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TRP ridiculousness

edited January 21 in Other Investing
A simple question. Non-account specific. A question that anyone at their end should be able to answer. If you could GET THROUGH to anyone. At last, in desperation, I did. He was no help. Human, alright--- but prevented by his system and protocols from doing anything for me. Wrong department. And apparently prevented by the rules he must follow from simply THINKING.

TRP has very well hidden their corporate phone lines, too. NO ONE IS HOME. Why would I attempt to call CORPORATE? Because "customer service" is not servicing customers.
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I've read here on the board about references to the fact that TRP must have farmed out the Customer Rage and Aggravation lines to some Call Center somewhere. I don't doubt it. ... Clearly they are too big for their britches, these days. I see that they've just acquired some other investment outfit too, by the way. The culture has changed. No shareholder deserves this kind of treatment.

I'm aware that customer "service" at Vanguard is equally as bad, so I won't go THERE. Years ago, some guy at Matthews got up on the wrong side of the bed, and very quickly, they found themselves without my money.
...I could--- as most of the rest of you do--- use a brokerage. There are offices for all the famous ones here in this city. But unless I NEEDED to do it, there'd be normally no reason to have to do things in person. Transferring via a direct rollover involves some basic paperwork by remote-control between offices. I've done THAT before. The TRP brokerage? In which I have a tiny amount invested? I'll just wait for my stock to climb out of its hole. Today is a good day, despite the rest of the Markets.

This is a serious question: I'm hoping to get input from any of you others about Fund Houses you are HAPPY with in terms of customer service. And if you wouldn't mind: how do the people get paid at those brokers like Schwab or Fidelity? Is $200+K too small for them to worry about? Is that amount so small that it would restrict my options if I used a brokerage? I'm grateful ahead of time for replies. Thanks. Who's got the skinny?

I'll wait, and choose my moment to exit TRP when it's more advantageous.
*I just got a call-back from them! That's funny: when that previous fellow disconnected me, there was no indication that such a thing would happen. And of course, she wanted name and address. OK.
...Oh, but wait: I need your investor number or account number.
How about my Social? How DIFFICULT does this need to BE? I gave her my shoe size, hat size and physical location on the WEST side of the street, too. Jesus H. Christ.

Well, then... can you verify your account balance? I recalled the approx. total and gave it to her.... OK, yes: they must verify identity. But my question did not even involve any particulars about my account. I offered to give her my SS. But that wasn't good enough, either. What a cluster-fuck. And after 25 minutes and multiple attempts to get to a human who was empowered and willing to listen and give me an answer, she was able to answer my question. In three seconds.

NOTHING should be THIS difficult.

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Comments

  • edited January 21
    @Crash. Fidelity is a dream - but a bit of a nightmare getting “up to speed.” Phone support is pleasant. Being a full service brokerage house, their website is much more elaborate. Confusing navigating / buying / selling if you are only accustomed to trading on a single fund house’s site. Once I figured it out, I rarely need to phone them anymore.

    Sorry to hear TRP is still having issues. As far as fund quality and selection go, they’re near the top. But, I couldn’t take the lousy support and fled in June & July. I don’t run into those kinds of issues at Dodge and Cox and Invesco, where I still have some money.
  • edited January 21
    +1 @hank. The main reason I'd stay with TRP is my big chunk in PRWCX. I'd be unable to get back in, of course. Until it opens again to new investors. But I've certainly already "made my money" in that fund..... It's not a small decision, to fully exit a fund house. But of course, I don't want to let simple INERTIA stop me from doing what's best for ME. "Fidelity is a dream." I could go in person to talk to someone over there, here in town. I could ask my questions. Once the account is set-up online, I'd be free to get into and out of a bunch of mutual funds from a bunch of different Houses--- even in a T-IRA, yes? Thank you.

    (*Added: ork! No Fidelity office here. I suppose I'll call them. )
  • You may be able to transfer PRWCX in kind and continue to invest in the fund. Generally even closed funds can be transferred from one institution to another. Though there are rare exceptions that are usually stated explicitly in the fund's prospectus.

