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Roll outs being held hostage


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I've been in this business for 25 years and I starting to read about and experience clients being stonewalled trying to rollout or take distributions from some major 401k players. I hesitate to name names but I'd like to know who else is seeing this or having trouble helping with or seeing participants struggle with getting their money out when there aren't any significant complicated reasons. 

Fidelity can do it over the phone in 5 minutes and people are taking more than 6 months to get a rollout (rollover/distribution) with other companies. 

Anyone having this issue with a record keeper or custodian or any other financial institution?

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I've never heard of a 6 month delay in processing a distribution (unless, perhaps, there is an illiquid investment involved).  I can tell you that (from experience) the major causes of delays in processing distributions are (somewhat in order) 1) a NIGO request, incomplete or improperly completed forms/documentation; 2) additional layers of review for suspected "unusual activity (possible fraud based on certain triggers tripped); 3) misdirected funds (i.e. wrong rollover account or even rollover custodian requiring retrieval of funds before reprocessing) and 4) human error.

Never 6 months though.  May be a week or two (depending on the responsiveness of the participant and if necessary the plan sponsor)....

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There are always two sides to every story (well, sometimes 3). As Mojo said, a lot of things can hold up distributions - some are compliance issues/concerns and others are the participants' fault. I have seen a participant complete the wrong form or an incomplete form. Support will tell them again and again what is needed and the participant simply doesn't listen. E-mails and phone calls are ignored and then the participant disappears for 6 months. All of a sudden, they reappear with a complaint to their advisor saying "it is taking 6 months".

ERPA, QPA, QKA

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I agree with comments above. I doubt there is any kind of deliberate plan to hold retirement assets on the part of custodians. Since Fidelity was mentioned, I will comment that if a scenario fits into their cookie cutter model, it will go quickly and smoothly, otherwise they are as hard or harder to deal with as anyone. No props to them from me.

I'll also add that in our little corner of the plan world, our clients' plans often say that participants can't get their money until after the end of the year, AND after all contributions have been deposited. That is often misunderstood as some kind of arbitrary case-by-case decision.

Ed Snyder

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@Bird Agreed! I forgot to mention the balance forward or other annual val situations. I will say that the smaller RKs provide better hand-holding and personal attention than the big "1-800" type companies. So even the out-of-the-box situations can be handled (and communicated) better by those smaller firms.

ERPA, QPA, QKA

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