Vanguard Is More Than Just an Online Brokerage

Is Vanguard a brokerage and what does it offer investors? Learn more about one of the world’s largest investment companies.

Dan Clarendon - Author

Sep. 30 2020, Updated 4:04 p.m. ET

is vanguard a brokerage
Source: istock, Vanguard

With about 17,600 employees in the U.S. and abroad, Vanguard isn’t just an online brokerage — it’s one of the largest investment companies in the world. Vanguard offers highly regarded mutual funds with “some of the lowest expense ratios in the industry,” according to The Ascent

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Is Vanguard a brokerage?

Founded in 1975, Vanguard is an investment company that offers a “large selection of low-cost mutual funds, ETFs, advice, and related services” as well as brokerage services for your choice of stocks or bonds, according to the company's website. As of January 31, 2020, Vanguard had more than 30 million investors across about 170 countries and about 17,600 employees in the U.S. and abroad. The company had about 190 U.S. funds and about 230 funds in international markets.

vanguard brokerage
Source: Vanguard
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“Vanguard was founded on a simple but revolutionary idea—that a mutual fund company should not have outside owners,” the company explained. “Founder John C. Bogle structured Vanguard as a client-owned mutual fund company with no outside owners seeking profits. This framework has enabled our leadership team and crew to put our clients first in all of our decisions and to continually lower investment costs. Today, we are widely recognized as a leader in low-cost investing and a steadfast advocate for the interests of all investors.”

vanguard jack bogle
Source: Getty
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What does Vanguard offer investors?

Vanguard offers low-cost mutual funds — 87 percent of which have performed better than their peer-group averages over the past 10 years, according to the company. Vanguard also has ETFs, stocks, CDs and bonds, and money market accounts. The company features personalized advice, resources for DIY investors, and an online financial planner.

“Vanguard’s scale, discipline, and performance track record have allowed us to attract a pool of highly talented investment professionals,” according to the company's website. “Our investment managers around the world bring deep expertise, tenure, and diverse backgrounds to our proven investment approach. We believe performance should provide long-term value to our clients. At Vanguard, our approach provides value beyond performance. It provides reliability and stability that has served us—and, most importantly, our clients—well.”

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Is Vanguard good for beginners?

vanguard investing
Source: Vanguard

Vanguard offers education resources for individuals who are just getting started with investing. The Balance noted that many beginners turn to Vanguard funds to get them started because it's one of the largest investment companies in the world. Vanguard's platform “makes it easy to invest with many high-quality, low-cost, no-load mutual funds to buy.” The company's site also offers a list of the 10 best Vanguard funds for beginning investors.

However, Nerdwallet warned that the initial minimum purchase amount of $1,000 to $3,000 on Vanguard funds “will be too high for many beginner investors.”

Vanguard doesn't charge commissions to trade stock or trade online. Also, there aren't any fees to invest in Vanguard mutual funds. The company's mutual funds may be subject to account service fees and special purchase or redemption fees in some cases. Vanguard’s brokerage service charges a $20 annual account service fee, but the fee is waived for clients who sign up for electronic delivery of account statements and documents. The Vanguard website offers fee schedules for ETFs, mutual funds, stocks, options, CDs and bonds, and other services.


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