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An IRA in which the account holder has a great deal of control over the investments made on the account. That is, either the account holder or a designated representative has the ability to make investments with the contributions made to the account. Generally speaking, a self-directed IRA exists through a brokerage, which makes investments on behalf of the account holder. The brokerage may charge an annual fee for managing a self-directed IRA in addition to the commissions it charges on the individual trades.
An individual retirement account that permits its owner to have wide latitude as to types of assets and control over the investments within the account. A self-directed IRA generally refers to IRAs established at brokerage firms in which customers may buy and sell securities. Brokerage firms frequently charge an annual fee of up to $50 in addition to commissions on any trades in an account.