So if my wife rolls over her 401(k) from her former company, how much hassle is she going to face with Merrill Edge? Will they assist her with the rollover paperwork so that she doesn't have to keep calling Transamerica, and also to have the proceeds go directly between custodians (avoid having a check placed in her hands)? She is pretty nervous about having this be a smooth process. Her 401(k) has slightly into six figures so under this deal she could receive a $500 bonus, and it would boost our BofA relationship from Preferred Rewards Gold up into the Preferred Rewards Platinum category. That would provide a big kicker payout on purchases made with our BofA Cash Rewards VISA card.
But ultimately, can we rely on their service? I just called their "Preferred Rewards Customer Center" telephone line, it was already closed at 5 pm on a Saturday, it wasn't particularly a user-friendly automated system, and when their robocaller described their hours on weekdays, it abruptly hung up on me. It was a bit of a cold slap in the face, reminding me that while BofA has been satisfactory for routine transactional banking (and terrific for online banking), it immediately raised my concerns about service quality in moving 401(k) funds into a Rollover Traditional IRA. Again, my wife really wants all of this paperwork and rollover follow-up with Transamerica to be handled by the brokerage, and her role limited to signing the forms.
We've seen TV commercials for TD Ameritrade and Fidelity bragging about how they will handle everything on a 401(k) rollover, plus they are paying nice cash bonuses albeit less than what BofA Merrill Edge is offering.
Schwab probably can handle the rollover competently, and we already have most of our investment accounts there. However, Schwab is offering no cash bonuses. Schwab will offer 100 free trades for a rollover. However, as Bogleheads we aren't active traders. Also, many of the excellent and very low-ER Schwab ETFs are commission-free.
Cash bonuses in the $500 category definitely grab our attention, but lack of hassles is equally important. It's too bad that my wife didn't reactivate her "grandfathered" free-trading Wellstrade account, since I recall that in 2008 they actually did a competent job at handling a previous 401(k) rollover for her. We could have reactivated her grandfathered wellstrade account when I did so last fall, but we were right up against the 2-year deadline and that has now passed. I suppose we could ask Wellstrade if they would offer any bonuses or even free trades for her, since ultimately this is a buy-and-hold proposition.