How to Change Financial Advisors
If you’ve broken up with your advisor (episode 90 of our podcast), you may be wondering what steps to take to move to another advisor. A retirement financial plan changes and evolves over time, and there are times when moving to another advisor is in your best interest.
There are a lot of reasons to make a switch, and there’s always going to be a move where you transition to your new advisor.
It’s difficult to leave an advisor, but the transition process is rather straightforward.
How to Move from One Advisor to Another
A major question our clients have is what the process looks like when moving from one advisor to another. There are a few ways to make the transition, and don’t worry: your money won’t be lost in transit.
There are a few scenarios that can play out here.
Your New Advisor is at the Same Place
If your old advisor is at the same place as your new advisor, the process is simple. By “place,” we mean a major institution like Fidelity, Charles Schwab or any other major institute. In this scenario, everything stays the same.
You don’t have to worry about account numbers or information changing.
Instead, you’ll sign a few papers that authorize the new advisor to take the place of your old advisor.
This is a rare scenario, but it is the best to be in.
Your New Advisor is at a Different Place
A more common scenario that we deal with is that a client’s former advisor is at Fidelity and their new advisor is at Charles Schwab. In this case, all of your money needs to move in the process, which is still an easy process.
Not much changes, even the way that you look at your account. For example:
- Your IRAs will still be IRAs
- Joint accounts stay joint accounts
For the most part, things will remain very similar when changing advisors.
Even if you have stocks that you want to hold onto, you can transfer them “in kind.” You don’t have to sell and then rebuy these stocks during the move.
Paperwork Process Required
The custodian (in this case, Charles Schwab) will require paperwork to understand who you are. An application is required, which includes all of your basic information, such as your name, address and so on.
- If you’re transferring an IRA, you’ll need to list your beneficiaries.
- Brokerage accounts will need to be set up, and we recommend adding in a TOD, or transfer on death.
Your advisor will walk you through all of these steps and explain what’s taking place. You’re there to sign off on what’s happening and to finalize the transfer.
- Transfer document. A transfer document will need to be signed, which gives permission to move assets from one custodian to another. For example, if your assets are in Fidelity and you’re moving to an advisor that uses Charles Schwab, you’ll sign this document to allow the assets to transfer. You’ll need to attach a current statement to the document, too.
- Advisor agreement. Your advisor will want you to sign documents that outline the services that they’ll render.
- Risk tolerance document. You’ll likely have to sign off on paperwork involving risk tolerance so that both you and the advisor know what level of risk you’re willing to take.
Note: In 99% of cases, your accounts will transfer over to an identical account with little more changing than the name of the custodian on your account statements.
It’s important to note that your former advisor doesn’t have to sign off on any of these documents. Since you’re changing advisors, not requiring a signature makes the entire process much easier on you.
The advisor will receive a notification of your money moving and that you’re moving to another advisor.
Process After Document Signing
After you’ve signed all of the paperwork, there’s a small waiting period where your accounts open quickly and sit at $0. The transfer process often takes 7 to 10 business days, so during this time, your assets will begin their transfer.
Once everything is transferred, your advisor will then begin looking through all of your assets and start working on making any changes you’ve discussed to reach your retirement goals.
Common Questions When Moving or Starting Work with an Advisor
What if you want to move from one account type to another?
What if you’re not moving from another advisor but you’re moving from a 401(k) to a traditional IRA? In this case, the process often involves a simple phone call and won’t have any tax ramifications involved.
In this case, the 401(k) will send you a check in the benefit of you to the custodian.
So, the check with all of the funds from the 401(k) is sent to you and written out to your custodian. You pass this check to your advisor, and it will now be rolled over to a traditional IRA account.
What if you handled all of your own investments but now want to work with an advisor?
If you have handled all of your own investments, it’s as simple as creating a new account with a custodian and following a similar path as outlined in the “Your New Advisor is at a Different Place” section above.
Moving to a new advisor may be required to secure your retirement. The process itself is easy, and most advisors will walk you through the process step-by-step to get started.
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