Admiral shares at non-Vanguard brokerages: share info

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Admiral shares at non-Vanguard brokerages: share info

Postby nisiprius » Mon Apr 11, 2011 7:54 am

I continue to be confused by conflicting information I've received (from Fidelity in my case) and read (on this forum) on the availability and nature of Admiral shares when held in a non-Vanguard brokerage. Some of the "rules" may have changed when Vanguard lowered the limit to $10,000 next year. I think it would be useful to summarize what Bogleheads actually know about holding Admiral shares outside Vanguard.

In this thread, please concentrate on posting details of actual recent recent personal experience buying, converting, or transferring Admiral shares to a non-Vanguard brokerage. Make any relevant comments, of course, but precede the specifics of actual experience with three asterisks to make them stand out.

Ditto for Signal shares if you've managed to obtain them.

Note that the situation is confusing, because people have reported that they were unable to buy Admiral shares at brokerages even when the brokerage was showing web pages with information and prices for Admiral shares ticker symbols. It seems that many brokerages are not savvy about Admiral shares, and that their websites may display misleading or outdated information about their availability.

My own experience in a different context suggests that once you are holding shares of any mutual fund at a brokerage, whether obtained by purchase, transfer, or otherwise, you can continue to hold them indefinitely, but that rules changes may make it impossible to perform any further transactions on the shares other than to sell them.

Here's my story:

*** Earlier this year I tried to transfer about $15,000 of VTSAX (Total Stock Market, Admiral shares) from Vanguard to Fidelity. Fidelity initially told me (verbally) there would be no problem; then, subsequently, that less than $100,000 worth could not be transferred; and, finally, that Admiral shares could not be transferred to Fidelity at all. Fidelity said the restriction was imposed by Vanguard. Fidelity currently does not show any online information for VTSAX.
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Transfer of IRA containing Admirality Funds to Fidelity

Postby ydnar » Mon Apr 11, 2011 9:12 am

In an effort to consolidate most of my IRA funds to a single investment company, I recently inquired if I could maintain my Wellington Admiral status when the funds were moved. I was told that Vanguard's rules required that the funds be converted to Investor funds (higher mgt fee) for the transfer, and they could then be converted to Admiral funds after the transfer was complete. Well, the funds were transferred and surprise, surprise...They could not be changed back to Admiral funds. My Fidelity account executive was very apologetic and offered to transfer them back. I have done nothing so far and the fee differences are not a tremendous amount of money, but this was the kind of deal that you could see coming if you were over 30 and had been to a few carnivals in your lifetime. I like the personal service and brick and mortar aspect of Fidelity and I know these things cost money. However, I felt like they were either not completely upfront with me or failed to do their research. The primary reason to consolidate into one company was frankly to make things easier for my wife if I get hit by a truck next week, but Vanguard's fund quality and management fees are impossible to beat and I may revisit this issue soon. I will look both ways before crossing the intersections, also.
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Postby tfb » Mon Apr 11, 2011 9:50 am

*** Held an actively managed bond fund in investor shares at WellsTrade. Had WellsTrade convert them to Admiral at no cost. Bought more Admiral shares afterwards.

Another poster had a theory that whether the fund is an index fund makes a difference. Admiral shares in index funds aren't available outside Vanguard. You can buy Signal shares instead. Admiral shares in non-index funds are available outside Vanguard. I can't prove or disprove this theory but it sounds consistent with what I read so far.
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Postby natureexplorer » Mon Apr 11, 2011 10:16 am

*** A couple years ago, I transferred a Vanguard active bond Admiral fund from Vanguard to Wells Trade without a problem. I continue to be able to buy and sell from this Admiral fund.

Wells Fargo has several lists for mutual funds. Some lists simply contain all mutual funds in the US, and others only those that are available for purchase at Wells Fargo. The following lists contains only funds that are actually available for purchase:
http://cxa.marketwatch.com/WellsFargo/MutualFundCenterPublic/FamilyListResults.aspx?FirstLetter=V&family=Vanguard+Group&mode=. Of course the ultimate test is simply trying to submit an order.

You might note that there are several Signal index funds available in addition to Admiral active funds.

