Key Points:

  • Advisors should follow our specific instructions when moving assets to help ensure seamless account transfers for your clients. 
  • We have two different transfer processes. One applies to moving qualified retirement assets and the other is for moving taxable assets.
  • To help minimize transfer request failures, we recommend having your client’s account statements available for reference.

Transferring Qualified Accounts

To get started, you’ll first need to ensure your client has opened the appropriate receiving Betterment IRA. 

If they have not done so already, you can log into your advisor dashboard, select the specific client’s “Overview” page, and then click “Add Account.” From there, you’ll be guided through the automated account opening flow. 

Once done, you’ll be able to move forward with the actual direct IRA transfer request by clicking “Start a Transfer” from your advisor dashboard. At the end of the flow, your client will be emailed further instructions. As their advisor, you will be CC’d on this email to retain oversight and provide any needed guidance.

Not every retirement account is eligible to be moved using the same transfer method. Our rollover flow is designed to analyze and select the most appropriate option available, given the specific account information provided by you and your client. 

Important note: The questions we prompt you to answer within the automated transfer flow will be used to pre-fill your client’s actual transfer request form. It’s critical that you enter accurate and up to date information on behalf of your client. 

Generally, when a transfer request fails or is rejected by a contra-firm, it’s due to incomplete or mismatching information provided. Having a recent client statement on hand is a good best practice. 

We suggest confirming the following pieces of information before you get started:

  • Client’s current account type: Legal account type and brokerage status.
  • Client’s current account number
  • Client’s current clearing broker: Enter the clearing broker’s name in the “Current Provider” field when prompted. 

a. Direct IRA Transfers

At a high level, the possible direct IRA transfer options at Betterment are:

  • Full or partial ACATS transfer of supported investments plus any cash. 
    • Generally, this takes 5-6 business days to complete.
    • When adding your client’s specific tickers, if any search returns a “No match” or you receive a notice that says the ticker is not supported, you’ll only be able to submit a PARTIAL TRANSFER REQUEST on behalf of your client. Any requests submitted for a full transfer will be rejected. 
    • Supported investments will be moved in-kind to Betterment. Once received, we will liquidate any investments to cash and reinvest all the proceeds into their IRA portfolio here.
  • Electronic fax of the client’s direct IRA transfer form to their contra firm. 
    • Generally, this takes 7-10 business days to complete.
    • There is no physical paperwork required. Client will consent to the transfer by e-signing the transfer form and then the fax will be automatically sent by Betterment. 
    • IRA proceeds will be sent to Betterment via a mailed check and automatically reinvested into your client’s IRA portfolio here. 
  • Pre-filled direct IRA transfer form and instructions, which must be printed, signed, and mailed to the contra firm by the client. 
    • Generally, this takes 14-21 business days to complete.
    • The client must take action from their side for the transfer to complete. In some cases, the contra firm may also require a notary or a medallion signature guarantee.
    • IRA proceeds will be sent to Betterment via a mailed check and automatically reinvested into your client’s IRA portfolio here.

Click here to get started.

If your client is attempting to transfer an inherited IRA, please refer here.  

b. 401(k) and Employer-Sponsored Plan Rollovers

Moving retirement money from an employer-sponsored account—such as a 401(k) or 403(b)—into an IRA is usually not an option via ACATS. We still attempt to automate this rollover process as much as possible. 

We generally do not need any paperwork from you or the client. You can simply get started by clicking “Transfer or Rollover” from your client’s Overview page.

The rollover flow will guide you through a series of questions and then we’ll email your client a full set of personalized instructions for how to proceed. The instructions will lay out the exact next steps to take and will contain the information your client needs to complete their rollover. 

This includes their unique Betterment IRA account number, how their provider should make their rollover check payable, and where they can mail the rollover check.

Many providers will accept employer-sponsored rollover requests from a client verbally, effectively avoiding any paperwork requirements from their side. We encourage advisors to call the current provider—with the client on the line—to verbally request any high-value rollovers. We’ve seen a stronger completion rate when this approach is taken.

It’s worth noting that some providers may still require your client to fill out special rollover paperwork. If so, there’s no way around that. 

If any additional paperwork is required, please send all requests to support@bettermentforadvisors.com. 

Lastly, we will notify you and your client via email as soon as their rollover funds are invested into their IRA and everything is complete.

