By Jeffrey R. Kosnett, Senior Editor October 13, 2008 Fidelity, T. Rowe Price and Vanguard are admired for their mutual funds, but not so much for their investment-advisory services. If you're going to pay for something this important, the criticism goes, why get it by phone or online from a mass merchant?Aware of the criticism, the fund companies seem to be improving their offerings and making them more personal -- at least for larger investors -- by hiring more financial planners and matching them with customers. In addition, the companies have lowered their fees to as little as $250 for a one-time portfolio evaluation and planning consultation. Vanguard has also responded to complaints that its financial-planning service has been a thinly disguised means to sell its own funds and annuities. Now the company recommends two fund portfolios to customers. With the "consolidated" portfolio, a planner mulls over your assets and suggests a redo centered on Vanguard funds. The "integrated" option keeps most of the assets you already have and uses Vanguard funds to plug holes or replace losers. You need to have $100,000 invested with Vanguard to qualify for investment advice; the service is free if your assets total $500,000. T. Rowe Price's services are mostly aimed at people within five years of retirement. The company will give your portfolio a once-over for $250, as opposed to charging an ongoing fee based on the amount of your investments, if you have $100,000 in assets that can be invested. Fidelity offers an assortment of services for all investors but will link you to a "dedicated relationship officer" if you bring in $300,000 or more to be managed. Advertisement Charles Schwab and TD Ameritrade also manage accounts for a percentage fee. Schwab's system is based largely on its mathematical fund-selection method. In addition, both firms vet independent planners and advisers who operate under the companies' brand names -- sort of a matchmaking service, says a spokesman for TD Ameritrade.