T. Rowe Price Review 2018

By Adam Hayes  | January 08, 2018

T. Rowe Price's online brokerage is a self-directed platform meant to complement its actively managed mutual fund business.

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Overall Rating

3.4/
5.0
Products & Fees
3.5
Trust
4.2
Special Features
0.8
Desktop Experience
3.5
Mobile Experience
4.2
Customer Support
3.1
Research & Insights
4.4
Education
3.6
Banking
3.0

T.Rowe Price Fast Facts

T. Rowe Price is an asset management firm focused on delivering global investment management services. Founded in 1937, the Baltimore-based company specializes in actively managed mutual funds and is known for consistently providing superior returns for its clients. Through its online brokerage services, T. Rowe Price customers can self-direct their investments across a wide range of mutual funds, plus the conventional offerings of stocks, bonds and options to complement the actively managed fund side of the business.

The company has $947 billion in assets under management as of Fall 2017 and employs more than 6,700 people around the globe in 16 countries. The firm's investment philosophy is committed to fundamental analysis to identify outperforming investments, especially among growth stocks.

T. Rowe Price is therefore best for long-term investors seeking professionally managed, active mutual fund strategies, and its online brokerage is best suited for existing fund customers to build their portfolio around their core T. Rowe funds. With relatively high fees and commissions (up to $19.95 per online stock trade and $2,500 minimum for a non-retirement account), the site is probably not going to be the first choice for active traders, passive index investors, or those just starting out in the markets.

pros

  • Tradition of Active Management
    If you're not sold on the whole passive indexing bandwagon, T. Rowe Price has a strong tradition of active management that often outperforms its peers
  • Low-Cost T. Rowe Funds
    If you're interested in one of T. Rowe Price's 100 or so no-fee, no-load mutual funds, this is the cheapest and most painless way to obtain them since you won't have to pay a middleman
  • Top-Notch Mutual Fund Research
    Mutual fund investors will feel at home among the tools, screeners and comparison tools available across the universe of funds
  • Retirement Planning Tools
    Long-term retirement savers will find the suite of planning and asset allocation tools helpful, such as FuturePath, which helps you monitor your progress towards meeting your retirement goals

cons

  • High Trading Costs
    With up to $19.95 stock & ETF trades and $35 mutual fund trades (for non-T. Rowe funds), you'll be paying toward the high end among online brokers who charge as little as $4.95 and have free ETFs elsewhere
  • High Fees
    There are a number of miscellaneous fees that you'll have to pay, for example a $30 annual account fee, $50 account termination or transfer out fee, and a $15 wire fee
  • Minimum Account Balances
    You'll need $2,500 to open an individual brokerage account or $1,000 to establish an IRA
  • Limited Education Resources
    The suite of educational tools is not nearly as comprehensive as some of the leading competitors
$947 Billion
Client Assets
1937
Founded
16
Locations

Products & Fees

3.5

T. Rowe Price is known for its family of mutual funds, but clients also have access to non-T. Rowe mutual funds as well as the universe of stocks and ETFs. Approved accounts can trade options, and customers can add bonds, and CDs to their portfolios through their voice broker services (not available online). Screeners for stocks, mutual funds and ETFs can help you find investments that best fit your criteria. In addition, the mutual fund research tools available will give you all the information you need to select the right mutual fund that fits your investment strategy and goals.

  • Stocks & ETFs
    $19.95/trade*
  • Commission-Free ETFs**
    Free
  • Options
    Base Pay + $1.00/contract*
  • Mutual Funds***
    $35.00
  • Bonds****
    $50
  • CDs*****
    Par
  • Account Minimum******
    $2,500
  • Annual Account Fee*******
    $30

Trust

4.2

T. Rowe Price is a member of FINRA and SIPC, so it is regulated for both equity and fixed-income markets. Aside from a solid 80-year reputation as a leader in asset management and investment advice, their online presence uses strict controls to help ensure that your online communications and transactions are safe and reliable. Its website is secured with SSL/TLS encryption and both the web and mobile versions employ two-factor authentication (2FA) to ensure that nobody logs into your account nefariously.

