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Old 09-04-2016, 10:10 AM   #21
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Not in any fund companies mail room for 3 weeks, not in this century. In the old days(1988) that frequently happened, not now.
As you are familiar with Vanguard's procedures, can you explain what happens to a 10 x 13 manila envelope when it enters the mail room? Are they automatically opened and the contents scanned?

With Fidelity and Schwab, I can head over to the bricks and mortar offices and hand them the paper. It's time and date stamped before it goes in back to be processed. I get a copy. Obviously that's not going to happen at a company that does business by mail and the internet, but something similar to record the receipt should happen.
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Old 09-04-2016, 10:11 AM   #22
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I am currently transferring all of my Ameriprise funds to Vanguard.

The Vanguard transfer backlog is about 3.5 weeks. They were pretty upfront about this when I asked how long it will take.

I tracked all the forms thru Fed Ex to make sure they were received. I call Vanguard every week and they update me on the progress without much hassle. Last week they finally reviewed the documents and the money showed up in my Vanguard accounts right away. The annuity is taking longer and the money is being sent by check to Vanguard. So the funds are out of Ameriprise but not yet in Vanguard. This makes me nervous

I think what helped most was working directly the a Vanguard rep to set up the appropriate accounts prior to the transfers. These accounts have a link to get transfer status which was helpful.

Good luck and keep calling Vanguard if you need to!!
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Old 09-04-2016, 10:13 AM   #23
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How about certified/registered/priority mail? It seems to be generally accepted by many (including me) that VG is not the best wrt customer service.

We may be doing something similar at Vanguard in the near future, so thanks for the heads up.
Just as a related experience we just completed moving over 500k to Vanguard with no hitches, surprises, or delays.

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Old 09-04-2016, 10:20 AM   #24
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............
With Fidelity and Schwab, I can head over to the bricks and mortar offices and hand them the paper.........
Sounds like you found your solution.
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Old 09-04-2016, 10:30 AM   #25
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The W funds and the low expense, no commission ETF's are why I have Vanguard. The ETF's can now be duplicated. If I could get the admiral shares of the W funds elsewhere, the relationship with Vanguard would be terminated.
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Old 09-04-2016, 10:45 AM   #26
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The W funds and the low expense, no commission ETF's are why I have Vanguard. The ETF's can now be duplicated. If I could get the admiral shares of the W funds elsewhere, the relationship with Vanguard would be terminated.

With low cost ETFs by many people, you can have a low cost account almost anywhere now if you have a brokerage account...

I would not care about paying a commission on buying an ETF unless you plan on trading... and if you have enough money then it is either low or zero anyhow...
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Old 09-04-2016, 11:06 AM   #27
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In the past three years I've started to have similar issues with Vanguard dropping the ball and making avoidable mistakes. I think they grew too fast.


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Old 09-04-2016, 11:13 AM   #28
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Vanguard funds have been in the family for probably 50 years.
That must've been before they were called Vanguard funds then.
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Old 09-04-2016, 11:17 AM   #29
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As you are familiar with Vanguard's procedures, can you explain what happens to a 10 x 13 manila envelope when it enters the mail room? Are they automatically opened and the contents scanned?

With Fidelity and Schwab, I can head over to the bricks and mortar offices and hand them the paper. It's time and date stamped before it goes in back to be processed. I get a copy. Obviously that's not going to happen at a company that does business by mail and the internet, but something similar to record the receipt should happen.
I will from a generic sense, don't want to mess up NDA's.

Large companies like Vanguard get the mail from the USPS on pallets. Their mailing address is its own zip code so to speak. Mail rooms are secure areas with very limited access, they handle checks.

Mail is opened and then sorted/prepped. Sorting removes checks(for many implementations) to be processed elsewhere. Prepping generally identifies transaction types(minimally financial vs. non-financial) and also identifies mail that requires back sorting to be sent back to the customer(death certificates).

The prepped mail is sent through high speed scanners that can scan thousands of documents per minute. Some of the really high end machines can do the back sorting and check processing in the scanner. The scanned docs are generally physically archived offsite(depends on the fund company and how their attorneys read a SEC no action letter). Once the documents are scanned into the system they Cannot be Modified or Deleted!! They also have a date/time of creation as you receive from B&M places.

