Schwab asset transfer offer

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donner
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Schwab asset transfer offer

Post by donner » Mon May 23, 2011 1:58 pm

Recently got a call from my schwab rep who offered $1,200 cash if i transferred $500,000 in vanguard assets to my schwab account by end of May. Not a taxable event as transfer in kind of vanguard funds, so looks like good deal to me.

Anyone else get this offer from schwab?

I am interested in other views or thoughts on this move?

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Post by lambdapro » Mon May 23, 2011 2:05 pm

I had seen one like that from TD Ameritrade.

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Asset transfer offer

Post by shawcroft » Mon May 23, 2011 2:09 pm

One wonders what economic motivation inspires Schwab to do this. If you transfer the assets to them and just let them sit there, what significant revenue do they get?
Before I jumped at this, I would find out what the fees are for transferring the assets OUT and if there are time restrictions on how long the assets must be in the account before you can move them out. Also, what happens if you if you go under the $500,000 threshold.

I'm from Missouri

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Post by lambdapro » Mon May 23, 2011 2:12 pm

Vanguard transactions are $49.95 each at Schwab.

donner
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asset transfer offer

Post by donner » Mon May 23, 2011 2:39 pm

Good questions to ask and good advice.

I don't know how long must leave assets at schwab, but will ask. The $50/trade fee for vanguard funds is waived in the beginning - not sure how long.

I think the motivation is to increase the asset base within the schwab account and capture more of the client's investments.

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Post by abuss368 » Mon May 23, 2011 2:41 pm

Stay with Vanguard.

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Re: Schwab asset transfer offer

Post by matt » Mon May 23, 2011 2:50 pm

donner wrote:Recently got a call from my schwab rep who offered $1,200 cash if i transferred $500,000 in vanguard assets to my schwab account by end of May.
Interesting offer. But how does Schwab even know you have a $500,000+ account at Vanguard?

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Re: asset transfer offer

Post by nisiprius » Mon May 23, 2011 3:19 pm

It's certainly a puzzle. $1200 is tempting, but, $50 a trade... (hmm, when did they increase it from $35?... That makes Schwab worse than Fidelity, unless Fidelity has recently upped theirs...) I'd certainly spend however long it takes asking questions about just how the fees work. The answers might be on their website but I'm not going to bother to do the digging myself.

If you like what they tell you, make sure you get it in writing. Two ways to do this: a) insist that the rep point you specifically to something on their web that says so, or b) after you talk to the rep, send them an email summarizing your understanding and ask them to confirm that you understood it correctly.

I'm almost sure they get you coming and going (purchase and sales). I'm almost sure they get you on every transaction, additions to existing funds as well as the initial purchase. Fidelity has or used to have a break for automatic purchases, $5, so ask whether Schwab does. And do you have any Admiral shares? The pattern seems to be that non-Vanguard brokerages cannot hold Admiral shares of any of the index funds (the ones with $10,000 minimums). Don't ask them about Admiral shares, get your specific list of ticker symbols in front of you and have them go over it item by item.

I'll bet you do have some Admiral shares of index funds and I'll bet Schwab can't hold them.

So, if you are making regular purchases or withdrawals other than dividends, that $1,200 won't last very long. If you have three Vanguard funds and you add funds four times a year and rebalance once a year... well, do the math.

If you are going to stay with Vanguard mutual funds, I think you will need to devise a transaction-avoidance strategy. For example, using a single Vanguard all-in-one fund instead of several separate funds.

Or grit your teeth and decide to ignore the transaction fees. Figure out how many transactions you'll make doing what comes naturally, and figure out what that works out to as a percentage of your total portfolio, as if it were an addition to the ER. For example, if you have just one Vanguard Retirement fund, and the total value is $500,000, and you add to it every month, that would be $600/year in transaction fees = an extra 0.12% on top of the ER.

If I were going to move my Vanguard holdings to Schwab, I am so fee-averse that I would probably end up deciding either to switch to Vanguard ETFs, or to cave in and switch to Schwab's own index funds. Perhaps the latter is what they have in mind.
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donner
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asset transfer offer

Post by donner » Mon May 23, 2011 4:06 pm

Wow, great advice and food for thought....appreciate it and helping me to clarify the offer.

Yes, will get offer in writing or email summary of it as nothing on web-site as supposed to made at branch level only and kept private (what they say).

Had not thought about what happens to my admiral shares and yes, most of my funds are admiral shares so would need to factor in the higher expense ratio.

