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Two years retired and I'm sick of the TSP
Old 09-13-2021, 06:18 PM   #1
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Two years retired and I'm sick of the TSP

I've made two attempts to make a partial transfer of funds (less than 10% of balance) from the Federal Thrift Savings Plan to TIAA to fund a Roth conversion. The form has been rejected each time, due to miscommunications between the two organizations transferring the forms. Is TSP simply the roach motel of financial institutions?

Managing funds with TSP does not appear to be a tenable option, and I would now like to move all but a token amount to TIAA.

1. As it is apparently beyond my abilities, what professional, such as a CPA firm or attorney, can assist with this?

2. Would it work better if I took possession of the funds directly, not involving the two organizations with each other, and redeposit them in TIAA myself within 60 days?
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Old 09-13-2021, 06:32 PM   #2
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It could be TIAA's incompetence. I tried to transfer from Vanguard to TIAA (I wanted to invest in the TIA Real Estate Account) and it never happened. I guess forms weeren't filled out correctly by TIAA. I told Vanguard to ignore the request.


Maybe try rolling over to a more competent broker like Fidelity or Schwab?
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Old 09-13-2021, 06:39 PM   #3
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It could be TIAA's incompetence. I tried to transfer from Vanguard to TIAA (I wanted to invest in the TIA Real Estate Account) and it never happened. I guess forms weeren't filled out correctly by TIAA. I told Vanguard to ignore the request.

Maybe try rolling over to a more competent broker like Fidelity or Schwab?
TIAA has been generally responsive, but that doesn't necessarily mean they are competent. I can't imagine that my request is unusual, but TIAA seems unfamiliar with the process.

With declining quality of service everywhere, is any legitimate firm better than any other? I've considered consolidating at Vanguard in the past, but members here say that their service has fallen apart.
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Old 09-13-2021, 06:52 PM   #4
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Well, try to avoid dumping TSP entirely if possible and try another broker you trust first. I know TSP doesn't look like it has much to offer right now in this ultra low interest environment, but there may come a time where you at least really want access to the TSP G-fund and wish you still had a substantial amount still there.
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Old 09-13-2021, 07:28 PM   #5
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TIAA has been generally responsive, but that doesn't necessarily mean they are competent. I can't imagine that my request is unusual, but TIAA seems unfamiliar with the process.

With declining quality of service everywhere, is any legitimate firm better than any other? I've considered consolidating at Vanguard in the past, but members here say that their service has fallen apart.
Vanguard is apparently hit and miss according to the critics. I have been using them since 2016 with zero problems. I also use Fidelity and other from one dirty rotten annuity salesman have had no problems either.

I had a funny carreer that took me into back offices of many providers in this space and I'm probably jaded as I've been involved in many F-ups across the the board. Lost paperwork, death certificates not being returned, incompetent associates, ZYZ didn't answer the phones when I wanted something..... guess what it happens! Hehehe I was at an insurance company that lost all their digital policies and had no backups besides rescannig millions of policies. How do you think they answered questions for the next three to five months? Funny thing is most the time things work perfectly and nobody says wow I'm amazed. Other funny thing is that crapola happened everywhere.

I believe the entire financial services industry has been hit hard by WFH and competitive hiring from within. The good talent is either promoted up or hired away.

TIAA associates should have a procedure manual if they're unfamiliar with the process. In many of these jobs the common tasks have been surrounded by a rules engine allowing the job to be "dumbed down". Problems arise when they start going outside the scripted transactions and you need someone to think. Might ask for their supervisor to get involved, it's pretty common and often provides input about needed training.
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Old 09-13-2021, 09:19 PM   #6
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I transferred funds one time from my TSP to my Schwab IRA account, enough to feed all my future ROTH conversions, that transfer went smoothly. ROTH conversions at Schwab have always gone without a hitch.
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Old 09-14-2021, 03:20 AM   #7
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Without going into details, I can attest this has been our experience with Flagship service.

Sometimes you get great customer service, competent, knowledgeable. I think they move those people quickly out of customer service into management.

Other times you get the guy, who listed "pastor" on his information sheet, ended each rambling, useless email with "Blessings" and clearly knew zip about anything remotely Federal (or financial, as nearly as I could tell).

