wants your help with their Fidelity retirement account you say? Nice.
Fidelity’s literally got that covered. Their “Limited trading authority’s” darkly ingenious. Simply close your eyes and select.
Who doesn’t enjoy a blindfold for a car rite, or while investing? Handcuffs and half-facts too. Relax, it’s only your nest egg. All mutual finds smell different over the phone. Besides, investing research grows dull when you can actually see the facts.
Admit it. Everybody loves game show-style retirement navigating. Details muck everything up. Fidelity’s unique Zero-View format is for anyone attempting to help a participant in any of the retirement plans they manage. How? Fidelity snaps off the lights and instructs you to ask questions, over the phone. Two ways past this bat-mad lunacy. “Blind Investing by Fidelity.”
you supposed to actually notice the dissembling trip-lines? Everyone knows when they’re being messed with. Disingenuous responses stand clear. You can always hear people smoking over the phone. Calling for help on complicated issues renders you temporarily at the mercy of others. And if there isn’t any? “Portfolio management–by phone?” Don’t plan for the playoffs, if you’re managing the team over the horn. Managing a retirement account is like that. Try it when the butt-munch locked on to the opposite end won’t even provide the player roster.
Most know Fidelity Investments. It’s hard to hide $2.46 trillion in assets under management. Even the company’s hometown of Boston can’t hide that nut. Winter Hill gang leader “Whitey” Bulger hid money in Boston, but Fidelity may not. “My retirement account’s there” you say? Well, of course it is.
Someone asks for your help with their retirement investments held at Fidelity. All good. Like playing mental chess? That’s chess without the board or pieces. If you gotta look, good luck. Fidelity allows none of that. They allow only questions, which produce only additional questions.
Fact. Few have done more to bring investing to the individual than Fidelity. Nice. The company began operations just after the last world war. Short decades later the age of the self-directed individual investor began. They gave the individual some kinda look. Then it got great. What changed?
used to sell solely in whole contracts. That’s a 100 lot. “Odd lots” didn’t float. The “trading floor” really was the NYC floor, with traders, calling out the bids and asks. Of course nearly all of that’s electronic now. Stylized call-and-answer ruled back then and no one looked in over a television feed. Shouted bids and asks roiled the air, while prices clicked in over a “ticker tape,” a narrow toilet roll of paper sprinkled with the freshest numbers. Fortunes were made and lost and no one blinked an eye. Wow. Awesome chaos.
For the vast majority of stock market history only the guys on the floor knew the prices. Only they could trigger a trade. Fidelity was instrumental in changing that. Only people like Gomez Addams were lucky enough to have their own ticker tape machine.
As that gut-wrenching action churned, the internet was born. Somewhere beneath the sinister Defense Department umbrella the web lifted it’s monstrous neck. The roar of investing liberation began to emit from deep within a long-oppressed mass. Amen.
Upon the advent of the “discount brokerage” the curtain parted on equity investing’s sanctum sanctorum, the trading floor. The muddling mists and costly vapors cast by the brokerage clergy thinned. The sophistry ended. The false alchemy supporting evil pricing fizzled. People finally saw that brokers were salesman, buying, selling, and hyping, shares like bags of beans.
Stock information and market access were made available in a cost-effective manner by the advent of the “discount brokerage.” That was Fidelity, allowing individuals to buy and sell at will, at increasingly affordable commissions. Again, wow. Research flowed through the mail like life-giving oxygen and people realized stock brokers were not prophets, divinely-anointed to create portfolios. Then the internet made it all timely.
Prior to discount brokerages and the internet, a veil of mist and mystery cloaked the investing realm. Pricing depended upon maintaining such. People couldn’t be allowed to know that fools and frauds were running their retirement, flogging junk while throttling “clients” with net expense ratios designed to steal. Think Fidelity’s institutional default turdcake the FSNPX. What “explanation” holds water when the fund under performs its’ S&P 500 TR USD benchmark by 68%YTD, and 115% 1Y? Some explain it by labeling it a target date fund. We call it opportunity cost.
we hoped to do was help. One of the crew was asked to manage a retirement account housed at Fidelity. It was that simple. “No problem. Fidelity’s loved and trusted by tens of millions.”
Ten days later the paper work was done. It was time to take a look at the account and investment options. The whole Sj crew pitched-in, examining the info package sent out by the employer–a major university. Three “Tiers” existed, 1, 2, and 3. Options 1 and 2 were identical in investment options–28 in total, 25 consisting of managed mutual funds, all with net expense rations of 0.56% or above.
“Tier Three” offered “hundreds of funds” it said. Obviously that drew our focus. With the paper work complete, it was time to access the account and asses the choices in detail. After all, we possessed official “Limited trading Authority” through Fidelity, the plan provider. Little did we know that the Donner Party had more fun charging the Sierra Nevada than we would phoning the Fidelity Retirement Service Center.
handled the investment accounts of others. Paper work is par for that. It does take time. Yet seeking official “Limited trading Authority” at Fidelity is an experience in frustration resulting in absolutely nothing. It means you can call them on the phone and be treated to suspicion and repeated holds.
“Limited trading authority” at Fidelity means you can call their service center and promptly be put on hold. Then they’ll run you through another hold, and then their clumsy “verification” process, every time. Following all that they’ll hold you at arms length, and regard your every question with obvious suspicion, while allowing you to view absolutely nothing. And this is after you’ve been fully and tediously vetted. Jump all that and simply log-in with the plan participant’s info. Or…
Specifically, Fidelity’s “Limited trading authority” only authorizes one to request account statements, rebalance, make exchanges, and receive fund investment options by fax. Neither the Limited trading authority nor a full-bore Power of attorney will get you direct access. The sole diffence is that a full POA is allowed to make distributions. Any and all account actions are handled strictly by telephone.
Think Schwab. The lucky have their plans handled by Charles Schwab. Schwab offers “Limited power of attorney” along with full POA. Both allow full online account access, full trading authority, and direct access to fund details and all research and ratings. No phone calls are necessary. If one has questions call. Rarely will you be “placed on hold,” nor will you be milled by a tedious verification process.
known doesn’t necessarily mean “We love you.” Massive does not always translate into convenient, or even functional. Really. Call the Fidelity retirement people and see, 1-800-343-0860. Think crutches and a blinking “Do not walk” sign. They help, up to a point. But the going’s slow. Our drill down eventually pulled up a second option. Open what they refer to as a “BrokerageLink” account. Then sign up for the “Fidelity BrokerageLink limited third party trading authority.”
Once retirement accounts reach $2500.00 one can transfer those funds into the tax-deferred BrokerageLink account, offering online access to over 10,000 mutual funds, but no stocks or ETFs. Direct access is then finally yours. Or again, open the BrokerageLink and simply sign-in with the participant’s credentials, and deny everything if ever questioned. Good luck with the process. For our dime, the ATF gets straighter stories out of near stone-silent moonshiners.
When you feel good, it shows.
Thanks for Reading.