Maybe bogleheads could shed some light on this, because I'm coming up empty. Let me give some background
NY residents, so of course we would be looking for a NY plan. We are 32/31, have kids 4.5, 3, and 4 weeks.
Aside from retirement investments of course (401K/403b and a Roth IRA), I had opened a taxable account in an online brokerage last summer after the market dropped precipitously, picked a few individual stocks (I realize this is not boglehead-ian), but also used it to open a recurring $300 monthly investment in VFINX (with a $5K initial deposit). No particular goals for the money, just to earn some kind of return above and beyond the emergency fund in a savings account. But anyway, I also began heavily considering the college burden for our two (at the time!) children. I had started to research the 529, I could do one through the online brokerage, but my regional bank also advertised 529s, and I thought perhaps they would be the better choice and understand NY's plan.
A couple months ago I scheduled a meeting with their investment person and inquire about enrolling in a 529. To my surprise, he advises against one. He felt they were a bit too restrictive, and not flexible enough if our needs changed in 20 years, such as the child not going off to college, scholarship, inheritance, etc. His opinion was they were more ideal for the grandparents looking to transfer assets while avoiding estate taxes and such. Personally he felt investing in a mutual fund was a better idea. He did suggest one offered by the bank's investment arm but to his credit he wasn't trying to do a hard sell or anything (and in fact he easily could've steered me to the bank's 529 plan which I likely would've bought into), and even admitted if I had an online brokerage I could just set it up there and throw in contributions as they were available.
So I ended up going and transferring a few thousand the two children had gotten in random gifts over their short lives from their savings (still leaving $2K in each), as well as another $150 per month recurring, into a no-load, no-transaction fee, relatively low ER mutual fund through the online brokerage. The thought was as they have birthdays, etc, I could thrown in the gift money without paying hefty transaction fees for low contributions, and still generating a decent return (about 10% YTD). But as I research more, and read more boglehead posts on them, I can't find any rational reason not to enroll in one. In fact I even searched on here for dissenting opinions and couldn't find one. So now I'm looking to move that money over into NY's 529 and that's how I'll proceed.
A caveat maybe helping his case (which he was unaware of) - I am an only child and sole heir to inheritances from my mother, father and aunt (and possibly a 2nd aunt), all of middle-class backgrounds. Mother and aunt have clearly stated they will offer some help with college costs down the line (either if they are still here or have passed on). Conceivably this could crack the 7-figure range, which even with tuition inflation should cover 3 kids at even the most pricey private institution. But I suppose it's easy enough to withdraw the 529 money and make up the difference with inheritance, and use the leftover to buy a Corvette
. In any event I prefer to plan as if that potential money doesn't exist since the future can never be predicted.
So sorry for the rambling. I think I know what my plan moving forward is now. But I'm still baffled by his advice, and just wondering if anyone can logically support it, if I'm missing something in my analysis?