Top 4 Biggest Stock Brokerage Firms in the US

Top 4 Biggest Stock Brokerage Firms in the US

8 Min.
  • With 33 million active trading accounts and $7.5 trillion under management, Charles Schwab is one of the top stock brokerage firms in the United States.
  • With 40 million active brokerage accounts and $3.9 trillion in discretionary assets, Fidelity Investments is a solid option for clients looking to invest in Fidelity mutual funds and ETFs.
  • E*TRADE, a forerunner in online brokerage, is renowned for its fully functional mobile apps, excellent options trading tools, and customizable user interface.
  • TD Ameritrade is a popular choice for both active and novice investors due to its vast research and investor education resources catered to all levels of investing expertise.


In the US, there are numerous stock brokerage firms. However, four significant businesses stand out due to their names, services, total client assets, and clientele. These companies are frequently referred to as the "big four brokerages." The top four companies in terms of clients and assets are Charles Schwab, Fidelity Investments, E*TRADE, and TD Ameritrade. 

Charles Schwab: A Financial Powerhouse

A prominent figure in the financial landscape, Charles Schwab stands as a formidable force. Since its inception in 1971, headquartered in San Francisco, this investment powerhouse has left an indelible mark. As a preeminent investment brokerage and IRA custodian, its influence is paramount.

Fast forward to January 2023, Charles Schwab's grip on the industry remains unwavering. It commands a staggering $7.5 trillion in client assets, distributed across a vast clientele of 33.9 million active brokerage accounts. Notably, the institution also operates Schwab Bank, an expansive financial institution, allowing seamless integration between trading and checking accounts. This integration extends to 1.7 million active banking accounts.

The firm's offerings are as diverse as they are comprehensive, spanning stocks, mutual funds, ETFs, money market funds, fixed-income products, options, futures, insurance, and annuities. Both proprietary and third-party investments are available, ensuring a broad spectrum of choices for clients. In essence, Charles Schwab remains an unyielding cornerstone in the financial realm, continuously evolving to cater to the diverse needs of its clientele.

Charles Schwab: An In-depth Look at Pricing

Renowned as the pioneer of authentic discount brokerage within the nation, Schwab has perpetually maintained its status as one of the most budget-friendly brokerage firms in the United States. In a significant move during October 2019, Schwab executed a commission reduction strategy, dropping the charges for all U.S. and Canadian-listed stocks, ETFs, and options trades conducted online and via mobile to a remarkable $0.00. It's important to note that options trades, while following this trend, are still accompanied by the standard $0.65 per-contract fee.

Within the realm of actively managed mutual funds, the operating expense ratio (OER) fees demonstrate a spectrum spanning from 0.21% to 1.92%. Correspondingly, passively managed mutual funds encompass fees ranging from 0.02% to 0.39%. Delving into the annual portfolio management fees at Schwab, we observe a starting point of 0.80% for the Schwab Private Client account. Notably, these fees exhibit a descending trajectory for clients with augmented asset levels.

Diversifying their portfolio of offerings, the firm extends a seamless and low-effort investment approach through their robo-advisor service named Intelligent Portfolios. This online platform, an embodiment of automation, introduces clients to a repertoire of ETFs aligned with their investment aspirations, automatically rebalanced as per their preferences. The service mandates a minimum investment of $5,000 and notably, bears no advisory or commission fees.

Fidelity Investments: Unveiling a Financial Powerhouse

In the sphere of financial prowess, Fidelity Investments takes center stage. Boasting a colossal $3.9 trillion managed in assets and a substantial clientele of 40.9 million individual investors, its eminence is undeniable.

The chronicles of Fidelity Investments commenced in 1946 when it was established as Fidelity Management & Research. Rooted in Boston, this institution has evolved to become the steward of the nation's largest reservoir of 401(k) retirement savings plans. As attested by the company's official website, Fidelity's dominion extended to a remarkable $11.1 trillion in customer assets by June 2021, accompanied by an impressive roster of 82.8 million active brokerage accounts. In tandem, the institution celebrated a significant benchmark of 40 million individual investors and an extraordinary daily average of more than 2.6 million commissionable trades.

Fidelity's prowess particularly shines for those seeking a comprehensive brokerage experience interwoven with investment in Fidelity ETFs and mutual funds. Beyond this, the firm extends its reach, offering investment avenues into third-party products, thereby catering to a broad spectrum of preferences.

Fidelity Investments: Navigating the Fee Framework

Fidelity Investments, a dominant presence in the financial domain, is notable for its fee structure that fosters accessibility and flexibility. The firm proudly offers account fees at a remarkable zero, a practice extended to retail brokerage accounts and IRAs. Akin to Schwab's approach, Fidelity introduces commission-free trades encompassing stocks, ETFs, and options. It's crucial to note that a standard $0.65 per-contract fee persists for options trades. In the realm of Fidelity mutual funds, there exists an enticing feature of no minimum investment threshold. Moreover, a subset of proprietary mutual funds enjoys exemption from expense ratio fees, alongside an array of other funds that incur no transaction fees.

