Here’s a recent example.
We were recently reviewing retirement investments for two different clients, and asked for updates on their workplace 401(k) accounts.
Both clients offered to provide us with their account user IDs and passwords so we could sign in and look at their retirement holdings. They undoubtedly reasoned it would be faster and easier for us, and more convenient for them.
Unfortunately, for compliance purposes, that’s a “no-no.”
We are not allowed to access your outside (e.g. non-managed) accounts directly, unless your 401(k) sponsor or brokerage custodian has special protocols in place allowing advisors like Adam Financial Associates limited access to your accounts while simultaneously safeguarding your account assets.
Here’s what that means in practical terms.
The investment custodians we normally work with, like Charles Schwab, Vanguard, TIAA, and others, have special arrangements with wealth managers like Adam Financial Associates. They provide us informational and trading access to your accounts without giving us the ability to withdraw funds. That’s designed to protect your assets, so you never have to worry about Madoff-like abuses.
But 401(k) and other account custodians aren’t normally set up to provide this kind of specialized access. And our regulators don’t typically allow us to access your 401(k) or other non-managed accounts using your login credentials, since that could permit someone other than you to request withdrawals or exercise privileges that should be reserved only for you, the account owner.
We know this can be an inconvenience, but want clients to understand it’s just one of the rules we have to follow for their protection. That’s why we have to say “no” when clients offer us direct access to their accounts.
But it’s important to keep an eye on your workplace retirement accounts, so here’s what we can do to save you time and trouble:
Whenever possible, we suggest consolidating accounts at custodians like Charles Schwab and others we work with, as these firms have established protocols to work with institutional advisors like Adam Financial Associates. We can view account information, process administrative requests on your behalf, and provide a full range of investment services including reviewing, repositioning, and reporting on your account.
Have an account elsewhere that can’t be moved? Some 401(k) providers provide special, limited access to advisors like us, allowing us to view accounts and trade. Ask your provider if this is the case.
For accounts we cannot access or “link” to electronically, you are always welcome to send us updated account statements for our review. (Want to email documents to us? Ask us to send you a special link so you can send us your documents securely).