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How to transfer brokerage accounts

6 steps to transfer your brokerage account and what to consider before making the switch.

You might want to transfer your brokerage account if you find one with lower fees, more investment options or better research tools. If so, you can easily transfer brokerage accounts in a few steps.

Here’s how to transfer a brokerage account and what you need to consider before you make the switch.

How to transfer brokerage accounts

Two main options exist to transfer brokerage accounts, but one may trigger a taxable event.

Cash transfer

You can sell all your assets in your current brokerage account and transfer the proceeds into your new account. However, selling assets from a taxable brokerage account will trigger capital gains taxes if you profit from the sale.

In-kind transfer

Using the Automated Customer Account Transfer Service (ACATS) system, an in-kind transfer allows you to move your assets directly from one brokerage account to another without selling any securities, as long as your new broker accepts the assets you want to transfer. An in-kind transfer is preferable to a cash transfer since it doesn’t require you to sell assets and, therefore, doesn’t trigger a taxable event.

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6 steps to transfer a brokerage account

Take the following steps to transfer your brokerage account:

  1. Open an account at a new broker. Consider choosing a broker that accepts all the assets from your old broker.
  2. Gather your most recent brokerage statement. You’ll need the account number and details about your account type and investments from your old broker before you transfer.
  3. Go to your new broker’s account transfers section. Log in to your new brokerage account and follow the instructions to transfer an account. Many brokers allow you to easily look up the broker from which you’d like to move assets.
  4. Fill out a transfer form. You may need the following information:
    • Legal name
    • Date of birth
    • Social Security number
    • Current account type
    • List of assets you’d like to transfer
  5. Choose full or partial transfer. Decide between transferring specific assets to your new broker or your entire account. Certain investments may not be transferable in-kind, so you may need to take a partial transfer.
  6. Wait and keep contact. The broker transfer process should take about three to five business days, assuming you’re transferring between the same account types — brokerage to brokerage or individual retirement account (IRA) to IRA(1). Maintaining contact with both brokers is important to ensure the process runs smoothly.

Consider account transfer fees

Your current broker will likely charge an outgoing account transfer fee ranging from $50 to $100 — most charge this type of fee. Verify by checking the broker’s fee schedule. Still, your new broker may reimburse your transfer fee or provide you with cash or trade bonuses for switching.

What are the tax implications of transferring a brokerage account?

If you cash out your current brokerage account and then deposit the proceeds in your new account, you may incur capital gain taxes or losses. You can avoid this through an in-kind transfer, which moves your assets across accounts without the selling of securities. You should also switch to the same account type — i.e. taxable brokerage account to taxable brokerage account, traditional IRA to traditional IRA and Roth IRA to Roth IRA to avoid certain tax implications.

When to consider switching brokers

Here are some points to consider when deciding whether to switch brokers.

  • High fees. Pay attention to your broker’s trading commissions, fund expense ratios, asset management fees and other expenses, and compare your options. You may find some charge higher fees than others.
  • Unintuitive app. Some investing apps may be more user-friendly, interactive and secure than others.
  • Limited investment options. Not all brokers offer access to a wide variety of investment options. You may be able to better diversify your portfolio by switching brokers.
  • Lack of access to robo-advisors. Some brokers offer automated investing options that use algorithms to manage and rebalance your portfolio, which might be ideal if you’re a hands-off investor.

Are there brokerage account transfer bonuses?

Many firms offer brokerage account transfer bonuses to entice new customers. For instance, SoFi Invest offers up to $5,000 when you transfer investments from another brokerage firm, while Public ​​offers up to $10,000 in cash when you transfer your account.

To make the most of your account transfer, consider a broker that reimburses your old broker’s transfer fee and offers a transfer bonus for making the switch.

Can I transfer stock from a brokerage account to an IRA or Roth IRA?

You can’t transfer stocks directly from a brokerage account to a traditional or Roth IRA, because you must contribute to these retirement plans in cash. So, you’d have to sell your stocks and deposit the proceeds into your traditional or Roth IRA, which could trigger capital gains taxes or losses.

Can I transfer an IRA to a brokerage account?

You can request a transfer of stocks from your IRA to a taxable brokerage account, but it comes with tax implications. Even though you’re not liquidating your assets, you still have to pay taxes on the transfer amount since it’s considered a distribution.

Bottom line

A brokerage account transfer is simple, and you can complete the entire process online in minutes. You may consider transferring your brokerage account if other brokers offer lower fees, more investment options or better tech features. Check out the best brokerage accounts to see how the competition stacks up and if you should make the switch.

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