Best Retirement Investment Services Review

Best Retirement Investment Services Review

Investing for retirement involves complex financial transactions, and most individuals don't have the time or professional skills to keep up with market trends. Expert advice for creating an investment portfolio lets you mitigate some risks and ensure a comfortable retirement. Companies offering retirement investment services include Fidelity Investments, Prudential and Charles Schwab. You can also check out our articles on retirement investment services for more information. 

Retirement investment companies might broker transactions for consumers, including IRA rollovers and stock purchases. Other common services include developing portfolios, analyzing performance for optimal money-management decisions and working with clients to disburse funds during retirement.

Retirement Investment Companies: What to Look For

Financial security in the post-working years is important to anyone, and selecting a retirement investment company to handle your money can be stressful. Understanding your own needs and how an investment firm can meet those needs might reduce anxiety when comparing companies. Some things to consider include the company's history, fees and income disbursement options.

Positive Performance History
Probably the top consideration when deciding where to invest money for retirement is whether the investment firm has a strong track record with past investments. You don't have to take the salesperson's word regarding a company's performance history – the company should provide you with prospectuses detailing the performance of the funds and accounts it deals with. You can also find information about fund investments online.

Fees & Expenses
Investment firms and funds charge a variety of fees for retirement planning. Some advisers deliver services based solely on a fee structure or an hourly rate, while others charge a commission on each transaction. Commissions for top companies in the niche tend to be similar, but even a small difference in percentage can result in a large difference in income over the years. When comparing financial services for your retirement, ensure that any fees and expenses are backed by valuable solutions and assistance.

Customized Income Options
Often, the retirement service you choose to build your wealth with is also the firm that handles how you get paid during the later years. Look for a company that offers custom options, so your income isn't limited to a single disbursement situation. Annuities, systemic payouts or withdrawals, lump-sum payments and minimum distributions are some income options. If you plan to use estate vehicles, such as trusts, to protect retirement assets, make sure you select a firm that is willing to work with your plans.

Service Options
Many individuals like the personalized service that comes with a local office, and not every retirement company offers offices in all cities. If you want to work face-to-face with an adviser, check for local offices during your research. Other service options include phone advising, online and self-service. Self-service is a good additional option no matter what service you select, as it lets you make changes to your disbursements or view account progress anytime.

Selecting a retirement investment adviser or firm is a serious decision. Since it can impact your financial stability and comfort later in life, it is important to take the time to research all options.

American Funds Review

With salary deferral plans and IRA retirement funds, American Funds offers retirement planning solutions for employee groups and individuals. In addition to investment opportunities, the company offers tools and articles to help you plan for and manage retirement finances.

The retirement investment company's website offers free tools, including savings calculators and an IRA comparison table, to help you make decisions about retirement from an early age. American Funds delivers traditional and Roth IRAs, so you can create a fund that matches your age, income and tax requirements. You should remember that contributions to Roth IRAs are not tax deductible, though there are other benefits to the American Funds offering such as tax-free withdrawals and some flexibility regarding eligibility.

American Funds' retirement investment service features do-it-yourself access via a secure website. You can also access forms and downloads, instructions and a tax center with information on completing required tax documents. Options for contacting the company for assistance include a telephone line, fax, traditional mail and a website contact form. The company does not appear to have a robust network of local providers, however, so you may not be able to walk into an office and speak with a person regarding your account. Third-party financial advisers might be able to help you set up an American Funds account.

This retirement investment company publishes both general articles about investing and specific information about its mutual funds and other opportunities. You can access this information via both the investments and insights tab on the company's website. Published information includes historical performance for returns, daily prices and yields and distributions. American Funds breaks this information down by fund type, listing information about portfolio, money market, retirement target date, equity-income and other types of investments.

Traditional, Roth and rollover IRAs come with both a nominal one-time setup fee and a small annual fee, which makes it easy to account for investment expenses. Other investment options with American Funds are priced on separate commission or fee structures depending on the fund type, the amount deposited and the amount you maintain in the account.

Income options are also dependent on fund type, though the company offers disbursements via paper check, electronic deposit into a bank account, transfer of funds into American Funds' accounts or rollover of funds into a new IRA. During retirement planning sessions, make sure you decide how you want to receive disbursements so you can select a fund that has an option that works for you.

While the service options might be lacking for those that need constant guidance with retirement investing, American Funds offers a number of products for the DIY retiree. Those who need some guidance might also appreciate the funds and services offered, as both phone and online assistance is simple to access.

