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Vanguard - last straw?
Old 09-03-2021, 07:22 PM   #1
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Vanguard - last straw?

I'm so frustrated with Vanguard these days. Might be the end of the road for me.

I opened my Vanguard accounts (brokerage and IRA) 10+ years ago. Transfer of assets into Vanguard was super easy. And I let them sit there relatively untouched ever since. All good.

Fast forward to this year. I retired in April. Had a number of things to consolidate. Decided to open a Fidelity IRA and transferred the Vanguard account in along with my 401(k). But left the brokerage at Vanguard.

I was in the process of refinancing my mortgage, which became a challenge after retirement (my fault - should have completed the darned thing before leaving work). My mortgage broker asked me for a letter from Vanguard related to my assets there. In July, I reached out via the online messaging. Got a response back in August that I would have to call. So I called. Got disconnected. Called again, and spoke to a very nice representative. He wasn't sure if they could do as I requested, but would get back to me. I received an email back stating that I would have to call to request a custom letter. Which is what I had done already, both in writing and on the call. I would have preferred they just say they can't do it, if that were the case. Sigh.

Thankfully, my mortgage broker is awesome. Yesterday, she said they came up with another route, and I just needed my last two statements (July and August) from Vanguard. I went online and for some reason, there is no July statement. Every other month is there, but no July. So I called again. Got through the self-identifying rigamarole. Auto-transferred me to the "right department". I hear a message saying I had reached the mailbox of (some representative) who could not answer, and the mailbox was full. Disconnected me.

I don't know if any other company is better. I'm generally pretty self-sufficient so rarely need personal help. But I think at this point, I'll probably move my brokerage account to Fidelity as well. At least with them I can go to a local branch and look someone in the eye, if need be.
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Old 09-03-2021, 07:27 PM   #2
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I wish this was unique to Vanguard but unfortunately it sounds like how calling any company works these days. You can switch. But will the grass be greener?
Sorry for your frustration. I think weve all been there and its no fun.
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Old 09-03-2021, 07:32 PM   #3
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There are 2 or 3 threads on the Bogleheads site about frustrations with Vanguard. You may want to add yours or read them, 1 is like 22 or 23 pages long!

As to no July statement, if your brokerage account did not have any activity for July there would not be a statement.
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Old 09-03-2021, 07:33 PM   #4
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Fidelity is better...within your brokerage account on the Balances page, there is a link for Balance Letter which "Creates a Balance Letter for a lender or planner". Clicking that takes you to a page where you indicate how you want the letter created (either "Total Account Balance" or "Custom Amount" which specifies you have assets above some figure). Click the Generate PDF button and that's it.


Attached is a sample of each of the letter types.
Attached Files
File Type: pdf sample-letter-balance.pdf (206.3 KB, 41 views)
File Type: pdf sample-letter-balance-in-excess.pdf (146.0 KB, 25 views)
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Old 09-03-2021, 07:37 PM   #5
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Vanguard has a "show balance by date" option that satisfied some kind of request I had from a loan company a few years ago. The Flagship rep I was able to reach (remember, this was years ago) suggested it, and the loan officer accepted it.
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Old 09-03-2021, 07:53 PM   #6
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You know it's kinda weird but I looked and for July I'm missing DW'S Roths statement. So maybe they have an issue?

I'm assuming you called and were transferred before COB EST? Folks in that line of work tend to know to get out before something happens(Murphy works here).

You are going into a three day weekend with minimal support staff available. Your mortgage broker really can't move it along very far either. You might try a chat or Facebook to see if you can aak for assistance getting your data made available. If this is a common problem they may have a process that the call center people can request. If it's not good luck having it happen over the weekend.

Are others in the industry better? Maybe but probably not. I was involved in this type of work and it works perfectly until it doesn't mostly around holidays.
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Old 09-03-2021, 07:58 PM   #7
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You know it's kinda weird but I looked and for July I'm missing DW'S Roths statement. So maybe they have an issue?
Okay, you made me look. I have a July statement. Nothing missing as far as I can see.
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Old 09-03-2021, 08:05 PM   #8
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Okay, you made me look. I have a July statement. Nothing missing as far as I can see.
Great it's not global but for our account one IRA we have a statement every month it's just the other roth IRA... who knows.

Of course system problems are more likely to be reporting dropped based on an even/odd number in the 5th position of the SSN or phone number. Not that I've ever seen crap like that but I've been told it happens in some applications.
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Old 09-03-2021, 11:58 PM   #9
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I went online, downloaded last 2 statements….easy peasy….not sure why the broker requested a letter in the first place. I also had to link my accounts so they could check the balances in real time.
The part that was painful that did require a call was figuring how to setup scheduled monthly withdrawals. The broker wanted a letter for that, but I just screen captured the confirmation screen.
The broker was a bit shocked that I was retired and didn’t have a financial advisor.
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Old 09-04-2021, 07:26 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by MuirWannabe View Post
I wish this was unique to Vanguard but unfortunately it sounds like how calling any company works these days. You can switch. But will the grass be greener?
Sorry for your frustration. I think weve all been there and its no fun.
I've never had this kind of trouble with Fidelity. I don't always like their answers (see my thread on Bill Pay), but they always answer me, and they're usually helpful. (I think the bill pay thing is a problem with the vendor they've contracted to do that for them.) I can always reach someone, often in a department that specializes in the issue (bonds, retirement, brokerage, technical support, etc.) that I'm calling about.
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Old 09-04-2021, 07:44 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MuirWannabe View Post
I wish this was unique to Vanguard but unfortunately it sounds like how calling any company works these days. You can switch. But will the grass be greener?
Sorry for your frustration. I think weve all been there and its no fun.


