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How to Transfer Your Brokerage Account Smoothly

Transferring your brokerage account from one firm to another may take two to three weeks ... if there are no unnecessary delays and impediments. So how to avoid any delays and transfer your brokerage account smoothly?

  1. Make sure you use the right transfer form.

    Some brokerage firms may have different forms for the different account transfers depending on the type of account that is being transferred. Therefore make sure you get the right form by calling the new firm or visiting their website.

  2. Make sure you complete the transfer form correctly.

    Typically what you will be asked to fill is:

    • your social security or tax identification number
    • the name on your account,
    • the type of the destination account,
    • account number,
    • the brokerage firm where the account is held

    Additionally, have in mind that all firms will require a copy of your most recent account statement attached to the transfer form.

    To avoid delays it is important to provide this information the same way as it appears on the old account (e.g. include your middle name or initial too if it appears on your old account).

    If you have any questions regarding the completion of the form, contact your new firm for help.

  3. It will be easier to transfer your account without changing the account type.

    To avoid delays keep your account type and account owner the same (e.g. transfer joint account to a joint account, IRA account to an IRA account, etc.).

  4. Make sure you include only transferable securities.

    There are certain types of securities that cannot be transferred. These include annuities, bankrupt securities, securities that are sold exclusively by your old firm, or money market funds or mutual funds that are not available at your new firm. If your request includes such non-transferable securities this may cause a delay.

    Generally, in case such securities are present you will have two choices:

    • sell the non-transferable security and transfer the cash
    • leave the non-transferable security with your old firm

Other circumstances that may cause delays include transfers that involve a retirement or margin account, transfers that involve requests of liquidating some or all of your assets, etc.

You may ask to speak to your new or old firm's compliance director if you feel that the transfer has not been done in a timely fashion.

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