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Vanguard is apparently hit and miss according to the critics.
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Old 09-14-2021, 05:04 AM   #8
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I transferred funds one time from my TSP to my Schwab IRA account, enough to feed all my future ROTH conversions, that transfer went smoothly. ROTH conversions at Schwab have always gone without a hitch.
I did the same thing to provide funds for qualified charitable distributions so I can keep my charities deduction. It went smoothly for me as well. What I have left in the TSP is in the G Fund and is treated as a super cash component of our portfolio. It will decline over time through RMDs.
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Old 09-14-2021, 05:47 AM   #9
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My only interaction with TSP was with a loan used to avoid/defer capital gains realization in my taxable accounts in 2019. It was very frustrating to deal with (mostly because of antiquated paper-based processes) and I almost didn't get the funds in time to close. I will allow 90 days for any action to be completed in the future.



I do plan to keep my funds within my TSP. If it grows substantially in the next 3-5 years I might roll some out for flexibility in managing realized income but currently plan to leave the full balance and start SEPP from it in my early 50s. I like that I can start periodic payments from TSP and have the 1099 be marked qualified... gives me confidence I won't have any issues breaking my SEPP or being harassed by the IRS if I do it myself.
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Old 09-14-2021, 07:08 AM   #10
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Well, try to avoid dumping TSP entirely if possible and try another broker you trust first. I know TSP doesn't look like it has much to offer right now in this ultra low interest environment, but there may come a time where you at least really want access to the TSP G-fund and wish you still had a substantial amount still there.
This may be a reasonable plan, to leave only as much in the TSP as I would reasonably want in the G-fund. No more than 1/3 of total funds.
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Old 09-14-2021, 07:16 AM   #11
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Given the utter lack of ability I've shown at managing retirement withdrawals so far, I probably need a firm with a physical location nearby.

Has anyone dealt with in-person services at Fidelity?
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Old 09-14-2021, 08:02 AM   #12
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I've moved money from TSP to Fido for the last 2 years. First year went without a hitch. The second year, Fido sat on the paperwork for over a month as they needed to know if it was a military TSP or civilian. Once that was resolved, went through flawlessly.
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Old 09-14-2021, 08:06 AM   #13
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Given the utter lack of ability I've shown at managing retirement withdrawals so far, I probably need a firm with a physical location nearby.

Has anyone dealt with in-person services at Fidelity?
I just printed the paperwork from TSP to pdf and faxed it Fido. Called them a couple days later to ensure they got it. Done
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Old 09-14-2021, 08:40 AM   #14
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I just printed the paperwork from TSP to pdf and faxed it Fido. Called them a couple days later to ensure they got it. Done
It is my impression from the second letter that TSP will only accept the original paper copy of the TSP's form from TIAA because that's the only way they can prove it's original.
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Old 09-14-2021, 08:55 AM   #15
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... Has anyone dealt with in-person services at Fidelity?
I think you will find that the quality of service depends much more on the individual than on the name over the door.

That said, you may also find that the quality of service is influenced by the aggregate size of your accounts at a broker. At Schwab for example, a customer with over $1M who calls is routed to a different support group than customers with smaller accounts values.
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Old 09-14-2021, 09:29 AM   #16
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It is my impression from the second letter that TSP will only accept the original paper copy of the TSP's form from TIAA because that's the only way they can prove it's original.
Fido mailed me the faxed form back and I mailed it to TSP so it had original signatures on it.
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Old 09-14-2021, 10:36 AM   #17
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Twice transferred $ from TSP to outside IRAs, the one, 10 years ago to Vanguard was easy, yes its paper and slow but no problems. A couple years back I transferred some TSP funds to Wells Fargo, had a problem as the paper docs said Wells Fargo Bank and WF would not accept it, had to say Wells Fargo Advisors, had to get check reissued, no problem on TSPs end.
Like others I leave some funds in the TSP for the G Fund, not that its so great but figuring out where to put fixed income right now is a headache and the G fund is safe. The two transfers were to capture assets not covered by the TSP like foreign bonds (don't ask how they went) and REITs and now some preferreds. Next year I will began RMDs and will use the IRAs for QCDs.
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Old 09-14-2021, 01:15 PM   #18
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At Schwab for example, a customer with over $1M who calls is routed to a different support group than customers with smaller accounts values.
Well, that's not going to work for me.
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Old 09-14-2021, 01:20 PM   #19
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Fido mailed me the faxed form back and I mailed it to TSP so it had original signatures on it.
That sounds more realistic than asking TIAA to deal with the TSP.
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Old 09-14-2021, 01:45 PM   #20
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Since I can take possession of the funds directly, allowing the TSP to withhold Federal taxes, it looks like I should have the funds put in my own checking account.

Since the ultimate goal is a Roth rollover, I need to pay Federal taxes anyway. I would simply redeposit them in the TIAA Roth account myself within 60 days, and pay estimated taxes to the state in a separate transaction.
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