Good Service for Flagship Investors

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John151
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Good Service for Flagship Investors

Post by John151 » Mon Jul 17, 2017 10:52 pm

There have been a number of complaints about Vanguard’s customer service, including customer service for Flagship investors. I’d like to report exactly the opposite experience. So far this year, I’ve opened a new tax-exempt bond fund, taken my first required minimum distribution, changed from one Vanguard money market fund to a different one, arranged to have distributions from my other Vanguard funds deposited into the new money market fund, and arranged to have next year’s required minimum distribution deposited into the new money market fund as well.

All of these changes have been executed flawlessly by Vanguard telephone reps who were courteous, knowledgeable, and efficient. Surely other Vanguard investors have had good service too?

Nate79
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Re: Good Service for Flagship Investors

Post by Nate79 » Mon Jul 17, 2017 11:08 pm

I have transferred multiple accounts to Vanguard. I did them all online and ALL of them went smoothly.

No issues with Vanguard here.

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Jerry55
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Re: Good Service for Flagship Investors

Post by Jerry55 » Mon Jul 17, 2017 11:30 pm

I opened 2 accounts in 2012, one was Wellington taxable ~ Excellent service (online)

first one was a ROTH IRA (Wellesley) taken from my VCP Federal account to Max Fund it (3-2012), with help from a Rep. Excellent Service indeed.

In the near future ( 6-24 months) I'll shut down my Dodge & Cox International fund and move it to Vanguard, just not sure what into though.
Retired CSRS on 12/19/2012 @ age 57 w/39 years | Good Bye Tension, Hello Pension !!!

rick0
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Re: Good Service for Flagship Investors

Post by rick0 » Mon Jul 17, 2017 11:35 pm

WOW! I'm not the only one.

I recently called Vanguard/Flagship - for the first time in 3-4 years, and was pleasantly surprised by the knowledge and accuracy of the Rep.
Maybe I'll have to call again next year :happy

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badbreath
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Re: Good Service for Flagship Investors

Post by badbreath » Tue Jul 18, 2017 12:14 am

I rarely call Vanguard as it seems I can do most things online. But I did get a note card from them thanking me for for investing a large amount with them (not kidding got a thank you note).
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spdoublebass
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Re: Good Service for Flagship Investors

Post by spdoublebass » Tue Jul 18, 2017 12:31 am

As a new investor (not a flagship member) I opened two accounts this year with Vanguard, a Roth IRA and a Solo 401K. Being new, I had many questions and made a few rookie mistakes. Each time I called them, maybe 4 or 5 times total, they treated me like I invested millions with them.

One issue I had is when you open a Solo 401K you have to select a fund, and you can pick any fund without meeting the minimum dollar requirement. Of course I picked a fund I didn't want and needed to switch to something else. I couldn't do this online though because I didn't meet the new funds minimum contribution limit, which they have to waive, so I had to call in. I was so embarrassed to have to call them to exchange a fund for me that only had my initial $20 in it. :shock:
As I said, they treated me like I had a fortune in the account. I like about Vanguard.
Last edited by spdoublebass on Tue Jul 18, 2017 9:44 am, edited 1 time in total.
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aristotelian
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Re: Good Service for Flagship Investors

Post by aristotelian » Tue Jul 18, 2017 6:37 am

People don't really post on message boards when they get good customer service.

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nisiprius
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Re: Good Service for Flagship Investors

Post by nisiprius » Tue Jul 18, 2017 6:51 am

I'm not Flagship.

I haven't had any issues with Vanguard in the twenty-odd years I've had an account with them...

or with Fidelity during the seven years I had an account with them...

or with Schwab during the three years I had an account with them.

There were times, last year I think, when there were a lot of complaints in this forum about Vanguard being slow to answer their calls (as in thirty minutes), and I believe them, and Vanguard has all-but-acknowledged publicly that they let themselves get understaffed. I called Vanguard a couple of times during that time period and didn't happen experience any long waits myself.
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1210sda
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Re: Good Service for Flagship Investors

Post by 1210sda » Tue Jul 18, 2017 7:14 am

I've had several Qualified Charitable Distributions (QCD) this year. No problems at all. Courteous and efficient.

Only issue I have is that QCD's cannot be handled online. You have to talk to a rep.

1210

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mhc
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Re: Good Service for Flagship Investors

Post by mhc » Tue Jul 18, 2017 8:42 am

I've always had great experiences with Vanguard. They definitely are not a cable company or airline.

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goingup
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Re: Good Service for Flagship Investors

Post by goingup » Tue Jul 18, 2017 9:08 am

I've had excellent experiences over the years. I'm not high maintenance though. Low touch.