Mail rooms are designed to be very secure. They've always had the physical security issues because of checks and fraud. After the crazy mail stuff that occurred post 911 most beefed up their security again. Nobody wants to deal with lost mail. It was a big issue, prior to 1988, and it's no secret the fund companies led the way to a digital back office. Hell they still physically audit the trash! When paper was used simply throwing mail away gaurenteed I could go home on time.

I've seen a lot of mail rooms and I'm always impressed by the number of controls I've seen. To think an envelope sat around for three weeks in a mail room is IMHO pretty remote.


To me the take aways are:

Check on the status of the activity. I was notified several times during our recent rollover.

Use the Devon Park address for certificated mail.

Realize that things are much better than they were 25 years ago, but sometimes they still break. That's not just Vanguard, any of these systems can fail or hit previously unknown thresholds.
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Old 09-04-2016, 11:48 AM   #30
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I will from a generic sense, don't want to mess up NDA's.

Large companies like Vanguard get the mail from the USPS on pallets. Their mailing address is its own zip code so to speak. Mail rooms are secure areas with very limited access, they handle checks.

Mail is opened and then sorted/prepped. Sorting removes checks(for many implementations) to be processed elsewhere. Prepping generally identifies transaction types(minimally financial vs. non-financial) and also identifies mail that requires back sorting to be sent back to the customer(death certificates).

The prepped mail is sent through high speed scanners that can scan thousands of documents per minute. Some of the really high end machines can do the back sorting and check processing in the scanner. The scanned docs are generally physically archived offsite(depends on the fund company and how their attorneys read a SEC no action letter). Once the documents are scanned into the system they Cannot be Modified or Deleted!! They also have a date/time of creation as you receive from B&M places.

Mail rooms are designed to be very secure. They've always had the physical security issues because of checks and fraud. After the crazy mail stuff that occurred post 911 most beefed up their security again. Nobody wants to deal with lost mail. It was a big issue, prior to 1988, and it's no secret the fund companies led the way to a digital back office. Hell they still physically audit the trash! When paper was used simply throwing mail away gaurenteed I could go home on time.

I've seen a lot of mail rooms and I'm always impressed by the number of controls I've seen. To think an envelope sat around for three weeks in a mail room is IMHO pretty remote.
That's very helpful, thank you.

I wonder how long it takes from scanning to appearing on a CSR's screen as "received" or "pending". If the CSR had told me that it takes 3.5 weeks to process as the other poster was told and the transaction would not appear anywhere so receipt could be confirmed, I would have understood that. Perhaps the CSR "script" needs to be modified so the customer does not panic when they are told the document was not received.
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Old 09-04-2016, 11:52 AM   #31
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I opened accounts with Vanguard a few years ago to test the water, and have not added more money since then. Their service is OK, but I can get the same elsewhere, including low fees. For example, Schwab index ETFs have even lower expense ratios. Vanguard offers 25 free trades a month to Flagship accounts, while my brokerage gives me 30. I also have the same low option trading fees.

So, there's no reason for me to expand my accounts at Vanguard, as I am already familiar with the brokerages where I keep most of my money.

Vanguard should have the credit for lowering MF expense ratios, and that forces other investment houses to match it. It's the same as Schwab reducing stock commission back in the 80s and taking business from Merrill Lynch, Bear Stearns, EF Hutton, PaineWebber, etc... Eventually, they all had to match the lower fees.

PS. Recently, I transfer some money from my wife's 401k to my brokerage. The check issued by the 401k was not in the 7-figure, but a large 6 figure. They sent me an overnight UPS envelope for me to send it directly to the desk of the guy handling the transfer. Cash appeared in the account the next day. How about that personal service?

PPS. 20 years ago, I transferred out megacorp stock to Schwab. They sent me a stock certificate. I took it to the local Schwab office. They entered it in the computer, and right there and then, the shares showed up in my account. Painless.
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Old 09-04-2016, 11:56 AM   #32
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That's very helpful, thank you.

