The Biggest Stock Brokerage Firms in the US (2024)

The Big Four brokerage firms in the U.S. are Charles Schwab, Fidelity Investments, E*TRADE, and Vanguard. That's based on the sizes of their customer numbers and assets under management.

This list of the top brokerage firms is by no means static. TD Ameritrade was one of them until it was acquired by Charles Schwab in a deal that was finalized in 2020.

Below is a short analysis of each brokerage's products, services, and fee structures. They are listed in no particular order.

Key Takeaways

  • Charles Schwab has $8.56 trillion under management and 35 million active brokerage accounts.
  • Fidelity Investments is a good choice for customers who want to invest in Fidelity ETFs and mutual funds.
  • E*TRADE is an online brokerage pioneer, well-known for its full-featured mobile apps, top-notch options trading tools, and customizable user experience.
  • Vanguard offers its own ETFs and mutual funds with no added fees for online transactions.

Charles Schwab

  • Assets under management: $8.56 trillion
  • Number of accounts: 35 million

Charles Schwab was founded in 1971 and is based in San Francisco. It is one of the leading investment brokerages and IRA custodian firms in the U.S.

As of Feb. 14, 2024, Charles Schwab held $8.56 trillion in client assets, with a total of 35 million active brokerage accounts. It also operates Schwab Bank, one of the largest banks in the United States, which allows its brokerage clients to link their trading accounts with a checking account. The company boasted 1.9 million active banking accounts.

The firm offers clients a variety of investment products including stocks, mutual funds, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), money market funds, fixed-income products, options, futures, insurance, and annuities. Clients can invest in both Schwab's proprietary products and other third-party investments.

Charles Schwab's Fee Structure

Schwab, the country's first real discount brokerage, has consistently been rated one of the cheapest brokerage firms in the United States. In October 2019, Schwab cut commissions from $4.95 to $0.00 for all U.S.- and Canadian-listed stocks, ETFs, options online, and mobile trades. Online options trades have a standard $0.65 per-contract fee.

The operating expense ratio (OER) fees for actively managed mutual funds ranges from 0.22% to 1.25%. Fees for passively managed mutual funds can range from 0.02% to 0.39%. Annual portfolio management fees at Schwab start at 0.80% for the Schwab Private Client account. These fees decrease for clients with higher asset levels.

The firm also offers clients a worry-free, passive approach to investing through its robo-advisor service called Intelligent Portfolios. The online platform provides clients with an automated experience, giving them access to a series of ETFs that rebalance per the client's investment goals. The service requires a minimum $5,000 investment and comes with no advisory or commission fees.

In 2019, Charles Schwab announced the acquisition of TD Ameritrade in a stock transaction valued at approximately $26 billion. The accounts of TD Ameritrade clients were migrated to Schwab by the end of 2023.

Fidelity Investments

  • Assets under management: $12.6 trillion
  • Number of individual investors: 50 million

Fidelity Investments is the one of the nation's largest keepers of 401(k) retirement savings plans. Founded in 1946 as Fidelity Management & Research, the company is based in Boston.

According to the company's website, Fidelity had $12.6 trillion in customer assets as of December 2023, with 50 million individual investors.

Fidelity is the best choice for brokerage clients who also want to invest in Fidelity ETFs and mutual funds. The firm also offers investments in third-party products.

Fidelity Investments' Fee Structure

Fidelity touts its zero account fees and no minimums to open a retail brokerage account, including IRAs. Following Schwab's lead, Fidelity also offers commission-free stock, ETF, and options trades. Options trades also have $0 commissions, plus a standard $0.65 per-contract fee.

There are no minimums to invest in Fidelity mutual funds. Fidelity does not charge an expense ratio fee for certain proprietary mutual funds and offers hundreds of other funds with no transaction fees.

Portfolio advisory service fees range from 0.50% to 1.50% based on the amount invested. Minimum investments range from $50,000 to $500,000 based on the investment options. For its automated Fidelity Go service, the firm charges a 0.35% advisory fee for balances exceeding $25,000 but requires no account minimum to open an account.

Through its mutual funds and other advisory services, Fidelity has tens of millions of non-brokerage customers, something the others cannot claim.

E*TRADE (Morgan Stanley)

  • Assets under management: $360 billion.
  • Number of accounts: 5.2 million.

Founded in 1982, E*TRADE began as a holding company and has transformed into a leading online discount brokerage service. The company was hit hard during the 2007-2008 financial crisis because of high exposure to subprime mortgage portfolios. Its stock dropped 86.7% in 2007 before the company implemented a comprehensive turnaround plan.