It's not hard to imagine how frustrating it would be to have had screw-ups, mix-ups or being unable to reach a representative. These types of problems seem to create a visceral anger with investors, in a way that dealing with the cable company or UPS does not. I had the experience with another firm and was apoplectic with rage. Vanguard has been consistently great thus far, however. :beer

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Re: Good Service for Flagship Investors

Post by ruralavalon » Tue Jul 18, 2017 9:25 am

We have been using Vanguard funds and Vanguard accounts since 2005, now have everything with Vanguard, and have never had a problem of any kind with Vanguard customer service.

I do almost everything online, haven't had to call them in more than a year, but calls have always been picked up promptly and my questions addressed quickly and courteously.
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kiddoc
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Re: Good Service for Flagship Investors

Post by kiddoc » Tue Jul 18, 2017 9:43 am

I am glad people are posting good experiences to put things in context. I think Vanguard has the best investment products. Unfortunately, my experiences with brokerage and record keeping in Voyager Select have not been great so I am probably not going to reach Flagship level. For now, I am keeping significant funds at Vanguard only if I haven't found good options for the asset class at another brokerage. My poor experiences comprise the following:

1) Taxable account- SpecID sell orders for TLH processed as FIFO generating taxable gains (covered shares).
2) Taxable account- Generated wash sale by re-investing dividends going against clear instructions from me on their website.
3) Taxable account: Reported incorrect cost basis and acquisition date of covered shares while donating shares to donor-advised fund
4) Taxable account: They tried to liquidate shares with large gains on receiving my correctly filled instructions to donate to donor-advised fund. First line on the letter from Fidelity said, in capitals: THIS IS NOT A REQUEST TO SELL/ LIQUIDATE THESE SHARES
5) IRA: Mis-reported my 401k rollover as new contribution, much above the IRS allowed limits.

I view some of these as equivalents of "never events" in healthcare: like a surgeon operating on the wrong leg. They may get 1000 surgeries right but will not be considered in good standing if they operated on the wrong side in 5 cases. And yes, I do believe good financial management is nearly as crucial as maintaining good health.
"The four most dangerous words in investing are: 'this time it's different.'" - Sir John Templeton

tomd37
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Re: Good Service for Flagship Investors

Post by tomd37 » Tue Jul 18, 2017 10:23 am

1210,
I do about 8 QCDs each year. My flagship rep has been very helpful in completing these. I make an online appointment for him to call me. A couple of days ahead of the call I send him an email with a list with the name of the charitable organizations and their QCD amount and the name and fund number from which the contribution is to be taken. Address of the charitable organization is not needed or desired by Vanguard. This way he has all the details available ahead of time and it saves time for both of us. He reads me the required statements and I verbally agree to what he has read me and within a couple of days the checks are made payable to each charitable organization and sent to me in one package for forwarding to the organization under a cover letter. I hope my new (this month) rep will agree to the same process.
Tom D.

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jimgour
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Re: Good Service for Flagship Investors

Post by jimgour » Tue Jul 18, 2017 10:59 am

Fellow Bogleheads:

Over the many years I have been with Vanguard, I have never received poor service. The representatives I got were always friendly, cheerful, knowledgeable, helpful, etc. I am a Flagship client and once wondered if I got better service because of that. However, I have often called in on the non-Flagship number when helping friends get started at Vanguard, and always had the same great experience with their service. Also, I've never waited longer than one minute before someone answered to help me. I often wonder why so many complain about the service at Vanguard when I have NEVER had a bad experience.

Maybe it's my charm, but somehow I doubt that.

Jim

dewey
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Re: Good Service for Flagship Investors

Post by dewey » Tue Jul 18, 2017 10:59 am

My first Flagship Rep was outstanding. He was promoted and his replacement was not as stellar. I made a change and my current Rep is terrific. Prior to Flagship all my service was very good. I've been with Vanguard a long time and would give their service two thumbs up.
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Da5id
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Re: Good Service for Flagship Investors

Post by Da5id » Tue Jul 18, 2017 11:32 am

I believe that anecdotes aren't a great way to compare companies service, but rather broad surveys are better. Anecdotes tend to be negative, because stories about good professional service aren't all that interesting to hear and we rarely are as motivated to communicate them.

I've personally had good service from Vanguard. They have made a few mistakes (cost basis wrong on several items), but they repaired them. When I ask my rep questions (usually by secure message, I prefer things in writing) I've gotten rapid answers from him or a specialist.

I've also had good service from Fidelity, and like their web page better.

