting out and new to investing basics but still want to manage their own portfolio. You can make trades, handle money transfers, check real-time quotes and commentary and get independent research from top news organizations.

The standard platform also gives you access to investment screeners, analyzers, backtesters and optimizers. If you’re new to investing or just need a refresher, there’s a library of articles and videos to help you educate yourself on the investing journey. There’s also access to market trends and active trader analysis.

Power E-Trade gives advanced investors risk/reward analysis and technical pattern recognition, helping users explore possible scenarios before they buy. A practice account option lets you trade stocks, options and other securities without rising real money.

E-Trade Pro is a full-featured trading platform geared toward experienced investors. Unlike the other platforms, users are charged $99.95 a month for E-Trade Pro. While E-Trade Pro is geared more toward advanced traders, its feature set is very similar to Power E-Trade, so before paying for E-Trade Pro, users should try out Power E-Trade.

E-Trade investment options

E-Trade lets you invest in a wide variety of asset classes, including:

  • Stocks (including non-U.S. stocks and penny stocks)
  • Bonds
  • CDs
  • ETFs
  • Fixed income
  • Mutual funds
  • Commodities
  • Gold, silver, other precious metals
  • Bitcoin and cryptocurrency
  • Futures

E-Trade charges no commissions on buying or selling U.S. stocks, ETFs, U.S. Treasuries and new-issue bonds. There are fees trade the following asset classes, including:

  • Bonds and CDs: There is a $10 minimum/$250 maximum commission per bond trade (except U.S. Treasuries and new-issue bonds) and for brokered CDs.
  • Futures: $1.50 per contract on futures and options on futures (except Bitcoin futures).
  • Options: $0.50 per contract on equity and index options when you place more than 30 stock, ETF, or option trades per quarter. Otherwise, it’s $0.65 per contract. It’s also $1.50 per contract for future options.

Fees for things like paper statements ($2), account transfers ($25-$75) and insufficient funds ($25), also apply.

E-Trade Core Portfolios

E-Trade Core Portfolios is the company’s robo-advisor platform. When you start with Core Portfolios, you’ll answer a short form with nine questions to verify what type of investor you are, what sort of risk tolerance you have, and your timeline until retirement. Core Portfolios then recommends two investment portfolios, comprising ETFs selected by the firm’s experts.

E-Trade doesn’t disclose the specific funds that make up each portfolio, although it does outline the portfolio’s asset allocation, plus a look at the 15-year historical returns for average, best-case and worst-case scenarios. The two options you’re presented with include a recommended portfolio and an alternative portfolio. All portfolios maintain a 4% cash allocation.

Because it’s an E-Trade product, you have the option to talk to an advisor at any of the company’s 30 branches. Some other robo-advisors don’t offer personalized human interaction, so this is an additional perk for hands-off investors.

Keep in mind that you need $500 to get started, with a 0.30% annual advisory fee. Other robo-advisors, like Betterment, don’t have account minimums and charge slightly lower annual advisory fees.

Strengths of E-Trade

  • Robust mobile and online apps: E-Trade offers two mobile apps and three online trading platforms. These apps and programs offer customizable account management, real-time quotes and access to news on demand. E-Trade’s purchase of OptionsHouse in 2016 also means skilled traders can easily access technical studies, charting tools and simple trade tickets to make high-volume trading easy.
  • Branch network: If you prefer in-person customer service and support, you’ll like the fact that E-Trade has more than 30 branches nationwide.
  • No required minimum to start: For taxable brokerage accounts, there are no minimum funding requirements.
  • Deep research. Before you even get started with E-Trade, you’ll have access to finding out which accounts work for you. Once you’re set up, read through research, market news, screeners and how your investments align with trends.