I had a conversation with both Wells Fargo and Vanguard why there are no Admiral index funds at non-Vanguard brokerages. Both said that the restriction is imposed by Vanguard. Vanguard said that the reason is that they cannot effectively control the minimum investment. I suppose that they cannot effectively control the minimum on Signal shares either.

If you really wanted to hold Signal shares (which are identical to Admiral shares in terms of ER) but don't easily meet the $100,000 minimum investment, you could temporarily liquidate some other funds in order to meet the minimum $100,000. You could then presumably let the balance drop below that minimum without a problem. I don't know whether Wells Trade supports Investor to Signal conversion, but they do support Investor to Admiral conversion.
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Re: Admiral shares at non-Vanguard brokerages: share info

Postby Default User BR » Mon Apr 11, 2011 1:24 pm

nisiprius wrote:In this thread, please concentrate on posting details of actual recent recent personal experience buying, converting, or transferring Admiral shares to a non-Vanguard brokerage. Make any relevant comments, of course, but precede the specifics of actual experience with three asterisks to make them stand out.

I tried an experiment at Wells Fargo with VTSAX. It didn't allow purchase online, said to call a broker. I didn't follow it from there. I suspect that it's not available that way either, but I don't know. This was 3/29/2011.



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Postby livesoft » Mon Apr 11, 2011 1:40 pm

WF changed their platform in January 2011. Experiences before then may no longer represent the current situation.

So for folks who are commenting about WF, I would be curious to know the date of any anecdotes mentioned in this thread: Before Jan 2011 or After Jan 2011. OTOH, I don't see myself using Vanguard mutual funds anymore since the ETFs do the job quite nicely.
It's all about short-term opportunistic rebalancing due to a short-term change in one's asset allocation, uh, I mean opportunistic rebalancing, uh I mean rebalancing, uh I mean market timing.
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Postby nisiprius » Mon Apr 11, 2011 6:30 pm

A PM from a forum member who does not want to post asks if the story may depend on whether the fund is index fund or a non-index fund.

He indicates that about a year ago he was able to purchase Admiral shares of a non-index bond fund at Schwab. Recently, however, he was unable to purchase Admiral shares of an stock index fund, even though he was ordering over $100,000; the transaction software showed clearly that the fund was not available.

At another brokerage he does not name, a rep told him Admiral shares were not available, but he did not ask whether this applied across the board or only to index funds."
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Postby natureexplorer » Mon Apr 11, 2011 6:55 pm

nisiprius wrote:A PM from a forum member who does not want to post asks if the story may depend on whether the fund is index fund or a non-index fund.

He indicates that about a year ago he was able to purchase Admiral shares of a non-index bond fund at Schwab. Recently, however, he was unable to purchase Admiral shares of an stock index fund, even though he was ordering over $100,000; the transaction software showed clearly that the fund was not available.

At another brokerage he does not name, a rep told him Admiral shares were not available, but he did not ask whether this applied across the board or only to index funds."
Very sensitive information indeed.
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Postby LazyNihilist » Mon Apr 11, 2011 10:03 pm

I have very little knowledge about various brokerage firms. I have an account with TDAmeritrade and like their service. My question to the above posters is, why would someone want to move the Admiral funds away from Vanguard? What service could other brokerages offer that Vanguard doesn't?

I am asking this because, I plan to sell my ETF's at TDAmeritrade and move them to Vanguard and put them in Admiral/Investor Mutual Funds.

Please let me know if you think this is a bad idea, because I was of the opinion Vanguard is the best. :?
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Postby livesoft » Mon Apr 11, 2011 10:23 pm

I have accounts at Vanguard, TDAmeritrade and Wells Fargo.

Vanguard does not provide one with full, accurate 1099B forms. Wells Fargo does which makes tax-time trivial.

Vanguard does not provide real-time Level II quotes. TDAmeritrade does.

Vanguard does not provide a walk-in local office. TDAmeritrade does.

For someone used to owning ETFs, I don't see where Admiral shares offer any advantages. Indeed, I see some distinct disadvantages at least to me.

