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Schwab offices
Old 01-27-2014, 01:14 PM   #1
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Schwab offices

I have noticed that some of the discount brokers like Schwab have local offices in my area. Has anybody ever used one of these offices? Is there any advantage to using an office to open an account versus doing it over the phone or online? Any pressure to buy certain products or annoying calls at inconvenient times?
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Old 01-27-2014, 01:28 PM   #2
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I have noticed that some of the discount brokers like Schwab have local offices in my area. Has anybody ever used one of these offices? Is there any advantage to using an office to open an account versus doing it over the phone or online? Any pressure to buy certain products or annoying calls at inconvenient times?
I have in the past. No pressure at all. It's one reason I keep my Schwab and Fidelity accounts around, though most of my money is with Vanguard.

Its handy to pick up a check if you need it ASAP. I've done that at Schwab a couple of times.

Last year we stopped in the local Fidelity office to move some money from an IRA into a Roth with them. The guy was helpful and it took a little while to straighten out a glitch they had.

Another time (a few years back) I was consolidating my grandma's investments. I cleaned out her safe deposit box and took all the stock certificates into Fidelity and they set up a shiny new account for her. (Yes, all with her permission of course )

I expect you can do most everything over the phone, but sometimes its handy and reassuring to be there in person.
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Old 01-27-2014, 01:36 PM   #3
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I take bigger checks to the local office. Never any customers in there, looks like a nice peaceful place to work. Some folks like to do stuff in person, and it is nice to have one close by.
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Old 01-27-2014, 01:52 PM   #4
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I've used Schwab and Fidelity offices to make deposits and when I found out Fidelity could do notary and medallion signature guarantees our need for a local brick and mortar bank became much easier to satisfy.
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Old 01-27-2014, 01:52 PM   #5
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I've never had any sales pressure at a Schwab office, just friendly and generally competent help. I don't use the offices more than once in a blue moon, but it can be a life saver when you need it. When we were moving and I had to wire money for the purchase of a new house and did not have access to a computer and secure wireless signal, it was extremely nice to walk into a branch and have them help me do it on their terminal, for example.
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Old 01-27-2014, 01:58 PM   #6
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I have noticed that some of the discount brokers like Schwab have local offices in my area. Has anybody ever used one of these offices? Is there any advantage to using an office to open an account versus doing it over the phone or online? Any pressure to buy certain products or annoying calls at inconvenient times?
I use our Schwab local office from time to time. They're always courteous and helpful. And they're very, very tuned into how their clients like to be treated. They know I'm a DIYer and I'm treated accordingly. Never any sales pitches. But if I want to do something new to me and a bit complicated, I call ahead and set up an appointment. When I get there, my rep has forms already filled out, brochures and other info on hand and we move through the process quickly answering any questions I have as we go. The last time I did this, I was setting up Coverdale Educ Savings accounts for the grandkids in my son's name (I have POA).

They also offer classes and tutorials. I've gone to some of the frequent trader seminars (even though I'm not a frequent trader).

The vast majority of my interaction with Schwab is on line. Their web site and telephone service is excellent. But, because of issues with DW and the Internet, I chose to use a brokerage with a brick and mortar presence but that is very satisfactory for a DIYer.

The local Fidelity office is just down the street from the Schwab office and I've heard nothing but good things about them.

I like Vanguard, own several Vanguard funds (held at Schwab) and am a Bogle fan. But, our personal family situation calls for a brick and mortar presence for our brokerage, so that's what I do. It's working out fine.
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Old 01-27-2014, 02:00 PM   #7
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I was rolling over a 401(k) to an IRA at Schwab last year... and my former corporate overlords insisted on cutting a paper check. I didn't want the money out of the market longer than it needed to be - so I took it to the brick and mortar office. It was nice to have that option. One of my bosses was rolling at the same time, to Vanguard, and had to fedex the check.

(Our division was sold - so many of us were rolling our accounts at the same time.)
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Old 01-27-2014, 02:34 PM   #8
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I would most likely be interested in moving some IRA money into ETF's. From what I can see the Schawb ones seem adequate. The fees for the index ETF's are about 0.32 % or in the 0.4% range for the international ones. No trading costs. No other gatcha's as far as I can see.
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Old 01-27-2014, 02:47 PM   #9
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I would most likely be interested in moving some IRA money into ETF's. From what I can see the Schawb ones seem adequate. The fees for the index ETF's are about 0.32 % or in the 0.4% range for the international ones. No trading costs. No other gatcha's as far as I can see.

