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Author: junkman02 Big red star, 1000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: of 35400  
Subject: Re: Zions Direct a Good Choice? Date: 11/7/2009 10:40 PM
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Opps. More corrections, or, rather, an addition.

You wrote: ...a rather extensive inventory (at least compared to what I see at Schwab and E*Trade)."

Nope. Just ain't so. I've got accounts with both Zions and E*Trade, and generally when I'm shopping, I've got both accounts open, and I'm running screens in both accounts. I can only speak confidently for corporates, but E*Trade has a negligible edge in providing inventory. And I really do mean negligible. If you run a screen that returns a couple hundred bonds, E*Trade might have one or two Zions doesn't.

But, sometimes, the difference is in the other direction. Zions will be quoting a bond that E*Trade isn't. Typically, such differences turn up when the lot is tiny or, especially, if the issue is illiquid. But if you check back a couple days later, the other one is typically quoting the bond they weren't before. So a lot of the differences might have to do with the underlying desks each is linked to in the electronic network that is "The Bond Market".

All I know is that Vanguard, Fidelity, Scottrade, AmeriTrade, and (currently) Schwab aren't worth dealing with. Things are rumored to be changing at Schwab. But I haven't yet seen the changes. Therefore, if an investor wants to buy his own corporate bonds from a discount broker, there are only two, currently-viable choices: Zions and E*Trade.

Back to inventory question: Due the to the recent NC muni brouhaha, I was also running screens for munis. There, Zions seemed to have the edge. So, as always, what your specific needs are will determine your choice of brokers.

Zions customer service is better. But you can always get your questions answered and business done at E*Trade, too. So, really the choice there is a toss up. Zions' bond commish is $10.95/ticket. E*Trade is $10. That, too, is a toss up. The fee for reorgs --if I'm remembering right-- is $20 at Zions and $30 at E*Trade. For buying corporates, I much prefer E*Trade's platform. For munis, I prefer Zion's platform. For sweeping cash, Zions is better. For getting cash into the account, E*Trade is better.

Etc. Etc. Etc. It's all just tiny details that might not concern you, or they might be deal-breakers. It all depends on your needs. If your account is big enough, there is no reason not to open an account with each one and to have the best of both worlds.

Again, best wishes whatever you decide.
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