Online brokers are bidding for a greater share of online customer trades. And in some cases, they're taking some very aggressive measures.
During the first quarter, Charles Schwab announced it would provide commission-free internet trades on Schwab ETFs to its brokerage customers. The company hopes the move will divert investments away from competitors and accelerate asset flows into its own lineup of proprietary ETFs.
BlackRock and Fidelity joined forces to offer online commission-free trading for 25 iShares funds to investors with Fidelity brokerage accounts.
Among the ETFs listed for commission-free trades are popular funds like the iShares MSCI EAFE Index Fund (EFA), iShares MSCI Emerging Markets Index Fund (EEM), iShares S&P 500 Index Fund (IVV), iShares Russell 1000 (IWB) and the iShares U.S. Barclays Aggregate Bond Index Fund (AGG).
Fidelity also reduced all online trades to a flat $7.95 in an attempt to undercut Schwab's $8.95 fee.
In January Vanguard's brokerage unit began offering 100 commission-free trades to a select group of its flagship clients with at least $1 million or more in assets. In the past, the company has given flagship clients 12 free commission trades.