I think for the "little guy" they mainly use a broker out of fear. I did this somewhat with my IRA and I'm not really happy with the brokerage firm I selected. They are reputable enough but I'm not really impressed with my returns. However, before I switch over and start doing my IRA completely on my own, I feel like I need to do more learning. I handle my stocks on my own, but for the long range, which is what I consider my IRA to be, I need to be EDUCATED. I was talking to a physical therapist and she says she pays her broker $100 a month! I thought that was outrageous. I don't think she meets with her broker more than once or twice a year. What a waste of money!