It use to be that if you had $50K or less to invest and wanted stock market exposure, you were better off buying an ETF or Mutual Fund. Why? Because the commissions to assemble a diversified portfolio of equities would eat up a significant portion of your investment capital. But with discount and direct-access brokers (like IB) charging $0.01 per share with a $1.00 minimum and $0.005 per share over 500 shares, it no longer seems like commissions should be considered as a road-block to assembling a portfolio. With the market trending down it's taking a lot of good stocks with it, IMHO. A lot of companies I have been wanting to get in are now starting to look very attractive and will soon be at "Good Buy" levels. But I asked myself, should I be considering building a portfolio out of the 20 - 40 stocks on my radar screen? In other words, is building a portfolio of 10 - 20 small positions (100 - 500 shares) make good sense vs. buying a few ETFs, since commissions are so cheap? The idea is to try and beat the market and garner a better return than just buying an index fund. (I do remember an ETF I once held in my IRA that only had 20 stocks in its holdings. I believe it was called the Janus 20 fund). I look at it this way. If I buy 500 shares it costs me $5 through IB. If the stocks I buy are all priced around $10 (just a hypothetical) that's $5000 in each investment. If I have 10 positions, that's $50 commissions on a $50K account. Planning on more than a 10 position portfolio on your $50K? Just reduce share size to reflect the total number of holdings you plan to manage, i.e., 20 stocks @ 250 shares per position is no different (commission-wise w/IB). The commissions are still $50, which is equal to 1/10 of one percent of the capital investment. Which leads me to ask; I don't see the cost of commissions as being prohibitive to building a portfolio, do you?