Full-Service Brokers

How to compare the different types of full-service brokerages

A full-service broker is a company that allows you to buy and sell stocks, ETFs, mutual funds, and other securities.

A full-service broker typically offers a wide range of services which may include the following:

  • investment research & recommendations
  • wealth management
  • investment banking
  • cash management
  • specialized investments
  • annuities
  • insurance
  • banking.

With most brokers, if your account balance is high enough, a full-service broker will meet with you on a regular basis to review your holdings and personal situation and answer any questions.

There are several types of brokerage firms:

  • National brokerages offer a full range of services and have offices in every major city. These large firms are sometimes called "wirehouses" since in the past their offices were connected by dedicated lines.
    • Examples: Merrill Lynch (owned by Bank of America), Wells Fargo Advisers, UBS, J.P. Morgan (owned by JPMorgan Chase & Co.). 
  • Independent Broker-Dealers offer brokerage services to independent representatives who own their own business and in turn offer services to clients.
    • Examples: LPL Financial, Ameriprise, and Raymond James.
  • Regional Broker-Dealers are similar to the national brokerages, but are smaller and may not operate in all regions of the country.
    • Examples: Edward Jones, RBC Wealth Management, Robert W. Baird, Stifel
  • Bank-Affiliated Broker-Dealers are brokerages affiliated with banks and allow a bank to provide investment services to its customer.
    • Example: BBVA Compass Investment Solutions
  • Insurance Broker-Dealers offer investment services that complement insurance products sold by an insurance agency.
    • Examples: Northwestern Mutual, AXA Advisors