Reading the anecdotal stories, I think Vanguard could probably stand to improve its service and IT infrastructure. I love Vanguard, and have owned index funds with them since the 80s. But Vanguard is not so unique any more, their cost advantage for index funds is no longer there. it is perfectly easy to buy cheap ETF index funds and hold them in a brokerage account anywhere. And Fidelity and others sell very cheap index mutual funds as well. So Vanguard probably should up their game some...

Ron Scott
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Re: Good Service for Flagship Investors

Post by Ron Scott » Tue Jul 18, 2017 12:43 pm

I'm Flagship Select.

I find investment firms customer service to be like airlines. You can fly 1st, business class or coach and you all get to the same place eventually even if some pay more than others. Vanguard is coach.
Retirement is a game best played by those prepared for more volatility in the future than has been seen in the past. Preparing for financial challenges is more fruitful than trying to predict them.

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Re: Good Service for Flagship Investors

Post by Vanguard Fan 1367 » Tue Jul 18, 2017 2:03 pm

I am happy with Flagship service.

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1210sda
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Re: Good Service for Flagship Investors

Post by 1210sda » Tue Jul 18, 2017 2:13 pm

tomd37 wrote:1210,
I do about 8 QCDs each year. My flagship rep has been very helpful in completing these. I make an online appointment for him to call me. A couple of days ahead of the call I send him an email with a list with the name of the charitable organizations and their QCD amount and the name and fund number from which the contribution is to be taken. Address of the charitable organization is not needed or desired by Vanguard. This way he has all the details available ahead of time and it saves time for both of us. He reads me the required statements and I verbally agree to what he has read me and within a couple of days the checks are made payable to each charitable organization and sent to me in one package for forwarding to the organization under a cover letter. I hope my new (this month) rep will agree to the same process.
Thank you very much.

I think I'll give it a try. Still wish I could do it entirely online. :(

1210

DippityDoo
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Re: Good Service for Flagship Investors

Post by DippityDoo » Tue Jul 18, 2017 3:31 pm

kiddoc wrote:I think Vanguard has the best investment products. Unfortunately, my experiences with brokerage and record keeping in Voyager Select have not been great
kiddoc, am curious to know how recently the mistakes you enumerated were made. I'm trying to overcome my bad impression of Vg from attempts to transfer an IRA there a few months ago.

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flamesabers
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Re: Good Service for Flagship Investors

Post by flamesabers » Tue Jul 18, 2017 4:14 pm

Actually I haven't had much contact with Vanguard's customer service. When I was transferring my Roth IRA to Vanguard years ago, I contacted their customer service in regards to the process. The person I talked to was helpful and I didn't have any issues with completing the transfer. I haven't called Vanguard since then. When it comes to financial matters, I prefer to communicate by email so that I always have a written record to look back on if needed.

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grabiner
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Re: Good Service for Flagship Investors

Post by grabiner » Tue Jul 18, 2017 9:47 pm

kiddoc wrote: My poor experiences comprise the following:

1) Taxable account- SpecID sell orders for TLH processed as FIFO generating taxable gains (covered shares).
2) Taxable account- Generated wash sale by re-investing dividends going against clear instructions from me on their website.
3) Taxable account: Reported incorrect cost basis and acquisition date of covered shares while donating shares to donor-advised fund
4) Taxable account: They tried to liquidate shares with large gains on receiving my correctly filled instructions to donate to donor-advised fund. First line on the letter from Fidelity said, in capitals: THIS IS NOT A REQUEST TO SELL/ LIQUIDATE THESE SHARES
5) IRA: Mis-reported my 401k rollover as new contribution, much above the IRS allowed limits.
Did you get these corrected? I am also Voyager Select, and I had a version of one of these problems which was corrected. I donated non-covered ETF shares to a charity, using specific ID. Vanguard's online records donated shares from the first lot, which was not one of the lots I chose. I sent a secure message to Vanguard requesting the correction. The first time this happened, it was fixed; it happened again and they have said they will fix it.