    The fund is "soft closed". So you should be able to add to your account, wherever that winds up.
    https://www.troweprice.com/financial-intermediary/us/en/investments/capacity-constrained-funds.html

    I was also having 40 minute waits on the phone with TRP, so while I am sorry about the experience you had, it's not surprising.

    Here's Fidelity's compensation disclosure:
    https://www.fidelity.com/bin-public/060_www_fidelity_com/documents/representative-compensation.pdf

    I would not hesitate to recommend either Fidelity or Schwab in terms of customer service.
  • Crash, you've likely read here over the years the discussions about Fido, Schwab, TRP, Vanguard, etc.
    I'm biased with Fido, as our investment accounts started with them in 1978. Fully our decision after investigation. We also have some experience with Schwab (now closed) that was offered via an employee plan.
    Once the account is set-up online, I'd be free to get into and out of a bunch of mutual funds from a bunch of different Houses--- even in a T-IRA, yes?
    YES !!!

    --- How many funds does Fidelity offer?
    Over 10,000 funds from Fidelity & other companies. Well, I suppose; if one includes all of the share classes offered. BUT, needless to say; you'll have an overwhelming choice of funds from different houses, as well as just about any individual stock or bond you'd like to purchase.
    Is $200+K too small for them to worry about? Is that amount so small that it would restrict my options if I used a brokerage?
    NO!!! I've helped several over the years set up Roth accts. for them and their kids. Start with $100...........cool, no problem.
    --- A Fido account (IRA in your case) for buy/sell of funds, etf's, stocks, etc. has a cash account attached. The cash acct. Not knowing your circumstance for money going into a new acct.; the monies generally would "land" in the cash area of your IRA acct. From there you may buy whatever, with the transaction being inside of the IRA. This in itself is a form of "brokerage" within the IRA acct. Buys and sells move from/to the core cash acct. in the IRA........the core cash acct. EX: $10,000 setting in the core cash and you buy $5,000 of fund, etf, or stock of "X". You now have $5K remaining in core cash (for future buys) and $5K in whatever you purchased. The reverse would take place upon the sale of investment "X"........the proceeds of the sale would move back into the core cash area of your IRA.

    NOTE: Fido funds have no minimum purchase...........so, $100 or whatever with get you into the door. This does not apply to other fund houses you may want to buy.

    NOTE 2: We have a Fido brokerage acct. (taxable acct.), but it has little use over many years. This taxable brokerage acct. is what we will use when the big LOTTO win happens.:)

    Small summary: A stand-alone brokerage is NOT mandatory to have a full functioning IRA account for all buy/sell with Fido; as noted in the example.

    FIDO, HONO. I would expect a full knowledge team in place at this office. Make a list of questions and be patient, eh?

    FIDO house overview This page has several "blue" tabs for selecting a Fido funds investment area....click a few for a view of offerings.

    Lastly, over the many years here; you have seen many ticker symbols. With a few exceptions, you'd likely be able to buy any one of those via your IRA account.

    MFO folks........please revise, as needed; any info I have provided here. TY.

    Time to go exploring, eh?
    Catch

  • New online brokers' rankings should be coming out in a few weeks. Here are those from last year, LINK.

    There are also other rankings from Kiplinger, etc. LINK2
  • I am glad to hear from all of you. Thank you very much. I'm not surprised by any of what you've shared. I've been in touch already with Fido, and they're sending me T-IRA transfer forms, account opening forms, and a taxable brokerage form. I would like to have the freedom to buy and sell in small bunches for profit without triggering additional IRA withdrawals--- apart from my usual annual chunk I take, assuming a friendly market. (I'm waiting for that friendly market to return from vacation. I'm in no hurry.)
  • edited January 21
    NOTE: perhaps I do not understand the meaning of your statement.
    I would like to have the freedom to buy and sell in small bunches for profit without triggering additional IRA withdrawals
    If one has a large enough positive total return(s) in an IRA during a calendar year, then the total increased value of the IRA would cause your required RMD to be larger. You can have 20 trades or whatever in an IRA and may or may not have any profit in a calendar year. The trades would NOT trigger a withdrawal; as this activity is within a tax sheltered account.