I wonder how long it takes from scanning to appearing on a CSR's screen as "received" or "pending". If the CSR had told me that it takes 3.5 weeks to process as the other poster was told and the transaction would not appear anywhere so receipt could be confirmed, I would have understood that. Perhaps the CSR "script" needs to be modified so the customer does not panic when they are told the document was not received.
Two different things. Seeing something out in the system should be real time. It's there as soon as it's scanned.

The turnaround time on completion of a particular business activity is not related. That type of transaction is long running requiring multiple people who work for different companies to do the work in an ordered fashion. It could take a while.

I transferred from two providers to Vanguard, first account took a week with a paper check. The second one was electronic it took 2 weeks.
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Old 09-04-2016, 12:08 PM   #33
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If you mail stuff via the post office, don't be surprised on rare occasions it takes a long time.
I go to my post office and they have bins of letters sitting around, each clerk has a pile beside them to go out. Pretty easy for things to fall on the floor.
Let's talk about delivery to the wrong place/house that happens now and then, I've gotten mail over the years for other people with other addresses, when you think I might get 1500 pieces of mail a year, even 1 wrong one each year is a high percentage.

You want to track things, send it certified, or fedex.
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Old 09-04-2016, 01:01 PM   #34
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Two different things. Seeing something out in the system should be real time. It's there as soon as it's scanned.

The turnaround time on completion of a particular business activity is not related. That type of transaction is long running requiring multiple people who work for different companies to do the work in an ordered fashion. It could take a while.

I transferred from two providers to Vanguard, first account took a week with a paper check. The second one was electronic it took 2 weeks.
I guess it would be impossible to assign a scanned document to an account and the account owner, although the form had the Vanguard account number on it. It makes sense that it has to be reviewed before that can happen. The CSR script should be changed to "It takes approximately 3.5 weeks to review documents that arrive by mail and associate the documents and the requested transaction to an account. Until the documents and requested transaction are reviewed, we will not have any information available. You can check your account online or give us a call if you have not been notified of receipt within 4 weeks."
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Old 09-04-2016, 01:10 PM   #35
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I guess it would be impossible to assign a scanned document to an account and the account owner, although the form had the Vanguard account number on it. It makes sense that it has to be reviewed before that can happen. The CSR script should be changed to "It takes approximately 3.5 weeks to review documents that arrive by mail and associate the documents and the requested transaction to an account. Until the documents and requested transaction are reviewed, we will not have any information available. You can check your account online or give us a call if you have not been notified of receipt within 4 weeks."
No the CSR should have been able to see the documents in the system associated by name or account number. The doc would be out there just not being processed. I do agree IF they had the docs to tell you they're here. I am assuming that they would do that, but there's the assume word.

One thing I would do is ask about when they received the docs vs when they were created in the system. I've seen some other fund servicing companies do some funny business processes, those dates would rule that in or prove that it's not the issue.