Full disclosure: All the Vanguard funds I own are Admiral share class. They are all held at Vanguard directly. All the ETFs I own are held at WF and TDAM.
It's all about short-term opportunistic rebalancing due to a short-term change in one's asset allocation, uh, I mean opportunistic rebalancing, uh I mean rebalancing, uh I mean market timing.
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Postby natureexplorer » Mon Apr 11, 2011 10:24 pm

LazyNihilist wrote:I have very little knowledge about various brokerage firms. I have an account with TDAmeritrade and like their service. My question to the above posters is, why would someone want to move the Admiral funds away from Vanguard? What service could other brokerages offer that Vanguard doesn't?
For example:
1. Specific lot identification: Vanguard doesn't have track specific lots for you.
2. Same-day pricing: When you buy a mutual fund at Vanguard usign ACH you only get the next day's pricing.
3. Higher pricing: Some investment vehicles are more expensive at Vanguard (for example individual government bonds or non-Vanguard mutual funds/ETFs/stocks).
4. Better tax reporting.
5. Better integration between the account holding the mutual funds and ETFs/stocks/bonds.
Having said all that, it doesn't really help you if some of the mutual funds you are interested in are not available (like Admiral index funds).

I am asking this because, I plan to sell my ETF's at TDAmeritrade and move them to Vanguard and put them in Admiral/Investor Mutual Funds.

Please let me know if you think this is a bad idea, because I was of the opinion Vanguard is the best.
Probably not, but it depends on your specific situation.
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Postby LazyNihilist » Mon Apr 11, 2011 11:01 pm

Thanks for the replies natureexplorer and livesoft.

I think I sort of got confused between the Vanguard Mutual Funds and the service Vanguard offers for investors to buy them. It looks like the Mutual Funds (or ETF's) themselves are very good. But other brokerage firms offer some superior quality of service and tools overall to buy these Mutual Funds more than Vanguard itself does.
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Postby lazyday » Tue Apr 12, 2011 5:37 am

LazyNihilist wrote:But other brokerage firms offer some superior quality of service and tools overall to buy these Mutual Funds more than Vanguard itself does.

If you only need Admiral class and Investor class funds, and no ETFs, stock shares, bonds, etc, then Vanguard does very well and has great customer service I believe.

There is still Tax lot ID reporting inferiority compared to most other places, but it seems that Vanguard is adding features here.

Also as natureexplorer mentioned, there is a one day delay if buying by ACH. Can be annoying, but usually not a big deal. If you need to rebalance into a volatile asset, such as REITs in 2009 when they could move nearly 10% in a day, you could just ACH into a money market fund ahead of time, and then transfer into the desired fund the next day.

If those two aren't significant issues for someone, and the whole account is just traditional mutual funds (Admiral and Investor class), then Vanguard should be a very good choice I think.
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Postby nisiprius » Tue Apr 12, 2011 8:48 am

Another PM from someone who prefers not to post.

***I have some Admiral shares of active funds that were transferred to TD Ameritrade. I've not been able to add to these funds, except for reinvested cap gains and dividends.

I get the sense that the blockage comes from Vanguard, that admiral shares are proprietary.
Last edited by nisiprius on Tue Apr 12, 2011 9:08 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby natureexplorer » Tue Apr 12, 2011 8:56 am

nisiprius wrote:I get the sense that the blockage comes from Vanguard...
The real question is why.
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Postby sscritic » Tue Apr 12, 2011 9:50 am

nisiprius wrote:Another PM from someone who prefers not to post.

How do you find these guys? I know, they find you.

How much do you charge for NAPS* per month?

