self-directed brokerage account

“I’ll Do It Myself”
The Self-Directed Brokerage Account (SDBA) is available to participants who want to independently and actively manage an even greater choice of investments. It is for the experienced investor who wants the freedom to invest a portion of their account into a wide array of investments, such as thousands of publicly-traded mutual funds, exchange traded funds and individual securities.

The SDBA is available to participants in the MERS Defined Contribution Plan, Hybrid Plan, and the 457 Supplemental Retirement Program. To be eligible, your account balance must be above $5,000, which is the minimum amount that must remain invested in either the Retirement Strategies or Premium Select Options. Once established, you may transfer any amount beyond the $5,000 to the SDBA.

This option gives you access to a much broader range of investments, including individual stocks, bonds, CDs, over 100 commission-free Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs), and more than 13,000 mutual funds, including more than 2,500 No-Load, No-Transaction Fee (NFTs) Mutual Funds through Schwab. It allows you the convenience of online trading, the power of innovative research tools, and the support of retirement brokerage specialists.

The SDBA is for knowledgeable investors who seek more investment choices, and who understand the risks and costs associated with the investments offered in the SDBA. Unlike LifePath and Premium Select Options, the investment choices available through the SDBA, are not approved, selected, monitored, or reviewed by MERS or your employer. When you elect to open the SDBA, you assume the sole responsibility for researching, selecting, monitoring, and managing the investments.

With an SDBA, you get access to a comprehensive library of resources designed to help you make more informed investing decisions. The online screeners can help you apply filtering criteria, such as ratings, fundamentals, valuation, performance, price and volume, to help you generate investment ideas that might fit your individual strategies. In addition, you can easily access the SDBA through mobile apps or by calling to connect with dedicated participant service representatives at Schwab.

How do I open a SDBA?

  1. Log-in to your myMERS account.
  2. Select your MERS program and click “Change my Investments”.
  3. Click “Enroll in Brokerage” at the bottom of the left navigation bar (not available for MERS Health Care Savings Program participants).
  4. Click the “Enroll Now” button.
  5. Enter Retirement Plan ID, Plan Access Code, SSN, and click “Submit”. (If you need your Plan Access Code, call Schwab at PH: 888.393.7272)
  6. Accept the Schwab Terms & Conditions and select “Open a New PCRA”.
  7. Click on the consent for electronic opening and choose “Continue”
  8. Complete your Online enrollment application.
  9. Once your application has been submitted you will receive an account number and a welcome kit will be mailed to your home address. You will be able to transfer funds to your SDBA within 3 business days from account set-up.
  10. Once established, you may log-in to your myMERS account and begin transferring a portion of your account balance to your SDBA.


If you have questions, or to check in on your enrollment, contact Alerus at 1.866.808.7823 (option 3).