I would prefer that this gets fixed systemically, as it will happen for me repeatedly. My oldest lot of this ETF is the highest-cost lot, so it is the last one I will donate. (The reason for this is that the ETF is Developed Markets; at the time I bought these lots, they were Tax-Managed International, and harvesting losses wasn't worth the redemption fee.)
Wiki David Grabiner

kiddoc
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Re: Good Service for Flagship Investors

Post by kiddoc » Tue Jul 18, 2017 10:47 pm

grabiner wrote:
kiddoc wrote: My poor experiences comprise the following:

1) Taxable account- SpecID sell orders for TLH processed as FIFO generating taxable gains (covered shares).
2) Taxable account- Generated wash sale by re-investing dividends going against clear instructions from me on their website.
3) Taxable account: Reported incorrect cost basis and acquisition date of covered shares while donating shares to donor-advised fund
4) Taxable account: They tried to liquidate shares with large gains on receiving my correctly filled instructions to donate to donor-advised fund. First line on the letter from Fidelity said, in capitals: THIS IS NOT A REQUEST TO SELL/ LIQUIDATE THESE SHARES
5) IRA: Mis-reported my 401k rollover as new contribution, much above the IRS allowed limits.
Did you get these corrected?
1- Corrected in 3 months. They didn't inform me as promised.
2- They said their system won't let them reverse this and they can't help me. Asked me to contact a tax attorney/CPA.
3- They said their system does not allow them to correct this. After repeated questioning and putting me off for 6 months, they referred it to their technical team but have said they can''t give me a time frame or commit whether it will be corrected.
4- Luckily, they called me to ask me how I wanted to handle the capital gains taxes so I was able to stop them in their tracks. Fidelity then processed this seamlessly.
5- They said their system would not let them correct this. Asked me to contact a tax attorney/CPA. I reported the correct amount in my tax return and included an explanation for IRS. Nothing from IRS so far. It has almost been 3 years.

Again, these are all "never events" at a brokerage for me. I agree they need to overhaul whatever "system" they are using. I throw up a little anytime someone praises Vanguard's customer service/ accounting.
"The four most dangerous words in investing are: 'this time it's different.'" - Sir John Templeton

kiddoc
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Re: Good Service for Flagship Investors

Post by kiddoc » Tue Jul 18, 2017 10:50 pm

DippityDoo wrote: kiddoc, am curious to know how recently the mistakes you enumerated were made. I'm trying to overcome my bad impression of Vg from attempts to transfer an IRA there a few months ago.
5 errors in the last 3 years. To be fair to them, they haven't messed up anything in my IRA after the initial mis-reporting of contributions/ rollover.
I do not trust them with anything in the taxable space though. I save screen captures of every screen, every transaction, every cost basis.
"The four most dangerous words in investing are: 'this time it's different.'" - Sir John Templeton

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celia
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Re: Good Service for Flagship Investors

Post by celia » Tue Jul 18, 2017 11:36 pm

John151 wrote:So far this year, I’ve opened a new tax-exempt bond fund, taken my first required minimum distribution, changed from one Vanguard money market fund to a different one, arranged to have distributions from my other Vanguard funds deposited into the new money market fund, and arranged to have next year’s required minimum distribution deposited into the new money market fund as well.
John, These are fairly common transactions and can even be done online yourself. They probably did the data entry for these transactions while you were on the phone with them. The real test is to have them do something that requires manual steps after you hang up, like doing a partial recharacterization or moving funds between accounts that are on different platforms.

And as far as asking them to do things that you can do yourself, I suggest that you learn to do them online. They will be happy to walk you through it the first time. I say this because you are increasing their overhead by asking them. That hurts all of us. If we all called up for every transaction, the ERs for each fund would be a lot more than they are now. And they would probably have to hire 100 times more customer service reps.

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celia
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Re: Good Service for Flagship Investors

Post by celia » Tue Jul 18, 2017 11:53 pm

kiddoc wrote:
grabiner wrote:
kiddoc wrote: My poor experiences comprise the following:

3) Taxable account: Reported incorrect cost basis and acquisition date of covered shares while donating shares to donor-advised fund
5) IRA: Mis-reported my 401k rollover as new contribution, much above the IRS allowed limits.
Did you get these corrected?
3- They said their system does not allow them to correct this. After repeated questioning and putting me off for 6 months, they referred it to their technical team but have said they can''t give me a time frame or commit whether it will be corrected.
5- They said their system would not let them correct this. Asked me to contact a tax attorney/CPA. I reported the correct amount in my tax return and included an explanation for IRS. Nothing from IRS so far. It has almost been 3 years.
#3 You can easily correct all this on your tax return by entering what the 1099 says, then check the box (or whatever your tax software uses) that says "this information is incorrect". Then you enter the correct data. YOU are liable to report the correct information even though your tax forms may be wrong and the IRS already makes a provision for that.

#5 I believe a 401K rollover is called a "rollover contribution" as far as the IRA terminology is concerned. So I see no problem here.

