I'm rather amazed by our modern financial system. One the on hand, banks seem to go to great lengths to make life difficult for us: fees to visit a teller, minimum balances in accounts, annoying business hours, nasty IVR (interactive voice response) systems that pass for "customer service", and stupid procdeures.

On the other hand, there are a few things that are shockingly easy to do. For example, I'm in the process of consolidating some of my accounts. I asked my brokerage (Charles Schwab) to send me the necessary forms. It turns out that all it takes to get them to extract my assets from another institution is to fill out a one page form and mail it back in a postage paid envelope.

Saying it's a one page form is really not quite accurate. It's one page, but the amount of information required from me could fit on a Post-It note.

  • name
  • account number at each institution
  • social security number
  • date
  • signature


Oh, and I have to check a box that says it's a brokerage account, and another one that says "transfer all assets".

Now, the cynical side of me says that it's this easy because banks and brokerages really want you to put more of our assets under their roof. But I just don't care. It's so damned easy--like it ought to be.

Posted by jzawodn at October 20, 2004 10:25 PM

Reader Comments
# Carlos said:

It's so damned easy -- for someone to steal your identity and extract all your assets. Nice one.

on October 21, 2004 06:17 AM
# Doug said:

That is pretty scary that all somebody needs is my name, account #, and social security # to transfer all of my money out of my account.

I assume that they at least check to make sure that the account that it is being transferred to is at least registered to the same name and social security number. That doesn't necessarily make me feel better though.

on October 21, 2004 08:33 AM
# BlahBlah said:

It is scary. Always totally disintegrate any mailing Schwab sends you with your account number on it. I have told them I do not wish to receive ANY physical mail from them...I want any and all transactions with them to be via the web where at least I have a password.

At any brokerage of course if you have "enough" money for them to "care" about you, they will put a real person on your account to phone you from time to time to at least establish some basis of a real relationship. If you hae an account with the minimum balance, don't expect much attention from them.

This is what I feel sets Schwab apart from the Etrades etc...they at least have physical offices where there is a regional manager who you can speak to and at least establish that you are you for future reference.

In any case, you have to check accounts often. Use the services that watch your credit check for new accounts opened in your name etc. Check your credit card balance online every couple of days at least. Your best bet is to catch malfeasance early...you cannot prevent it.

on October 21, 2004 09:24 AM
# Greg said:

Man, you must have a shitty bank. Shop around, you can find one with better service than that. I've found that credit unions usually have better service than regular banks.

on October 21, 2004 12:33 PM
# Dave said:

Gee, Blahblah, don't forget to wear your pointy tin foil hat too!

on October 21, 2004 01:14 PM
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