Quote:
Originally Posted by The Cosmic Avenger View Post
I've never had this kind of trouble with Fidelity.

I cant imagine having this issue at Fido, either. If nothing else we have several offices within a 40 min drive. I just called them last week to get pension award letters and they were very responsive.
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Old 09-04-2021, 08:08 AM   #12
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I've read all of the above-referenced threads about Vanguard service on the Bogleheads forums (and participated in a few there and here) and after decades of splitting assets between Schwab and Vanguard can verify that Vanguard's customer service has taken a serious nose-dive in recent years.

Schwab and FIDO are both much better, and as has been pointed out both have physical offices one can go into if push comes to shove. One would think that Vanguard, entirely lacking physical offices, would make a point of having exemplary online and telephone customer service as well as a state-of-the-art website but it's just the opposite. And they keep digging the hole deeper, with their most recent bone-headed move being to eliminate the secure messaging option for anyone with less than a million in assets with them.

My recommendation, once the dust settles on your refi adventure, is to transfer everything to Schwab or FIDO. I still have mostly Vanguard funds and ETFs but you can hold those anywhere without putting up with the worst customer service in the industry. I'm just glad Jack Bogle isn't around to see what has become of his firm.
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Old 09-04-2021, 08:18 AM   #13
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I don't complain (much) about Vanguard any more since opening a 2nd major account at Schwab. Everything converted, gifted and inherited went to Schwab. So most of our dealings have been with Schwab. Everything is handled as you should expect. I can call the local branch or email the admin. I can open a chat window and get someone to answer. Most questions have answers the same day.
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Old 09-04-2021, 08:52 AM   #14
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I have cash in the Vanguard treasury-only money market account. I put more money there back in 2008 when things looked dicey, as they were very conservative and did not hold the related yield boosting products that other treasury money market funds did. A year or two back, they caved on that to keep yields above zero. Expense ratio is still the lowest, but I'm not motivated to deposit more.
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Old 09-04-2021, 09:03 AM   #15
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I wish someone had warned me about Vanguard when I created the other thread about moving our under management assets to Vanguard. After 2 weeks of nothing but endless 2 to 3 hours phone holds to agents not being able to do anything and their lack of understanding on how to set up sole trustees of separate properties, it has been nothing but a nightmare. I now have a user account without a user name and no account setup because they don't understand trusts. We just called Schwab yesterday and we are going to see the local Schwab person to facilitate account setup and transfers. Unfortunately after being on the phone for about 20 hours, my husband's IRA is in the process of being transferred to Vanguard and we could not stop it yesterday. We will do one more move from Vanguard to Schwab. We are DONE with Vanguard.
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Old 09-04-2021, 09:06 AM   #16
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We have most of our stuff with Fido, and I agree, their service is very good. I always get someone helpful on the phone, and they never rush you. And we have a physical branch about 15 mins away so it's nice knowing I have that option if/when needed.

I also really like Fido's FullView to see everything at a glance.

That said, VTSAX has been very good to me as well.
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Old 09-04-2021, 09:15 AM   #17
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I have both Fidelity and Vanguard and have found both to be very frustrating. But these days almost any company I need to call has provided a poor overall experience. The wait times are getting longer and the service reps are never knowledgeable enough to solve my problems.

But I find the original request of a letter to be very odd. I’ve applied for many mortgages and providing several months of statements showing balances has always been sufficient. I’ve never heard of anyone asking for a customer letter from a financial institution. Those types of request are a major PITA. The lenders must know this by now so the fact that they asked for it makes me think they are as much of a problem as Vanguard.
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Old 09-04-2021, 09:23 AM   #18
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Mortgage applications have gotten very stringent. We got a small mortgage on our home purchase in January. The amount of document being requested was to the point of being ridiculous and several times we asked ourselves if it was worth pursuing a loan. The loan officer worked for the bank and the same bank had all of our investments. She went through every line item in our checking account for the 2 months before and wanted to understand why such and such payment was made and why this and that was credited to our account. We complained to our money guy who had to call her to back off on some of the ridiculous requests.
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Old 09-04-2021, 09:25 AM   #19
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In my experience (30+ years at all three - Fido, Schwab, Vanguard), Vanguard customer service never matched Fido or Schwab. However, in the early days, it was "sufficient" and the fee structures were so far in Vanguard's favor that it made some sense to put up with a clumsier website and choppier customer service. However, two things happened over the last 5-10 years: a.) Fido and Schwab fee structures are no longer inferior, but actually often superior to Vanguard, while b.) Vanguard's customer service has been eroding for a long time now. Combine that with no physical offices, and you end up with a clearly inferior product at Vanguard.
I pulled ALL my assets from Vanguard several years ago. Not worth the aggravation.
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Old 09-04-2021, 09:28 AM   #20
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... We will do one more move from Vanguard to Schwab. ...
We are long-time Schwab clients and recommend them, but if you have access to both Fido and Schwab local offices and particularly because you have accounts at Fido. I suggest that you call and talk to the two branch managers, finding out if you'll get a rep assigned and telling them what you'd like to have in a rep. Age, sex, investing interests, years of experience, etc. Then interview their top two suggestions. (run brokercheck.com before meeting). IMO the person and the relationship is more important than the sign over the door. YMMV of course.
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