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Administrative nuisances with some financial institutions

Simple transaction - move IRA cash, trustee to trustee, from one existing account to another. I hit the trifecta - three different institutions doing what they can to make this difficult.

Vanguard (recipient): Hard to transfer cash to existing mutual fund platform account. System automatically opened a brokerage account nd prefilled form with new account. I had to call Vanguard to have the cash go into my existing account.

Vanguard requires all transfers to be submitted by paper.

Merrill Edge (sender): Requires all transfers of $50K out of an IRA to have a medallion guarantee. They have a different limit for a transfer into an IRA, and a different limit for a taxable account.

I asked Merrill on the phone if I could walk into a BofA office to get the guarantee and was told they would only guarantee money coming into Merrill, not out.

Schwab:Won't provide a medallion guarantee to its customers unless the paperwork itself involves Schwab. Even then, my local office isn't able to stamp the docs. What's the point of having a local office if they can't handle the stuff that must be done in person?

IMHO none of these hurdles would disqualify an institution (how often does one move money from one account to another). But surely two decades into the 21st century they could be a little more tech savvy and a bit more customer friendly.


  • I have good and not so good experience with Vanguard, Fidelity and T. Rowe Price. T. Rowe Price is the slowest and requires medallion stamp on everything.

    Fidelity is the easiest, especially when $ is coming into Fidelity. Everything is done online with supporting statements.

    Vanguard is a mixed bag. If the entire account is transferred, everything can be completed online with supporting statements. If the transfer is partial, then the paperwork and supporting statements are required - typically it takes 7-10 days.

    Each brokerages have their own rules to follow. Some are more troublesome than others. Before the digital age, the transfer process were even worse!
  • "Life is like a bowl of cherries" I had my own problem with Grandeur Peaks when I closed a bank account & they tried to take quarterly withdrawal. After submitting forms via internet they came back & said they require a medallion signature. That's when the fur flew !! They then came back & said no medallion required , but no withdrawal from account for 90 days.
    In all fairness the next time I made a change things went smoothly.

    Good weekend to All, Derf
  • edited November 2019
    Yeah - D&C seems to be a “stickler” on the medallion signature guarantee, even for small dollar amount transfers out - as I understand them. I’ll need to move a few K from Invesco after the new year to TRP and am already sweating it a bit. My guess is they won’t require the signature guarantee. Most seem not to for amounts under around $50,000.

    My local CU’s been good about providing signature guarantees in the past. But many institutions, including some local banks, now refuse to provide one without substantial documentation and assurance directly from the institution you are coming out of - essentially “guaranteeing” the money is on deposit with them and will be provided. Apparently this reluctance stems from recent court decisions holding the agent granting the signature guarantee liable for any monetary losses stemming from misrepresentation / criminal intent.

    Nuts - I’m old enough to remember when obtaining a medallion signature guarantee was a relatively simple matter. Over the past 25 years they have gotten harder to obtain. Best bet is bank where you do business. I’m told by those who issue these that requests for them are rare. It’s something they’re not very familiar with or comfortable granting.

  • edited November 2019
    Here is a thought. Have the financial institution that you are moving the assets to use the ACAT system to make the transfer. The link below will describe how this works.
  • edited November 2019

    Although T. Rowe Prices allows you to perform EFTs into their funds from other institutions, I’ve had mixed results. Sometimes they’ve worked. More often they’ve appeared to go through only for T Rowe to notify me the next day that I’ll need to submit paperwork bearing a signature. Don’t know, but wondering if maybe the Roth IRA might be harder for them to put through?

    I’d prefer they not lead you into thinking you’re able to move the money when in fact it doesn’t work all the time. The good news is I only do about one such transfer every year. T Rowe is a great institution. Suspect any roadblocks are the work of the other party. The other good news is that the institution failing to comply is doing so in good faith. They’re going the extra mile to protect your assets from malfeasance - or may not be properly set-up to do such transfers.
  • edited December 2019

    I wonder if you were able to do this through a brick & mortor office of TRP rather than thru their online service if transfers would work better? In this way, the medallion seal could be affixed on the spot, if required, without you having to find another financial institution that would affix their medallion seal for your signature guarantee on the required paperwork.

    Please let us know how this upcoming transfer works out for you.

  • I believe @hank is largely correct in both the purpose of the guarantee and the increasing lack of knowledge in the industry. On the latter matter one would hope, in vain it appears, that the reason such knowledge is diminishing is because newer, easier, better mechanisms have implemented. To @Sven 's point, the transfer process has improved (e.g. ACATS), but some policies seem stuck in the first half of the 20th century.

    The purpose of the Medallion guarantee, like that of a certified check, is to validate the signer's identity and to ensure that assets are available for transfer. This is why a Medallion is required by the institution holding the assets (here Merrill Edge) and not by the institution receiving them (here, Vanguard).

    Merrill is unclear on the concept. It is the one demanding the Medallion stamp for my transfer. Yet it refuses to guarantee the cash in my Merrill Edge account. I was told Merrill would only only guarantee assets held somewhere else, and only so long as those assets were being transferred to Merrill. That's not protection; that's greed.

    I'm not sure that Schwab's response was much better - Schwab is willing to guarantee asset transfer requests so long at it is on either end of the transfer. Like Merrill, Schwab will guarantee assets that are not in its possession, but only if the assets are being transferred to Schwab.

    Merrill's response wasn't even correct. Here's a BofA page (dated Aug 2018) that says BofA will provide customers Medallion guarantees for "transfers of securities held in accounts outside of BofA or Merrill Edge ... Example: Transferring stocks held at E*TRADE to Fidelity".

    That page also says that "for your protection, a specialist all Medallion Signature Guarantee for the transfer of securities from a non-BofA or Merrill Edge account. In most cases, the review takes no longer than two business days." Emphasis added. Presumably they won't need two days to guarantee assets that are in a Merrill Edge account.

    Policies range from clueless to paranoid. Just to transfer cash. Meanwhile I could simply log into Merrill Edge and they'd happily mail me a check for a 60 day rollover.
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