  • edited January 21
    Re PRWCX

    I ran a “test” and it appeared they’d allow me to add more to PRWCX (which I transferred over “in kind.”) So I’m 90% confident that’s the case. But I didn’t actually send the order through. No guarantee. Your results could be different.
  • I'm with Schwab now(due to RIA, not by choice) but Fido is hands down the best of Vanguard, Schwab, Fido. For CS and amount of DIY features on website. Also free wires.

    Vanguard and Schwab are technology Luddites.

    You should be able to transfer PRWCX in kind and continue to purchase via Fido. 200K is definitely not a small account size.
  • I moved our TRP accounts to Fidelity last year due to declining customer service. We had invested with TRP for about 30 years. I would have moved sooner but was holding out on the chance that PRWCX would open to new investors again, but finally decided it was wasn’t worth it. We still have money invested in a number of TRP funds, but they are housed in my Fidelity account and I may switch some of the TRP funds to other options.
  • catch22 said:

    NOTE: perhaps I do not understand the meaning of your statement.

    I would like to have the freedom to buy and sell in small bunches for profit without triggering additional IRA withdrawals
    If one has a large enough positive total return(s) in an IRA during a calendar year, then the total increased value of the IRA would cause your required RMD to be larger. You can have 20 trades or whatever in an IRA and may or may not have any profit in a calendar year. The trades would NOT trigger a withdrawal; as this activity is within a tax sheltered account.
    *************************************
    Hey, @catch22

    I wasn't very clear. I just meant to say that I like the system I've come up with: take a habitual, annual, single chunk from the T-IRA, making sure to keep it small enough so that I will continue not to have to owe any federal tax at all. It's been that way for several years. And Hawaii will give me a pretty decent renter's credit, too. In addition, just to keep things separate and neat and trim and segregated, I want the freedom to play with some money in a taxable account----- even though I will owe no tax, since the amounts will be miniscule.

    @hank, that's great to know, too.
    @stayCalm, glad for that assurance, also!
    I see @tarwheel has chimed in. I'll go read that one now.




  • Tarwheel said:

    I moved our TRP accounts to Fidelity last year due to declining customer service. We had invested with TRP for about 30 years. I would have moved sooner but was holding out on the chance that PRWCX would open to new investors again, but finally decided it was wasn’t worth it. We still have money invested in a number of TRP funds, but they are housed in my Fidelity account and I may switch some of the TRP funds to other options.

    +1. I quite understand!

  • edited January 22
    I haven’t fully comprehended Fido’s 60 day holding period after you buy somebody else’s fund NTF (no transaction fee). You can sell it inside the 60 days, but ISTM that triggers a $49.95 fee. So I don’t sell off any within 60 days of purchasing or adding to. However, if it’s one of Fido’s house funds, the holding time is only 30 days. Again - you can sell inside the 30 days, but in that case you are in violation of their house rules. They not only let you know, but also impose trading sanctions. That’s the kind of stuff I meant by “getting up to speed.” Everything’s explained on their website - sort of.

    The easiest way to avoid the hassle if it’s something you intend to trade in and out of is to buy ETFs. As far as I know, they carry no restrictions on trading. In addition the expenses tend to be lower. I use both. Mutual funds I own and rarely trade: PRWCX, CVSIX, RPGAX. / ETFs I use: PSMM, QED. Of course, you can buy virtually any stock by specifying number of shares or dollar amount. Fido’s own funds look awesome, but I don’t have any particular “slot” to plug one in at present.
  • Mutual fund NTF platform restrictions are simply by days and the penalty is just the commissions. Brokers also keep track of shares free from restrictions and shares still under restrictions.

    But frequent-trading restrictions are more nuanced and are based on number of trades, buys-only (OK) or sells-only (OK) or round-trips (BAD), and the penalty is some types of account trading restrictions. I have worked within these restrictions at Fido, Schwab and Vanguard.

