Vanguard Review

Richard Montana | June 8, 2022

Vanguard is an investment management company with a solid reputation in the industry. The Vanguard brokerage accounts is a popular choice for investors who are looking to buy and sell any type of investment with relatively low costs. They have a great range of investment products and services, with ways to invest for everyone. You can put money into your Vanguard account to trade stocks and ETFs, buy and sell mutual funds or invest in CDs (certificates of deposit) and bonds. Vanguard Investor offers ready-made investment portfolios. I like how they put a great emphasis on education, with plenty of guides to help you learn the basics so that you can make an informed decision on what investments suit your goals and investing style. I think that they can be a good broker for anyone who is looking for straightforward mid to long term investments with excellent support and no frills.

Pros / Cons
  • Large selection of investment products
  • Simple web & mobile investing platforms
  • Competitive fees
  • Commission-free ETFs
  • Learning articles for new investors
  • No minimum account opening fee
  • Can cater more towards long-term passive investors
  • Regulated & established brokerage firm
  • Limited funding options
  • Limited platform capabilities
  • Limited market research & data provided
  • No Forex, CFDs & Cryptos
  • Not ideal for active day traders
  • Account opening can take a few days

Summary

A well-known global brand, Vanguard provides investors with an online trading service via the Vanguard Brokerage Account. Amongst their vast rangeof  investment products, you can choose from a great selection of mutual funds, ETFs, stocks, options, Certificate of Deposits (CDs) & bonds. All brokerage trades are settled through your Vanguard settlement fund. I noticed that they are geared more towards the passive investor rather than day traders. If you are looking to day trade, I would recommend taking a look at IG as an alternative option.

Trading Conditions

Vanguard have reasonable fees on stocks, options, and bonds and does offer some free ETFs for trading. I like how they provide you with a choice of basic yet user-friendly investing platforms. I would’ve preferred if they had a better selection of trading tools to conduct more complex analysis. As they tend to be primarily focused on long-term investments and retirement plans of high net worth investors, this does mean that the trading infrastructure may not be as suitable for the average active retail trader. For instance, the platforms do not have as many features and functionalities as some others.

Vanguard executes your orders through trading partners with best execution practices to help ensure the best possible prices. I like how they have quarterly reports available that show details on the relationships that they maintain with their trading partners. I also appreciate that they frequently conduct in-depth reviews on the market centres that they utilize to ensure the trading conditions offer acceptable execution speeds, reliable services, and liquidity.

Since they were founded back in 1975 by Jack Bogle, they have grown into a company whose main focus is on providing you with low-cost investment options and a variety of different investment account types. The founder states on the Vanguard website that:

“From its start in 1975, Vanguard has stood out as a very different kind of investment firm. Vanguard was founded on a simple but revolutionary idea that a mutual fund company should not have outside owners.” Founder John C. Bogle structured Vanguard as a client-owned mutual fund company with no outside owners seeking profits.

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Regulation

I would consider Vanguard to be very safe and would not have any problem trusting them with my funds. They are an established and regulated company that operate in an honest and transparent manner. You can take confidence knowing that Vanguard are regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) in the United States. This means that they must abide by rules and procedures in place to protect investors. I would always prefer to use a regulated broker for trading and investing online. It is worth noting that Vanguard funds not held in a brokerage account are held by The Vanguard Group, Inc., and are not protected by SIPC.

Countries

As a United States broker, Vanguard is mainly focused on providing its investment services to clients within the US. They do however have a global presence through their subsidiaries and partners. I should also mention that the product range can vary for each country. If the product range is not satisfactory for your country, you could browse for an alternative from our broker reviews.

Platforms

Vanguard provides a proprietary web and mobile trading platform. You can check your investments and manage your account any time with the secure online platform. There is support for basic order types; market, limit, stop and stop limit. I appreciate that it implements two-step login authentication for security. I actually prefer the Vanguard Investor mobile platform as it is slightly easier to get around and compatible with both iOS and Android devices. Just keep in mind that you can only trade stocks, ETFs, and mutual funds via the mobile platform.

Vanguard Platform

Vanguard Platform

To be honest, I found the platform quite basic when compared to other trading platforms that I use such as MetaTrader. I didn’t really enjoy the web platform as it is not the most intuitive and has very limited customization features. You need to search for trading assets which can be a clunky and awkward experience. I think it is slightly outdated and could do with some updating but that is just my opinion. I don’t like how alert notifications can only be sent via email whereas other online brokers such as Forex.com offer mobile and platform notifications.

Overall, there are many other online brokers catering to US traders such as Oanda who offer more advanced trading platforms with more features and functionality, including the ever-popular MetaTrader platform. However, I think the Vanguard platform could be sufficient if you just want to browse the markets and manage your positions without performing any complex technical analysis on various chart types and timeframes.

Vanguard App

The app lets you access an overview of your accounts by checking your total assets and balances. You can also track your account balances and performance, as well as cost basis and day change information for each of your holdings. I like how you can easily make trades, deposit checks directly into your accounts, and check your transaction history. You can use the app to get support, update your login preferences, and share feedback.

Vanguard App

Vanguard App

Education

Vanguard does have a good selection of educational materials to assist investors with their long-term plans. They also have a toolbox that includes investment calculators and other tools to help strengthen your financial strategy and planning. You can compare investment funds side by side to see a more complete picture and use the stock screener to screen and analyse a list of investment products that you are interested in.

However, they are lacking in research tools for in-depth market analysis which again backs the fact that they are perhaps not the most suitable option for the average day trader who needs to conduct technical and fundamental analysis. I found the quotes are also delayed which can be frustrating especially considering there are so many other brokers who provide free real-time quotes.