Drawbacks of E-Trade

  • Robo-advisor costs are higher. While a $500 starting investment isn’t much to get started with Core Portfolios, robo-advisor competitor Betterment doesn’t have a minimum to get started. Along with that, E-Trade charges a 0.30% annual advisory fee. That’s higher than the 0.25% charged by some competitors.
  • High minimum deposit required for account opening bonus: E-Trade touts its bonus incentives for depositing and transferring funds to its platform. However, you need to transfer very large balances to E-Trade to get the highest bonuses, so be sure to read the fine print first. For instance, to get the $600 bonus, you’ll need to deposit or transfer at least $250,000.
  • Some funds not offered. You’ll find plenty of offerings through E-Trade, as well as many different types of accounts to choose from. But you won’t find forex offerings from this company.

Is E-Trade safe?

If you’re looking for a safe platform to invest money, you have no worries with E-Trade. E-Trade bank accounts are FDIC-insured and they are compliant with all registration and license requirements. E-Trade is also a SIPC member, which means your account is protected for up to $500,000 in cash and securities.

Of course, while your accounts are protected in the event that E-Trade faces financial troubles, this doesn’t mean you can’t lose money in investment accounts. Stocks, bonds and other securities can decline in value and there’s always a risk associated with investing. That’s why it’s so important to understand any investments before you buy them.

Final thoughts

E-Trade offers options for novice investors and more experienced traders, including three different trading platforms and two mobile apps. Despite the account minimums and some fees that are higher than competitors, E-Trade is still a solid choice for most investors. If you don’t have the minimum amount to get started on any of the accounts that require it, you may want to look elsewhere. Otherwise, you have plenty of great options with E-Trade.

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.

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Investing

Review of Altfest Personal Wealth Management

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

Altfest Personal Wealth Management is an investment management firm based in New York City. The firm typically only accepts clients with a minimum investment of $1 million. For these high net worth clients, Altfest Personal Wealth Management provides customized investment portfolios with comprehensive financial planning services. The firm has 16 employees who provide investment advisory services, and currently oversees $1.21 billion in assets under management (AUM).

All information included in this profile is accurate as of February 10th, 2020. For more information, please consult Altfest Personal Wealth Management’s website.

Assets under management: $1,210,000,000
Minimum investment: $1 million (waivable at the firm’s discretion for young professionals)
Fee structure: A percentage of AUM, ranging from 0.50% to 1.40%, depending on account size; hourly fees; fixed fees
Headquarters:445 Park Avenue
Sixth Floor
New York, NY 10022
www.altfest.com
212-406-0850

Overview of Altfest Personal Wealth Management

Dr. Lewis Altfest launched Altfest Personal Wealth Management in 1983. He is still the majority owner of the firm and acts as CEO. He runs the organization along with his wife, Dr. Karen Altfest, the firm’s executive vice president, and their son, Andrew Altfest, the firm’s president. Both Lewis and Karen hold Ph.Ds; Lewis is an associate professor of finance at Pace University.

Including the Altfests, the firm has 37 total employees, 16 of whom provide investment advisory services. Altfest Personal Wealth Management specializes in creating customized, actively managed investment portfolios for high net worth clients. The firm and the Altfest family have won numerous awards for their performance, and both Lewis and Karen are regular contributors to financial news programs and publications.

What types of clients does Altfest Personal Wealth Management serve?

Altfest Personal Wealth Management primarily works with individual investors. A client usually needs a portfolio of at least $1 million to open an account with the firm — however, Altfest does make exceptions to this account minimum for “young professionals” who they believe will become high net worth clients in the future. The firm’s individual client base is currently split 40/60 between individuals and high net worth individuals, with the SEC defining high net worth individuals as those with at least $750,000 under management or a net worth of at least $1.5 million.

While the firm works with a diverse range of clients, it specializes in advising women, executives and healthcare professionals. In addition to individual investors, Altfest Personal Wealth Management also works with pension plans, profit-sharing plans, trusts, estates, corporations and other business entities.

Services offered by Altfest Personal Wealth Management

Altfest Personal Wealth Management specializes in investment management and financial planning. However, the firm’s investment management services are available to individuals and small businesses only; these services are not offered to investment companies, pooled investment vehicles, large businesses and institutional clients.