  • edited January 22
    It’s a minor nuisance. I was slapped with a 60 day stint in Fido’s “penalty box” after 3 checks mailed to them by TRP as part of the transfer process all bounced. Price reissued the checks. But Fido had force-sold all the funds I’d purchased thinking TRP’s funds were genuine. The early selling of those holdings triggered the trading restrictions I was slapped with. (Fortunately, Fido refunded the fees). For 60 days I was prohibited from investing “unsettled” cash. So it was hard to move out of one fund and into another at times.

    The first few weeks really were a nightmare.
    -

    Here’s something I dug up recently that might be of general interest. Just by chance, today I sold off part of an an etf in the morning and than had reason to add $$ back into to it in the afternoon. A really unusual event even for me.

    Day Trading Restrictions

    “Buying and selling a stock during a single market day is known as day trading. Selling a stock then buying the same would also qualify as a day trade. If you day trade more than four times in any five-day period and those trades are worth more than 6 percent of the account, your account will be classified as a pattern day trading account. A designated day trading account can only be a margin account, and since your IRA cannot be a margin account, moving in and out of stocks on a daily basis will not be allowed in your IRA. A single or occasional day trade would not set your account up to be classified as pattern day trading.”


    (Not sure of the source, Just cut and pasted from my own files.)

    FWIW
  • The rules aren't simple, but they aren't all that complicated once one recognizes that there are brokerages and there are funds and the two have different needs.

    As a brokerage, Fidelity is paid by other fund families to hold shares in Fidelity's client accounts. Fidelity gets paid a percentage of the assets of outside funds each day that you hold in your account. So the longer you hold those outside fund shares, the more money it makes.

    It's not worth Fidelity's time to hold those shares for you for just a few days. Fidelity wants to make a profit. So it tells you that if you sell a share in under 60 days, it's going to make its profit off of you. Here, what matters is how long each particular share is held. So Fidelity uses FIFO.

    If you buy 100 shares of XYZZX on Oct 1, another 100 shares of XYZZX on Nov 30th, and then sell 100 shares on Dec 2, Fidelity (the brokerage) is okay with that. You held the first 100 shares over 60 days, and you're still holding the 100 newer shares.

    Funds are different. What they care about is stability - it is hard to manage funds when money keeps churning in and out. So funds want to limit your round trips. Many funds do this by imposing short term redemption fees. These fees typically trigger if you sell shares within 30 days of buying shares in the same fund. Same shares, different shares, doesn't matter. That's because regardless, the fund is seeing money rapidly flow in and flow out.

    In the example with XYZZX, this hypothetical non-Fidelity fund might charge a short term redemption fee even though Fidelity, as a brokerage, doesn't charge a fee.

    Fidelity funds take a different approach in limiting how much churning you can do. Instead of charging a short term redemption fee, they restrict you from trading a Fidelity fund if you churn it too often. Here, too often means buying then selling the same fund in the same account within 30 days, and doing that twice within a 90 day window.

    http://personal.fidelity.com/products/trading/Trading_Platforms_Tools/excessive_trading_policies.shtml

    The rules and penalties are different because one affects brokerage profits and the other affects the ability of Fidelity funds to manage their cash flows.
  • The 90 day holding period at Schwab to avoid transaction fees is a deal-breaker for me. I hold VARAX and ARBOX at Schwab, but mostly keep my account open so I can access my Schwab AMEX card. IMHO, Fidelity is the best choice for a brokerage account.
  • edited January 22
    I agree with all of what @msf said. Having been with a dozen different fund houses I know all like to restrict “churn” for the reasons given. Valid reasons. Each has a slightly different approach. D&C’s seems less stringent - but I’m sure they’d flag someone for abuse. Their small number of offerings probably reduces incidence of abuse.

    What I’ve long wondered about is the mutual fund “skimming” scandals of the late 90s / 2000 that involved Strong and a number of other houses. Slick (sometimes organized) traders were allegedly buying and selling funds frequently to “skim” profits. It was alleged by the SEC that this practice harmed the other (99%) of shareholders in the fund. I get it. In fact, it led me to scatter my holdings among 5 separate fund houses back than to gain more flexibility in trading and get around the heavy handed restrictions that followed the SEC crackdown.

