Public Service Announcement (Warning: No Poker Content)
A couple of weeks ago, I had a hunch about Microsoft. Given their current push against Google and the good buzz they've been getting about their new search engine, Bing, led me to believe that their stock is poised to make a long term run. I'm not talking about going from 23 to 60, but even 23 to 26 is a better than 10% return. So I went to my IRA account, currently at Citibank/Smith Barney, and purchased 100 shares. Yes, I know, I'm a pussy for not putting more into my read. What can I say, I'm skittish like a cat. But my transaction was far from smooth. When I got the confirmation of the purchase, I found out that the total fee for the transaction was $75!!! I bought the stock at 23.23, for a total purchase price of $2,323 + $75. If you're keeping count, the fee represents 3.2% of the total value of the transaction. This is outrageously high for an automated transaction I did over the web. They're gonig to ding me for the same $75 when I sell the shares too (yes, they get you coming and going), which means I have to see a sick return on my investment just to recoup the fees!
It was time for a change. Actually, I've been slowly fleeing Shittybank for a while now. I opened up new savings and checking accounts with BankOfInternet (FDIC insured, despite the shady name) and funded it with half my money. This internet bank is offering savings rates more than 1.25% higher than my own Citibank accounts. That represents hundreds of dollars a year I'm giving up by not switching. Furthermore, I had been advised by one of the Wall Street players that Scottrade charges a flat $7 per stock transaction, a 90% savings over Citi!
I opened my Scottrade account two weeks ago in person and made my first deposit (my rollover Merrill Lynch IRA account) a week ago. I dealt with a young Asian woman to open the account and a tall White man for my deposit. I was in the branch a total of 1 hour, tops, two weeks ago. Today, I decided to bite the bullet and roll over my Citi IRA into the same account. So I went home over lunch, got my latest IRA statement and brought it to the office. When I walked in, I was greeted through the door with,
"Welcome Back, Mr. Weinstein"
By both the Asian and the tall White man.
I'm not usually impressed by customer service, mostly because it's so rare, but this was nice. Usually you actually have to have a substantial net worth to be remembered by name, but here I am, poor as Oliver Twist, being treated like the Donald himself. It was a good feeling.
So the moral of the story is, I recommend Scottrade on Broad Street for all your investment needs.