Fortunately, your estimate is very high. For example, Schwab's TSM ETF expense ratio is 0.04%. Schwab offers 120 ETF's you can trade completely commission free with competitive expense ratios.

Schwab has some shortcomings, but ETF offerings and costs isn't one of them.

Don't get hooked on the concept that you'll hold mostly Schwab funds and ETF's since your account is at Schwab. You'll own whatever MF or ETF, offered by any company, you want. Schwab's shortcoming is that while they offer many MF's commission free, their commission for some MF's is, IMO, a bit pricey. ETF trades, OTOH, are only $8.95 and that only if you can't find an appropriate ETF among the 120 you can trade commission free.
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Old 01-27-2014, 04:00 PM   #10
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My local Schwab office has been very useful for IRA/401k rollover as well as classes & tutorials. I basically manage my own finances, but found it very useful to get a formal (fee-only) financial plan... if only as a second opinion.
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Old 01-27-2014, 04:07 PM   #11
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I would not have a brokerage account where I could not reach a physical office quickly-like less than an hour for sure.

I have always used mine from time to time, and will continue. The offices are pretty Spartan, but adequate. I should also add- I have never found commissions to be a big deal with any of these brokers. If someone is doing very active option or stock trading, likely different.

Once I made a spreadsheet to see what my investment expenses were, and where this money went. Even though I have little invested in mutual funds or ETFs, and these have relatively low but not necessarily bottom tier expense ratios, fund expenses dominate my investing expenses, way above annual commissions which I think can more or less be ignored for competitive discount brokers.

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Old 01-27-2014, 07:04 PM   #12
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The advantages of a brick-and-mortar office should be considered over the whole life of the accounts, including transactions that will be carried out by heirs and beneficiaries.

My MIL passed in the fall, leaving a Schwab IRA to my DW and her brother. DW is clueless on the details of inherited IRA's, so I've been working to help her set up a beneficiary account for her half of the original IRA. Schwab's phone and online help was OK, but there was a paperwork glitch that was not communicated on a timely basis. Once the issue was discovered and confirmed, it made sense for DW and me to go by the Schwab local office. They assisted with filling out the necessary form and notarized it on the spot, saving quite a bit of uncertainty and several days of snail mail lag.

Having been frustrated in the past by two firms that did not have local offices to resolve inherited IRA distributions in person (TIAA-CREF, Nationwide), I can say it makes a difference.

So far, we've never inherited anything held in Vanguard accounts. So I can't say if they have a better record in handling such transactions at a distance.
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Old 01-27-2014, 07:52 PM   #13
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Thanks. You folks have given me some good reasons to make an appointment at the local Schwab office.
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Old 01-27-2014, 08:00 PM   #14
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I use my local Fidelity office training, reviews, services etc. I've never been pressed to buy anything. In fact it was my Fidelity account manager that suggested not to do a rollover, until I checked out my 401k's SPD regarding over 55 penalty free distributions. That helped me pull the plug.

I've had one trust that came to us through Schwab, no problems. A TOD is coming from Fidelity this week, from what I can tell no issues.
I do hold Vanguard funds.

It is nice to drive a few miles to sit in front of someone.
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Old 01-27-2014, 08:09 PM   #15
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The advantages of a brick-and-mortar office should be considered over the whole life of the accounts, including transactions that will be carried out by heirs and beneficiaries.

My MIL passed in the fall, leaving a Schwab IRA to my DW and her brother. DW is clueless on the details of inherited IRA's, so I've been working to help her set up a beneficiary account for her half of the original IRA. Schwab's phone and online help was OK, but there was a paperwork glitch that was not communicated on a timely basis. Once the issue was discovered and confirmed, it made sense for DW and me to go by the Schwab local office. They assisted with filling out the necessary form and notarized it on the spot, saving quite a bit of uncertainty and several days of snail mail lag.

Having been frustrated in the past by two firms that did not have local offices to resolve inherited IRA distributions in person (TIAA-CREF, Nationwide), I can say it makes a difference.

So far, we've never inherited anything held in Vanguard accounts. So I can't say if they have a better record in handling such transactions at a distance.
One of the reasons I'm less of a Vanguard fan than most folks here is this issue.

When my dad passed he had IRAs at Vanguard and Schwab, as well as 529's for my sons at Vanguard. Vanguard is great for DIYers who don't mind online... until someone dies. My sister was executor and was dealing with them - and they managed to lose THREE death certificates (certified copies) before finally acknowledging the receipt of the 4th one. This was in the late fall and early spring 2007/2008... so to say the least - we wanted to have *some* control over the accounts. We were locked out of the accounts for a full 5 months after my dad's death due to Vanguard's repeatedly losing the forms and death certificates.