The turnaround worked and E*TRADE has become a leading financial firm for its mobile accessibility, online trading tools, and customizable user experience. As of February 2020, E*TRADE had more than 5.2 million retail brokerage accounts with more than $360 billion in client assets. More recent information is not broken out by Morgan Stanley.

Just like the other top brokers, E*TRADE offers clients access to ETFs, mutual funds, stocks, options, and fixed-income products. The firm also offers two checking accounts and a savings account with $500,000 in FDIC insurance.

Clients can also choose a prebuilt portfolio, which gives them a diversified portfolio of mutual funds or ETFs built by an investment strategy team.

E*TRADE's Fee Structure

In 2019, E*TRADE joined Schwab and Fidelity in offering no-fee trading. E*TRADE cut commissions on stock, options and ETF trades to $0 each, while options contracts are charged $0.65 each ($0.50 with 30+ trades per quarter).

On February 20, 2020, investment banking firm Morgan Stanley announced it would acquire E*TRADE in an all-stock transaction valued at approximately $13 billion. The acquisition closed in October of 2020.

Vanguard

  • Assets under management: $8.2 trillion.
  • Number of accounts: 50+ million.

Started by John Bogle in 1974, Vanguard's business model is unique in that it is owned by its investors. Those who invest in funds managed by the firm become owners of the company. Well-known for its role in creating indexed mutual funds for individual investors, the brokerage was quickly mimicked by other firms.

Vanguard was among the first to adopt an online portal for investors in 1995, allowing investors access to accounts, services, and educational materials.

Vanguard's Fee Structure

Vanguard has always been proud of its low-fee services. It offers ETFs and mutual funds with no additional fees for online transactions, although there are expense ratios for managing the funds.

Options exercises and assignments are $1 per contract for accounts with less than $1 million, $0 for the first 25 trades, and $1 for all trades after that (accounts of $1 to $5 million). Accounts with more than $5 million are charged $0 for the first 100 trades, and $1 per contract for all following contracts.

Top Brokerage Houses, Ranked

Based on this information, the largest brokerages in the United States are as follows:

Top Brokerage Firms by AUM and Number of Accounts
RankFirmAUMCustomer Accounts
1Fidelity Investments$12.9 Trillion50+ million
2Charles Schwab$8.56 Trillion35 million
3Vanguard$8.2 Trillion50+ million
4E*Trade (Morgan Stanley)$360 billion5.2 million

What Is a Brokerage Account Used For?

A brokerage account is used to buy and sell stocks, bonds, shares of mutual funds or index funds, and other securities.

What Is the Best Brokerage Account?

While it is impossible to recommend any one brokerage for every investor, the most popular brokerage providers are Charles Schwab, Fidelity Investments, E*TRADE, and Vanguard. These companies provide brokerage services to millions of clients.

What Is a Self-Directed Brokerage Account?

A self-directed brokerage account gives the client complete control over the assets they buy and sell. This is different from an employer-sponsored retirement account, in which employees are given a limited number of choices for investments and are constrained by company rules regarding buying and selling.

The Bottom Line

While there are many brokerage houses in the United States, the largest are Charles Schwab, Fidelity, E*TRADE, and Vanguard. These are huge asset managers with millions of customers investing assets totaling billions of dollars.

The Biggest Stock Brokerage Firms in the US (2024)

FAQs

What is the largest stock brokerage firm in the US? ›

Top Brokerage Houses, Ranked
Top Brokerage Firms by AUM and Number of Accounts
RankFirmAUM
1Fidelity Investments$12.9 Trillion
2Charles Schwab$8.56 Trillion
3Vanguard$8.2 Trillion
1 more row

What are the top 5 brokerage company? ›

Top 15 Stock Brokers in India
  • 5Paisa.
  • Motilal Oswal.
  • Edelweiss.
  • SBICAP Securities.
  • Axis Direct.
  • IIFL Securities.
  • Ventura Securities.
  • Anand Rathi.

How many stock brokerage firms are there in the US? ›

There are 4,058 Business Brokers businesses in the US as of 2022, an increase of 0.2% from 2021.

Who is the best stock broker in USA? ›

Best Online Brokerage Accounts and Trading Platforms of 2024
  • Best Overall: Fidelity.
  • Best for Low Costs: Fidelity.
  • Best for Beginners: Charles Schwab.
  • Best for Advanced Traders: Interactive Brokers.
  • Best for ETFs: Fidelity.
  • Best for Options Trading: tastytrade.
  • Best for International Trading: Interactive Brokers.

