Several months ago a reader asked if we could include brokerage availability information with all of our single-fund articles (profiles, Elevator Talks, Launch Alerts). That seemed like a reasonable request, so I started hunting. The information used to be available on Morningstar.com but no longer is.
I was in conversation with the folks at Morningstar and they offered to provide their master list of brokerage availability to use with our articles; the only condition was that the list of "for internal use only," which means that I can extract information about an individual fund's availability in the course of an article but I can't give folks access to the list itself.
Fair enough. Generous, actually.
Here's the place where I'd like your help. How much brokerage information should we list? The easy answer is "all of it," but "all of it" is a swamp. FAMEX, for example, has 80 listed brokerage options including multiple listings for many platforms (Schwab One Source, Schwab NTF, Schwab Institutional ...). Here's what it looks like, straight from the master list:
Ausdal Financial Partners Inc;Cetera Advisors LLC;Cetera Advisor Networks LLC;E TRADE Financial;Mid Atlantic Capital Corp;Pershing FundCenter;EP Fee Small;Shareholders Services Group;JPMorgan;Merrill Lynch;T. Rowe Price;TD Ameritrade Trust Company;LPL SAM Eligible;Fidelity Retail FundsNetwork;Fidelity Retail FundsNetwork-NTF;Fidelity Institutional FundsNetwork;Fidelity Institutional FundsNetwork-NTF;DATALynx;Dreyfus NTF;Federated TrustConnect NTF;Mony Securities Corp;SunAmerica Securities Premier / Pinnacle;Vanguard NTF;ETrade No Load Fee;SunGard Transaction Network;Royal Alliance;Bear Stearns No-Load Transaction Fee;CommonWealth Universe;Robert W. Baird & Co.;JPMorgan INVEST;WFA MF Advisory Updated 2/01/2019;RBC Wealth Management-Network Eligible;DailyAccess Corporation RTC;DailyAccess Corporation FRIAG;Sterne, Agee & Leach, Inc.,;EP Fee Large;ING Financial Ptnrs PAM and PRIME Approv;Ameritas NTFN;Ameritas NTF P;Firstrade;Scottrade NTF;Standard Retirement Services, Inc.;TIAA-CREF Brokerage Services;Pershing FundVest NTF;Matrix Financial Solutions;Trade PMR Transaction Fee;ING Financial Advisers - SAS Funds;Mid Atlantic Capital Group;HD Vest - Vest Advisor;Securities America Advisors;Bear Stearns;Securities America Advisors Top Rated;Protected Investors of America NTF;JP MORGAN NO-LOAD NTF;JP MORGAN NTF;JP MORGAN NO-LOAD TRANSACTION FEE;TD Ameritrade Retail NTF;TD Ameritrade Institutional NTF;TIAA-CREF NTF;MSWM Brokerage;WFA Fdntl Choice/PIM Updated 2/01/2019;DailyAccess Corporation Mid-Atlantic;RBC Wealth Management-Wrap Eligible;E-Plan Services, Inc.;Investacorp NTF;ING Financial Partners Inc.;Securities America Inc.;Nationwide Retirement Flexible Advantage;JP Morgan No Load;Merrill Edge;DailyAccess Corporation Matrix;DailyAccess Corporation MATC;LPL SWM;Schwab All (Retail, Instl, Retirement);Schwab OneSource & NTF (No Load & No Transaction Fee);Pershing Retirement Plan Network;HD Vest;Commonwealth (NTF);Commonwealth (NTF - PPS/Advisory);Commonwealth (PPS/Advisory);
Uh ... ick.
This project is being handled by David Welsch, who is learning to do all of the technical stuff as part of our business continuity planning. Good guy. Bright. Good spirited. But not a fund industry obsessive, so I'll need to provide very specific directions to keep it manageable and consistently high quality.
The easiest option is to include every platform, but just once. That cuts JPMorgan from six to one, and reduces the list from 80 to 43:
Ameritas NTF P; Ausdal Financial Partners Inc; Bear Stearns; Cetera Advisors LLC; Commonwealth (NTF); DailyAccess Corporation RTC; DATALynx; Dreyfus NTF; EP Fee Large; E-Plan Services, Inc.; ETrade No Load Fee; Federated TrustConnect NTF; Fidelity Retail FundsNetwork; Firstrade; HD Vest; ING Financial Advisers ; Investacorp NTF; JP MORGAN NO-LOAD NTF; LPL SWM; Matrix Financial Solutions; Merrill Lynch; Mid Atlantic Capital Group; Mony Securities Corp; MSWM Brokerage; Nationwide Retirement Flexible Advantage; Pershing FundVest NTF; Protected Investors of America NTF; RBC Wealth Management; Robert W. Baird & Co.; Royal Alliance; Scottrade NTF; Securities America Advisors; Shareholders Services Group; Standard Retirement Services, Inc.; Sterne, Agee & Leach, Inc.; SunAmerica Securities SunGard Transaction Network; T. Rowe Price; TD Ameritrade Retail NTF; TIAA-CREF NTF; Trade PMR ; Vanguard NTF; WFA Fdntl;
So the Ausdal's of the world continue to clutter the list and lots of those brokerages have details (SWS versus SAM in the case of one firm, Fdntl for another) that are significant but not worth our time to suss out.
The second option is to include only the top tier brokerages, once we fiqure out who those are (it's Schwab but is it LPL? Baird?). So:
The fund is available through 80 platforms or programs including ETrade, Fidelity, Firstrade, JP Morgan, Merrill Lynch, Pershing, Robert W. Baird & Co., T. Rowe Price, TD Ameritrade, TIAA-CREF and Vanguard.
Which works only if we agree on which names to have David look for. It also strips out the infinite variety of fee levels; JPMorgan had six entries because it is sometimes NTF, sometimes Institutional, sometimes Load ...
Curious, as ever, about your thoughts.