Click here to get started. 

c. Indirect IRA Transfers

In some cases, an indirect IRA transfer or rollover may be the only option available to your client. The good news is that this can be the fastest process of all and it could prevent delays due to contra firm requirements. 

Any cash proceeds from an early distribution out of your client’s qualified account which meets the requirements related to indirect rollovers can be re-deposited into Betterment by instructing your client to make a cash ACH deposit from their linked bank account into their Betterment IRA. 

If your client has not already done so, they can use these instructions to link their primary bank account. 

When your client is ready to make their deposit, please be sure they complete the following:

  • Direct your client to log into their account and select “Deposit” from their Home page.
  • The client will be prompted to choose which account to make their deposit into. If they have more than one IRA open, please be sure your client knows which one to choose specifically. 
  • Once the IRA has been selected, they will be asked to select a deposit type. Please be sure your client chooses “Indirect IRA Rollover.”

d. Inherited IRA Transfers

If your client has an inherited account, we’ll need additional information so that we can properly set up their specialty account. 

Please CC your client and email support@bettermentforadvisors.com with the following information:

  • Name of current provider.
  • Type of IRA (Traditional or Roth).
  • The IRA account number at the current provider.
  • Indicate “full” or partial transfer. Provide the exact dollar amount to transfer if partial.
  • Name of original IRA account holder.
  • Since we will need to open a new legal account type, please have the client review our Customer Agreement and send us the statement, “I agree to the terms and conditions of the Customer Agreement, and I give Betterment permission to open an inherited IRA account on my behalf.”

Your email will be directed to one of our rollover specialists, who will set up the inherited account at Betterment and guide you and your client through the next steps.

Transferring Taxable Accounts

a. Taxable ACATS Transfers

When possible, Betterment recommends using the ACATS method to move taxable brokerage accounts to Betterment. Generally, an ACATS transfer is faster and more convenient than other types of transfers. Betterment supports ACATS transfers of nearly all ETFs, many mutual funds, some single stocks, and cash positions. 

We’ve created an automated taxable account transfer flow, which will ask you a series of questions on behalf of your client and ultimately determine if the account is eligible for an automated transfer. 

It’s possible that some of your client’s holdings are not currently allowed to be moved via ACATS. When prompted to add your client’s specific tickers, if any search returns a “No match” or you receive a notice that says the ticker is not supported, unfortunately, you’ll only be able to submit a PARTIAL TRANSFER REQUEST on behalf of your client, for the supported tickers. Any requests submitted for a full transfer will be rejected. 

For any holdings that we cannot move via ACATS, you can direct your client to liquidate and then transfer the cash proceeds to Betterment. Any related tax implications should be discussed prior to making this recommendation to your client.

Click here to get started. 

Important note: The questions we prompt you to answer within the automated transfer flow will be used to pre-fill your client’s actual transfer request form. It’s critical that you enter accurate and up to date information on behalf of your client. 

Generally, when a transfer request fails or is rejected by a contra-firm, it’s due to user error.  Having a recent client statement on hand is a good best practice. We suggest confirming the following pieces of information before getting started:

  • Client’s current account type: Legal account type and brokerage status.
  • Client’s current account number
  • Client’s current clearing broker: Enter the clearing broker’s name in the “Current Provider” field when prompted. 

Please email support@bettermentforadvisors.com for any questions regarding your client’s taxable account requirements or ACATS eligibility.

b. Non-ACATS ACH Bank Deposits

Your client can initiate a cash deposit into a taxable Betterment account at any time, as long as they have successfully linked their bank account. For any taxable money they wish to move to Betterment that cannot be moved via ACATS, you can instruct your client to liquidate to cash and then move the cash proceeds to their linked bank account for funding. Any related tax implications should be discussed prior to making this recommendation to your client. 

To initiate the ACH deposit, instruct your client to click “Deposit” from their Home page.

Note: We only allow electronic transfers from your client’s checking account via the ACH network and do not accept personal checks. For transfers greater than $300,000, wire instructions may be generated. There is no fee from Betterment for wires, but please have your client check with their bank for any fees they may be charged.

To access a client’s specific wire instructions, log in as the client, select “Transfers”, then “Wire Transfers”, and follow the prompts. 

Get Support

As always, our support team is available to assist with any questions related to moving your client’s assets. 

Please email support@bettermentforadvisors.com and copy your relationship manager. For more immediate assistance, call 888-646-2581.

This article was published on July 29, 2019

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