Best Investment Companies

AUTHORIZED PARTNER

Get advice from finance professionals.

Find a financial advisor near you on SmartAsset

Get Started
Author picture
Written by Rachel Morey
Edited by Justin Martino
Reviewed by Jim Blankenship

Investment companies help you buy, sell and trade financial assets, like stocks or real estate. Traditional brokerage firms offer a wide variety of services. Some investment companies focus on a single type of investment, like real estate, Bitcoin IRAs or gold IRAs. We compared offerings, fees, minimum account requirements and other key factors from 30 popular investment companies to help you find the right one for you.

Why trust ConsumerAffairs?
  • Our recommendations are based on what reviewers say.
  • 3,766,828 reviews on ConsumerAffairs are verified.
  • We require contact information to ensure our reviewers are real.
  • We use intelligent software that helps us maintain the integrity of reviews.
  • Our moderators read all reviews to verify quality and helpfulness.

Compare Top Investment Company Reviews

Sort
  • Featured
  • Best Rated
  • Most Reviewed
  • Highest Rated

Our 3 top picks for investment companies

People seek help managing their money and investing to meet their financial goals in a variety of ways. Some decide to hire a full-service investment firm, while others prefer a more DIY route that may include buying individual stocks in carefully chosen companies.

Some investment advisors have a fiduciary duty that compels them to prioritize their clients' financial interests over their own. This type of advisor usually charges fees instead of a commission. If you want one-on-one advice from a financial planner or investor, you’ll usually pay a fee for their help too.

If you decide to go the DIY route, you can use a platform that lets you buy and sell certain investments for a relatively low cost.

Here, we highlight three companies that offer different types of financial services: a commission-free trading platform, a full-service investment firm and a firm that specializes in precious metals.

Robinhood
  • Commission-free ETF, options and stock trades
  • Free cryptocurrency trading
  • $0 account minimum

Robinhood is a trading app that doesn’t charge fees or commissions to trade cryptocurrency, stocks or exchange-traded funds. It provides a recurring investment option that allows the purchase of fractional shares. So, even if you can't afford higher-price stock, you can still take advantage of the stability and growth potential of publicly traded companies by purchasing a piece of stock.

For example, a single Netflix stock costs about $628 at the time of publishing. Several stock-picking services recommend Netflix as a "buy and hold" investment, but many investors can't afford a share of Netflix and wouldn't be able to take advantage of that potential growth unless they use a trading platform that allows fractional share purchases.

Robinhood also has a recurring investment feature that lets you automatically invest a set amount of money weekly, biweekly or monthly. Robinhood also offers dividend reinvestment (DRIP) to help users build wealth over time.

Keep in mind that Robinhood, as a free trading app, has its limitations. The company doesn't offer retirement accounts, and its range of account options and tradable securities is limited.

Robinhood may be a good choice for new investors and those who want to choose and purchase individual stocks but don’t have thousands of dollars to play with all at once.

The app is easy to use on the go, so investors who want a simple and straightforward way to invest in stocks and crypto may find the simple interface ideal.

The mobile trading platform provides customizable alerts, candlestick charts, news feeds and access to live earnings calls. Users can access a list of the top 100 most popular stocks and sort them by various criteria to help evaluate new investments.

Robinhood also allows trading on margin for a flat fee of $5 per month. This is risky, though. You could lose more money than the amount you have invested with margin trading — it's not usually recommended for beginning investors. There are no account balance minimums, no annual fees, no ACH transfer fees and no inactivity fees.

Edward Jones
  • Geared toward buy-and-hold; fees high for active investing
  • Local offices provide face-to-face interaction
  • Full-service investment advisor with an array of services

Edward Jones is an online discount brokerage that provides an array of services, including retirement planning, tax advice, insurance, education savings and the ability to buy and sell stocks. Be aware that full-service brokerages like Edward Jones don’t have a legal responsibility to provide financial advice that's in the customer's best interests, though.

You can open a brokerage account with Edward Jones that lets you buy and sell investments. There may be internal expenses as well as fees. For example, if you purchase $5,000 in stock with the help of a financial advisor, you pay $125 in commission plus a $4.95 transaction fee. So it would cost $5,129.95 to purchase $5,000 worth of stock with an Edward Jones brokerage account.

There are thousands of Edward Jones branches throughout the U.S.; the company has $1.3 trillion in assets under management (AUM). It has more than 19,000 advisors and works one-on-one with clients, providing individual investment advice and helping with wealth management.

It can help you assess your financial situation, set goals and build customized investment strategies, including mutual funds, stocks and bonds. It has several wealth management options:

Select accounts: This is a transactional brokerage account with no minimums, but it does have fees and commissions when you buy and sell some investments. You can buy and sell ETFs, bonds, stocks, mutual funds, certificates of deposit and annuities.

Guided solutions: This is a DIY investing and trading option with investment advice about which stocks, mutual funds, ETFs and bonds may best serve your financial goals.

