Empower Retirement vs. Fidelity: Which Should You Choose?
- Explore the differences in investing with Empower Retirement vs. Fidelity. Find out about each company's account types, fees and available advisory services.
Every investor is different — some people want a quick, affordable solution, while others need professional investment management. No matter which camp you fall into, both Fidelity and Empower Retirement offer investment options to meet your needs. However, the two companies differ considerably in the types of accounts, associated fees and the available financial advisory and management services. Before you choose Empower Retirement vs. Fidelity, take a moment to consider how each company's terms align with your financial needs.
What Services Do Empower Retirement and Fidelity Offer?
Empower Retirement Products
As you might guess from the name, Empower Retirement's offerings are largely focused on saving for retirement in individual retirement accounts (IRAs). However, the company also offers a few investment account options.
- Empower Premier IRA: Available as a traditional or Roth IRA, this account is designed for fast setup and affordable investing. It gives you the freedom to select how you want to invest your retirement savings; you can choose from more than 140 mutual funds. These accounts don't have setup, administrative, closure, annual or transaction fees.
- Empower Brokerage IRA: This type of IRA gives you access to a wider range of investment options — thousands, in fact. These accounts are designed for people with in-depth knowledge of investing, so they may be more volatile. There's no annual fee if your balance is at least $100,000; if your balance is lower, you'll pay $35 per year.
- Empower Investment Account: These accounts, which can be set up for an individual or a couple, enable you to invest money for any goal. Each one provides access to thousands of ETFs, equities, fixed-income securities and mutual funds, so you have plenty of choices. There's no minimum investment and no annual fee.
- Empower Managed Portfolios: With this special type of Empower Investment Account, you communicate your financial goals. The Empower advisors use that information to recommend an investing plan; when you're happy, they invest the money for you. This account comes with a tiered fee structure that's based on your account balance; fees range from 0.5% to 0.2%, and you'll need to invest at least $5,000 to get started.
- Empower Private Client Solution: This premium managed portfolio account gives you a team of financial advisors; they manage your investments and provide financial advice as needed. These services come with a flat fee.
Fidelity offers a variety of investment products, as well as financial planning services. The company is known for its low fees and user-friendly services. Its investment products include:
- Fidelity Go: This robo-advisor enables you to create an investment profile based on your financial needs, goals and risk tolerance. The research-backed system automatically invests your money based on that profile; then, it tracks investments continuously to ensure you're making progress. This service has no minimum balance and no fees until your account reaches $10,000.
- Personalized Planning & Advice: This account is a hybrid; it includes the robo-advisor system, plus personal financial coaching. You'll need at least $25,000 to open an account; the fee is 0.5% per year.
- Fidelity Wealth Management: When you sign up for this service, you'll get a financial advisor who's dedicated to your account. They'll help you with financial and investment planning and manage your investments based on your goals, preferences and risk tolerance. To open an account, you must have a minimum investment of $250,000.
- Fidelity Private Wealth Management: This service is a premium offering reserved for people who can invest at least $2 million. It comes with an entire team of financial professionals who will manage your investments, provide financial planning services and help you with estate planning.
In addition to its investment products, Fidelity offers a comprehensive research tool. When you log in, you'll get access to in-depth analysis and insights for each type of investment, as well as expert picks, strategy ideas and stock screeners.
Additional Fees for Fidelity and Empower Retirement
Fees are a part of investing — but if you aren't careful, they can eat into your account balances. Both Fidelity and Empower Retirement charge additional fees, although Fidelity tends to have fewer extra charges.
Fidelity Go is free up to $10,000; then, you'll pay $3 per month until your balance hits $50,000. At that point, the company charges 0.35% of your balance every year. However, online stock, ETF and U.S. equity trades are always free, regardless of how many you make. In this respect, Fidelity has an advantage over Empower Retirement. For mutual funds, you won't pay any commissions for Fidelity funds. However, non-Fidelity funds may come with a $49.95 transaction fee.
When it comes to additional fees, Fidelity comes out ahead. The company doesn't charge for returned checks, stop payments or overnight check delivery; Empower retirement charges between $10 and $20 for each of these events.
Empower Retirement Fees
Empower Retirement advertises that stock and ETF trades are commission-free. If you read the fine print, however, you'll discover that you get 1,000 free trades. After that, you'll pay $6.95 for every trade.
Fees for the Empower Brokerage IRA and Empower Investment Accounts can add up quickly if you're not paying attention. Some mutual funds offer free trades, but others come with a $25 commission. U.S. Treasury securities, agency bonds and corporate bonds have a $20 transaction fee.
Empower Managed Portfolios don't charge individual trade fees; instead, you'll pay a flat fee based on your account balance. These fees are:
- Up to $100,000:5%
- $101,00 to $250,0000:4%
- $250,001 to $400,000:3%
- More than $400,000:2%
The company also charges a range of additional fees for things like outgoing account transfers, returned checks and alternative investments.
Empower Retirement vs. Fidelity: Which Is Best for You?
As you consider Empower Retirement vs. Fidelity for your investments, it's important to consider your available funds, advisory needs and educational preferences. Both companies offer low-cost investment account options that are accessible to a variety of people.
The biggest drawback for Empower Retirement is its lack of a robo-advisor. You can open an Empower Investment Account without a setup fee or a minimum balance, but you'll need to make the trades on your own. The Fidelity Go robo-advisor offers the same terms, but the setup process is easier, and you can create a personalized profile for automated investing. Plus, since you have access to the Fidelity research tools, you have everything you need to build a deep understanding of your investment portfolio and the different strategies that are available.
If you're interested in having a financial professional manage your investments for you, Empower Retirement has a bit of an advantage. The Managed Portfolio option gives you access to investment professionals. Although you won't get a dedicated advisor, you'll get professional portfolio management — and the minimum balance is $5,000. Fidelity's Personalized Planning & Advice account offers something similar, but the minimum balance is $25,000.