If you are looking for a broker with plenty of tools for conducting thorough market analysis to find trading signals, you might want to take a look at WH SelfInvest.

Markets

This is an area in which Vanguard really excels. You will find that they have a vast range of investment products so that you can design a portfolio of your choice with any combination of mutual funds, ETFs, individual stocks, options, Certificate of Deposits (CDs) & bonds. The impressive selection of investment products offered include:

  • Mutual funds – They offer a variety of over 120+ different types of mutual funds. Mutual funds are free but other mutual funds that are outside Vanguard cost $20 per trade.
  • ETFs – There is a choice of exchange-traded funds that are similar to a mutual fund but trade more like a stock. Vanguard provides commission-free online trading on approximately 1,800 ETFs, provided you do not buy or sell more than 25 times per year.
  • Stocks – Clients can take a hands-on approach by choosing from a range of individual stocks that they would like to add to their portfolio. Stock fees start from $7 per trade.
  • Options – Choose from a selection of options which cost $7 + $1 per contract.
  • Certificate of Deposits (CDs) & bonds – They have an extensive online selection of fixed-income investments that can help investors to find CDs or bonds that meet their individual financial goals.

Accounts

You can choose from a variety of retirement and investment Vanguard accounts depending on your individual goals and requirements. Whatever your age or investment strategy, there is something for everyone. Accounts include:

  • Individual & joint accounts – These are the standard investment accounts, primarily for those who are getting started with investing or if other accounts have been maxed out.
  • Individual retirement accounts (IRAs) – They offer Roth and traditional IRAs for retirement savings separate from employer-sponsored plans.
  • SEPs, SIMPLEs & i401(k)s – These accounts are useful if you have your own business, whether you are self-employed or have employees.
  • Annuity accounts – There is a choice of variable annuities that can help to maximize tax benefits of retirement accounts although perhaps not a suitable option for everyone.
  • Savings accounts – The 529 college savings plan can be used to save for your children’s college education and has some tax benefits that should be discussed with a qualified advisor.

The larger your account balance, the more discounts and potential free trades you can receive. In general, I found that Vanguard accounts with no more than $50,000 in assets tend to face higher trading fees.

I appreciate that there is no minimum deposit size required to open a Vanguard brokerage account. However, you will need to meet the minimum requirements for purchasing the investment products that you wish to trade. Some funds have a $1,000 minimum whilst others can require a minimum $3,000 – $10,000 amount which can rule out some investors. There is a minimum of $2,000 required to trade on a margin account and a minimum of $50,000 for the Vanguard Personal Advisor Services.

Although they are mainly focused on offering self-directed investment products, I like how Vanguard also offers managed portfolios and Robo-advisors. Whilst these can be customized to meet your objectives and are hands-off, they do come with extra fees.

Support

Vanguard offers a personal advisor service to help you find a portfolio that is suitable for your goals and preferences. They provide customer support via email and telephone from 8 am-10 pm Monday through to Friday EST. I find that it would be more convenient if they offered an online live chat customer service option that would be available 24/7. You may want to check out EXANTE if this matters to you too. You can also find a plethora of useful guides and resources scattered throughout their website.

Funding

Vanguard’s deposit and withdrawal methods are very limited. I don’t like how they only support wire transfers and limited currency accounts. Deposits have no fee charged but some fees may be charged for withdrawals. The withdrawal time can vary as bank transfers may take a few business days to clear. I believe the funding methods could be greatly improved perhaps by adding some convenient online payment processor options such as PayPal, Skrill, or Neteller. I don’t always want to wait around for my funds to clear as there may be some market news that I need to act quick on. However, you can always load up your Vanguard brokerage account so that funds are readily available as and when you need them to invest.

Signup

You can open a Vanguard account online. Although it only takes a few minutes to apply, it can take up to 3 business days or more for your account to be verified. During the account opening process, you will need to choose your account type, specify your investment goals, provide personal information, choose your preferred funding method, and agree to the terms and conditions. Once you have provided the required verification documents (passport, driver’s license, utility bill, etc) your account can be verified for you to fund and start trading. I think this is quite an arduous process but understand that it is to be expected considering the brokers regulation.

Conclusion

Vanguard is one of the world’s largest fund managers who helped to pioneer index investing in the 1970s and has more recently launched its self-directed investing platform. The Vanguard brokerage account offers general investing product and services. I like how they have a wide range of commission-free ETFs and generally competitive non-trading-related fees. There is also a range of account types to choose from and they do support self-directed investments or managed portfolios. Despite this, they are not the most convenient option for the average retail day trader. The trading platforms, tools, and funding options are quite limited whilst they do not offer trading on Forex, CFDs & Cryptocurrencies. You can find a broker with a greater range of platforms and tools through our best brokers. If you are a more long-term investor looking to invest with a global brand in a regulated environment, they are certainly worth strong consideration.

Vanguard Logo

Min $1 Deposit

The Vanguard brokerage account gives you access to a range of investment products & services with competitive fees. They are more suited towards long-term investors who are looking for a convenient way to manage their funds with an established company.

All investing is subject to risk, including the possible loss of the money you invest.

About the Author

Richard Montana
Richard has many years of experience in broker research, testing, analysis and reviews. He knows what to look for through years of trading himself with different brokers and listening to the feedback of others.

Review Methodology

For all of our broker reviews, we research, validate, analyse and compare what we deem to be the most important factors to consider when choosing a broker. This includes pros, cons and an overall rating based on our findings. We aim to help you find the best broker according to your own needs. You can read more about our review process.