Which brokerage to sell stock awards?

Non-investing personal finance issues including insurance, credit, real estate, taxes, employment and legal issues such as trusts and wills
Ethelred
Posts: 129
Joined: Sun Oct 30, 2016 9:38 am

Which brokerage to sell stock awards?

Postby Ethelred » Wed Jan 11, 2017 4:32 pm

OK, I'm looking for some advice on whether I should avoid using Merrill Lynch to sell my company stock, and if so, how best to go about it.

A few years ago, my employer decided to change administrator of the company stock awards and stock options from Schwab to Merrill Lynch. In November, I sold some stock there for the first time, and made the assumption that transferring the proceeds out would be easy. I was wrong. I found that because the money went into a special type of brokerage account, while their website listed five ways to arrange transfers online, it's completely wrong, and none of them are possible in that account. Instead, there are two ways to transfer money: wire or check, and both require you to phone them. I don't know why, in 2017, ACH isn't available.

Wire costs $7-50 paid to ML, plus whatever I have to pay to my own bank. Checks are free, but I really don't like the risk of losing a check for thousands of dollars in the depths of the US postal service. Neither of these are good choices, and interacting with Bank of America / Merrill Lynch makes me question their competence. I'm wondering if I should just transfer the stock to a different brokerage and then sell. The stock options have to be sold by Merrill Lynch, but I figure I can transfer the proceeds to the other brokerage when I transfer the vested stock. I have brokerage accounts with Vanguard, Schwab and Fidelity, and I figure that any of them would work. Most likely I'd use Vanguard, and use the proceeds to buy mutual funds.

What would you do in this situation? Pay the wire fee, risk losing the check, or transfer elsewhere?

Thanks.

Dottie57
Posts: 889
Joined: Thu May 19, 2016 5:43 pm

Re: Which brokerage to sell stock awards?

Postby Dottie57 » Wed Jan 11, 2017 4:37 pm

Ethelred wrote:OK, I'm looking for some advice on whether I should avoid using Merrill Lynch to sell my company stock, and if so, how best to go about it.

A few years ago, my employer decided to change administrator of the company stock awards and stock options from Schwab to Merrill Lynch. In November, I sold some stock there for the first time, and made the assumption that transferring the proceeds out would be easy. I was wrong. I found that because the money went into a special type of brokerage account, while their website listed five ways to arrange transfers online, it's completely wrong, and none of them are possible in that account. Instead, there are two ways to transfer money: wire or check, and both require you to phone them. I don't know why, in 2017, ACH isn't available.

Wire costs $7-50 paid to ML, plus whatever I have to pay to my own bank. Checks are free, but I really don't like the risk of losing a check for thousands of dollars in the depths of the US postal service. Neither of these are good choices, and interacting with Bank of America / Merrill Lynch makes me question their competence. I'm wondering if I should just transfer the stock to a different brokerage and then sell. The stock options have to be sold by Merrill Lynch, but I figure I can transfer the proceeds to the other brokerage when I transfer the vested stock. I have brokerage accounts with Vanguard, Schwab and Fidelity, and I figure that any of them would work. Most likely I'd use Vanguard, and use the proceeds to buy mutual funds.

What would you do in this situation? Pay the wire fee, risk losing the check, or transfer elsewhere?

Thanks.

Are these options or stock you purchased because you awarded the option to buy?

Assuming stock, I would move to Fidelity and then you can sell and transfer money to bank account. I haven't worked with other brokerages.

Jack FFR1846
Posts: 4291
Joined: Tue Dec 31, 2013 7:05 am

Re: Which brokerage to sell stock awards?

Postby Jack FFR1846 » Wed Jan 11, 2017 4:44 pm

I've had checks sent in the past. Heck...I currently am awaiting. $10,000 check from a broker and don't give it two thoughts that its coming in the mail. And I'm convinced that my mailman is psychotic.
Bogle: Smart Beta is stupid

Ethelred
Posts: 129
Joined: Sun Oct 30, 2016 9:38 am

Re: Which brokerage to sell stock awards?

Postby Ethelred » Wed Jan 11, 2017 4:45 pm

Dottie57 wrote:Are these options or stock you purchased because you awarded the option to buy?

Assuming stock, I would move to Fidelity and then you can sell and transfer money to bank account. I haven't worked with other brokerages.

Some (restricted) stock awards and some stock options. The options are all currently either unvested or underwater, but that should change.

livesoft
Posts: 52522
Joined: Thu Mar 01, 2007 8:00 pm

Re: Which brokerage to sell stock awards?

Postby livesoft » Wed Jan 11, 2017 4:46 pm

In this situation, I would have the check mailed to me. Checks don't get lost except rarely. I have checks mailed to me all the time. Your fear on this is completely misplaced and unwarranted.

However, if the commission to sell was lower at one of my existing brokerages and the share-transfer cost was zero, then I would transfer, then sell.
This signature message sponsored by sscritic: Learn to fish.