DippityDoo
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Re: Good Service for Flagship Investors

Post by DippityDoo » Wed Jul 19, 2017 1:01 am

kiddoc wrote:I do not trust them with anything in the taxable space though. I save screen captures of every screen, every transaction, every cost basis.
Thank you for your reply. I've been considering a transfer of some taxable assets to take advantage of Vg's tax-managed funds. I think I'll pass for now and keep looking for other options.

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grabiner
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Re: Good Service for Flagship Investors

Post by grabiner » Fri Jul 28, 2017 9:30 pm

grabiner wrote:Did you get these corrected? I am also Voyager Select, and I had a version of one of these problems which was corrected. I donated non-covered ETF shares to a charity, using specific ID. Vanguard's online records donated shares from the first lot, which was not one of the lots I chose. I sent a secure message to Vanguard requesting the correction. The first time this happened, it was fixed; it happened again and they have said they will fix it.

I would prefer that this gets fixed systemically, as it will happen for me repeatedly. My oldest lot of this ETF is the highest-cost lot, so it is the last one I will donate. (The reason for this is that the ETF is Developed Markets; at the time I bought these lots, they were Tax-Managed International, and harvesting losses wasn't worth the redemption fee.)
Update: This was fixed in Vanguard's records; the two lots I donated are now the ones which were transferred to the charity, both in "Gifted shares" and in "Unrealized gains and losses".
Wiki David Grabiner

david99
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Re: Good Service for Flagship Investors

Post by david99 » Sat Jul 29, 2017 4:10 pm

aristotelian wrote:People don't really post on message boards when they get good customer service.
I agree most people post on message boards when they have a complaint or want to vent.

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SpringMan
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Re: Good Service for Flagship Investors

Post by SpringMan » Sat Jul 29, 2017 4:16 pm

No complaints but do miss getting free TurboTax.
Best Wishes, SpringMan

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zaboomafoozarg
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Re: Good Service for Flagship Investors

Post by zaboomafoozarg » Sat Jul 29, 2017 5:23 pm

If someone can provide me with a small loan of several hundred thousand dollars, I too will post my Flagship experience in this thread. :D

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Re: Good Service for Flagship Investors

Post by RudyS » Sun Jul 30, 2017 3:59 pm

1210sda wrote:
tomd37 wrote:1210,
I do about 8 QCDs each year. My flagship rep has been very helpful in completing these. I make an online appointment for him to call me. A couple of days ahead of the call I send him an email with a list with the name of the charitable organizations and their QCD amount and the name and fund number from which the contribution is to be taken. Address of the charitable organization is not needed or desired by Vanguard. This way he has all the details available ahead of time and it saves time for both of us. He reads me the required statements and I verbally agree to what he has read me and within a couple of days the checks are made payable to each charitable organization and sent to me in one package for forwarding to the organization under a cover letter. I hope my new (this month) rep will agree to the same process.
Thank you very much.

I think I'll give it a try. Still wish I could do it entirely online. :(

1210
I use checkwriting on my IRA account to write and mail a check directly to the charity. I know some folks are still looking for proof that this is acceptable to the IRS, but I have seen enough info to make me comfortable. Fidelity actually discusses it. The money never passes through my hands, it is payable directly to the charity when they cash the check.

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Re: Good Service for Flagship Investors

Post by tomd37 » Sun Jul 30, 2017 4:16 pm

Rudy - After reading all the IRS instructions and guidelines I have to agree with you. My QCDs are done for 2017 and maybe Vanguard will come up with something when they finish the review of the subject as I was recently told. In the meantime I have another year to wait and I will also look into check writing capability on one of the two traditional IRA accounts (VTSAX) and maybe do it that way in 2018.

I do appreciate all the responses I have seen on this particular post. :sharebeer
Tom D.

Rwsavory
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Re: Good Service for Flagship Investors

Post by Rwsavory » Sun Jul 30, 2017 4:21 pm

Earlier this year, and not a Flagship client, I arranged to transfer two inherited IRA's to Vanguard. Everyone I dealt with was professional and very competent. Everything went through smoothly.

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Re: Good Service for Flagship Investors

Post by Vanguard Fan 1367 » Sun Jul 30, 2017 7:51 pm

SpringMan wrote:No complaints but do miss getting free TurboTax.
It was a silly reason for me to rearrange things back before the 2008 crash so that I could get the free Turbotax but I did it plus there are some other benefits I like too.

Since becoming a Boglehead in 2014 I can afford whatever it is that I paid for whatever version of Turbotax that I got this year. I think of folks with 1 percent AUM fees plus 1 per cent Expense Ratios on their funds plus the 5.5 percent load to get into the fund. I have it pretty good with Vanguard.

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