How much advice do you need — and how much are you willing to pay for it? Thinkstock By the editors of Kiplinger's Personal Finance Updated January 2015 A carefully selected broker can supply you with valuable investment information and make profitable investment suggestions.See Also: 5 Easy Ways to Track Your Stocks If you make the right choice, your broker can be your single most valuable source of help in making good investment decisions. By the same token, an inept or unresponsive broker can make your life miserable, as well as cost you money. The first decision you need to make is whether you want a traditional broker, whether you’d rather do your stock research and trading for yourself, or get your advice elsewhere and use a brokerage firm only to execute your trades. Brokers differ in several ways. There are full-service and discount firms; national, regional, and local firms; and firms that operate only online or over the phone. All sell more than stocks: They sell municipal bonds, unit trusts, tax shelters, and annuities. But the chief distinction is between full-service and the discount firms. Full-Service Brokers If you'd rather pay someone else for stock recommendations, then pull into full-service. Discount or Online Brokers If you're the self-serve type, then this is the option for you.