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Who is the best custodian for my investments?

Who is the best custodian for my investments?

Custodians are the institutions which hold your securities for you and provide some related services. Some will have various arrangements and relationships with exchanges and broker-dealers, and some may do everything in-house; such things have bearing on what your investment options are, how much equity you must have for margin, what kind of fees you pay for various services, and so on. Different custodians tend to structure their fees and services to a particular type of clientele or a particular account size. You may outgrow the custodian you have, or you may discover that there is a better, more affordable option for an account like yours. Continue reading...

Can I Rollover My 401(k) into an IRA?

Yes, in fact this is what most people do. This is a very popular choice. Because Traditional IRAs receive the same kind of tax treatment as 401(k)s, with pretax contributions, tax-deferred growth, and taxable withdrawals, the IRS allows you to move funds over without creating a taxable event. Of course, you need to have an IRA account to do so, but it can be as easy as opening an account online and telling the custodian company the account information for your old 401(k). Continue reading...

What is a Broker-Dealer?

A broker-dealer is an entity that engages in the trading of securities, and can act as both an agent and a principal. Brokerages, investment banks, commercial banks, and other financial institutions can act as a broker-dealer. Broker-dealers are important to the liquidity of the markets, since they hold inventories of securities for various amounts of time to help facilitate trading, short-selling, and margin accounts. Continue reading...

How Can You Buy a Stock?

There are many services online and custodians that that can facilitate stock trades. Anybody can buy shares of a publicly traded company, but it must be done through a brokerage firm or a custodian. Brokers and brokerage firms act as middle men between the buyer and the seller. Some brokerage houses such as E-Trade, Ameritrade, or Charles Schwab offer low-cost services online to anyone with a checking account, and offer no personal advice. Other brokerage firms focus on the human element, offering investment advice and making additional money through long-term client relationships and the commissions and fees that result from portfolio management. Continue reading...

Can I Rollover My Old 401(k) into a New 401(k)?

Most 401(k)s will accept custodian-to-custodian transfers from old 401(k)s. If your new employer has a 401(k) plan, you can usually rollover your old 401(k) into a new one, but you will need to check with your new employer to find out for sure. Keep in mind that the choice of mutual funds and other investments in the new 401(k) might be totally different from the investment options that your old employer offered. This means that you might need to liquidate all of your positions in the old 401(k) and transfer the cash balance. Continue reading...

What are My 401(k) Investment Options?

What are My 401(k) Investment Options?

401(k)s can offer many options for investment, but they generally only offer 15 or fewer in each plan. Investment options in your 401(k) are completely determined by the agreement between your employer and the custodian. Therefore, you’re limited to the investment instruments selected for you. The majority of 401(k) plans will offer fewer than 15 investment options, which are generally part of prepackaged 401(k) products from major broker-dealers or mutual fund companies. Large companies will frequently also offer stock of their company within the 401(k) plan architecture. Continue reading...

What are My SEP IRA Investment Options?

SEPs are able to hold a wide variety of investment options. SEP IRA investment choices are determined by the financial institution at which your SEP IRA is established. When opening a SEP IRA, be sure to find out what investment options each financial institution offers, and what the charges for various transactions are. Some custodians will only offer a small range of options, or it may be limited to their proprietary mutual fund family. Others will allow you to invest in any securities that they can trade on their brokerage platform. Continue reading...

Should I pay for financial planning services?

Should I pay for financial planning services?

Any professional that you work with for financial planning is going to be compensated for the work they do, but there are different ways they earn their pay. Whether it’s worth it to you is another question. If you have enough knowledge and time on your hands, and your investment portfolio is not very complicated, you may be able to manage it on your own. This can save you some money on financial advisor fees. Continue reading...

Who Establishes a 401(k)?

Employers make the decision to establish a 40(k), but it has to be good enough for employees to want to participate. An employer is responsible for establishing a 401(k) and for overseeing it as the sponsor and fiduciary. A self-employed individual can also establish an Individual 401(k), which has the same contribution limits and requires none of the testing or auditing of a regular plan. Other options for work-site retirement plans are SIMPLE IRAs, SEP IRAs, and various kinds of profit-sharing and deferred compensation arrangements. Continue reading...

How Can I Establish a Self-Employed 401(k)?

How Can I Establish a Self-Employed 401(k)?