Back to Top

Charles Schwab Review

Charles Schwab's retirement investment options include individual 401k accounts, SEP and SIMPLE IRAs, personal defined benefit plans, small business plans and company retirement accounts. You can take advantage of a number of these accounts without minimum deposits or opening fees.

One of the biggest drawbacks to Charles Schwab's retirement planning products is that many of them are limited to employer-based funds. The company offers several 401k plans for small businesses, including a plan designed for individuals who own their own business and have no employees. Some of the IRA funds offered by this retirement investment company are also designed for small businesses, which limits your investment options if you are seeking an individual solution.

Charles Schwab also offers other types of funds to help you save for the future and grow your wealth. You can select from annuities, mutual funds and life insurance, or opt for a trust account that helps you plan for the future while protecting your assets from taxes and creditors. You can select a brokerage account with additional money management services, but added service does mean extra expense.

In addition to working directly with a broker, you can access Charles Schwab retirement products via a web login. If you need assistance with products or services, other access options include phone and email. Charles Schwab also has a large network of offices and brokers across the country, making it likely that you can find someone to help you face-to-face if desired.

This retirement investment company provides some helpful tools on its website, including savings calculators, articles on investing and documents regarding fund performance. Professional financial commentary and news articles are provided for those who want to remain educated on general economic outlooks, and you can view specific information about any plan before making an investment in it.

While Charles Schwab doesn't charge any maintenance fees on a number of its IRA accounts, each type of fund comes with a different fee and expense structure, which is something to keep in mind during retirement planning. Most of the company's IRA accounts require a $1,000 minimum to open, but you can open a custodial IRA with just $100. Opening fees for other types of accounts can range as high as $1,000, and some funds feature trade-based or commission expenses.

Charles Schwab offers a number of disbursement options. You can take advantage of direct deposits into Schwab bank accounts or, for a fee, transfer money to an account with a separate institution. Receiving money via a check may also come with a fee. The cost of disbursements may be outweighed by the large selection of products, particularly for small business owners planning for retirement.

Back to Top

Fidelity Investments Review

Fidelity Investments has provided investment and other financial services to individuals and businesses for over seven decades. Service offerings include stocks and trading, managed accounts, and retirement and IRA options.

To get an idea of the performance history of this retirement investment company, as well as its funds, you can look over 3,000 mutual funds and numerous other investment options through Fidelity's research tab. The tab lets you search for funds by category or risk and view graphical representations regarding returns, expenses and performance for up to 10 years.

Fidelity offers many account options, which let you manage fees and expenses to match your retirement planning needs. You can use the service to open a traditional, rollover or Roth IRA. A rollover IRA lets you handle 401k funds from previous employment or combine retirement funds from disparate sources into a single account for one-stop management. Fidelity also offers more robust account options, including cash management and brokerage accounts for investing or managed accounts that include active interaction from a firm broker.

Fees differ depending on the type of retirement investments you choose. For both Roth and traditional IRAs, the company doesn't require a minimum amount for opening an account, but accounts could include minimum investment requirements for each period. Transfers, rollovers and automatic contributions could cause minimum requirements to be waived, though, and Fidelity reports that it doesn't charge maintenance fees on these types of accounts. For other investment accounts, transaction fees and commissions are likely to apply, and those fees typically range according to trade type, investment amount, service type and account balance.

Perhaps one of the biggest strengths of Fidelity's service for retirement planning is the number of income and payment options available. Depending on how your account is set up, you can choose to be paid via bank wire, check or direct deposit. Some customers can also take advantage of money management options such as bill pay, Fidelity ATM and debit cards, and Fidelity credit cards.

Fidelity also offers many service and contact options. You can reach customer service and brokers via phone, and the firm offers contact numbers for those who travel internationally. The retirement investment company also offers secure messaging, online chat and in-person service for those who live near an investment center.

Fidelity Investments offers a range of products that are likely to work for individuals or business groups. You do have to make contact to find out specifics regarding fees and expenses, but the agency offers 24/7 support to answer questions.

Back to Top

Principal Financial Group Review

Principal Financial Group is a retirement investment company that manages employer-sponsored plans and offers individual retirement solutions including IRAs, mutual funds and asset allocation programs. The company also offers an online planning and resource center and life insurance.

