Fisher Investments vs. Vanguard: what’s the difference?

1 min readLast updated May 10, 2024by Unbiased team

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


  • Vanguard is a registered investment advisor that offers its clients personalized financial advice, investments, retirement tools, and market insights.

  • Fisher Investments is an investment advisory firm that provides personalized financial guidance to its clients.

  • Each firm has vastly different fee structures and pros and cons, which need to be considered before choosing a firm.

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

Fisher vs. Vanguard: what’s the difference?  

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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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 provides 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, as well as 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 fee structure can I expect from Fisher and Vanguard?  

You can always expect fees when working with financial advisory firms and other financial institutions.


Vanguard has a competitive fee structure.

To get access to a Vanguard financial advisor, you must have a minimum of $50,000 in assets in eligible Vanguard Brokerage Accounts. Vanguard then charges an approximate 0.3% advisory fee, meaning that with an investment of $50,000, the most you’ll pay annually for all-index investment options is $175.

For assets under $50,000 but worth $3,000 or above, you can opt for Vanguard Digital Advisor®, its robo-advice service. Here, users will pay $15 annually for every $10,000 in an all-index portfolio.

When it comes to their brokerage offering, 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. 

Read our Vanguard guide
For a full breakdown of Vanguard fees and its pros and cons, read our complete guide.

Fisher Investments

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. 

Read our Fisher Investments guide
For a full breakdown of Fisher Investment fees and its pros and cons, read our complete guide.

Is Fisher Investments or Vanguard better? 

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. 

The pros of Vanguard:

  • Commission-free ETF, stock, and options trades         

  • Large selection of mutual funds           

  • Known for low-cost funds         

  • Excellent order execution quality          

  • High interest rate on uninvested cash 

The cons of Vanguard:

  • The trading platform is basic

  • Limited research, data, and educational resources

The pros of Fisher Investments:

  • Ken Fisher's research-based investment decisions     

  • Advisors design bespoke portfolios     

  • Excellent customer service     

  • Advisors offer ongoing support

The cons of Fisher Investments:

  • No brokerage platform

  • Requires $500,000 minimum portfolio

  • High investment management fees

  • Basic website with limited research tools

Fisher or Vanguard: which should I choose? 

When choosing between Vanguard and Fisher Investments, it’s wise to consider:

  • Your unique circumstances

  • Your approach to investing

  • How much your minimum investment is worth

  • What kind of financial advice you’re looking for

  • If you want to play an active role in managing your portfolio

Knowing where you stand in each of these areas will help you determine which financial advisory firm best suited to you.

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

Vanguard provides an online platform and a mobile app for convenient access to investment accounts and portfolio monitoring.  

Fisher Investments does not offer a brokerage platform for you to make your own trades or to build otherwise, 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. 


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.