Not so worried about trading fee's, even after the $50 waiver goes away as don't trade at all and rebalance only once per year. Divendend reinvestment is free. So think my trading fee's would be minimal and no plans to add to the account but this of course depends on how long the money needs to be kept there.

I suspect the ultimate goal from schwab is to convince me to convert to schwab index funds over time.

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Post by poundwise » Tue May 24, 2011 12:02 am

I got the offer too. It goes all the way up to 2500 for a 1M transfer. You have to keep the funds in for a year. They'll give it to you in writing if you ask. Not available anywhere online - I asked. This one expires May 31, but these pop up all the time. Last quarter the offer went up to 3K for a 1M inbound transfer.

I love Vanguard, but I'm surprised by the misinformed Schwab bashing. First, you'll do fine if you stick to ETFs instead of Vanguard funds. It's the rare asset class that doesn't have a viable, low cost ETF. Schwab's proprietary ETFs often have lower ERs than Vanguards, and trades are free. Sure, if you are married to funds then Schwab isn't for you. Second, Schwab doesn't charge on the way in, or on the way out. In fact, I've had them refund closing fees from a couple of less friendly brokerages when I transfered assets in. This offer makes perfect sense if you have spare assets lying around.

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Thanks

Post by shawcroft » Tue May 24, 2011 8:15 am

Poundwise:
Thanks for clarifying the Schwab offer. Sounds like something to consider if you have some funds about that can be invested in Boglehead-like stuff at Schwab.
Shawcroft

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Post by retiredjg » Tue May 24, 2011 10:55 am

You probably won't get Admiral Shares there. If you like to use ETFs, it may not matter, but some people just don't care for ETFs.

This could be a fine deal, but for me it would fall into the category of "sounds too good to be true" until fully researched and proved otherwise. And there's also "if it ain't broke..."

You have to ask yourself "why would Schwab be doing this?" They plan to make some money from this at some point. Using Schwab funds may be why, but as I recall, they have a very limited array to choose from.

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Post by nisiprius » Tue May 24, 2011 11:24 am

It occurs to me that on a--just picking plausible numbers--$500,000 balance, say 1/2 Total Stock, 1/4 Total International, 1/4 Total Bond, the difference between Admiral and Investor shares =

$250,000 * (0.18% - 0.07%)
$125,000 * (0.26% - 0.20%)
$125,000 * (0.22% - 0.11%)

= $275 + $75 + $137.50

= $487.50/year.

That eats up $1200 in three years even without transaction fees.

Just sayin'.

(Actually it occurs to me that this is a special case of a general principle of personal finance of mine: don't pay attention to one-time things, pay close attention to ongoing monthly things. A one-time $1200 is once. An expense ratio is forever).
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Post by White Coat Investor » Tue May 24, 2011 11:33 am

Not an issue for me, given that I don't have $500K in transferrable money. But there's also the cost of being out of the market if you're transferring IRAs-you can't transfer them in kind.

Also, Schwab most definitely DOES have transfer out fees.
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donner
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Schwab asset transfer offer

Post by donner » Tue May 24, 2011 11:41 am

Poundwise - thanks for your viewpoint and knowledge. Reassuring to hear from someone who has done it and got similar offer. Would like to hear more about your Schwab ETF strategy or investments and what you would recommend as alternative to my vanilla TSM and TBM funds that i have in Vanguard and Fidelity.

Seems like my offer is same with $1,200 if tranfer 500,000 and up to $2,500 if can transfer 1M. Must leave the money in for 1 yr but cash payout is within a month. I would be transferring an IRA account so pretty stable money and only end of yr rebalance changes.

Double checked - yes I am able to transfer across an Admiral account or Fidelity Spartan account and get the existing low fee's they offer, just can't open a new one once inside Schwab.

Net/net - this looks like a good deal to me as I get extra 2.4% return on my money with the same funds I already am invested in....just now inside of Schwab instead of Fidelity. Am I missing anything??

donner
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asset transfer offer

Post by donner » Tue May 24, 2011 11:49 am

Just posted and didn't see the new forum additions (thanks for them).

EmergDoc - is this an IRA rule that can't transfer them in kind? I am definitely planning to transfer across IRA funds so this could be problem.

Nisiprius - agree with your math and thanks for insight, i did double check with them and they said i could bring across admiral shares (just can't open new admiral account) and also same with fidelity spartan shares. If could not get lower cost than agree that deal doesn't make sense.

