Types of investment companies
Our guide includes information on the following types of investment firms:
- Investment brokers offer a variety of investment options and are geared toward self-directed investments.
- Investment Management Companies are firms that manage individual portfolios and work with other investment companies.
- Fund Companies are organizations that sponsor a variety of investment funds. These funds include exchange traded funds (ETFs), or mutual funds.
- Roboadvisors are low-cost automated investment services aimed at smaller investors.
- Real Estate Crowdfunding Platforms offer investors the chance to invest in commercial property, and specifically individual properties deals.
There are also many other investment firms such as private equity firms and peer-to-peer lenders. Venture capital firms are another option. These are highly specialized companies that require separate discussions, and are not ideal for the average investors.
How to choose an investment company
Your investment style will determine which investment company is best for you. Do you want to be in charge of your own investments or do you prefer that the experts manage them through a managed investment portfolio?
The type of investor that you are will determine the best investment company to suit you.Andrew Latham is a Certified Financial Planner, Managing Editor of SuperMoney.com.
If you are a passive investor and dislike fees, then Vanguard or Fidelity offer low-cost index fund options. Robo-advisors such as Betterment or M1 Finance can help you save even more money if you only have modest savings.
Robo-advisors have revolutionized the investment industry. Professional portfolio management used to require a large portfolio, such as $500,000 or higher. Now you can get this advantage even with a small portfolio.
“Robo-advisors let new investors put their investments on automatic pilot and remove the emotional component from investing.”Donny Gamble is the Founder and CEO of Retirement Investments.com.
They have evolved since their inception, and you can now invest in alternatives assets such as artwork or cryptocurrencies. M1 Finance is a personal favorite because you can create your own portfolios to diversify your investment.
You don’t have to limit yourself solely to one investment company. You can, for example, invest in a roboadvisor and maintain an account at an investment brokerage to do self-directed investments.
10 Best Investment Companies
We have listed what we consider to be the top ten investment companies for investors. The companies are not listed in any particular order. We’ve listed what each one is “best at” to help you choose the best option for you.
Minimum initial investment: $0
Commissions and fees:$0 on stocks, ETFs, options, etc.; more than 4,000 mutual funds are commission-free.
Available Accounts: Joint and Individual accounts, Roth and SEP and SIMPLE IRAs, Solo-401(k)s, trusts, and Custodial Accounts.
Investments available:Stocks and bonds, ETFs mutual funds, options futures and CDs.
All investors should considerSchwab There are many reasons why it is the largest retail broker in the entire world. The company offers virtually all types of investments ( except cryptocurrencies They also offer the best customer service available in the industry. This includes 24/7 live assistance, as well more than 360 local branch offices nationwide.
Schwab also offers a wide range of retirement accounts. It is suitable for both novices and experienced day traders, as it provides many tools and resources.
- Excellent investment platform for all investors.
- A wide range of investment options are available.
- Self-directed investors have access to a full suite of tools and resources.
- Charles Schwab Intelligent portfolios offers managed investment options.
- The best customer service in the business.
- If you prefer to deal with a person, there are over 360 brick-and mortar branches.
Minimum initial investment: $0
Commissions and fees:$0 on stocks, ETFs, options and ETFs. More than 3,000 mutual funds are commission-free.
Accounts available:Joint, individual, traditional, Roth and rollover IRAs, Solo 401(k), SEP and SIMPLE IRAs, trusts, and custodial account
Investments available: Stocks, bonds and mutual funds.Best for: All investors are welcome
The two investing giants share many similarities. Both companies have similar product offerings and program. It may be more about your personal investment style than anything else that determines which one you prefer. Fidelity offers a great investment for all investors.
- Investors of all levels can benefit from a superior investment platform.
- Excellent customer service including a number of local branches.
- Investment options are virtually unlimited.
- The top investment platform in the industry.
- Fidelity Go is a low-cost managed portfolio option.
Minimum Initial Investment: $0, but $1,000 or higher on many mutual funds
Fees and commissions:$20 per account with an account balance of less than $10,000; no fees for trading stocks, ETFs or options, plus $1 per contract fee. Over 3,000 mutual funds are free.
Available Accounts: Joint and individual accounts, traditional, Roth and rollover IRAs, Solo 401(k), 529 and custodial account.
Investments available:Stocks and ETFs; options, bonds and mutual funds. Personal Advisory and Digital Advisor Plans
Best for fund investors
Vanguard is a brokerage company, but it’s best known for their investment funds. This includes ETFs. Vanguard funds are some of the most popular around the globe. Investment managers and robo-advisors love them.
Vanguard is a top investment company for those who want to invest for the long-term and build their portfolio over time.Sam Boughedda is a Lead Stock Market Writer and Equities Trader at AskTraders.com.
Vanguard has a wide range of funds and low fees that are lower than industry average. Vanguard funds can be used by both beginners and intermediate investors.
- The company offers some of the most affordable funds available in the industry.
- Two managed portfolio options are available: Personal Advisory (personal advisor) and Digital Advisor (digital advisor).
4. Personal Capital
Minimum initial investment: Free version: $0, but $100,000 for Wealth Management
Commissions and fees: Tiered management fee starting at 0.89%, sliding down to 0.49% for larger accounts
Available Accounts: Individual and joint brokerages accounts, traditional, Roth, SEP, rollover, and Rollover IRAs and trusts. Also provides advice on 401 (k) plans
Investments available:Typically ETFs or individual stocks
Best for : Professional Management of Large Portfolios
Personal capital is a free platform that allows you to aggregate your financial accounts including your investment, bank and loan accounts. You can also take advantage of a number of tools designed to help you manage finances. They also offer their Wealth Management Service to investors who have at least $100,000 invested.