*Nisiprius's Anonymous Posting Service.
Afraid to post under a known nom-de-plume? Just PM nisiprius and use NAPS!
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Postby R-Man » Tue Apr 12, 2011 10:57 am

I am attempting to convert VWINX to VWIAX (Wellesley Income) at Wells Trade now. Since it did not occur overnight, I called again this morning and after passing me around several times I was told it can take up to 6 or 7 days to accomplish. Apparently, Wells Trade must contact Vanguard first and receive something back before the transaction can be completed. Wells' web site references a $50k minimum for VWIAX but I was told by a registered rep it is really $100k. I suspect the rep was out of date. Tune in next week for an update.
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Postby AndroAsc » Tue Apr 12, 2011 1:26 pm

Woah hold on a minute, are you saying that Vanguard Admiral Shares mutual funds can only be bought from Vanguard directly??? I thought Wellstrade used to carry all products including Vanguard Admiral MF?
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Postby DSInvestor » Tue Apr 12, 2011 1:45 pm

Here's a list of Vanguard mutual funds available at Wells Fargo:
http://cxa.marketwatch.com/WellsFargo/M ... roup&mode=

I see some actively managed admiral funds in the list but no index funds.
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Postby mapleosb » Tue Apr 12, 2011 4:12 pm

nisiprius wrote:I get the sense that the blockage comes from Vanguard, that admiral shares are proprietary.


I think I may have mentioned this back in February when I transferred an account to Fidelity. I had to convert my Admiral shares of Wellington to Investor shares in order to transfer. The Fidelity rep stated that this was a Vanguard stipulation as of January. So I take it to mean that you can only get additional or new Admiral shares at Vanguard from now on.
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Postby Default User BR » Tue Apr 12, 2011 7:15 pm

AndroAsc wrote:Woah hold on a minute, are you saying that Vanguard Admiral Shares mutual funds can only be bought from Vanguard directly??? I thought Wellstrade used to carry all products including Vanguard Admiral MF?

They've never had Admiral INDEX funds since I've been there. We've discussed this before.



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Postby AndroAsc » Tue Apr 12, 2011 8:07 pm

Default User BR wrote:
AndroAsc wrote:Woah hold on a minute, are you saying that Vanguard Admiral Shares mutual funds can only be bought from Vanguard directly??? I thought Wellstrade used to carry all products including Vanguard Admiral MF?

They've never had Admiral INDEX funds since I've been there. We've discussed this before.

Brian


My bad... yet another reason to stick with Vanguard!
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Postby R-Man » Fri Apr 15, 2011 1:03 pm

OK the results are in. I was successful in converting VWINX to VWIAX (Wellesley Income) at Wells Trade. One phone call and wait about 3 days and the deed was done! No hassle no cost. Sweet!!
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Postby LazyNihilist » Fri Apr 15, 2011 7:10 pm

lazyday wrote:
LazyNihilist wrote:But other brokerage firms offer some superior quality of service and tools overall to buy these Mutual Funds more than Vanguard itself does.

If you only need Admiral class and Investor class funds, and no ETFs, stock shares, bonds, etc, then Vanguard does very well and has great customer service I believe.

There is still Tax lot ID reporting inferiority compared to most other places, but it seems that Vanguard is adding features here.

Also as natureexplorer mentioned, there is a one day delay if buying by ACH. Can be annoying, but usually not a big deal. If you need to rebalance into a volatile asset, such as REITs in 2009 when they could move nearly 10% in a day, you could just ACH into a money market fund ahead of time, and then transfer into the desired fund the next day.

If those two aren't significant issues for someone, and the whole account is just traditional mutual funds (Admiral and Investor class), then Vanguard should be a very good choice I think.


Thanks lazyday
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Re: Admiral shares at non-Vanguard brokerages: share info

Postby michaelsieg » Wed Oct 23, 2013 10:00 pm

Not to beat a dead horse, but my employer recently started offering a TD ameritrade self directed brokerage service. Today, I tried to buy VG mid cap value admiral shares using TD ameritrade and online, the order went through. But they called me later and said, that admiral shares are only available though a TD ameritrade registered financial advisor and that I have to buy the regular investor shares - has anyone else had this problem with TD ameritrade recently?
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Re: Admiral shares at non-Vanguard brokerages: share info