Still trying to figure out what really in it for Schwab as don't make any money on this arrangement. But maybe hoping I switch to their funds over time??

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Re: Schwab asset transfer offer

Post by retiredjg » Tue May 24, 2011 11:50 am

donner wrote:Am I missing anything??
You might be. Have you actually checked to see if they offer the exact funds/ETFs you want? You might get a good ER on TSM, but can't get small cap value or something else without paying a higher ER.

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asset transfer offer

Post by donner » Tue May 24, 2011 12:25 pm

retiredjg

My plan is to just transfer over existing vanguard and fidelity funds so should get same ER as I am getting today (.07 for admiral TSM), etc.

Good point though if I switch to new schwab funds or schwab ETF's.

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Post by nisiprius » Tue May 24, 2011 1:19 pm

I think you'd better ask Schwab very specifically and carefully about Admiral shares; it sounds iffy. The big question is whether you can transfer existing Admiral shares in at all.

(Total Stock, Admiral) VTSAX: Availability: Available to Existing Shareholders
(Total Bond, Admiral) VBLTX: Availability: Available to Existing Shareholders
(Wellington, Admiral) VWENX: Availability: Institutional Customers Only
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donner
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asset transfer offer

Post by donner » Tue May 24, 2011 1:45 pm

Ok, will ask schwab to confirm that admiral funds are covered by offer and can be transferred. Verbally was told yes, but will send email with vanguard fund symbol to confirm (VTSAX, VBLTX).

Only restriction i was told was could not open new admiral fund.

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Admiral Funds

Post by happytrades » Tue May 24, 2011 6:38 pm

I own Admiral Funds at Schwab.

donner
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asset transfer offer

Post by donner » Tue May 24, 2011 6:40 pm

Heard back from Schab rep after giving him the vanguard funds (VTSAX, VBTLX) and my fidelity spartan funds.....yes the admiral funds are transferable into schwab account at their lower cost structure.

So very tempting.....realize it is a short term revenue benefit and probably not a long term solution, but very tempted by it.

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Post by tetractys » Tue May 24, 2011 7:19 pm

Schwab is baiting you with a 0.25% carrot on a hook. They will eventually recoup that carrot, and more, while your still hooked in the craw.

Not even worth a nibble and spit. -- Tet
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Post by poundwise » Wed May 25, 2011 12:22 am

This is a pretty hilarious thread. Good to see the healthy suspicion. A fool and his money... But there is obviously an old-school, married-to-Vanguard bias here. Surprise surprise, over time competition has forced the discount brokerages to offer fees and service comparable to (I won't say better than) Vanguard.

Donner: Schwab's ETF list with ERs is readily available on their site: schwab.com/public/schwab/investment_products/etfs/schwab_etfs

These ETFs are perfect if you need to purchase new shares. There is certainly no need to sell Vanguard ETFs upon transfer, and as people here have pointed out, you can even transfer your mutual fund holdings and maintain the fee structure (which I didn't know before this.)

What's in it for them? It's obvious. They will try to upsell you their other products. Fortunately, at Schwab they don't do a hard sell. Politely tell them at the beginning that you are a do-it-yourselfer and they never bother you again. If you take after Odysseus and won't be able to resist purchasing their Whizbang Portfolio Analyzer (TM) once you have an account, then by all means turn down the free money. It's not as if Schwab (or any other company seeking growth) hasn't given away big bucks to attract customers before. Go over to fatwallet and check out the thread on the legendary but disastrous Schwab 2% cash back Visa card (which is no longer offered.)

The ONLY downsides I see to accepting this offer are:

1) Hassle of maintaining a second account

2) You don't get the free and discounted trades that VBS offers IF you are flagship (though guess what, if you ask nicely Schwab will give you a bunch of free trades when you begin.)

3) A very small set of asset classes are available in Vanguard funds, but not in comparable low-priced ETFs. But Bogleheads shouldn't need these anyway.

If you guys don't think there are ever free lunches out there, just start hanging out in the slickdeals and fatwallet forums. It's like going to Vegas, not gambling once, and taking advantage of the lavish $8.95 buffets. Schwab is a safe, and even profitable, place for Bogleheads (with a modicum of self control) to hang out.

OK, I guess that was a rant. End of rant.

