Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) are a great way to invest for retirement because they give you the opportunity to invest your money with tax advantages that are more beneficial than investing in a non-retirement account. You can open a Roth IRA at many financial institutions, which is convenient for investors. But each financial institution is not created equally and every investor has different needs, so it pays to do your research before jumping in with both feet. You should assess your investment style and needs before opening a Roth IRA or making any other investment.
Where you can open an IRA
Many financial institutions and brokerages offer IRAs, including banks, brokerage firms (Merrill Lynch, Edward Jones, etc.), online discount brokerages (Scottrade, E*Trade, TradeKing), mutual fund companies (Vanguard, Fidelity, T. Rowe Price), and independent certified financial planners. You will want to find the financial institution that best meets your investment needs.
If you prefer speaking with someone face to face, then you may wish to go with a full service broker that has an office where you can discuss your investment needs. If you prefer a more hands on approach you may wish to go with a mutual fund company where you can invest in a variety of mutual funds and other investments, or an online brokerage where you can make inexpensive individual stock trades. If you like a combination of these features, then consider a company like Scottrade, which offers a discount online brokerage, and also has individual branches where you can meet with a broker to discuss your investment needs.
Best places to open a Roth IRA. Here are some of the more popular places to open a Roth IRA.
Questions to ask before opening your IRA
- Is there a minimum initial investment to open an IRA?
- Are there minimum contributions?
- What types of fees are charged and how much are they?
- Can fees be avoided with minimum account balances or by receiving electronic statements?
- Does the company offer option to make automatic contributions?
- Which investment options are available? Stocks, Bonds, Mutual funds, ETFs, CDs, other?.
You should be able to get the answers to most of these questions online, unless you are opening an account with an independent financial planner, who may or may not have this information online. If the information is not readily available online, give the financial institution a call and ask for an information packet before opening an IRA. It’s a good idea to review the fees and other details prior to opening your IRA; that way you have a good idea of what kind of fees and other expenses you can expect to pay.
All things being equal, go with the company or broker you feel most comfortable with. And if you later decide that you don’t prefer the financial institution where you opened your IRA, you can always transfer it to another financial institution. The brokers there will be happy to help you fill out the paperwork.