Portfolio advisory service charges are molded within the range of 0.50% to 1.50%, contingent upon the invested amount. The minimum investment requisites are diversified, spanning from $25,000 to $250,000 in alignment with distinct investment avenues. Introducing the automated Fidelity Go service, the firm levies a modest 0.35% advisory fee, coupled with the convenience of a no-account-minimum policy. A noteworthy distinction that sets Fidelity apart lies in its extensive outreach to tens of millions of non-brokerage customers, a claim that distinguishes it from its peers.

E*TRADE: Pioneering Financial Evolution

Amid the financial panorama, E*TRADE emerges as a dynamic force. With a substantial $360 billion under management and an impressive 5.2 million accounts, its influence is undeniable.

Embarking on its trajectory in 1982, E*TRADE commenced as a holding entity, subsequently morphing into a formidable online discount brokerage service. The fiscal crisis of 2007-2008 struck the firm significantly due to its high exposure to subprime mortgage portfolios. This turmoil culminated in an 86.7% stock decline in 2007, preceding the successful implementation of an all-encompassing revitalization strategy.

The orchestrated turnaround bore fruit, propelling E*TRADE to its current status as a premier financial establishment, celebrated for its mobile accessibility, online trading tools, and customizable user interface. Fast-forwarding to February 2020, E*TRADE wielded more than 5.2 million retail brokerage accounts, overseeing assets exceeding $360 billion.

A pivotal moment in the firm's journey saw Morgan Stanley's acquisition of E*TRADE, ushering in a new era as a leader in major wealth management channels. Mirroring its peers, E*TRADE extends access to ETFs, mutual funds, stocks, options, and fixed income products. The firm introduces two checking accounts and a savings account, fortified by $1.25 million in FDIC insurance. Clients also have the option to opt for a prebuilt portfolio, an avenue to a diversified assortment of mutual funds or ETFs curated by an investment strategy team.

E*TRADE: Exploring the Pricing Framework

In the year 2019, E*TRADE embarked on a transformative journey alongside Schwab and Fidelity, introducing the realm of fee-free trading. This pivotal shift encompassed a reduction in commissions, effectively setting stock, options, and ETF trades at a remarkable $0 each. Meanwhile, options contracts retain a charge of $0.65 each ($0.50 with a quarterly tally exceeding 30 trades).

Navigating the Landscape of TD Ameritrade

Encompassing a legacy of financial prowess, TD Ameritrade steps into the limelight. With a formidable $1 trillion managed in assets and an impressive 11 million client accounts, its significance is irrefutable.

Initiating its journey in 1971, TD Ameritrade established its roots in Omaha, Nebraska. An evolutionary milestone led to the merger of Ameritrade and TD Waterhouse Group in 2006, subsequently solidifying its identity as TD Ameritrade. Notably, the acquisition of Scottrade in 2017, hailing from St. Louis, marked another remarkable stride. By February 2018, client accounts underwent a seamless integration into the TD Ameritrade system.

Elevating its stature, TD Ameritrade stands as a pinnacle of quality and value within the U.S. brokerage landscape. A 24/7 customer support network, coupled with a user-friendly website featuring mobile accessibility, research, and advanced trading tools, epitomizes its commitment to clients. Particularly noteworthy is its reputation as a preferred choice for nascent investors.

Reiterating its eminence, TD Ameritrade's website attests to its colossal hold over $1 trillion in customer assets. This is accompanied by a remarkable clientele of 11 million, orchestrating an average of 500,000 daily trades. The gamut of investment products spans stocks, ETFs, mutual funds, options, and fixed-income vehicles. Adding to the array, the firm extends opportunities in futures and forex currency for those with a more diverse investment palate.

TD Ameritrade: Unveiling Pricing Policies

In the realm of financial services, TD Ameritrade distinguishes itself with a distinctive approach to pricing. The institution embodies a commitment to accessibility and affordability. Embracing a policy that eases entry, TD Ameritrade waives the requirement for an account minimum. Moreover, it holds aloft a banner of transparency by eliminating platform fees and trade minimums. Diving deeper into its offerings, TD Ameritrade extends a significant stride by introducing commission-free trading. This groundbreaking strategy translates to a fee exemption for online trades involving U.S. exchange-listed stocks, ETFs, and options. However, an options trade incurs a modest fee of $0.65 per contract.


Within the United States, an array of brokerage establishments exists. Among the notable names, Charles Schwab and Fidelity stand tall. These entities command a substantial presence as colossal asset managers, catering to a vast customer base, managing assets valued in the billions. Preceding any investment endeavor, comprehending the fee arrangement and inherent risk of loss is pivotal.