When you use a brick-and-mortar brokerage firm, where you actually interact with a human broker, you pay a fee for your transactions. You pay this fee to the firm to obtain additional services that you may not receive using an online brokerage firm to engage in your investing activities. Bricks-and-mortar investment firms may consult you in order to better understand your investment objectives, risk profile, and life stage, and may make recommendations as to your investment choices and timing, among many other helpful recommendations. This would be difficult to achieve using a strictly online brokerage firm. Other traditional firms may provide guidance to investors such as asset allocation strategies, estate planning, and tax guidance, if they are licensed and trained to do so.