Ethelred
Posts: 129
Joined: Sun Oct 30, 2016 9:38 am

Re: Which brokerage to sell stock awards?

Postby Ethelred » Wed Jan 11, 2017 4:49 pm

Jack FFR1846 wrote:I've had checks sent in the past. Heck...I currently am awaiting. $10,000 check from a broker and don't give it two thoughts that its coming in the mail. And I'm convinced that my mailman is psychotic.

I don't think our local mailman (or mailwoman) is dishonest, but the mail isn't that reliable. We've had probably several items wrongly delivered in the last year. Either not receiving things we expected or receiving mail addressed elsewhere, including us receiving someone else's FSA debit card.

Cash
Posts: 1070
Joined: Wed Mar 10, 2010 10:52 am

Re: Which brokerage to sell stock awards?

Postby Cash » Sat Jan 14, 2017 6:15 pm

Last year, I tried to transfer vested book shares from the transfer agent for my spouse's company to Vanguard to sell. The Vanguard rep had no idea how to do this. Fidelity allowed me to easily do it online. So I recommend Fidelity.

Ethelred
Posts: 129
Joined: Sun Oct 30, 2016 9:38 am

Re: Which brokerage to sell stock awards?

Postby Ethelred » Sat Jan 14, 2017 6:44 pm

Cash wrote:Last year, I tried to transfer vested book shares from the transfer agent for my spouse's company to Vanguard to sell. The Vanguard rep had no idea how to do this. Fidelity allowed me to easily do it online. So I recommend Fidelity.

Thanks for the info. It is strange, though. The Vanguard website is set up to provide all the details for transfers online, without even talking to anyone. Maybe the agent was confused about what you wanted to do?

Chip
Posts: 1049
Joined: Wed Feb 21, 2007 4:57 am

Re: Which brokerage to sell stock awards?

Postby Chip » Sun Jan 15, 2017 8:12 am

Ethelred wrote:Some (restricted) stock awards and some stock options. The options are all currently either unvested or underwater, but that should change.


Are you even sure that you can move restricted stock/options to another broker? That wasn't possible in the single situation I'm familiar with. The company chose the broker and that's who you had to deal with. YMMV.

And I agree with others, just get a check. If it gets lost it can be replaced.

blevine
Posts: 1576
Joined: Sat Feb 27, 2010 3:57 pm
Location: Paradise

Re: Which brokerage to sell stock awards?

Postby blevine » Sun Jan 15, 2017 8:33 am

Your plan makes sense if the shares are indeed possible to transfer. Make sure to do as a partial transfer, listing the specific stock, and a cash amount. Maybe leave a tiny bit of cash, assuming you expect more shares the following year.


That said, if you are going to sell the shares anyway, I would do so at ML, and get the check by mail. If large enough dollars, pay the wire fee, but I agree with prior post, checks can be canceled and replaced, ans usually wont be lost. Do you have frequent loss of mail ?

Ethelred
Posts: 129
Joined: Sun Oct 30, 2016 9:38 am

Re: Which brokerage to sell stock awards?

Postby Ethelred » Sun Jan 15, 2017 9:35 am

Chip wrote:Are you even sure that you can move restricted stock/options to another broker? That wasn't possible in the single situation I'm familiar with. The company chose the broker and that's who you had to deal with. YMMV.

The options can't be moved - I'd sell and then transfer cash if I did it this way. And the restricted stock just becomes normal listed company stock once it vests, so I don't foresee a problem transferring, but maybe I'm wrong.

Cash
Posts: 1070
Joined: Wed Mar 10, 2010 10:52 am

Re: Which brokerage to sell stock awards?

Postby Cash » Sun Jan 15, 2017 9:55 am

Ethelred wrote:
Cash wrote:Last year, I tried to transfer vested book shares from the transfer agent for my spouse's company to Vanguard to sell. The Vanguard rep had no idea how to do this. Fidelity allowed me to easily do it online. So I recommend Fidelity.

Thanks for the info. It is strange, though. The Vanguard website is set up to provide all the details for transfers online, without even talking to anyone. Maybe the agent was confused about what you wanted to do?


These shares were held at the transfer agent, not a brokerage, and required a particular transfer process. I tried multiple times to do it online at Vanguard, with no success. Easy with Fidelity. My impression is that if you are going to do anything slightly complicated, you're better off at Fidelity.

Easy Rhino
Posts: 3048
Joined: Sun Aug 05, 2007 11:13 am
Location: San Diego

Re: Which brokerage to sell stock awards?

Postby Easy Rhino » Mon Jan 16, 2017 4:33 pm

My espp Is run by computershare and I have three bad options

Transfer shares out with a hefty fee
Sell with a 30 commission and wire with an additional fee
Sell with commission and have a check mailed

I do the check method every month. It's fine.


Return to “Personal Finance (Not Investing)”