Breaking up with a Broker while Keeping Money

Physician's Money Digest, January 2007, Volume 14, Issue 1

Wall Street Journal

If you are one of the 17,000 investorsper day who are looking to switch brokeragefirms, beware of the transfer pitfallsbecause a lot could go wrong along theway. A recent articlewarns investors about some commontransfer problems, which is no surpriseconsidering over 700 formal complaintshave been made to the NASD in the past 2years. After filling out the special forms forthe asset transfer, the swap could still take6 to10 business days because both old andnew firms need copies and confirmation.And that is the best-case scenario. Longertransfers—over 2 weeks—often involveindividual retirement plans, margin loans,and proprietary investment vehicles. Yourtransfer could even be rejected or returnedfor clarification, which slows the processeven more. Some firms have differentinternal account designators due to mergers,so be sure to ask your old firm if itsinternal account information matcheswhat you are filling out on the transferrequest. To prevent these delays, treat thetransfer like a mortgage application.Double and triple check all the informationyou fill out; one wrong number can resultin long delays. Your old and new brokersprobably have hundreds of clients, so don'tbe afraid to nag them about your paperworkdeadlines and forms. It's your money,after all. If you are still being delayed, pursuea complaint with the NASD, since usuallyjust the threat of a complaint is sufficientmotivation.