Establishing an Individual 401(k) might only take you a matter of minutes. You can establish a Self-Employed 401(k) by going to an Individual 401(k) provider, or asking your Financial Advisor for help and/or recommendations. However, make sure that you are satisfied with the conditions your provider offers. There are dozens of choices available to you, all with different investment options and fee structures. There are plenty of good ones without annual plan fees, lost cost investment options, and a wide variety of investment choices. Continue reading...

What are the Best Financial Programs to Use?

What are the Best Financial Programs to Use?

There are many apps and online programs that investors can use, often for free, to help keep an eye on their holdings and to track their investment portfolio. In addition to the software accessible through your custodian, you might want to look at the programs available through Morningstar, Microsoft Money, and others. Apps on your phone (CNBC, TheStreet, Barron’s, MarketWatch, etc.) can keep you updated on market news related to your stocks, mutual funds, and ETFs. You can also subscribe to market commentaries delivered via email. Continue reading...

What Happens to My 401(k) if I Leave My Job?

What Happens to My 401(k) if I Leave My Job?

401(k) account balances can be taken to the next place of employment, rolled into IRAs, or cashed out. Sometimes people don’t know what to do with a 401(k) when the change jobs. If it sits there too long, and the employer cannot locate you because you changed addresses, your account balance will be taken over by the State in which you worked. Your state should be able to locate your file using your social security number and pay you the account balance as of the date they froze the account. Continue reading...

How Does a 401(k) Work?

You may know that a 401(k) allows you to make payroll-deducted contributions to a retirement account before taxes are taken out, but how does it work? Employees can either become participants in a 401(k) by voluntary enrollment or by automatic enrollment with the ability to opt-out. Contributions go in before taxes are taken out, and this can reduce an individual’s taxable income or even income bracket for the year. Continue reading...

What is a Margin Call?

A margin call is a mandatory request by the custodian/broker for the account holder to add equity to the account, either by depositing cash or selling securities to raise cash. When an investor takes an account on margin, the custodian will require that they keep a certain amount of equity/cash in the account to maintenance the borrowed amount. If the account value drops past a certain level, the custodian may require the investor to add equity to the account to cover the margin balance. Continue reading...

What is Minimum Margin?

Minimum margin is the minimum amount needed to open a margin account. The custodian or broker typically sets the minimum margin, but it cannot be for any less than the $2,000 required by the NYSE and NASD. What is 'Buying on Margin' and Margin Trading? What is a Margin Account? Continue reading...

How Do I Invest Money in My 403(b)?

Investing in a 403(b) is done by making contributions via payroll deductions and selecting investment options from among the available choices with your custodian. Payroll deductions on a pretax basis are routed into your 403(b) account with your consent. This can be done by telling the payroll department what percentage of your compensation you would like to send there, or by telling the plan custodian company, who tells your payroll department. Continue reading...

Can I Leave My 401(k) With My Former Employer?

Generally a plan will allow you to leave your assets in there indefinitely, but this is probably not ideal for you. Most custodians will be happy to hold onto your account dollars as long as you’re willing to leave them there. They don’t have to spend any time servicing your account since you can’t make contributions and probably aren’t even able to reallocate your assets, and they will continue to make money on your account with the built-in fees. You may be charged inactive account fees or small account fees as well. Continue reading...

How Does the Money in My 401(k) Get Invested?

Employers sponsoring 401(k) plans are required to give employees the information and ability to manage their own accounts, using the investment options provided to them by the plan administrator and custodian. Sometimes employers and 401(k) custodians will provide employees with simplified systems by which to determine what kinds of investments appeal to them, and how they would like to allocate their portfolio in pursuit of their retirement goals. Continue reading...

What is a short position in options trading?

What is a short position in options trading?

Taking a short position is selling a security that you don’t own because you anticipate that its value is set to fall. In simple terms, an investor that takes a short position is betting against it. “Shorting” is the opposite of being “long” in a security, where being “long” means to actually own it and to wait for it to appreciate. When you contact your broker or custodian to take a short position on a security, you essentially sell shares you don’t own, and then after a period, you have to return those shares to the custodian. Continue reading...

What is Form 1099-Q?

IRS Link to Form — Found Here Distributions from qualified educational accounts such as 529s will be reported on a 1099-Q. This will be submitted by the institution serving as the custodian of the account. Qualified tuition programs (QTPs) might include Coverdell Educational Savings Accounts (ESAs) or 529 plans, and distributions from these plans are not taxable when used for qualified educational expenses, such as college tuition. Continue reading...