Principal Financial Group's planning center offers videos that walk you through some basic retirement planning considerations. You can also use the company's free calculator tool to estimate retirement financial needs, work on budgets or track your savings plans. The company also provides links to value and performance documents for all the funds it provides, including monthly and quarterly performance reports dating back as far as the 1980s, so you can get an idea of both long-term and short-term financials.

This retirement investment company's IRA options include a rollover solution meant to let working individuals collect disparate retirement accounts in a single location, as well as traditional IRAs and Roth IRAs. The first two options let you defer tax burdens until funds are withdrawn; the Roth IRA solution involves post-tax contributions. Mutual fund retirement investment options offer some ways to diversify your portfolio, though certain funds are likely to come with greater risks than IRAs.

One tool Principal Financial Group offers to assist individuals who want retirement planning with minimal analytical work is an asset allocation program. You can complete an asset allocation questionnaire on the company's site to help you set investment goals. This is then used to select a mixed fund investment strategy; you can also contact a representative via phone or online for assistance with this process.

You can contact Principal Financial Group for service via numerous web forms, an 800 number or through a local agent. The company provides a contact form on its site that lets you request a call or an email with information on how to find a professional adviser.

The company doesn't provide details regarding fees and expenses on its accounts; because fees and commissions associated with funds can take on complex structures, make sure you ask questions and understand any costs before making a final decision about investments with Principal Financial Group. The same is true for income disbursements. The company works with you to disburse funds in a number of ways, but fund availability and the impact to your tax burden will vary.

Principal Financial Group provides a selection of traditional retirement and investment funds that will work well for most people. The company also offers disability and life insurance, as well as estate planning services, which might be beneficial to some individuals.

Back to Top

Prudential Review

Prudential's retirement planning services include IRAs, life insurance, annuities and brokerage accounts for individuals, as well as benefits and solutions for groups or employer plans. The company also offers tutorials and online guides for planning your retirement.

Prudential provides free downloads on a number of retirement planning topics, including issues that might be specific to certain ages or minority groups, social security benefit management and an overview of retiring in the United States. You can also take advantage of a fairly extensive research library, which includes perspectives on some funds brokered by the company. These tools provide you with some understanding of past investment performance, but you might need to speak with a representative or ask for additional details to garner the information required to make a fully informed decision about the retirement investment company.

The company doesn't provide a comprehensive list of fees and expenses related to its services, which isn't surprising since such fees are likely to vary by service and size of account. In brochures regarding basic retirement investments, such as IRA and rollovers, Prudential states that there are no transaction fees and that services are billed at a single, annual fee assessed on assets.

Prudential offers numerous routes to customer support, including one-on-one broker access, though such a service is likely to be more expensive than self-service or online options. You can seek assistance with setting up and managing retirement accounts with a Prudential financial professional in your area, via telephone, through email or by using an online portal. The online portal includes a number of self-service features such as goal-making forms, guides and income calculators.

One service offered by Prudential for retirement is a proprietary IRA fund that features debits from your bank account and automatic investment load balancing to maintain financial goals you set. Other investment options include variable and immediate income annuities, open- and closed-end mutual funds and full-service brokerage accounts featuring money managers to handle a variety of your funds.

Income options through this retirement investment company depend on the funds you choose and how you set up disbursement options. For life insurance investments, the most common option is to disburse money to an estate, a beneficiary or a trust upon death, but other funds allow for disbursement via check or electronic deposit following fund rules and your own wishes.

Prudential offers diverse investment options that are likely to meet needs of individuals of all ages. By coupling strong retirement options with other investments, you may be able to work with this company to increase comfort and stability in later years.

Back to Top

T. Rowe Price Review

T. Rowe Price offers transfer, rollover and traditional IRAs as well as small business retirement plans. You can create your own retirement planning strategy using calculators and guided wizards on the website or speak to a company representative for assistance in opening an account.

In addition to IRA-based retirement investments, T. Rowe Price offers a number of mutual fund, bond and stock investments. The company charges a small annual fee for any mutual fund account with a running balance less than $10,000. The nominal fee, which the company says is used to offset the expense associated with managing small accounts, is automatically charged against the account each year. Specific information about IRA fees is not published on the website, but the retirement investment company offers a free consultation for prospective customers so you can ask about those details before deciding on a fund.

