Compare Fidelity Investments vs. Morgan Stanley

In this article...
  • Compare Fidelity Investments vs. Morgan Stanley, and discover the different personal and robo-advisor investment options each company offers to individuals.

When you're looking to invest your hard-earned money, it's important to entrust it to a firm that has a solid reputation and a track record of success. Morgan Stanley and Fidelity Investments are two of the best-known companies in the industry. As you determine which is the right choice for you, it's helpful to compare Fidelity Investments vs. Morgan Stanley to see how the two brokers stack up.

About Fidelity Investments and Morgan Stanley

Fidelity and Morgan Stanley have both been major players in the investment and wealth management world for decades. Fidelity was founded in 1946 and now has more than 57,000 employees in nine countries. Morgan Stanley has been in business since 1935. Throughout its history, the company has expanded across the globe; it has offices in more than 30 countries.

Both companies are highly regarded. Fidelity is consistently rated among the top online brokers; it often occupies the top spot. In 2022, 42 of the financial advisors on the
Barron’s Top 100 list came from Morgan Stanley.

What Investment Options Does Morgan Stanley Offer?

Morgan Stanley is a traditional investment company. Big and powerful, it tends to attract high-net-worth investors who want personal attention from financial advisors. As you might expect, given the company’s extensive network, long history and industry-leading team, the fees for investors tend to be high.

As with Fidelity, Morgan Stanley offers educational resources to its investors. However, those resources are directed toward a reader with a higher level of existing knowledge about investing, stocks and investment funds.

Morgan Stanley offers a few
investment options. The top-tier choice is a dedicated personal financial advisor who will meet with you in person, via video conference, online or over the phone; this option is open to people who can afford a minimum investment of $500,000. The next level down, which requires a minimum of $50,000, gives you access to virtual financial advisors online or over the phone. Alternatively, you can check out the Morgan Stanley robo-advisor option.

Morgan Stanley Robo-Advisor

If you want to test the waters or you have a smaller amount to spend, the company's Access Investing robo-advisor might be a good option. This automated platform enables you to answer a series of questions about your finances and your goals — then, it recommends investments that suit your needs. You can even refine the options by industry or decide to invest only in socially responsible businesses.

Keep in mind that even though
Access Investing is targeted to people with a lower net worth, you'll need a minimum of $5,000 to open an account. The company's fees can also eat into your investment; you'll be charged 0.30% of your account balance every month from the beginning. If you buy shares in certain types of funds, including mutual funds, you'll pay additional fees.

If your employer offers Shareworks or StockPlan Connect, you may be eligible for the company's Access Direct program. It's similar to Access Investing but has no minimum balance and no commissions for ETF and stock trades.

What Investment Options Does Fidelity Investments Offer?

In comparison to Morgan Stanley, Fidelity is geared toward a broader range of investors. In addition to no-minimum robo-advisor, the company offers lower fees — and you won't pay account service fees, low balance fees or late settlement fees. Plus, there are no commissions for online U.S. stock, option and ETF trades.

Fidelity offers several
investment account options. Fidelity Private Wealth Management, which is open to people who can invest $2 million and have at least $10 million of assets that can be invested, gives you access to a private team. Fees range from 0.2% to 1.04%. The next tier down is Fidelity Wealth Management, which provides you with a dedicated financial advisor. You'll need to invest $250,000 and accept fees that range from 0.50% to 1.5%.

If you need something more affordable, Fidelity's
Personalized Planning & Advice account option offers a hybrid service that includes robo-advisor investing and one-on-one coaching from a financial advisor. This service comes with a 0.50% advisory fee. You can also choose to manage your own investments without advice using the Fidelity DIY program. The company's cheapest option is Fidelity Go.

Fidelity Robo-Advisor

Unlike Morgan Stanley's system, the Fidelity Go robo-advisor doesn't require a minimum dollar amount to open an account. The system will ask you questions and recommend a strategy. Then, as soon as your balance is at least $10, Fidelity Go will start investing according to your personalized profile.

Fidelity Go is free until your account balance reaches $10,000. At that point, you'll pay $3 per month. When you hit $50,000, Fidelity charges a management fee of 0.35% per year.

Fidelity Investor Education

What truly sets Fidelity apart are the company's free online investing tools. Fidelity makes its professional research data and analysis available to investors, so you’re better able to make informed decisions. This is particularly useful if you’re new to investing or you don’t have the resources for personal investment guidance, but it's valuable for any investor. Each data point is presented in a format that’s clear and easy to understand. Fidelity also links educational content from each analysis section, so you can gain a deeper understanding of what each metric means.

As you consider different stocks, the platform makes it easy to find information such as:

  • Equity summary score
  • Expected dividends
  • Earnings expectations
  • Price modeling
  • Compare competitors
  • Online sentiments
  • Technical analysis

If you need a faster research method, the Stock Screener can help. This system allows you to filter stocks by the criteria that are important to you: industries, market capitalization, sector, dividend yield and more.

Fidelity Investments vs. Morgan Stanley: Pros and Cons

Morgan Stanley: Pros

Morgan Stanley: Cons

•          Access Investing robo-advisor

•          Award-winning financial advisors

•          High-level educational materials

•          $5,000 minimum balance for Access Investing

•          High fees

•          $50,000 minimum investment for a virtual financial advisor

Fidelity Investments: Pros

Fidelity Investments: Cons

•          Fidelity Go robo-advisor has no minimum balance

•          Low fees

•          Free online stock and ETF trades

•          Comprehensive investor education

•          Hybrid account 

•          $250,000 minimum investment for a dedicated financial advisor

•          Doesn't offer futures or commodities

•          Few options for people living out of the United States

Both Fidelity and Morgan Stanley offer a variety of investment account options. Fidelity, with its no-minimum-balance robo-advisor accounts, may be a good choice if you're investing smaller amounts. With its exceptional educational materials, Fidelity is also an attractive option for people who want to make informed investment decisions.

Morgan Stanley, on the other hand, has a higher minimum balance for its robo-advisor. However, if you want personal investment advice, the company's $50,000 virtual financial advisor service is something that Fidelity doesn't offer. Whether you're investing for
retirement or other purposes, it's important to proceed carefully and read all disclosures thoroughly; fees and terms may vary, and the companies can make changes at any time.

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