As individuals search for new ways to get the most out of their retirement savings, financial services providers are engaging in increasingly competitive practices in order to bring in new business. In fact, you may notice that every year, particularly around tax time, you’re bombarded with promotions from traditional IRA custodians (such as banks and discount brokers) looking to offer financial incentives to entice you to open new accounts with them. Even in the self-directed IRA marketplace, you may find that you have multiple options for custodial services.
In addition, if you already have a self-directed IRA you still may find yourself in the market for a new custodian — perhaps your account has grown to a level where you want a higher level of service, or you’re simply looking for something new. Here are some factors to consider when you find yourself searching for a new self-directed IRA custodian.
Experience. As self-directed IRAs become more prevalent and better understood by retirement savers, a number of financial institutions have entered the fray to offer custodial services. Not all of these companies have the same degree of expertise, however. As you search for a new custodian for your self-directed IRA, look to those that can point to a proven track record of providing custodial services.
Self-Directed IRA Specialization. In fact, you may wish to limit your search to companies that specialize in self-directed IRA custodial services. If a custodian is not distracted (and isn’t tempted to try to upsell you) with an overly-broad range of financial services, you can be more confident that you are receiving the best degree of service. In addition, verify that any custodian you are considering offers a full range of self-directed IRA services, including the opportunity to provide precious metals safekeeping and real estate related transactional services.
Pricing. Of course, with specialization and expertise comes cost. Don’t be tempted to compare the prices of different custodians without being sure that you’re comparing similar levels of service. After all, the idea that “you get what you pay for” often holds true with respect the self-directed IRA custodial services.
Opportunity to Learn. It’s important to understand exactly what types of services you can expect from a self-directed IRA custodian. For example, as part of their custodial services, no self-directed IRA custodian should be providing you with specific investment advice with regards to your individual account. Still, there are other ways that you can get assistance with your account. Look for a custodian that provides learning resources and other materials, perhaps something akin to a knowledge base.
Chances are you’ve developed some skills as a consumer, and know how to comparison shop. Rather than buy the first product you see, you take the time to compare the various pluses and minuses of the various options you have, before choosing the product that provides you the overall best deal. You can apply these skills with great effect the next time you’re looking for a new self-directed IRA custodian.