T. Rowe Price publishes historical data about all of its investment opportunities, so you can check fund performance prior to making an investment. Though past performance is never a guarantee of future performance, you can make more informed decisions and look for funds that have a stable long-term history. The retirement investment company also provides either hard copy or electronic statements detailing the ongoing performance of your investments; according to the website, you might be able to save some fees when electing to receive an electronic statement.

The company offers service through several phone lines; since you call different numbers depending on the plan or service you are dealing with, you might experience less confusion and wait times than with a general customer service contact. You can also contact the company via email, use the online portal for gathering instructions or forms or visit a service center if you are near one. The website only lists six service centers; two are located in Maryland. The other centers are in Colorado, Florida, DC and Virginia.

While T. Rowe Price's website offers articles, calculators and advice on retirement planning, not a lot of information is provided about income options. It's likely that check and electronic distribution are options on at least some plans, but you should make sure you understand how and when you can receive money from your investments before you sign any paperwork.

With comprehensive IRA options and other investment opportunities, T. Rowe Price offers the services necessary to save for retirement. Since there are both annual and investment-related fees associated with most accounts, however, make sure you understand the details of any fund prior to making a deposit.

Back to Top

TD Ameritrade Review

TD Ameritrade's investment and retirement planning services include portfolio management, stock and bond investment, IRAs, mutual funds and futures. You can select from basic or premium services to meet your budget and investment needs.

TD Ameritrade offers some of its account holders a cash management service at no extra cost. The service lets you take advantage of flexible income and money access solutions, including through a debit card and free check writing. You can also set up online bill payments from your accounts, and the company states that ATM withdrawals with your debit card are free. The website notes that you are reimbursed for ATM use, which means you pay any fees up front. The company offers a mobile app for electronic deposits into funds and accounts.

You can research the performance of this retirement investment company's fund offerings using a research tab on its website. The company makes both third-party research and historical fund performance available to browsers, though you are likely to get more in-depth information by reaching out to a TD Ameritrade representative. Fees for trades depend on the type of fund you open and how you manage your accounts. Managing accounts through the internet portal seems to be the least expensive option, but you can also opt for management through an interactive phone system or a broker.

When it comes to retirement planning, TD Ameritrade offers specific IRA options. You can roll existing retirement accounts into a fund or open a new fund with a minimal deposit. The company offers some rewards for rolling over a 401k, including additional cash and free trades for a limited time. The rewards can change over time, so if you decide to open an account with the company, make sure you ask about the latest reward structure.

This retirement investment company offers a few do-it-yourself and guided options for retirement investments. Calculators let you estimate retirement needs, and you can use a portfolio builder to create varied retirement savings. Online educational offerings from TD Ameritrade also include papers, how-to documents and guides, though you should always be cognizant that some of this information is published by the company itself and is likely to direct you toward its own funds and products.

TD Ameritrade publishes information about a guaranteed retirement income stream through a fixed annuity investment, but there is some fine print associated with that offer. As with any investment firm, make sure you understand the details before you sign up for any product.

Back to Top

Transamerica Review

Transamerica offers investment and retirement planning for both individuals and groups. The company's service line includes IRA funds, rollover services, life insurance options, long-term care insurance and a number of investment opportunities.

Individuals can start a new IRA with Transamerica or rollover existing funds into a new account. A quarterly fee is charged on accounts maintaining a balance of less than $5,000; accounts with $5,000 or more in average balance for the quarter are not charged the fee, though separate fund management expenses may be charged on some accounts. According to Transamerica, when you use its IRA solutions, you gain access to retirement counselors at no additional charge. Those counselors might provide information on how to balance your investments or withdraw money in the most cost-effective manner.

Before choosing Transamerica as your retirement investment company, you can look at information about investments and funds. The company provides a breakdown of annual performance averages for one, three, five and 10 years, as well as performance numbers for the past month and since the inception of the fund. Performance numbers are presented in the form of average annual returns, and you can delve deeper by viewing an overview of the fund that includes objectives, characteristics and a profile.

Transamerica services retirement investment accounts via telephone, email, traditional mail and an online portal for existing customers. Those with an existing retirement plan through either a Transamerica individual or an employer-sponsored option usually have access to a specific retirement adviser or group of advisers.

This retirement investment company doesn't provide much information regarding income disbursement options on its website. Life insurance income would be disbursed upon death in a manner dictated by the beneficiary setup on the plan; a whole life policy, which builds cash value overtime, might also include disbursements via check or account transfer upon request. Other common disbursement options, such as account transfers and checks drawn on IRA accounts, are likely relevant, though any income option would be governed both by the type of account you choose and certain tax regulations. For detailed information on income options, you have to speak with a Transamerica rep.

