Want more investment control? A self-directed brokerage account may be right for you.

For most doctors, hiring a financial advisor who understands their needs is important when making investment decisions. We are all busy, and most don’t have the knowledge to make good investment decisions.

However, some have the time, and get educated about investing, and prefer to be more involved in making their investments.

A self-directed brokerage account may be one good option for you if you wish to get more involved in your investment decisions.

What is a self-directed brokerage account?

A self-directed brokerage account (SDBA) is a specialized type of investment account that empowers you to make investment decisions independently. Unlike traditional brokerage accounts, where a financial advisor or broker may guide your investment choices, an SDBA offers a broader range of investment options, including stocks, bonds, mutual funds, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), real estate investment trusts (REITs), and more. Essentially, it puts you in the driver’s seat of your investment portfolio.

Is it right for you?

Now, let’s delve into whether an SDBA fits your financial needs and goals.

Experience and knowledge. An SDBA can be a valuable tool for experienced investors who possess a solid understanding of financial markets and investment strategies. If you have a knack for researching and selecting investments, this type of account may be ideal.

Desire for control. Do you want full control over your investment decisions? If you’re comfortable taking charge of your financial future and don’t require professional advice, an SDBA aligns with your preference for autonomy.

Risk tolerance. Your risk tolerance plays a significant role. SDBAs allow for a wide range of investments, including potentially higher-risk options. If you have a higher risk tolerance and seek potentially greater returns, this account may appeal to you.

Time commitment. Managing a self-directed brokerage account requires time and attention. If you have the time to research, monitor, and adjust your investments, it’s a viable option.

Diversification. Building a diversified portfolio is crucial for managing risk. An SDBA can offer diverse investment options, but it’s essential to ensure you create a well-balanced and diversified portfolio within the account.

Benefits of self-directed brokerage accounts

Let’s explore the advantages of opting for an SDBA:

Greater control. The primary benefit of an SDBA is the level of control it provides. You have the freedom to choose from a wide array of investments, tailoring your portfolio to align with your financial goals.

Diverse investment options. SDBAs offer access to a broader range of investments than traditional accounts. This flexibility allows you to explore various asset classes and diversify your holdings.

Cost efficiency. Many SDBAs offer competitive fee structures, allowing you to minimize expenses associated with your investments. This can be especially appealing if you’re cost-conscious.

Tax advantages. Some SDBAs offer tax-advantaged accounts like Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) and 401(k) plans, helping you save for retirement while potentially reducing your tax liability.

Downsides of self-directed brokerage accounts

Despite the advantages, SDBAs also come with certain downsides:

Increased responsibility. The freedom to make your investment decisions means you bear full responsibility for the outcomes. If your investments perform poorly, you have no one else to blame.

Learning curve. Managing an SDBA effectively requires knowledge and expertise in financial markets. If you lack experience, you may make costly mistakes.

Emotional decision-making. Investors can sometimes let emotions drive their decisions, leading to impulsive moves that may not align with their long-term goals.

Potential for risk. The extensive range of investment choices can lead to riskier decisions. Some investors may be tempted by high-risk, high-reward options, which could result in substantial losses.

Lack of professional guidance. Unlike traditional brokerage accounts, SDBAs don’t typically offer guidance from financial professionals. If you value expert advice, this may not be the best choice for you.


A self-directed brokerage account can be a powerful tool for well-informed, experienced investors who seek greater control over their financial future. It offers an extensive menu of investment choices and can be cost-effective. However, it’s essential to recognize the increased responsibility and potential risks associated with managing your investments independently.

Ultimately, the decision to open an SDBA should align with your financial goals, risk tolerance, and level of investment knowledge. If you’re uncertain or prefer professional guidance, a traditional brokerage account or financial advisor might be better. Remember that every investor’s situation is unique, so carefully consider your individual circumstances before embarking on the self-directed investment journey.

Amarish Dave is a board-certified neurologist with over 20 years of experience in both neurology and active stock investing. In addition to his medical career, he holds a background in business from the University of Michigan and has successfully passed the SIE exam administered by FINRA. Dr. Dave is founder, FiscalhealthMD.com, a website dedicated to educating doctors at all stages of their careers, ranging from residents to retirement, about financial planning.


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