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Written by Brian Baker, CFA Written by Brian Baker, CFAArrow Legal investment reporter Brian Baker covers investing and retirement for. He is a CFA Charterholder and previously worked as an industry analyst at a buyside investment firm. Baker is passionate about helping people make sense of complicated financial topics so they can better plan for their financial future. Connect with Brian Baker, CFA on Twitter Twitter Brian Baker, CFA
What Do You Need To Open A Brokerage Account
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What Is A Brokerage Account? Do You Need One?
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A brokerage account is an account that allows you to buy and sell securities such as stocks, bonds, mutual funds and ETFs. By investing in these assets through a brokerage account, you can build significant wealth over time.
Opening a brokerage account makes sense for people who have additional savings after building an emergency fund, or anyone investing for retirement or their children’s education.
You have a few options when deciding where to open your brokerage account. For most people, opening an account with an online broker like Charles Schwab or Fidelity Investments may make the most sense. Online brokers typically have no account minimums and offer commission-free trading on stocks and ETFs. Check out our online broker reviews to determine which one best suits your needs.
You can also open an account with a full-service broker, which will give you a financial professional overseeing your account. While it can be helpful to discuss questions with a knowledgeable professional, full-service brokers typically work with larger clients and can charge hefty commissions for placing trades.
Pros And Cons Of Brokerage Accounts
Robo-advisors are another option for people who prefer a more hands-off approach and don’t want to make their own trading decisions. Improvement and Wealthfront are examples of top robo-advisors that can build diversified portfolios for you based on your risk tolerance and financial goals. These accounts usually have low account minimums and the fees are usually much less than that of a human financial advisor.
Once you’ve decided on a broker, it shouldn’t take long to open an account. For online brokers, you will only need to provide some basic personal information about yourself and any other people on the account, such as a spouse or partner. The whole process shouldn’t take more than a few minutes.
After opening an account, you must deposit money into it before placing any orders and starting to build your portfolio. You can either write a check and mail it to the broker to deposit into your account, or set up an electronic transfer, which will move the money directly from your bank account to the broker.
Once you’ve linked your bank account, you’ll also be able to send money from your brokerage account back to your bank if you ever need the money for something else. In addition, you can send money from your bank to your brokerage account to add more funds. Funds deposited through an electronic transfer should be available in your brokerage account within a few days.
How To Choose The Right Brokerage Firm For You
Brokerage accounts allow you to invest in securities like stocks and bonds beyond what you can do through retirement savings plans like 401(k)s or IRAs. Retirement accounts come with significant tax benefits that you won’t find with brokerage accounts. You will pay taxes on any capital gains, interest payments received and dividends you generate through your investments in a brokerage account.
For most people, it makes sense to maximize your retirement contributions before turning to a taxable investment account because of the tax implications. However, if you think you might need the money before retirement age, a brokerage account can allow you to invest while still being able to withdraw the money penalty-free if the need arises. In general, money invested in the stock market should not be relied upon for at least five years because the volatility of stock prices makes short-term returns uncertain. But over longer periods of time, stocks tend to rise.
If you’ve already built up an emergency fund and are maximizing your retirement contributions, a brokerage account can be a great way to invest any additional savings you have.
Brokerage accounts are fairly easy to open through online brokers and can be a great way to invest in securities like stocks, bonds, and ETFs beyond what you contribute to retirement accounts. But first consider maximizing contributions to tax-advantaged accounts before turning to brokerage accounts where realized gains will be taxed along the way.
How To Open Your First Brokerage Account
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Brian Baker covers investing and retirement for. He is a CFA Charterholder and previously worked as an industry analyst at a buyside investment firm. Baker is
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