Consumer Reports ranks brokers: USAA is No. 1

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It's a reflection of the world in which we live: ATMs over bank tellers. Drive-through over counter service. And discount brokerages over their more expensive, full-service competitors.

Consumer Reports recently released its annual survey of stock brokerage firms. Even though half of respondents said their investments plummeted, most were relatively happy with the advice and service they got from their brokers. But those who used discount brokers were "considerably more satisfied" versus those using full-service brokers.

Available only to current and former military personnel and their families, USAA ranked first, while mutual-fund company Vanguard ranked No. 2 in the rankings. Merrill Lynch ranked at number 17, while Morgan Stanley finished at 12. Ameriprise ranked number 16 and Wachovia ranked 15.

The rankings are based on a survey
of 8,969 online subscribers by the Consumer Reports National Research Center between January 2008 and January 2009. The top score possible is 100, which means completely satisfied. A score of 80 means very satisfied on average, while 60 means fairly well satisfied. Difference of fewer than six points are not meaningful, Consumer Reports said.

Here are the top 17, with the ranking, the broker name and their score:

1. USAA Brokerage Services (92)
2. Vanguard (87)
3. Edward Jones (84)
4. Schwab (83)
5. Scottrade (83)
6. Fidelity (80)
7. TD Ameritrade (80)
8. T. Rowe Price (80)
9. A.G. Edwards (76)
10. E-Trade (75)
11. Banc of America (75)
12. Morgan Stanley (75)
13. Smith Barney (74)
14. UBS Securities (73)
15. Wachovia (72)
16. Ameriprise (71)
17. Merrill Lynch (71)

The article and rankings appear in the May 2009 Consumer Reports magazine.


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