The Flex Account has a 1.35% program fee that doesn’t include investment expenses on the first $25,000, and the Fund Account has a 1.35% program fee, not including internal expenses on the first $5,000. Both account options provide guidance from a financial advisor, but you make the final decision on investments.

If you want one-on-one advice from a financial planner or investor, you’ll pay a fee.

Advisory solutions: Choose from multiple research models with mutual funds and ETFs. With the Fund Models, you pay a 1.35% fee plus a portfolio strategy fee that starts at 0.09% on balances up to $25,000. With the UMA Models, you pay the same program fee, but the portfolio strategy fee starts at 0.19% on the first $500,000.

Additionally, a brokerage account lets you choose individual investments using advice from an Edward Jones financial expert.

Edward Jones charges various fees for access to its services. There's a $40 fee for retirement accounts. Taxable accounts have a 1.35% annual fee for the first $250,000 of assets under management. Fees are tiered all the way to $10 million, where they land at 0.50% per year, which is competitive with robo-advisor fees.

So, for investors with more money to manage, a firm like Edward Jones offers more customized services for about the same fee as a less-involved investment company.

Lear Capital
  • Full-service gold dealer
  • Transparent pricing models
  • Real-time guidance on precious metal investing

With Lear Capital, you have access to precious metals investments through rare coins, bullion or IRAs. Many investors prefer to diversify by purchasing precious metals to hedge against inflation. Since precious metals may retain their value even when the value of the dollar drops, investing in this sector can add stability to a portfolio.

Lear Capital offers a few distinct account options, including self-directed IRAs that allow account holders to roll over an existing IRA into a precious metals IRA. If you choose this option, your precious metals are stored in a facility, and you get all the tax benefits of an IRA.

There's a flat $160 annual fee that includes 24/7 online account access through the IRA custodian. The account also comes with insurance underwritten by Lloyd's of London, as well as storage.

Account holders can set up regular recurring contributions to make building wealth easy.

Lear Capital offers help from gold experts if you aren't sure which type of precious metal you'd like to purchase or if you have questions about setting up a precious metals IRA.

How to choose the best investment or wealth management firm for you

When you’re searching for a wealth management firm to help you make good choices about when, where and how much to invest, concentrate on the company's track record of performance. Read online reviews from verified customers to learn a bit about how the company treats its clients.

A big part of choosing an investment or wealth management firm is understanding your needs and finding a firm that specializes in helping people like you reach their financial goals.

Whether you need access to robust trading platforms, one-on-one help from an investment advisor or the niche services of a private equity investment firm, it's crucial to shop around. Service fees vary greatly from one investment firm to the next.

Qualifications

It’s important to trust the person giving you investment advice. Many factors can help you determine whether the individual advisor or firm is trustworthy.

  • Regulatory registration: Ask whether the investment firm or individual advisor is registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) or the regulatory agency in your state. You can check their registrations on the SEC, FINRA or CFTC websites. Visit the North American Securities Administrators Association’s (NASAA) website to find which agency advisors must register within your state.
  • Fiduciary or suitability standards: Ask whether your advisor is bound by fiduciary or suitability standards. Under fiduciary standards, the advisor must advise you to make investments in your overall best interest, while suitability standards only require an advisor to recommend products that are suitable for your current financial portfolio. Following suitability standards, advisors might recommend products that will earn them more money, even if a different product might be better for you.
  • SIPC membership: If you’re investing in the stock market, choose a firm or agent that is a member of the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC). The SIPC ensures that your assets (up to $500,000) are protected if the firm goes out of business and investor assets are missing. Note that the SIPC does not protect investors from losses caused by market changes.
  • Experience: Not all types of investments or investment advisors are eligible to register with FINRA or the SEC or be a member of the SIPC. If you’re investing in products not regulated by those organizations, consider how long the investment company or agent has been in business. A long history can indicate how reputable and stable the firm is.
  • Common sense: It’s essential to use common sense when investing. If someone offers an investment that seems too good to be true, it probably is. Trust your judgment and don’t give money to individuals or businesses without thoroughly researching their qualifications and the kind of investments they’re recommending.

Cost

Investment companies make money in multiple ways. To ensure you aren’t overpaying for services and to verify that your advisors aren’t recommending products only for their profit, make sure you understand all the fees and costs associated with your account.

  • Account fees: Some accounts charge a fee every month, quarter or year. This fee won’t change based on the number of transactions you make. Instead, it's based on the value of your investment account. The more money you invest, the larger the fee is.
  • Flat fees: Some companies charge a fee for every transaction. These flat fees are straightforward and generally easy to understand. However, you may end up paying more in flat fees than you would if you paid an account fee. These fees are not based on the amount of money you’re investing.
  • Commission: Your investment agent may also earn a commission when they sell products or complete transactions for you. They may also earn more for selling certain products. This means that agents who only follow suitability standards may recommend products based on their potential income instead of what is best for you.
  • Seminar fees: Some investment companies only offer advice on how to invest and do not actually facilitate any investments. These companies or individuals often make money by charging investors to attend a seminar or pay an education fee. You pay for their advice like you’d pay to attend a class.

