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Vanguard deleted our Flagship representative and we cannot get help for our retirement

My Husband and I worked, saved, and invested with Vanguard for decades. We were assigned a Flagship representative who we could contact or schedule an appt. with when we needed help. We did not contact him very often, but knew we'd need him in retirement. NOW, Vanguard has deleted our Flagship representative. Vanguard has deleted our ability to make an appt. with anyone. Vanguard has deleted our ability to even send an email. Vanguard states they "created a way for clients to have direct access to a team of representatives, rather than one assigned representative". THIS IS A LIE. We spent 4 hours on the phone and were transferred 4 times to the "correct expert", each time being placed at the front of a lengthy wait hold. The 4th person also told us she couldn't help us because we needed to speak to a "retirement expert", but she couldn't do so "because that dept. is now closed".  Is it legal for Vanguard to refuse to help retired seniors access their hard earned retirement funds? I am trying to rollover our IRA out of Vanguard but I can't even get the correct form from Vanguard. I cannot transfer our investments all at one time due to taxes so we are stuck. Any suggestions re: which organizations we may file a complaint about Vanguard? BBB? Their facebook page and other sites contain similar complaints. We tried to do the right thing by working and saving, and now Vanguard won't even answer the phone to help seniors.

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@PamelaH142888 


I "feel your pain". I have been a Vanguard client since 1984. There have been many changes over the past 10 years or so, and it seems to be a quickly-accelerating trend of changes (many not so much for the better, in my view). They seem to be trying to become more like other brokerages such as Fidelity and Schwab, low cost investments yet offering a smorgasbord of "investment guidance" for a fee. All three, Vanguard, Fidelity, and Schwab will be less expensive than the big name brokers. 

 

(Should anyone be interested, the book "Where are the customers' yachts?" by Fred Schwed, pub 1940, is an entertaining read by a guy who worked on Wall Street as a young man; seems nothing has changed since then. Just the book's title alone is entertaining.)

 

I haven't cared for many of the changes at Vanguard, certainly including the move away from the on-line "mutual fund" platform to the on-line "brokerage" platform.

 

As @GailL1 mentioned, you can move your IRA accounts to another firm via a 'direct transfer', so this is not a taxable event. Even better, you can have your new firm pull the funds from Vanguard when you fill out your new account form. There's no need to even discuss this with Vanguard! Further, since Vanguard mutual funds (and EFTs) are quite good and low cost you can move them (directly or "in kind") to the new firm and continue enjoying the low cost benefits of the Vanguard funds while also enjoying possibly better service elsewhere (Fidelity and Schwab have local offices all over; Vanguard does not).


Discussion of customer service problems has become endemic at the popular forum "bogleheads" (www.bogleheads.com), named after Vanguard's founder Jack Bogle, a true groundbreaking legend in personal finance. You may be interested in reading that forum for getting ideas on how to continue investing "Jack Bogle" style.

 

Due to my own unusual circumstances I moved a portion of our IRAs to Fidelity (still in Vanguard mutual funds though) with the thought of moving more later. But still likely to keep half at Vanguard.


Good luck!

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@PamelaH142888 wrote

 I am trying to rollover our IRA out of Vanguard but I can't even get the correct form from Vanguard. I cannot transfer our investments all at one time due to taxes so we are stuck.

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If you follow the IRS rules on IRA rollovers/transfers, in (2) methods out of (3) you don't have to worry about any taxes being withheld.  If you do the 60 day rollover, taxes will be withheld so do one of the other direct methods - Direct rollover OR Trustee-to-Trustee Transfer.

IRS.gov Rollover of Retirement Plans

from the link:

How do I complete a rollover?

  1. Direct rollover – If you’re getting a distribution from a retirement plan, you can ask your plan administrator to make the payment directly to another retirement plan or to an IRA. Contact your plan administrator for instructions. The administrator may issue your distribution in the form of a check made payable to your new account. No taxes will be withheld from your transfer amount.
     
  2. Trustee-to-trustee transfer – If you’re getting a distribution from an IRA, you can ask the financial institution holding your IRA to make the payment directly from your IRA to another IRA or to a retirement plan. No taxes will be withheld from your transfer amount.
     
  3. 60-day rollover – If a distribution from an IRA or a retirement plan is paid directly to you, you can deposit all or a portion of it in an IRA or a retirement plan within 60 days. Taxes will be withheld from a distribution from a retirement plan (see below), so you’ll have to use other funds to roll over the full amount of the distribution.

How to do it:

Set up your NEW IRA account wherever you want it and then fill out their (the NEW trustee) form to initiate the transfer as either a trustee to trustee transfer or a direct rollover and they will handle the rest with Vanguard.

 

Then all you have to do is verify that the amount is correct and follow it thru -

 

 

It's Always Something . . . . Roseanna Roseannadanna
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