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Old 09-04-2016, 01:37 PM   #36
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The W funds and the low expense, no commission ETF's are why I have Vanguard. The ETF's can now be duplicated. If I could get the admiral shares of the W funds elsewhere, the relationship with Vanguard would be terminated.
Many of the Admiral Shares have ETF equivalents. I got frustrated with Vanguard's back room antics one last time and moved all my V positions. Had to convert my Admirals first to the ETF and then had them transferred to Fido.
For another example of V's backroom "excellence", consider my recent experience from two weeks ago. I just received noticed from Vanguard that my DM's account number on her Money market fund was being changed. I had POA and administered her estate when she died seven years ago!
So started to wonder if someone had hijacked her account for who knows what purposes. Called a rep and described the problem. After two dropped calls, finally got connected to their "Transition Team" who is apparently responsible for all estate transfers. After many holds and apparently conferences between who know who at Vanguard, rep came back and admitted account had not been fully closed but would be now.
I asked for a letter from them confirming the closure but have yet to receive as of two weeks.
Vanguard's "low cost provider' motto obviously extends to their back room. With Fido and others competitive on ETF's, really see so few reasons to hang there anymore. And Fido's 7.95 brokerage fee and execution far exceeds anything Vanguard can offer. Even Fido's balance fund FBALX beats Wellington!
Vanguard pretty much screwed up almost every step of DM's estate--from unilateral changing beneficiares (got it fixed before she passed) to making the POA distributions per instructions, not to mention the snarky behavior from the rep in the department handling the POA distribution. We were even Flagship at the time and still had to deal with gross mediocrity in their Transition Dept.
Glad to be Gone Gone.
Nwsteve
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Old 09-04-2016, 03:09 PM   #37
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With Fidelity and Schwab, I can head over to the bricks and mortar offices and hand them the paper. It's time and date stamped before it goes in back to be processed. I get a copy. Obviously that's not going to happen at a company that does business by mail and the internet, but something similar to record the receipt should happen.
Bricks and mortar offices are one of the reasons that I have the bulk of my investments at TDAmeritrade and Fidelity. My Vanguard account is relatively small and will probably be the first one on the chopping block when I start to consolidate accounts.
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Old 09-04-2016, 03:13 PM   #38
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Vanguard pretty much screwed up almost every step of DM's estate--from unilateral changing beneficiares (got it fixed before she passed) to making the POA distributions per instructions, not to mention the snarky behavior from the rep in the department handling the POA distribution. We were even Flagship at the time and still had to deal with gross mediocrity in their Transition Dept.
Glad to be Gone Gone.
Nwsteve
I also ran into issues with my grandmother's estate (account at Vanguard), in late 2011. Was told different information by two different people in the "Account transitions team", both of which was incorrect, regarding what paperwork to fill out and submit, etc.. Pretty frustrating - you'd think that with all of the times it happens, they'd have a good script by now of "If _____ account, then ______". Perhaps someone is working on a program to handle this?
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Old 09-04-2016, 04:32 PM   #39
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Many of the Admiral Shares have ETF equivalents. I got frustrated with Vanguard's back room antics one last time and moved all my V positions. Had to convert my Admirals first to the ETF and then had them transferred to Fido.
For another example of V's backroom "excellence", consider my recent experience from two weeks ago. I just received noticed from Vanguard that my DM's account number on her Money market fund was being changed. I had POA and administered her estate when she died seven years ago!
So started to wonder if someone had hijacked her account for who knows what purposes. Called a rep and described the problem. After two dropped calls, finally got connected to their "Transition Team" who is apparently responsible for all estate transfers. After many holds and apparently conferences between who know who at Vanguard, rep came back and admitted account had not been fully closed but would be now.
I asked for a letter from them confirming the closure but have yet to receive as of two weeks.
Vanguard's "low cost provider' motto obviously extends to their back room. With Fido and others competitive on ETF's, really see so few reasons to hang there anymore. And Fido's 7.95 brokerage fee and execution far exceeds anything Vanguard can offer. Even Fido's balance fund FBALX beats Wellington!
Vanguard pretty much screwed up almost every step of DM's estate--from unilateral changing beneficiares (got it fixed before she passed) to making the POA distributions per instructions, not to mention the snarky behavior from the rep in the department handling the POA distribution. We were even Flagship at the time and still had to deal with gross mediocrity in their Transition Dept.
Glad to be Gone Gone.
Nwsteve
That's the only part of your post with which I disagree. Wellington appears from the comparison on the Fidelity website to have outperformed FBALX. Not by a lot, though. I will keep the one retirement account with the W funds, but I may transfer the taxable account to Fido.
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Why I Don't Have Much Confidence in Vanguard
Old 09-04-2016, 04:36 PM   #40
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Why I Don't Have Much Confidence in Vanguard

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Exactly. Most of the money is at Fido, but assets are also held at Vanguard, Schwab, and T Rowe Price. I do not have the confidence in Vanguard needed to put most of the money there. The lowest expense admiral shares of Wellington and Wellesley funds are only available at Vanguard, which is where the transferred money is going.
Last summer, I tried to move my after tax stocks/funds from FIDO in the US to RBC in Canada. RBC initiated it. I don't know what happened, but FIDO supposedly cut a check and sent it to RBC, but RBC never received it. After a month, after RBC complained, FIDO cancelled the original check and cut another (at that point, RBC requested some kind of express mail with verification.) I am not sure if the problem was with RBC or with FIDO, but I guess stuff like this happens.
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