Philosophy and fit

It's important to find an investment company with agents who understand your goals and are accustomed to working with investors like you.

  • Minimum investments: One of the first questions you should ask is what the company’s minimum investment is. You shouldn’t work with a company that requires a larger investment than you’re comfortable making.
  • Proactive recommendations: Ask how and when advisors make changes to your portfolio. If you trust your advisor, look for a company that will make recommendations before a change instead of being reactive to changes in the market or your financial situation.
  • Investor involvement: Before choosing a firm, think about how involved you want to be. If you just want to deposit money into an account and have someone else do all the investing work, look for a full-service company that has professional brokers that assess your financial situation and goals and choose the best investments for you. If you want to be more involved, you can choose a company that offers less professional advice, which may be cheaper.

Investment company types

Not all investment companies perform all services. When choosing one, it’s crucial to think about your needs and what type of company best suits them.

Full service

Traditional brokerage firms offer a wide variety of services and have professional brokers on staff to advise you. If you’re looking for a comprehensive investment portfolio, you should choose a full-service, traditional investment company.

Focused investment

Some investment companies focus on a single type of investment, such as real estate, Bitcoin IRAs or gold IRAs. Investors who are especially interested in that field or are looking to diversify their existing portfolio may wish to choose this type of company.

Workshops and seminars

Some investment companies focus on investor education instead of investments. If you want to be very involved in your investments or simply want to learn more about investing, consider attending consulting with one of these companies.

Investment company FAQ

What are the different types of investment companies?

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) categorizes investment companies into three types: mutual funds (also known as “open-end” companies), closed-end funds and unit investment trusts (UITs).

  • Mutual funds: With a mutual fund, you pool money with other investors. Money goes into stocks, bonds, money market instruments and other securities.
  • Closed-end funds: Closed-end investment companies put money raised during an initial public offering (IPO) into stocks, bonds and other securities. Shares are later available in fixed releases.
  • UITs: A unit investment trust raises money from multiple investors in a one-time public offering. Investments are then made into stocks, bonds and other securities.

Exchange-traded funds (ETFs) can be categorized as open-end funds or UITs.

What are the four types of investments?
The four main types of investments are cash (and cash equivalents), property, fixed-interest bonds and shares. Stocks, bonds and options represent a share of ownership, a creditor's relationship, rights to ownership in a company or a loan to a corporation or government entity. Property includes real estate, which is some form of land, buildings or the natural resources on these properties.
What does an investment company do?
Investment companies help you buy, sell and trade assets. Full-service investment companies offer a wide variety of options, while other firms specialize in certain types of assets, such as real estate or gold IRAs.
How does an investment firm make money?

It really depends on the investment company, but here are some generalizations:

  • Brokers often make a commission when they execute financial transactions, but they usually have some associated fees too. Zero-commission brokers have various other ways of making money to compensate for their lack of commissions.
  • Financial advisors generally make money off of fees, commissions or a combination of both. While fee-only advisors might charge you more, their compensation structure helps avoid conflicts of interest. This is why most fiduciary advisors don’t take commissions.
  • Other investment firms will make money in ways that make sense for their respective industries. Don’t expect a real estate firm to make money the same way a gold IRA company does.

Regardless of the type of company you’re dealing with, it’s smart to investigate how the firm makes money and how that might influence its services.

How do you buy shares in a company?

Most investors buy stocks through a broker, whether it’s online or in person. To buy shares in a company, you must:

  1. Open a brokerage account.
  2. Add money to your account.
  3. Decide what stocks you want to buy.
  4. Choose how many shares you’d like.
  5. Set up the purchase with your broker.

Once you’ve purchased your shares, you need to monitor their value to ensure you sell at the optimal time.

Bottom line

Every investment firm has distinct strengths that may work well for specific investors. Choosing an investment company is highly personal, and finding the right one may require a bit of research.

Be sure to understand the costs and limits of an investment company's services before diving in. Remember that every investment type carries a certain amount of risk, so don't invest money you can't afford to lose.

ConsumerAffairs writers primarily rely on government data, industry experts and original research from other reputable publications to inform their work. To learn more about the content on our site, visit our FAQ page.
  1. U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), “Investment Companies.” Accessed Dec. 9, 2021.
  2. U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), “Mutual Funds.” Accessed Dec. 9, 2021.
  3. U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), “Closed-end Funds.”Accessed Dec. 9, 2021.
  4. U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), “Unit Investment Trusts (UITs).”Accessed Dec. 9, 2021.

Compare Top Investment Company Reviews

Comparing

×