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Bob's reply is spot on and I'll try to add to it. The answer to your question about the advantage of your IRA over a brokerage account can be summed up in one word: taxes. With a brokerage account, you will pay taxes on realized profits and dividends as they happen. With an IRA you are protected from this. In a self-directed IRA you can invest in virtually any traded security, mutual fund, etc (be careful of MLP's though). That being said, if you are anxious to have someone else invest the money in your IRA you certainly can. Just be prepared to pay a management fee on top of the fees you are already paying to the mutual funds. But why do this? The point of being a Fool is realizing that you can make money for yourself in the market with the help of TMF and this community (and you won't even charge yourself a fee to do it!). Sure you can also lose money yourself (but your professional manager can do that too). Having a tax advantaged account, even if you hold solely mutual funds, is not a set-it-and-forget-it proposition. In business and in investing, owners need to watch their managers.
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