Fisher Investments vs Vanguard: what’s the difference?

1 min readLast updated February 8, 2024by Unbiased team

We unpack Fisher Investments vs Vanguard, exploring key differences, investment strategies, fees, pros and cons, account access, and other elements.

Summary 

  • Vanguard is a large, popular brokerage firm 

  • Fisher Investments is an investment advisory firm 

  • The firms have vastly different fee structures 

  • It’s vital to know the pros and cons of both firms 

  • A financial advisor can help you decide which option is best. 

Fisher vs Vanguard: what’s the difference?  

If your search for investment opportunities is down to Fisher vs Vanguard, there are a few key differences that you should pay attention to. Both firms are well-known, and while they certainly make their clients’ money work for them, their offerings are not the same. 

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A leading brokerage firm, Vanguard offers an extensive range of investment and financial management products and services, educational resources, and online and mobile trading portals. This lets you play an active role in managing your portfolio

Fisher Investments is an investment advisory firm. Rather than offering brokerage services or web- and/or app-based trading portals, the firm offers financial planning and portfolio management for wealthy investors.  

If you meet the minimum requirements and sign up at Fisher Investments, an investment advisor will design and manage a customized portfolio for your goals based on the guidance of investor and author Ken Fisher. This allows you to leave your investments in the capable hands of a professional investor.  

What are Vanguard and Fisher Investments' specific investment strategies? 

Vanguard offers a wide range of investment options, including passive and active strategies. Among the options are mutual funds and exchange-traded funds (ETFs) from Vanguard and other fund families and individual stocks, bonds, options, and CDs.  

Fisher Investments emphasizes personalized portfolio management based on individual goals and risk tolerance. You do not need to make any decisions other than to entrust your investments to the investor who manages your portfolio. 

What fees can I expect from Fisher and Vanguard?  

You can always expect fees when you work with brokerage or financial advisory firms and other financial institutions. While Vanguard is relatively traditional in terms of fees, Fisher Investments fees follow an entirely different structure. 

The four different types of fees that most brokerage firms, investment firms, and online platforms charge include: 

  • Trading fees: Many firms attach a fixed charge to each of their customers’ trades, which is either a flat fee or based on the difference between the asset’s buying and selling price. 

  • Trading commissions: Other firms attach a charge to each of their customers’ trades, which is based on a percentage of those trades’ values or volumes. 

  • Inactivity fees: Some firms charge fees for keeping money in a brokerage account or holding assets instead of trading. 

  • Non-trading/other fees: Almost every firm has additional fees or charges that are not included in any of the categories above, such as fees for deposits and withdrawals from your account or for other services. 

What can you expect from Vanguard vs Fisher fees?  

Vanguard has a competitive fee structure. The firm offers $0 trading for ETFs, options trading at $1.00 per contract to trade, a number of free options trades for investors with more than $1 million in assets, free Vanguard-managed funds, a no-fee list of several thousand funds, and other funds at a $20 fee. The firm does not charge non-trading or inactivity fees, and there’s no required minimum balance to open an account. 

Fisher Investments’ fee structure is completely different. The firm charges an assets under management (AUM) fee to design and manage your portfolio. This fee includes everything, so there are no additional charges, and the firm’s professionals do not earn a commission for recommending products or funds. 

The AUM fee is a percentage of the total amount you invest with the firm, and it depends on your portfolio size: 

  • 1.25% per year for the first $1 million. 

  • 1.125% per year for the next $4 million. 

  • 1% per year for assets over $5 million. 

It’s essential to take note that Fisher Investments requires a minimum portfolio of $500,000. 

Is Fisher Investments or Vanguard better? 

Despite a few similarities, Fisher and Vanguard offer two incredibly different approaches to investing, which means different offerings. Which of these firms will work best for you depends on your approach to investing.  

It’s wise to familiarize yourself with the pros and cons of Fisher Investments and Vanguard and seek the guidance of a financial advisor so that you can make an informed decision. 

Vanguard:

ProsCons
Commission-free ETF, stock, and options trades Trading platform is basic
Large selection of mutual funds Limited research, data, and educational resources
Known for low-cost funds
Excellent order execution quality
High interest rate on uninvested cash

Fisher Investments:

ProsCons
Ken Fisher's research-based investment decisions No brokerage platform
Advisors design bespoke portfolios Requires $500,000 minimum portfolio
Excellent customer service High investment management fees
Advisors offer ongoing support Basic website with limited research tools
Superior insights and educational resources

Fisher or Vanguard: which should I choose? 

Depending on your circumstances and how you want to approach investing, one of these firms is bound to suit your needs better than the other. The best way to see a clear winner emerge from Vanguard vs. Fisher is to think about whether you meet the minimum requirements and want to play an active role in managing your portfolio and to ask a trustworthy financial advisor for advice. 

Can I access my Vanguard or Fisher Investments accounts online and through mobile apps? 

Vanguard provides an online platform and a mobile app, making it convenient to access your investment accounts and monitor your portfolio.  

Fisher Investments does not offer a brokerage platform for you to make your own trades or to otherwise build, maintain, and research your portfolio independently. The login information you receive to check your asset allocation, portfolio balance, and performance will come from the third-party custodian. 

How do Vanguard and Fisher Investments remain competitive and adapt to changing market conditions? 

Both companies continually introduce new features and investment options and stay up to date with market trends to meet investors' needs. At Vanguard, you can actively use those features, options, and trends in managing your portfolio. At Fisher Investments, the advisor who manages your portfolio will make decisions based on Ken Fisher’s ongoing research. 

Need more information? 

As you can see from this exploration of Fisher Investments vs Vanguard, the two firms are renowned for their investment and financial management services. However, they are vastly different in almost every regard, from fees through to pros and cons, additional services and resources, and other aspects. It’s vital that you carefully consider the firm you choose for investing opportunities.  

Learn more about investment firms, and let us match you with an SEC-regulated financial advisor so that you can use their expert financial advice to navigate your options. 

Writers

Unbiased team

Our team of writers, who have decades of experience writing about personal finance, including investing and retirement, are here to help you find out what you must know about life’s biggest financial decisions.

Looking for a financial advisor?

Unbiased can connect you with an SEC-regulated financial advisor perfectly suited to meet your needs.