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Re: asset transfer offer

Post by nisiprius » Wed May 25, 2011 7:25 am

donner wrote:Still trying to figure out what really in it for Schwab as don't make any money on this arrangement. But maybe hoping I switch to their funds over time??
No big mystery here. They're hoping for a long-term customer relationship. It's very much like other "signing bonuses." It's pretty clear that banks think it's worth it to give you a bonus on the order of $100 for opening an account. Brokerage accounts are, let's say, ten times bigger so it's worth ten times as much.

We've already established that $1200 is only a few years' worth of likely fees. If you like Schwab, and they're a likable firm, you'll probably stick with them for decades if they don't screw up and do anything to tick you off.

There are all sorts of ways they could make that money back. Even if you never sell the Vanguard funds, you'll be making your new purchases in the Schwab universe. They'll have your address and your eyeballs and your attention. When they send you a nice slick quarterly magazine in the mail, are you going to pitch it or thumb through it? What are the chances some investment idea in it will catch your eye?

They're paying $1200 to hook into your brain, to have the inside track on whispering in your ear, to have you log onto a website and see (click click) about "free [Schwab] retirement workshops near you" and get you thinking about opening an account at Schwab Bank and taking a peek at those Windhaven Portfolios, now at Schwab... multiplied by decades.

Instead of reading about Vanguarding and "35 Years of Indexing."

Instead of reading about "Fidelity’s new Global High Income Fund: invest in four regions through one fund" or "Fidelity's new Conservative Income Bond Fund: A conservative choice for income investors." No Global High Income for me, but hey, I'm a conservative investor, maybe I should at least check that baby out, right? Multiply that by years and years and year. If Fidelity can get me to click on a link like that once a month, and if I see something interesting one time in three, and act on it one time in ten... do the math.

There's nothing evil in this, but if you have $500,000 you are a live one, a "catch." All the signals are that this is about the size of account that forms the core of what an investment company likes to see.

It might be fun to try calling some other brokerage and saying "Schwab is offering me $1,200, do you have any deals like that?"
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Post by indexfundfan » Wed May 25, 2011 10:12 am

TD Ameritrade has a similar offer. Transfer $250k of assets into a new account to get $500 cash.

http://www.tdameritrade.com/upto500

If you have buy-and-hold assets (e.g. ETFs that are locked-in due to capital gains), this might be one offer to take advantage of. Just move those locked-in assets to TD Ameritrade and leave them alone.

A year later, when an offer comes along from another brokerage, move the assets to the next brokerage. IIRC, when you qualify for the Apex status, there is no transfer out fee.
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Post by RaleighStClaire » Wed May 25, 2011 10:29 am

I like Schwab a lot and use them exclusively for all of my investing needs, banking needs and even my credit card.

I don't see why you wouldn't move them over since the admiral funds are transferable. You can always open a new account at Vanguard and buy your existing funds commission-free or by Schwab ETFs, Vanguard ETFs or Schwab funds in your Schwab account. disclaimer: I use a lot of the Schwab RAFI funds.

nisiprius: Fidelity charges $75 for Vanguard purchases.
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Post by poundwise » Wed May 25, 2011 11:44 am

EmergDoc wrote: Also, Schwab most definitely DOES have transfer out fees.
This is true. Looks like $25 for a partial transfer out, $50 for a full transfer. They don't have an "account closing fee," but that is less helpful.

Not as friendly as Vanguard, and this does represent my big hangup with Schwab: with Schwab you have to be vigilant. They are a for-profit company, so they will try to make money from their clients (while keeping them happy enough to remain clients.) Rates and fees may change, and not always for the better. Vanguard, on the other hand, seems to genuinely have your best interests in mind. Didn't think about transfer out fees? No problem, there are none. Didn't think about ERs in your sweep money market funds? Vanguard has the lowest rates around. With Vanguard, it's just a little easier to go on "automatic."

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Post by penumbra » Wed May 25, 2011 5:56 pm

Here's something you're missing: For amounts above $500 or so, most companies issue a 1099 so that you'll pay tax on the $1200. Not necessarily a dealbreaker, but it will reduce the benefit by 20-40% or so depending on your tax bracket, yadda yadda. I've done this type of thing a time or two in the past. It depends to a degree how you value your time and effort. If you focus on the $1200, you'll feel ok. If you focus on the time and effort going in , and then maybe out, it might be more trouble than it's worth.