The service also includes access to financial advisors who are dedicated to your retirement plan and help managing it. Personal Capital has a fee structure that is lower than you would pay for an investment advisory firm, while still offering the same services. For more information, check out my Personal Capital Review.
- Financial advisors are available to help you.
- Tax optimization strategies that are advanced
- Advice on investment for retirement plans sponsored by employers
- Fees are lower than those charged by traditional investment advisors.
5. Ally Invest
Minimum initial investment: $0
Commissions and fees Commission-free trading of stocks, ETFs and options, plus a $0.50 contract fee; $9.95 for mutual funds with no load, $0 for funds with load
Available accounts: Individual, Joint, Custodial, Traditional IRA, Roth IRA, Rollover IRA, Coverdell
Investments available: Stocks, OTC/Penny Stocks, ETFs, Mutual Funds, Bonds, certificates of deposit, FOREX.
Best for Diversified financial services
Ally Invest is part of the Ally group and offers investors a wide range of financial services. They offer self-directed investment, which includes margin trading. If you’d prefer to have your portfolio managed, you can also open Robo Portfolios with just a $100 minimum.
The company offers a variety of banking services including credit cards, mortgages, personal loans and checking accounts with high interest rates. Their specialty is auto loan (Ally was the successor to the former General Motors Acceptance Corporation, or GMAC). For more information, read my Ally Invest Review.
- Both self-directed and managed portfolios are available.
- Highly respected trading platform
- Other financial services are available, such as banking and the majority of loan types.
Minimum initial investment: $0
Commissions and fees:$0 for stocks, ETFs and options (plus $0.65 per contract fee); over 7,000 mutual funds with no transaction fee
Available Accounts:Individual, joint, and Roth IRAs; Traditional, Roth and Rollover IRAs
Investments available:Stocks and bonds, ETFs (exchange traded funds), mutual funds, options currencies, futures, and futures.
Best for: Self-directed investment
E*TRADE is a trading platform that has risen to prominence in the last few years. It’s not as big as Schwab or Fidelity but is still very popular with investors. It is a good platform for active traders but it also offers managed options. The fact that they have thousands of mutual funds available without any commission is one of their best features. Read our review to learn more.
Features and Key Features:
- Power E*TRADE is a highly rated trading platform.
- Mutual funds can be traded without commission.
- Morgan Stanley has acquired E*TRADE.
- They offer both a self-directed option and a managed one through their Core Portfolios.
Minimum Initial Investment:$0 if you are investing in the Digital plan, $100,000 if you are investing in the Premium plan and $10 if your Cash Reserve account.
Commissions and fees: Annual advisory fee of 0.40% for Premium plan, 0.25% for Digital plan.
Available Accounts: Individual and joint taxable account; traditional, Roth and SEP IRAs. Checking and high-yielding cash accounts. Crypto portfolios and trusts.
Investments available:ETFs that invest in U.S. stocks and bonds and other international securities
Best used for: Low-cost investment management with minimal effort.
Betterment was one of the first robot advisors, and continues to be at the forefront of this field. You’ll be asked to fill out a short questionnaire that will determine your investment goals and risk tolerance. The portfolio will include a mix between stocks, bonds and other asset categories. Betterment manages your portfolio for a low fee.
The company now offers both a high-yielding cash reserve and a checking account. While you cannot create your own portfolio with Betterment, you do have the option of increasing or decreasing investment positions. Learn more about Betterment by reading my review.
- Fully automated investment management with low costs.
- Can accommodate investors with all types of portfolios, even beginners.
- Offers multiple portfolio options.
- Betterment Cash Reserve is a high-interest saving option that comes with your investment account.
- Betterment Premium gives you access to live financial planners.
8. M1 Finance
Minimum investment to start investing:$0 for opening an account and $100 for starting to invest
No trading commissions and account management fees
Available Accounts: Traditional, Roth, Rollover, SEP, and traditional IRAs
Investments available:Individual Stocks and ETFs
Best for Automated investment that allows you to choose your investments and create your own portfolios.
M1 finance offers the best investment options for those who like the idea but prefer to make their own decisions. You can create your own portfolios, or “pies”, by filling them with up to 100 ETFs and stocks. M1 Finance provides complete portfolio management including periodic rebalancing at no charge. Find out more about M1 Finance in my review.
- M1 Finance can manage your portfolio completely.
- There are no fees for adding funds or stocks to your portfolio, and there is no annual fee.
- You can create as many portfolios you want, based on your chosen themes.
Minimum initial investment: $0
Commissions and fees:Commission free trades for stocks, options, ETFs and cryptocurrencies.
Available Accounts: Individual taxable investment account and Roth IRAs.
Stocks, ETFs and Cryptocurrencies are available as investments.
Best suited for: Quick trading and diversification in cryptocurrencies.
Robinhood offers fast and commission-free investment trading. They offer not only the standard stocks, ETFs and options but also cryptocurrency. These asset classes are available to you commission-free. For more details, check out my Robinhood review.
- Fast, efficient investment app.
- Cryptocurrency investing is available on the same platform as other investments.
- Trade stocks, ETFs and options without commission.
Minimum initial investment: $10
Commissions and fees: 1% annual fee + 1% redemption fee in the first five years
Available accounts Self-Directed IRAs are available for both individual and joint taxable account holders.
Investments available: Public non-traded REITs and eFunds
Best For: Diversification in real estate crowdfunding through a small investment.
Real estate investment is a great way to diversify a portfolio that’s dominated by financial assets. Fundrise allows small investors to invest in commercial real estate through a crowdfunding platform.
You can invest through eFunds in residential properties or portfolios of commercial property, known as eREITs. Fundrise offers tiered portfolios that allow you to make more complex investments as your portfolio grows. You can start investing as low as $10. You can read my full Fundrise Review to learn more.