Most of the firm’s investment accounts are run on a discretionary basis, meaning that Altfest Personal Wealth Management advisors can make trades on behalf of the client. The firm does have a few nondiscretionary accounts, where the client must approve all trades themselves.

If a client only wants a few investment recommendations, rather than the management of their entire portfolio, the firm can provide this service as well.

Altfest Personal Wealth Management also offers comprehensive financial planning, as many of its advisors hold the certified financial planner (CFP) designation, a professional certification for financial planners. The firm’s financial planning services include the creation of a detailed financial plan outlining the necessary steps to achieve their goals and objectives. The plan can address specific areas, such as college savings, estate planning and debt management.

More specifically, Altfest’s services include:

  • Investment advisory services and portfolio management (mainly discretionary but some non-discretionary)
  • Financial planning
    • Retirement planning
    • Trust and estate planning
    • Charitable planning
    • Education planning
    • Tax planning
    • Cash flow forecasting
    • Budgeting and strategic planning
    • Long-term care planning
    • Debt management
    • Divorce planning
  • Insurance and risk management
  • Workshops and seminars
  • Newsletters and publications

How Altfest Personal Wealth Management invests your money

Altfest Personal Wealth Management builds unique, customized portfolios for each client based on their time horizon, risk tolerance, income level and long-term goals.

As part of this analysis, the firm follows a system called Total Portfolio Management. Rather than only looking at a client’s investment history, the firm also gets to know their entire financial plan, including income, debts, spending requirements and future earnings potential. The firm uses this information to finetune a portfolio comprised of stocks, bonds, mutual funds, ETFs and private funds.

Altfest Personal Wealth Management follows an active investment approach: this means the firm is regularly trading in an attempt to earn above-average portfolio returns.

Fees Altfest Personal Wealth Management charges for its services

For portfolio management services, Altfest Personal Wealth Management charges a fee based on a percentage of assets under management, with the rate ranging from 0.50% to 1.00%, depending on the size of the client’s portfolio. Altfest does not charge trading commissions or performance-based fees.

Portfolio SizeAnnual Asset-Based Fee
First $3 million*1.00%
Between $3,000,001 and $6,000,0000.75%
Over $6,000,0000.50%
*If a portfolio falls below $2 million in value at the end of the quarter, the firm will assess an additional 0.10% fee on top of the asset-based fee listed above.

For “young professional” clients who don’t meet the firm’s portfolio minimums, Altfest charges the following fee schedule:

  • In the first year, the firm charges an annual fee of either 1.10% of assets under management or $2,500 whichever is greater.
  • After the first year, the firm charges 1.10% of the portfolio value or $1,500 per year whichever is greater.

This rate includes cash flow analysis, investment analysis, investment management and 401(k) recommendations. Clients who want additional financial planning services will be billed at a rate of $250 per hour.

If a client only wants standalone investment recommendations, Altfest Personal Wealth Management charges either an hourly fee ranging from $500 to $800 an hour, or a fixed fee of at least $3,500 for specific investment recommendation requests.

Finally, some of the investments included in Altfest’s portfolio recommendations may carry additional fees. Clients are responsible for covering these costs, though the money won’t go to Altfest Personal Wealth Management.

Altfest Personal Wealth Management’s highlights

  • Wide range of awards: Over the past few years, Altfest Personal Wealth Management has been recognized as a top investment advisor by publications including Barron’s, Forbes, Financial Times and Financial Advisor magazine.
  • Highly educated management team: The heads of the firm, Dr. Lewis Altfest and Dr. Karen Altfest, both hold Ph.Ds; Lewis is also an associate professor of finance at Pace University. In addition, many of the financial advisors at the firm hold the CFP designation.
  • Customized investment approach: Altfest Personal Wealth Management designs a customized portfolio for every client, tailored to their specific needs, and don’t lump people into one-size-fits-all funds as some firms may do.
  • Extensive financial planning in addition investing: Altfest Personal Wealth Management also specializes in financial planning. When the firm creates a portfolio recommendation, it goes over a client’s entire financial situation before designing the portfolio, not just their existing investments.
  • Specialty in advising women, executive and healthcare clients: The firm specializes in advising women, executives and professionals in healthcare. Additionally, Forbes named Dr. Karen Altfest one of the top women advisors in the country in 2017, 2018 and 2019.

