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Thursday, February 18, 2010

Vanguard Joins the Brokerage Wars -- Sort Of

News summary by MFWire's editors

Vanguard's brokerage unit last month began offering 100 commission-free trades on stocks and ETFs to a small group of customers, company spokesperson Amy Chain confirmed to The MFWire. The Valley Forge, Pennsylvania-based firm is dangling the offer to select Flagship clients (Flagship customers are those with at least $1 million with Vanguard).

For the past three years, Vanguard has offered 12 free trades to its Flagship clientele.

The new offer comes a few weeks before Fidelity announced it was offering 25 iShares ETFs commission-free. Last November, Schwab announced it was making proprietary ETFs available through Schwab.com free of commission.

Vanguard's move was highlighted by Independent Adviser for Vanguard Investors editor Dan Wiener in his latest newsletter on Wednesday:

"Vanguard Brokerage Services appears to be making at least a tepid response to Fidelity’s move earlier this month to offer free trading in more than two dozen iShares ETFs," Wiener wrote. "This “shot across the bow” of the good ship Vanguard continues the fight for market share in the ETF/indexing space."

"To wit, Vanguard Brokerage is now offering 100 commission-free trades to Flagship clients every year, beginning in 2010. Last year Flagship investors got a dozen free trades. This year it’s 100, which is obviously a big jump. Of course, to qualify you still have to commit at least a million dollars to Vanguard," he added.

Reacting to the newsletter, Vanguard's Chain wrote in an e-mail to The MFWire: "The reports you've mentioned are incorrect in a number of ways. First, Vanguard has offered 12 free trades on stocks and ETFs to Flagship clients (those with $1 million or more invested with Vanguard) for some three years.Second, a small group of Flagship clients was offered 100 free trades in January, well before any announcement from Fidelity." 

Edited by: InvestmentWires Staff, 

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