What are the big 4 brokerage firms? ›

The largest brokerage firms are household names: Vanguard, Charles Schwab, Fidelity, Bank of America (specifically Merrill Lynch), and J.P. Morgan each manage trillions of assets and millions of accounts. Vanguard alone has $8.2 trillion assets under management (AUM) as of July 31, 2023.

What brokerage do most millionaires use? ›

Best Brokers for High Net Worth Individuals
  • Charles Schwab - Best for high net worth investors.
  • Merrill Edge - Best rewards program.
  • Fidelity - Best overall online broker.
  • Interactive Brokers - Great overall, best for professionals.
  • E*TRADE - Best web-based platform.
Mar 28, 2024

What are the top 5 brokerage firms in the US? ›

5 Largest Brokerage Firms of 2024
Stock Brokerage FirmAssets under management*
Vanguard Group$8.6 trillion
Charles Schwab$8.5 trillion
Fidelity Investments$4.4 trillion
JPMorgan Chase & Co.$3.9 trillion
1 more row
Jan 25, 2024

What is the safest brokerage firm? ›

Summary: Best Online Brokerage
CompanyForbes Advisor RatingLearn more CTA below text
Interactive Brokers4.4Via InteractiveBrokers' Secure Website
TD Ameritrade4.4Read Our Full Review
Fidelity Investments4.4Read Our Full Review
Charles Schwab4.3Read Our Full Review
1 more row
Apr 1, 2024

What is the highest rated brokerage firm? ›

3 Featured Picks From Our Best Stock Brokers
  • Robinhood: Standout low-cost mobile investing brokerage.
  • Fidelity: Well-rounded brokerage for beginning and advanced investors.
  • J.P. Morgan Self-Directed Investing: Exceptional broker with both self-directed and automated investing.
Apr 4, 2024

Who is larger Fidelity or Schwab? ›

Fidelity serves more than 43 million accounts, while Charles Schwab has more than 34 million accounts. Charles Schwab has $8.2 trillion in client assets, while Fidelity has $11.5 trillion in assets under administration.

Who owns Charles Schwab? ›

Charles Schwab (SCHW) Ownership Overview

Approximately 62.84% of the company's stock is owned by Institutional Investors, 6.14% is owned by Insiders and 31.02% is owned by Public Companies and Individual Investors.

Is JP Morgan bigger than Fidelity? ›

Fidelity Investments currently offers 206 sustainable funds with $4.2 billion in assets under management as of June 30, 2023, based on Morningstar data. At the same time, JPMorgan Chase, through J.P. Morgan Investment Management Inc, offers 21 sustainable funds with $562.4 million in fund assets under management.

Do billionaires use stock brokers? ›

A billionaire may use some or all of these services, but for buying stocks, they may use a prime brokerage specifically to borrow securities for short selling (making money from stocks when they go down) or borrowing large amounts of money to buy stocks on margin.

Who is the number 1 investor in America? ›

Warren Buffett is often considered the world's best investor of modern times.

Which brokerage has the lowest fees? ›

Lowest Brokerage Charges for Online Trading in India
Low Brokerage Trading AccountTrading Account Opening ChargesBrokerage Fees in NSE Equities
Wisdom CapitalFree0.01%*
Zerodha₹ 200₹ 20/trade or 0.01% whichever is lower
Upstox₹ 200₹ 20/trade or 0.01% whichever is lower
SAMCOZero₹ 20/trade or 0.01% whichever is lower

What are the top three stock brokerages? ›

Top 20 Share Brokers in India 2024
RankBrokerActive Clients
ProStocks-
1Groww9,185,024
2Zerodha7,223,525
3Angel One5,983,067
17 more rows

Who is the most successful stock broker? ›

The richest stock trader in the world is considered to be Warren Buffett. He is one of the most influential investors in the whole history of trading in the stock market. As of 2022, his net worth is 107 billion dollars.

References

Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: The Hon. Margery Christiansen

Last Updated:

Views: 5859

Rating: 5 / 5 (70 voted)

Reviews: 93% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: The Hon. Margery Christiansen

Birthday: 2000-07-07

Address: 5050 Breitenberg Knoll, New Robert, MI 45409

Phone: +2556892639372

Job: Investor Mining Engineer

Hobby: Sketching, Cosplaying, Glassblowing, Genealogy, Crocheting, Archery, Skateboarding

Introduction: My name is The Hon. Margery Christiansen, I am a bright, adorable, precious, inexpensive, gorgeous, comfortable, happy person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.