Altfest Personal Wealth Management’s downsides

  • Above-average investment fees: Altfest Personal Wealth Management charges an annual 1.00% asset-based fee on the first $3 million in a client’s account (plus an additional 0.10% per quarter if their portfolio value falls below $2 million). In comparison, the median investment management fee charged by firms for accounts over $2 million is 0.75%, according to Kitces.
  • High minimum to open an account: It takes at least $1 million to open an account with Altfest Personal Wealth Management. While the firm does waive the minimum at its discretion for “young professionals,” the typical investor would need to be quite wealthy to make use of the firm’s services.
  • Only has one location in New York City: The only way to visit the Altfest Personal Wealth Management office in person is in New York City, the firm’s only location.

Altfest Personal Wealth Management disciplinary disclosures

Whenever an SEC-registered firm or its employees or affiliates face disciplinary action, including a criminal charge, a regulatory infraction or a civil lawsuit, the firm is required to report that incident in its Form ADV, paperwork filed with the SEC. Altfest Personal Wealth Management reports in its Form ADV that it has faced no such incidents over the past 10 years, indicating a clean disciplinary record.

Altfest Personal Wealth Management onboarding process

To start the onboarding process with Altfest Personal Wealth Management, you can request a free consultation with one of its advisors. You can contact the firm either by phone at 212-406-0850, by email at [email protected] or by filling out a form on the firm’s website. As part of the onboarding form, the firm asks you to share your story, which helps the firm start determining whether you are a good fit based on your income and profession.

If it seems like a good match, the firm’s advisors will then get to work designing your customized investment portfolio based on your goals, risk tolerance and overall financial situation. When you’re ready to launch, the firm’s advisors would then take care of opening your new accounts, transferring over your existing accounts, making the necessary investments and keeping up with the records for your portfolio.

The bottom line: Is Altfest Personal Wealth Management right for you?

If you’re a high net worth individual or a young professional who wants personalized investment recommendations combined with financial planning, Altfest Personal Wealth Management could be a good choice. This may be especially true if you are in one of the firm’s specialty client categories: women, executives and healthcare professionals. Since Altfest Personal Wealth Management only has one location in New York City, however, the firm might be a better choice if you live in the Northeast rather than other parts of the country.

On the other hand, Altfest Personal Wealth Management’s comprehensive services do not come cheap. The firm’s fees are higher than average, and you’d need at least $1 million to open an account (unless Altfest waives the minimum because you’re a young professional). If you want a simpler investment strategy or prefer to manage your portfolio more on your own, you could find less expensive advisors than Altfest Personal Wealth Management.

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.

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Your 401(k): Handling Interest Rate Ups and Downs

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.

Businesswoman examining documents at desk
iStock

With any change in the economy or your life situation, it is a good idea to review your investment portfolio, particularly your 401(k) plan, to make sure your investments are structured to meet your needs at retirement. This is especially true when interest rates are rising so you can take maximum advantage of those high rates. There’s also benefit to checking on your investments when rates are down; certain investments will actually be worth more and you can make a profit by selling or simply enjoy your higher-earning investments.

Interest rates rise and fall based on changes in the economy. The Federal Reserve (the Fed) may lower rates to support the economy when it’s going through a weaker patch and may choose to raise interest rates as the economy begins to gain strength.

Either way, there’s no need to panic. We’ll help you understand what happens to your 401(k) investments in either situation.

What to ask yourself when reviewing your 401(k)

A 401(k) is a savings vehicle that many companies make available to help their employees save for retirement. For tax year 2019, you have until April 15 to contribute up to $19,000 of your earnings into your 401(k) on a pretax basis, meaning anything you contribute is not taxed until you withdraw it, usually at retirement. For 2020, you can contribute up to $19,500.