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Post by penumbra » Wed May 25, 2011 5:57 pm

Here's something you're missing: For amounts above $500 or so, most companies issue a 1099 so that you'll pay tax on the $1200. Not necessarily a dealbreaker, but it will reduce the benefit by 20-40% or so depending on your tax bracket, yadda yadda. I've done this type of thing a time or two in the past. It depends to a degree how you value your time and effort. If you focus on the $1200, you'll feel ok. If you focus on the time and effort going in , and then maybe out, it might be more trouble than it's worth.

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Post by retiredjg » Wed May 25, 2011 6:04 pm

That does change how it looks, doesn't it? Never thought about taxes.

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Post by nisiprius » Wed May 25, 2011 6:08 pm

RaleighStClaire wrote:nisiprius: Fidelity charges $75 for Vanguard purchases.
I am very well aware of it. Although the last time I checked, they charged only for purchases, not for sales, and only charged $5 for automatic additional funds into existing funds.

(By the way, I left an email message on Schwab's website asking for clarification of Admiral shares transfers. The form requires you to supply a phone number and won't accept the submission without it. I clicked on "email" as my reply preference AND put "Please do not telephone" in the message. I have a message on my telephone answer machine and no email. Boo! So my curiosity remains unslaked... since I have no intention of replying to their phone message).
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Post by indexfundfan » Wed May 25, 2011 6:55 pm

Since I don't have the Schwab offer, I am going to try the TD Ameritrade $500 offer.

The offer is good even for existing customers (I emailed their customer service). Must keep assets with them for a year. Rewards of $600 or more will be reflected in 1099.

Good thing is I am only transferring ETFs and do not have to hassle with whether they can hold admiral shares or not. I guess this is a plus for using ETFs rather than mutual funds.
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Post by poundwise » Wed May 25, 2011 11:42 pm

penumbra wrote:Here's something you're missing: For amounts above $500 or so, most companies issue a 1099 so that you'll pay tax on the $1200.
Excellent point. Taxes on credit card bonuses and other rewards are a well-known gray area. Companies may issue 1099s, but that is to cover themselves, and is certainly not a legal requirement that you pay taxes.

Credit card bonuses are typically viewed as excluded, and as of 2002, frequent flyer miles are explicitly non-taxable. Per http://www.creditcards.com/: "In Announcement 2002-18, published in Internal Revenue Bulletin No. 2002-10 on March 11, 2002, the agency let frequent fliers off the hook for the miles they accrue via credit card programs. The IRS stated that it "will not assert that any taxpayer has understated his federal tax liability by reason of the receipt or personal use of frequent flier miles or other in-kind promotional benefits attributable to the taxpayer's business or official travel." Basically, the tax man is saying while he might have the right to consider the mileage rewards as income, he's not going to do so."

I will not be paying taxes on my Schwab bonus, even though I anticipate getting a 1099. An audit because of this is extremely unlikely and I am happy to do the minimal explanatory work should I ever be audited in this case.

If anyone else has statistical or legal evidence on this topic, I would love to hear it!

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Post by Random Musings » Thu May 26, 2011 10:42 am

Even if you can save money by the switching game, I'm sure Schwab is taking into consideration potential inertia once the move is made (aarrgghh, I got to move it again).

RM

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Post by retiredjg » Thu May 26, 2011 10:53 am

poundwise wrote:I will not be paying taxes on my Schwab bonus, even though I anticipate getting a 1099. An audit because of this is extremely unlikely and I am happy to do the minimal explanatory work should I ever be audited in this case.
An actual audit may be unlikely, but you will almost certainly get a letter asking why you did not include it in your return. And the IRS may or may not agree with your response. If they don't agree, you'll pay the taxes and I think you might have a penalty too, won't you?

I would not base any thinking on the frequent flyer decision myself. Perhaps there are other IRS decisions that would be more applicable though.

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Post by nisiprius » Thu May 26, 2011 1:41 pm

retiredjg wrote:
poundwise wrote:I will not be paying taxes on my Schwab bonus, even though I anticipate getting a 1099. An audit because of this is extremely unlikely and I am happy to do the minimal explanatory work should I ever be audited in this case.
An actual audit may be unlikely, but you will almost certainly get a letter asking why you did not include it in your return. And the IRS may or may not agree with your response. If they don't agree, you'll pay the taxes and I think you might have a penalty too, won't you?
Actually, that kind of letter is an audit... a "mail audit."
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Post by retiredjg » Thu May 26, 2011 2:52 pm

nisiprius wrote:
retiredjg wrote:An actual audit may be unlikely, but you will almost certainly get a letter asking why you did not include it in your return. And the IRS may or may not agree with your response. If they don't agree, you'll pay the taxes and I think you might have a penalty too, won't you?
Actually, that kind of letter is an audit... a "mail audit."
I'm sure you're right. When it happens to me, I think of it as a "clarification". :wink:

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Post by stratton » Thu May 26, 2011 3:50 pm

Schwab's web site is broken. I can't get a list of mutual funds on a search with IE9 or FF4. I'm getting the message, "Take your business else where!"