Schwab (which has a local brick and mortar office) had stuff transferred to the beneficiaries within 2 weeks. Very nice, very helpful. It was a dramatic difference in customer service. (Clueless phone bank operator vs helpful person right there.)

I was the inheritor of the 529's that are for my son's. Even though, by this time, Vanguard brokerage had acknowledged receipt of my dad's death certificate, and the 529 folks could see that in their computer, they would not transfer the accounts to me. I sent them another (#5) death certificate... which they lost. Sending the 6th death certificate got those accounts transfered.

Vanguard is great for the living... not so good when you die, for your heirs.

I still have the 529's there - but transferred my portion of the inherited IRA to Schwab based 100% on that experience. My husband is *not* savvy about money/finances - and Schwab will hold his hand through the process if I predecease him. The expense ratio's aren't that much better at Vanguard to put my heirs through the hassle.
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Old 01-28-2014, 12:15 AM   #16
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When my dad passed he had IRAs at Vanguard and Schwab, as well as 529's for my sons at Vanguard. Vanguard is great for DIYers who don't mind online... until someone dies. My sister was executor and was dealing with them - and they managed to lose THREE death certificates (certified copies) before finally acknowledging the receipt of the 4th one. This was in the late fall and early spring 2007/2008... so to say the least - we wanted to have *some* control over the accounts. We were locked out of the accounts for a full 5 months after my dad's death due to Vanguard's repeatedly losing the forms and death certificates.
Sorry to hear that you had so many issues with Vanguard. My experience was the opposite. I was executor of my mom's estate and didn't have any issues having her IRA transferred to her heirs, two siblings and myself. I sent them the necessary documentation and they created inherited IRAs for each of us with a 1/3 in each IRA. I'm not sure if I've just been lucky, but all my dealings with Vanguard have been pretty easy. I even received a call from them today regarding my IRA transfer to PenFed, which happily should make it to PenFed in the next couple of days.
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Old 01-29-2014, 01:19 AM   #17
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I like them sometimes. I retired the week before last so opened a rollover ira with no money in it. They sent me an email offering any help I might need funding it. I told him I am waiting for profit sharing and when that is done I will roll it over. My 401K site has the forms so I will probably get a check and take it to Schwab in person like last time I changed jobs.

Going in person I can get them to make sure I did the beneficiaries correctly. I know I did on my ROTH but can't seem to see one on my taxable account. Maybe they can fix it for me. I don't expect them to try to sell me anything but I would just decline. I will buy stuff when I want to not when they are selling.
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Old 01-29-2014, 09:29 AM   #18
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I like them sometimes. I retired the week before last so opened a rollover ira with no money in it. They sent me an email offering any help I might need funding it. I told him I am waiting for profit sharing and when that is done I will roll it over. My 401K site has the forms so I will probably get a check and take it to Schwab in person like last time I changed jobs.
You can get the beneficiary designation set up now. Then when you are ready to roll over your 401K, call Schwab Customer Service. They will get on the phone with you and with your 401K provider and arrange an electronic transfer (no fuss! no muss!). I had my 401K at Fidelity and a Traditional IRA at Schwab. When I was able to do the rollover, I just called and they worked with me and Fidelity on the phone to make the arrangements.

Customer Service also offered to work with me on selecting investments, but as I already had an asset allocation in mind, I didn't follow up.

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Old 01-29-2014, 10:04 AM   #19
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Thanks. You folks have given me some good reasons to make an appointment at the local Schwab office.
I just went to the local Schwab Office Monday. I am doing a roll-over to an IRA. I did the application on-line and spoke to a rep. on the phone. My plan, TSP, required Schwab to complete a portion on the roll-over form so I took it in. No problems and no pushing of any products. When I got home I received a phone call from a Schwab Rep. He was informed by the local office I was doing a roll-over and welcomed me. Based on my roll-over amount I am receiving 150 commission free trades over the next 6 months.
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Old 01-29-2014, 10:27 AM   #20
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I have been to a Schwab office only once in 20 yrs..only time is when I opened my account as a new client...at the time, I only had $25K to invest (they were the only broker at that time that would accept my 25K initial investment) and the Schwab rep was still courteous,helpful and no pressure at all where to put the funds...most brokers would have laugh at my small investible amount. Never been back since most can be done online now with their website.
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