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Subject:  Re: Folio Fees for the small investor Date:  12/15/2003  11:53 AM
Author:  lewellen180 Number:  68 of 84

If you go with just one folio instead of three, the cost is less. It's $19.95 per month or $199 per year. There's a number-or-trades limit also. I find one folio to be plenty. Even so, I think you'd want about $25K to do folio(fn).

There's also a "pay-as-you-go" option costing $4.00 per trade. That's per stock not per folio. Good if you don't make many trades.

I had switched from BUYandHOLD to FolioFN about a year ago (due to poor service). I really like a lot of Folio's features, including of course the dividend reinvestment and the multiple-folio features; it makes keeping track of things much easier, in my opinion. So, this year at renewal time, I decided to switch to BrownCo.


Two reasons.

First, and foremost in my thinking, was the fee structure. I had at the time of the switch (still do, for that matter) about $16k invested. $300 per year out of ~$16k is on the order of 1.9% - a heck of a yearly "management" fee. Even if I slimmed down to a single Folio, I'd still be talking on the order of 1% ... and the fees are going up next year. BrownCo costs me $5 a trade, so I'd have to make four (for the 1-folio option) or six trades per month before it made sense to stay with Folio.

Now look at it on the effective-commission side. If I devote about $300 / month to my non-retirement investing, I can also look at the FolioFN fee as the equivalent to a conventional brokerage commission as opposed to a management fee; in that case, I wind up paying 10% (or 5%) brokerage commissions! If my per-trade fee is $5, the commission rate is 1.667%. Much better, if I only trade once per month. I still win if I trade twice per month, albeit 3 1/3% is getting high for my taste.

Second, I find I like buying stocks. I treat (non-retirement) investing as a hobby, which is fine - to a point. The problem is, I find FolioFN to be very seductive ... you know, the "Oh, what a neat idea ... did some research ... yeah, that has real possibilities" method of investing. (Yes, I know, I know; for what it's worth, my day job is a research scientist, so I have some idea what's BS when I read a prospectus for a small research firm, even if it's not precisely my field.) So I found myself with a mess of micro-positions on the order of $50 or $100, as well as some substantially larger positions. Not good; and even worse as the portfolio itself grows large enough to, say, be worth a car or a couple of motorcycles (my other hobby).

The per-trade commission, I find, is making me more honest. I might still trade more than once or twice per month, but I make sure to do it with large enough sums as to make it worthwhile. And it forced me to do some serious housecleaning and thinking. If WhizBangCorp (KAZAP) doubles, great; if it's only 0.6% of my portfolio, I have the same problem as Warren B. trying to improve Berkshire Hathaway's returns ... albeit on a far smaller scale. :-) Bottom line, if I'm not confident enough in KAZAP to invest a significant chunk of my portfolio to it, I won't invest in it at all. And that, really, is the place I want to be, investing-wise.

I have nothing but fond memories and good service of FolioFN; I found their customer service was great and the service itself was pretty neat. It was also a lot of fun ... which was part of my problem, of course.

Of course there's a minimum buy-in of $15k to open a BrownCo account also, so my solution won't work for everyone, especially not new investors. What might work, however, is to start out with a decent index fund, or DSP/DRIP stock, and continue until you have a large enough stake to make a brokerage worth your time and resources.

Good roads,

- Lewellen180
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