Transamerica provides some interesting free tools regarding retirement planning, including articles and calculators that help you plan and manage retirement income. The retirement solutions include all the basics, and online and telephone service options are available, making this a possible choice for those with a desire to handle their own accounts with some professional assistance.

Back to Top

VALIC Review

VALIC offers three types of retirement products: individual accounts, group plans and DROP plans. The individual retirement investments include traditional, spousal and Roth IRAs as well as money market consolidations.

VALIC also offers several employer-based plans, and a plan called the Deferred Retirement Optional Program (DROP) fund. A DROP fund is designed for individuals who elect to work past their eligible retirement date; by altering some of the contribution and distribution mechanisms, a DROP plan helps older individuals continue retirement planning while they work in later years.

In addition to IRA products, this retirement investment company offers annuities, mutual funds, life insurance and asset management. Asset and brokerage management accounts are likely to come with higher fees than self-service options, but might be the right choice for those who don't want to think about their investments on a daily or weekly basis. Your retirement planning should consider how involved you want to be with your accounts and how able you are to manage funds via phone or internet so you can select the right type of fund for your needs.

You can contact a VALIC representative via telephone during the week, and an automated service lets you access some account functions by phone 24 hours a day. Other service options include email, mail, fax and an online login to your accounts. This retirement investment company also offers DIY service options via mobile apps for both Apple and Android phones. VALIC does not appear to have local service centers in various locations across the country.

VALIC provides prospectuses and reports for its funds, but they are listed through links under each type of account rather than gathered on a single research page, which might make it more difficult to find the information you need. The reports feature comprehensive information on each fund, including operating expenses, fees, estimated costs for selling, highlighted risks and average annual returns.

VALIC does not publish specific information regarding either fees or income options for its retirement plans, other than to note that preretirement disbursements from an IRA could result in taxes or penalties. While likely disbursement options might include receiving a check or an electronic deposit, if you are considering VALIC retirement services, you should speak with a representative to request detailed information on these topics.

You can schedule a one-on-one telephone meeting with a VALIC representative via a web form to obtain additional information. The company offers enough investment types that it would likely be of interest to anyone shopping for retirement investing options.

Back to Top

Vanguard Review

Vanguard retirement planning services include access to a variety of funds and options for partnering with advisers for in-depth assistance with investments. Statistics presented by Vanguard demonstrate that clients keep a large percentage of their investments, and the company claims this is because of its client-owner set up.

Investment options offered by Vanguard include mutual funds, ETFs, stocks, bonds and CDs. This retirement investment company also offers access to both traditional and Roth IRAs, annuities, i401ks and SEPs. You can work with Vanguard to conduct 401k and 403b rollovers or other account transfers if you are moving investments or want to consolidate accounts with a single firm.

Through Vanguard, you can invest in company EFTs with no commission or fees at any account level. Investing in non-Vanguard EFT or stocks does come with fees. These fees vary, whether you operate online or via phone, and by account level, but range overall from $2 to $25 per trade. Vanguard reserves its premium rates for flagship account holders. Individuals who invest $10 million or more get 500 free trades; those with investments of $1 million to $10 million get 25 free trades.

You don't have to invest millions to use Vanguard's retirement investment services. In most cases, you can open a mutual fund account with a $1,000 minimum balance and experience fees between 0.25 and 0.50 percent. Vanguard also charges a $20 annual fee for accounts with running balances less than $10,000.

Vanguard offers guidance on where to invest money for retirement. You can partner with an adviser to create custom portfolios. Vanguard states that its advisers get to know the client so they can better understand financial goals. Advisers work with clients to create financial plans and then put that plan into action with investments and adjustments to investments over the years. The charge for this service is 0.30 percent of all assets under management per year.

In addition to personalized, professional guidance, this retirement investment company also provides access to educational resources online. Clients can access detailed information about funds, calculators for planning retirement savings and spending, tax information and forms, and articles about setting goals, creating emergency funds and planning for major life events.

Overall, Vanguard provides a robust retirement investing service with a lot of options for clients. At the lower account levels, you do pay more in fees, but Vanguard lets clients work up to higher investment levels over time.

Back to Top

More Top Stories