$500,000
SIPC Insurance Coverage
(Protects securities and cash held in a brokerage account up to $500,000 in the event the brokerage fails)
$1 Billion
Aggregate Loss Limit for Eligible Securities
(Over all client accounts, with a per client loss limit of $1.9 million for cash awaiting reinvestment)

What you need to know

T. Rowe Price is one of the largest financial firms around, and a publicly traded company (ticker: TROW) subject to SEC and exchange regulation. In the event of activity that results in an unauthorized disbursement of funds from a client's account, T. Rowe Price will work with clients and other parties involved, including law enforcement agents when appropriate, to investigate the incident. The goal is to recover the funds and reinvest the money in the client's account. Each situation is handled on a case-by-case basis and in the event that the funds cannot be recovered in full, potential responsibility will be evaluated by T. Rowe Price based on the circumstances involved in the incident.

Special Features

0.8
Special Features

T. Rowe doesn't have an active trader platform, fastest execution speeds, or other special features you'd find at its competitors. The features that make T. Rowe Price stand out pertain to its mutual fund and planning resources and tools. For example, the FuturePath(R) tool calculates a "confidence number" that helps you monitor your progress toward meeting your retirement goals. The tool takes down some of your information and financial goals and then runs more than 1,000 simulations of what hypothetically may happen to your portfolio today to estimate the chances that you'll succeed or fall short of your retirement goals.

Like many of the larger brokerages, T. Rowe Price's foray into robo-advising is nothing out of the ordinary. Its Active Plus portfolios allow for a set-it-and-forget-it type of investment. Still, this feature is pricey and requires a minimum of $50,000, which is quite a bit higher than other robos.

No Middleman
Direct Access to T. Rowe Mutual Funds
In-Depth Research
Comprehensive Investment Tools
Plan for Success
Long-term Strategic Planning Resources

What you need to know

The biggest benefit to an online T. Rowe account is access to their family of mutual funds, many of which are actively managed and beat their peers and benchmark on a regular basis. Combined with this are tools dedicated to selecting the right mix of mutual funds to meet your investing goals. The mutual fund research tools let you filter and sort funds by category, objective or Morningstar rating. Select the appropriate box on the far left-hand side of the tool. Then, compare key information such as performance and asset allocation among funds to see which one will do the best job for you.

In addition to self-directed investing, higher net-worth clients ($250,000 or more in account value) have access to personal investing advice and professional portfolio management via its Advisory Planning Services.

Desktop Experience

3.5
Desktop Platform Experience

The T. Rowe Price brokerage website provides a traditional online brokerage experience with pages and tabs dedicated to the various products, features, tools and functionality. The site is easy to navigate via its menus and by following well-labeled links. Executing trades is also straightforward and can be accomplished simply by choosing the asset class you want and specifying the details of your order. You will have a chance to preview the order before submitting it. One confusing part of the website navigation is that the main T. Rowe Price client site, built around mutual funds and research, is disjointed from the brokerage page where you can get information on particular stocks or ETFs.

What you won't find on the platform are tools and functionality designed for active traders. There is no professional trading platform with interactive charts and streaming prices, nor are there capabilities to back-test strategies or research options. You also won't be able to transact bonds, or CDs online, but this can be done over the phone.

Pros

A familiar layout makes the platform easy and intuitive to navigate. In addition, basic research, analysis and screening tools are available along with more in-depth mutual fund and strategic planning resources.

Cons

The brokerage and mutual fund are disjointed, as a result, the continuity between the main T. Rowe Price client site and the brokerage page is lacking. Also, T. Rowe Price isn't designed to be an active trader platform; day traders will not find the tools they need.

Mobile Experience

4.2
Mobile Platform Experience

Available on iOS or Android, the T. Rowe Price mobile app lets you trade from your device, view account balances, and conduct investment research. With its integrated fingerprint security for logging in, (iPhone only) you can be confident your accounts are safe even if you lose your device. However, the app lacks some useful features, such as interactive charts and screeners. For this reason, it is a less complete version of the desktop trader. There is also a mobile ready website where you can view your accounts and conduct research, but you won't be able to execute orders.

Pros

The app uses fingerprint authentication and other features (iPhone only). Research functionality built right into the app. The app averages 4.5 out of 5 stars on iTunes and Google Play.

Cons

Fingerprint login only available on iOS, and token login security is missing on both versions. If you need to update your account information, you'll need to log on from a browser. You can't deposit, withdraw or move funds from the app.

Customer Support

3.1

Customer service is available by phone or email weekdays 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. EST, and includes a dedicated TTY line for people with hearing impairments. On the downside, live 24/7 support and online real-time help via chat or social media is lacking.