Postby perrywinkle » Mon Mar 10, 2014 7:48 pm

Does anyone have more current experience on the topic of holding VG Admiral shares at other brokers. I currently have a taxable and tax deferred account being managed by a low cost flat fee advisor but am considering dropping the advisor. The accounts are institutional accounts at Schwab and contain a mix of Vanguard funds (all Admiral Shares) and non Vanguard funds (Institutional Class Shares). I have done some due diligence and it still appears to be difficult to purchase VG Admiral Shares in a retail brokerage account at most brokers, including Schwab, Fidelity, TD Ameritrade, etc. I’d like to know how others handle this and what brokers support both custody and purchase of Admiral shares. The prospect of needing 2 sets of brokerage accounts, one at VG for admiral funds (taxable and IRA) and another of non VG funds (taxable and IRA) is not appealing. Please don't suggest Vanguard Brokerage Services. They will not custody some of my non VG funds. And I have seen too many stories of issues with tax lot accounting and other customer service issues. Not interested. Thanks for any current information regarding your direct experience on this topic.
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Re: Admiral shares at non-Vanguard brokerages: share info

Postby natureexplorer » Mon Mar 10, 2014 8:04 pm

Have you asked about the corresponding Signal shares?
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Re: Admiral shares at non-Vanguard brokerages: share info

Postby btenny » Mon Mar 10, 2014 8:17 pm

I hold Admiral shares of several different funds at Scottrade and three at Wells Fargo. I bought the Admiral funds at Scottrade back when. I did all those purchases on line quickly and easily with no issue and no phone calls by selling Investor shares and buying Admiral shares. I have added to those funds since then with no issue via on line trades at Scottrade. Each mutual fund sell or buy at Scottrade has a small $17 per trade.

I also previously bought two Admiral share funds last year via on line trades at no cost at Wells Fargo in my brokerage account. I have added to those funds since that purchase with no issue via on line trades. But recently I tried to buy some Admiral shares at Wells Fargo in Intermediate Muni Fund. As I discussed in another post that purchase was a chore that took three or four phone calls over three days to Vanguard and Wells and some negotiating on a small purchase fee of $35 that was eventually waved. Apparently Wells is trying to get away from all those free trade offers. So now that the purchase has settled I own Vanguard Admiral shares in that fund at Wells brokerages.
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Re: Admiral shares at non-Vanguard brokerages: share info

Postby perrywinkle » Mon Mar 10, 2014 8:40 pm

btenny wrote:I hold Admiral shares of several different funds at Scottrade and three at Wells Fargo. I bought the Admiral funds at Scottrade back when. I did all those purchases on line quickly and easily with no issue and no phone calls by selling Investor shares and buying Admiral shares. I have added to those funds since then with no issue via on line trades at Scottrade. Each mutual fund sell or buy at Scottrade has a small $17 per trade.

I also previously bought two Admiral share funds last year via on line trades at no cost at Wells Fargo in my brokerage account. I have added to those funds since that purchase with no issue via on line trades. But recently I tried to buy some Admiral shares at Wells Fargo in Intermediate Muni Fund. As I discussed in another post that purchase was a chore that took three or four phone calls over three days to Vanguard and Wells and some negotiating on a small purchase fee of $35 that was eventually waved. Apparently Wells is trying to get away from all those free trade offers. So now that the purchase has settled I own Vanguard Admiral shares in that fund at Wells brokerages.


Thanks for the update on on Scottrade btenny I had seen your prior post(s). As a 25+ year customer of Schwab there are some capabilities that I have become accustomed to and am not excited about giving up. Can you comment on your Scottrade experience in these areas? One pain is that they do not appear to allow direct ACH from your brokerage account to your bank / credit union. Is there any way around this besides opening a Scottrade bank account solely so you can ACH?

* Easy to use web site.
* Competent and helpful customer service (although I am quite competent and use it infrequently)
* Accurate history of cost basis and lots
* Prompt and accurate reporting of transactions, dividends, capital gains, etc.
* Easy, accurate and direct download into Quicken without having to visit the broker web site to initiate the update to Quicken
* Easy ACH transfer from brokerage account to bank / credit union without having to open a brokerage sponsored bank account
* Tax forms are accurate (rarely amended) and arrive in a timely manner

One other issue is that Scottrade will not custody a couple of non VG funds with Institutional Shares in a retail account vs. and advisor account and I would be forced to liquidate them. I guess I could check to see if they would convert them to Class A shares without incurring any costs, albeit a higher expense ratio. Otherwise I have to find substitutes. Thanks for any other insights.
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