Some companies match employee contributions up to a certain limit that varies by employer. These contributions are not taxable to you until you withdraw them. Companies offer employees a variety of 401(k) investment options. Some larger companies allow employees to choose from a dozen or more mutual funds, including various stock, bond and real estate funds.

While any time is a good time to review your 401(k) investments, a rise (or fall) in interest rates is a particularly good time to make certain your 401(k) investments meet your needs based on your age, years until retirement and risk tolerance, among other factors.

Virtually all 401(k) plans offer one or more fixed-income investment options. These typically include both government and corporate bonds of varying maturities. For example, a fund might offer a mutual fund that invests in short-term Treasury bills, one that invests in long-term Treasury bonds and one that invests in corporate bonds. Some companies might even offer a fund that invests in so-called junk bonds that pay a higher rate of interest in return for the risk of investing in low-quality bonds.

What to expect when rates rise

An increase in interest rates will eventually have an impact on the types of fixed-income funds in a 401(k). A fund that invests in short-term Treasury bills will react quickest to this change. When the bonds that the funds hold mature over the subsequent year, the fund manager will reinvest the proceeds in bonds that pay a higher rate of interest.

A corporate bond fund, on the other hand, includes bonds with varying maturities. It may take time for the fund to invest its assets in bonds that pay higher interest, as most fund managers spread their investments over maturities between one and 30 years so that at least some bonds are always maturing to potentially be reinvested at a higher rate.

A rise in interest rates also will affect the price of existing bonds in a portfolio. Say the corporate bond fund you own has an XYZ Company corporate bond that pays 4% interest. As market interest rates rise, the value of that bond will decline to a point where the current yield on that bond is closer to the market rate. Since most fund managers anticipate that interest rates will rise, they have structured their portfolios to minimize the impact that an increase will have on the fund’s value.

Let’s return to reviewing your 401(k) investments. When you started your job, you probably picked a mix of investments and haven’t made any changes. That’s fine if you started your job two years ago. But if you have been working for the same company for 10 years, a review is a good idea.

Let’s say that when you started working for the company at age 30, you were single and invested 90% of your 401(k) in stocks and just 10% in bonds. Now, fast-forward 10 years. You got married. And while retirement is still at least 25 years away, it is something you can begin to see on the horizon. It might be a good time to increase your fixed-income allocation to add greater stability to your 401(k) returns — especially if interest rates are rising.

What to expect when rates fall

It’s important to keep in mind that interest rates also can fall. The bad news is this typically happens when the economy isn’t doing so well. The good news is your higher-rate fixed-income investments will be worth more. You can choose to sell them and take the profit or hold them and enjoy earning a rate that’s higher than the one currently available.

Investing when interest rates are falling requires a different strategy. Young investors with many years until retirement who have the bulk of their 401(k) investments in stock should be able to ride out a period of low interest rates without significant impact.

Older investors who see retirement on the horizon or are already retired will find falling interest rates more problematic. Their investments may be concentrated in fixed-income vehicles, or they may be seeking solid long-term fixed-income investments to pay them the retirement income they need. Since nobody can predict how long rates will continue to fall, buying fixed-income investments with staggered maturities, sometimes called a bond ladder, is the best way to make sure you always have money available to take advantage of rising interest rates when they happen.

What’s ahead for 2020

The general expectation for 2020 is that market interest rates will continue to decline. The Federal Reserve has put the federal funds rate on an indefinite pause since its series of three rate cuts in the second half of 2019. In response, banks lowered their own rates and continue to do so overall.

If the Fed does make a change, it is largely expected to be another rate cut rather than a rate hike. This is thanks to outside risks to the economic outlook, namely weaker global growth, trade negotiations and the recent coronavirus outbreak. The Fed’s three rate cuts in 2019 were designed to support the U.S. economy in the face of these threats. If they continue to weigh on the economy, which is performing pretty well on its own, the Fed will be more likely to cut rates to continue that support.

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.