    But now - We’ve got ETFs - including some actively managed ones - which mimic mutual funds in most respects. Yet, no restrictions on trading. No inquiring SEC. What gives?

    LATE EDIT - Thanks @msf for clarifying FIFO as pertains to selling NTF funds. That’s where I’ve been confused. I’ll save that to my files. Probably put it to the test some day.
  • When you sell a share in the secondary market, the buyer is not the fund but another investor. There's no churning of fund assets.

    The only time fund assets of an ETF rise or fall is when an authorized participant (AP) buys or sells shares. For APs, ETFs are truly open end funds. But those buy and sell trades are (usually) done by swapping ETF shares for the underlying securities. There's usually not much cash exchanged. So the funds don't have the same problem of deploying or raising cash that one finds in OEFs.
  • edited January 22
    The SEC’s issue wasn’t so much with interfering with the fund’s operation (buying / selling) as with the fact that outsized “gains” were going out the door into the pockets of the slick operators. (Hence the term “skimming). Say an ETF investing in mining companies (highly volatile) jumps in price by 10% on a given day. I’ve been tracking the holdings or an index of mining companies and I sell 100% of my holdings at 3:59 PM. Two days later, the ETF drops by 15%. I reinvest my outsized gains, buying an additional 15% more shares in the ETF than what I had 2 days prior. Now, tell me harm wasn’t done to those who sat tight and didn’t sell at the high and buy in at the low. If I do this over and over again, often enough, those who sit tight will bleed (financially).

    And, this would appear more serious in an actively managed ETF.
  • msf
    edited January 22
    There were two different issues:

    1. Frequent trading - the funds, in violation of their prospectus, allowed only certain investors to trade frequently. That's different from your example, where everyone has the ability to trade the same way. You don't have any special advantage here, unlike the funds' privileged clients.

    Some funds, like ProFunds, are explicitly promoted for use by market timers. Most claim to restrict frequent trading; several lied about that and committed fraud.
    https://www.profunds.com/trading_information/trading_policies.html

    2. Late trading - selling not at 3:59PM but at 6:00PM, based on after close information. Illegal generally. Several fund families nevertheless permitted certain clients to trade after market close. Again, this is different from the example you gave.

    https://en-academic.com/dic.nsf/enwiki/11781657


  • @msf - Excellent summation. Thank you. Yep. I was warned once about trading too much by a Strong rep (once or twice monthly). Later it came out that the CEO (Richard Strong) was doing dozens - perhaps hundreds - of trades monthly in his own funds.

    Sometimes while writing one can iron out an issue. That was the case with me here. “Skimming” from a mutual fund ISTM is much more focused (therefore affecting a smaller number of participants to a higher degree) than skimming from an ETF. With an ETF that excess profit is coming from the investment community at large (anyone owning those assets) perfectly legitimate.
  • a-ha! A light just turned on for me. :)
  • The comments regarding TRP are puzzling to me. I have a senior client liaison with the private Client Group that provides outstanding service. I can pretty much reach him when I want to. Sometimes, I have to send an email and arrange for a time to talk, but he gets back to me quickly. The experience I have had with TRP has been superior to that I received from both Fidelity and Vanguard.
  • @Davep. Thanks for telling us. I have to wonder whether your arrangement is atypical?
  • Probably requires holdings of $7 zillion or more.
  • Seriously, taking DaveP at his word, it would suggest that TRP has deliberately curtailed and downgraded customer support services for everyone except a "favored very few". It doesn't require much imagination to surmise that money is a key determinant here.
  • I believe both Vanguard and Fidelity offer the same type services as TRP. Not sure what the asset level needed for this is, but it’s worth asking.
  • I recently had to deal with TRP (online and phone) due to creation of a trust. I called their generic number, and was allowed to leave a call-back number. When I gave the Price rep my account info, he said "You're an elite customer ($2M+), I'll have to transfer you to a special rep."
    In TRP's Bizarro world, "elite customers" don't get to leave a call-back number, so I had to listen to their crappy music for 35 minutes. Go figure!
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