No. of Recommendations: 1

You wrote, dsr, one advantage of Schwab is that they have actual people in actual offices pretty much everywhere. You can walk in and tell them what you want to accomplish, and they will answer your questions, for free.

Schwab is not the only discount brokers with local offices.

When I lived in north Texas, I found that Fidelity, Scottrade and TD Ameritrade had some of the best branch locations, relative to where I lived and worked.

However I never found Scottrade on-site staff to be terribly useful. I used the offices from time to time to drop stuff off so I could avoid sending it by mail. Mostly my prior year's Roth IRA contribution after I'd done my taxes; but in one or two occasions to respond to a corporate action and once to deposit a physical stock certificate. Even though they were one of my first brokerage accounts, I always left feeling I was educating them about my investment options and how stuff worked - not the other way around.

Fidelity may have had the most local offices of all the brokers I used - they had 5 offices in the DFW metropolis. They have 4 offices in the Seattle area, where I am now - same as Schwab, actually. But I've never visited a branch office. Fidelity and I have had a mixed relationship and I'm still nursing a grudge against one of their absurd policies. But they're also my current 401k and ESPP plan provider, so they hold a significant portion of my assets.

I have been impressed with TD Ameritrade's service, online, on the phone and in-person. Of course in-person could have been luck of the draw at that office. Or it could have been that TD Ameritrade hired more experienced staff or did a better job training. Hard to tell. It was always interesting discussing investment options with them and I never felt like they were making a hard sell.

I also have an accounts at E*Trade, but they have never had convenient locations for me. And for the most part, this has not been an issue.

- Joel
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