What you need to know

T. Rowe Price devotes considerable resources to its customer support resources, as illustrated by its dedicated support lines to brokerage customers, mutual fund customers, active plus and retirement account holders. There is also a dedicated technical support number. Like other brokers, T. Rowe has developed a comprehensive Help and Support web portal, where users are encouraged to review commonly asked questions and learn about essential account services. Despite lacking a live chat feature and social media presence, there are many ways to stay in touch.

Research & Insights

4.4

As a leader in actively managed mutual funds, T. Rowe Price puts a focus on fund research and long-term strategic planning, but also provides in-depth market news, daily movers, sector performance and analysts' ratings. Asset screeners and comparison tools are also built into the platform. All these features can be accessed via the Research tab on the brokerage site or the Planning & Research tab on the main site.

U.S. Markets Summary
Evaluate domestic markets in just a few clicks
Tax Planning Strategies
Dedicated resources to helping plan for a tax-efficient account
Asset Screeners
Quick access to stock, ETF, mutual fund and fixed income screeners
Mutual Fund Research
Access to in-depth mutual fund fundamental analysis
FuturePath(R) tool
Find out how to invest in assets for your future
Alerts and Watchlists
Follow market events, track investments and stay up-to-date on new research

Pros

True to its roots T. Rowe Price provides a strong focus on mutual funds and market news. Although known for its mutual funds, retirement and investment services, T. Rowe Price also offers the tools and analyses you'll need to plan for retirement, college, tax, or real estate.

Cons

Unlike some of its competitors, T. Rowe Price doesn't offer social sentiment indicators. Its has a robust offering of screeners, ranging from stocks to bonds, but lacks the in-depth insight you might find at other stock-centric brokerages.

Education

3.6

Self-directed investors won't find an in-depth education or learning center on the T. Rowe Price website. As an actively managed manager, T. Rowe Price prefers you leave it to the experts to know about the markets and investing. Instead, you'll find introductory resources aimed at helping you plan your retirement, tax planning, estate planning or college saving planning.

T. Rowe Price Insights(R)
Perspectives on Investments
(Learn about the markets, economic developments, and upcoming trends
Planning & Research
Investing Basics
(Learn how to choose the right funds and create the right portfolio

What you need to know

You won't learn about markets or investing from T. Rowe Price's online brokerage site. While research and basic planning tools are present, there are no online courses, educational videos, webinars, or other resources found on competitor sites.

Banking

3.0

At the moment, T. Rowe Price does not provide its customers with any additional traditional banking services. It does, however, offer a sweep account and money market account.

Free Dividend Reinvestment
Maximize Growth Potential
Free Checkwriting
Checkwriting on Your Sweep Account*
*Minimum of $500 per check

What you need to know

You can access your mutual fund and brokerage accounts, but check writing and debit card services are no longer available. The only exception is if you are already a Brokerage Advantage customer, you can continue to use checks and debit cards (along with associated fees); however, the company no longer offers this type of account.

Bottom Line

T. Rowe Price is a good option for investors of active mutual funds who want to add stocks and ETFs to their managed portfolio. Active traders or those who prefer passive indexing will find the high commissions and fees a deterrent, since there are many choices with lower costs. Beginner investors, too, may be frustrated by a lack of educational resources. Still, the value provided by T. Rowe Price's core fund offerings can be enough of a draw if that style of investing fits your preferences and goals.

Adam Hayes
Reviewed by Adam Hayes

  • • 13 years professional experience as a derivatives trader and 5 years in private wealth management.
  • • Masters degree in economics and pursuing a PhD in economic sociology/social studies of finance.
  • • CFA charterholder, FINRA Series 7 & 63, and Life & Health Insurance Licenses.

Experience

Adam's expertise lies in the social studies of finance and technology. He writes about the influence of FinTech on society, including innovations such as Bitcoin & blockchains, RoboAdvisors, and InsureTech. Adam has also written on topics such as behavioral finance, personal investing, financial risk, and derivatives. His past expertise includes more than a decade of professional work on Wall Street as a derivatives trader and private wealth manager. Adam is currently pursuing a PhD in sociology where I study economic sociology and the social studies of finance.

Education

Adam received his Bachelors from Cornell University, his Masters from The New School for Social Research (MA in economics) and is currently attending University of Wisconsin-Madison for his PhD in Sociology.

Quote from Adam

"Too many people are scared of 'finance' for whatever reason. Finance needs to be de-mystified so that this fear is turned into the ability to recognize and take advantage of economic opportunities through investment, saving, and smart spending."

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