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TD Ameritrade Is Nearly Tripling Its Commission-Free ETF Offerings

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The ETF fee war heated up Monday when TD Ameritrade said it would nearly triple the number of products on its commission-free trading platform to 296.

The expanded platform includes ETFs made by eight fund providers, such as iShares, ProShares, State Street, PowerShares and WisdomTree — but not Vanguard. The added funds will be available to TD Ameritrade’s 5,000 RIA clients and retail investors on the platform starting Tuesday.

“We’ve assembled the largest list of commission-free ETFs in the business, while still retaining our open-architecture approach, with no proprietary ETFs,” said Jim Dario, managing director of product management for TD Ameritrade Institutional, in a statement.

“The new platform will feature some of the biggest names in the ETF industry, with ETFs selected to cover a range of investment strategies and enable investors and advisors to create tailored, diversified portfolios,” he explained.

Last week, rival Charles Schwab began offering investors shares of the Schwab 1000 Index ETF with an operating expense ratio of five basis points (0.05%). Comparable ETFs from State Street, Vanguard and iShares charge between 10 and 15 basis points.

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TD Ameritrade says it opened its ETF Market Center in 2004 and launched its commission-free trading platform in 2010. Assets under management on the platform have grown at a compound yearly rate of 31% through September, according to the firm, and assets have increased nearly seven times.

The Wall Street Journal reports that there are about $50 billion of assets on the commission-free platform, while overall TD Ameritrade has about $135 billion in ETF assets.

“This marks the most significant enhancement of our program since 2010, when we helped level the playing field for the everyday investor with commission-free ETF trading,” said Marco De Freitas, head of retail strategy, product and digital for TD Ameritrade, in a statement.

The Investment Company Institute says ETF assets surpassed $2.52 trillion in 1,716 products as of Dec. 31, 2016 — up threefold from $608 billion in 620 ETFs in 2007.

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