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Post by Default User BR » Thu May 26, 2011 4:02 pm

EmergDoc wrote:But there's also the cost of being out of the market if you're transferring IRAs-you can't transfer them in kind.
You certainly can transfer IRAs in-kind. I moved all my Vanguard funds to a Wells Fargo Roth without liquidating.

https://www.wellsfargo.com/investing/re ... r/transfer


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sperry8
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Post by sperry8 » Thu May 26, 2011 5:16 pm

indexfundfan wrote:Since I don't have the Schwab offer, I am going to try the TD Ameritrade $500 offer.

The offer is good even for existing customers (I emailed their customer service). Must keep assets with them for a year. Rewards of $600 or more will be reflected in 1099.

Good thing is I am only transferring ETFs and do not have to hassle with whether they can hold admiral shares or not. I guess this is a plus for using ETFs rather than mutual funds.
If you prefer you can earn miles for transferring assets to TD Ameritrade. AA and Starwood Hotels offer miles. It's a great way to earn miles and you only need to transfer $25 or $50k (and no tax issues). I think you can even do this first - and then later still get the cash offer.

http://www.aa.com/i18n/AAdvantage/earnM ... itrade.jsp (enough miles for a free domestic flight)

http://www.tdameritrade.com/offer/partn ... rwood.html (enough miles for 2 free nights).
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Post by indexfundfan » Thu May 26, 2011 6:25 pm

sperry8 wrote:
indexfundfan wrote:Since I don't have the Schwab offer, I am going to try the TD Ameritrade $500 offer.

The offer is good even for existing customers (I emailed their customer service). Must keep assets with them for a year. Rewards of $600 or more will be reflected in 1099.

Good thing is I am only transferring ETFs and do not have to hassle with whether they can hold admiral shares or not. I guess this is a plus for using ETFs rather than mutual funds.
If you prefer you can earn miles for transferring assets to TD Ameritrade. AA and Starwood Hotels offer miles. It's a great way to earn miles and you only need to transfer $25 or $50k (and no tax issues). I think you can even do this first - and then later still get the cash offer.

http://www.aa.com/i18n/AAdvantage/earnM ... itrade.jsp (enough miles for a free domestic flight)

http://www.tdameritrade.com/offer/partn ... rwood.html (enough miles for 2 free nights).
Thanks. I will check that out.
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Post by nisiprius » Thu May 26, 2011 6:45 pm

How long before someone devises an App-O-Rama strategy in which you systematically transfer your assets from broker to broker as quickly and as often as possible based on who gives you the biggest account transfer bonus?
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Post by indexfundfan » Fri Jun 03, 2011 11:54 pm

indexfundfan wrote:Since I don't have the Schwab offer, I am going to try the TD Ameritrade $500 offer.

The offer is good even for existing customers (I emailed their customer service). Must keep assets with them for a year. Rewards of $600 or more will be reflected in 1099.

Good thing is I am only transferring ETFs and do not have to hassle with whether they can hold admiral shares or not. I guess this is a plus for using ETFs rather than mutual funds.
I did the TD Ameritrade offer. Submitted application on Monday. Faxed transfer forms on Tuesday. Today (Friday), assets are transferred and $500 is in the account. That was FAST.
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Re: asset transfer offer

Post by Leif » Sat Jun 04, 2011 12:26 pm

nisiprius wrote: The pattern seems to be that non-Vanguard brokerages cannot hold Admiral shares of any of the index funds (the ones with $10,000 minimums). Don't ask them about Admiral shares, get your specific list of ticker symbols in front of you and have them go over it item by item.
That may be true for index (10k funds). When Vanguard reduced their minimum I requested Fidelity convert me to Admiral shares for their TIPS fund. They did so for me without any fees. I don't hold other Vanguard funds at Fidelity, so you may be right.

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