Here’s an interesting article on how to cut down fees with your existing Broker until you can transfer your portfolio to Freetrade. They know they need to compete!
Investing and Market Insights from The Motley Fool
The Secret Your Brokerage Isn’t Telling You (and How to Exploit It)
Dear Fellow Fools,
We want to tell you a huge secret about stock brokerages: They pay almost nothing to execute your stock trades. Brokerage costs have gone down substantially over the past three decades, but trading commissions are still massive moneymakers for the brokers because they are highly profitable.
They are also negotiable. And below we’ll outline how you can get a deal on your trading costs.
We realized we were onto something when Motley Fool co-founder Tom Gardner traveled to Hong Kong to open our office there. Our Asia-based investing team explained that brokerage firms are desperate to keep their clients, so many of them will cut a deal on trading commissions. And not just in Asia — but around the globe.
We shared this tip with our Rising Stars members, and we heard that lots of these Fools successfully reduced their trading costs.
So now, we think everyone should give it a shot! Now’s a great time to see if you can get your per-trade commission down as low as possible.
The math is reasonably simple — and troubling.
Let’s say you buy two Motley Fool stocks every month for 12 months. That’s 24 trades a year. If your brokerage is Fidelity or Schwab, whose standard costs are $4.95 per trade, you’re paying $118.80 every year just to be able to invest through those brokerages. If you use TD Ameritrade, which charges $6.95 per trade, we’re talking $166.80 each year.
But that’s not the entire picture.
Try thinking about your costs this way: If you’re investing $500 in each of the two stocks you buy every month for a year, you’re investing $12,000 per year in your companies. Assuming you use Fidelity or Schwab, your trading costs ($118.80) are equal to about 1% of your investments. With TD Ameritrade, your trading costs are about 1.4% of your investments. So in that sense, your portfolio needs to gain at least 1% or 1.4% before you can consider yourself in the black.
But the total cost of these trades doesn’t end there …
If 1% or 1.4% seems inconsequential (and maybe you’re thinking that asking for a cheaper rate isn’t worth your time), consider the power of compounding. Let’s say that instead of spending $4.95 per trade on commission costs, you invest it those few dollars. So now, instead of investing $500 per stock, you’re investing $504.95 per stock. Assuming investment returns of 7% per year, in 10 years, you’d have a total of about $174,798.35, compared with the $173,084.81 you’d have if you’d invested just $500. (For you TD Ameritrade folks, you’d have $175,490.69 in 10 years if you’d invested the equivalent of your commissions.)
That’s a difference of more than $1,700. Even forgetting compounding, the difference would be about $120 per year to stick back in your pocket.
As you can see, those savings can add up. And it’s basically free money!
How to ask for a lower fee
Please know that not every broker will respond to a commission negotiation the same way … but we think it would be a shame not to ask. Some brokers have tiered commission structures offering lower rates for the more you trade. Of course, as long-term investors, we are not suggesting you become a day-trader. But with a simple phone call, you might as well see if you can invest as cheaply as possible.
How should you do this?
Let’s talk about how to maximize your potential for success. One challenge could be that if you’ve made only a few trades over the past few years, your brokerage probably won’t be that excited to lower your rate. But remember, dear Fool, that you have something the broker wants: the promise of future trades.
Call your broker. First off, either call or — even better — go see your broker in person. Ever notice how an email seems so much less personal? Yep, it’s the same for the broker who has the discretion to accept or reject your request.
Let 'em know what’s coming. Your message is very simple: “I have recently joined a stock purchase program at The Motley Fool that will have me making consistent purchases every month over the next [insert your term rate here] years. I don’t want to go through the hassle of setting up a separate account with another firm to bring these costs down. I am happy to make these trades with you, but at my current commission rate, this would mean that I will be paying a substantial sum in commissions. [If you have a dollar amount, go ahead and say it!] I am calling to see what options there are for me to lower the total amount that I will have to pay in commissions to follow this stock purchase program. As a Motley Fool member, I love to tell other investors when financial companies make me happy!”
Be nice! Also, be patient! Remember, you are asking for a lower price, so remember that the person on the other end of the phone is much more likely to be helpful if you’re a peach about it. Many, but not all, of the brokerages give their front-line representatives lots of leeway to make these kinds of decisions on the phone, but others require a manager’s approval. It’s possible they will ask to call you back after they’ve made inquiries. This is a good thing. If you are impatient and ask for an answer that moment, the answer you’ll get will almost certainly be “Sorry!”
Have a backup plan. It’s possible that the broker won’t lower your commissions, in which case you might consider setting up an account with another one. But before you do this, there’s one other thing you should check: promotions. Lots of times, brokerages list public promotions on their main page, but there are also promotions that their representatives have the authority to offer. Ask about them!
Remember, you are calling up a broker and saying one of the sweetest things that he or she hear will hear that day: Over the next year, you are going to be making regular trades through this brokerage. This is powerful! There are lots of creative ways for brokerages to give you a break on your per-trade price. You just have to make sure you do everything in your power to make 'em want to.
It really works!
Don’t just take our word for it. Here’s what happened after one Fool made a simple call to his broker:
“I haggled with a live person at the local Schwab office, which I think helped considerably. He lobbied for me with corporate. I ended up with free trades in all my accounts and my wife’s accounts for 10 years.” — David
Partnership Portfolio member modsqd reported: “Schwab gave me 100 free trades today … seems a little random how one gets a certain number but I was happy with 100 … that’s a little more change to invest.”
Another Partnership Portfolio member, DSmom, said: “Called Schwab and they gave me 110 free trades!”
When our members have wins like this, The Motley Fools wins, too — after all, our mission is to help the world invest better. So we would love to hear your stories about negotiating lowering commission costs. Visit our discussion boards and let us know which tactics worked (or didn’t) for you. Your feedback can help our entire community of Fools!
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