Q: My husband and I each opened an IRA with a large brokerage firm in the 1980s. Now all our savings for retirement is going into a 401(k) through our jobs. We haven’t added to the IRA for a number of years, but still pay the yearly $40 maintenance fee each.
Everything in our IRA is invested in the company’s funds. Each IRA is about worth $70,000. Should I get out of this and go into a low-cost IRA fund even though we will probably take a huge loss getting out of their funds?
A: My first question is why do you think you’ll take a huge loss to get out of the brokerage firms funds? Unless you went into a back-end fund, you should be able to sell these funds and move over to another account.
Most large investment companies charge something for holding IRA accounts. Sometimes it’s $30 to $40. www.ingdirect.com charges $10 for each account. I don’t necessarily think the fees you’re being charged are so out of line, but you could be saving $60 or even $80 (if you find a company that doesn’t charge anything) per year.
The real question is are you happy with the performance of the funds that you’ve chosen? The way to compare how these funds have done is to use the fund screener at www.morningstar.com. You can compare how your mutual funds are doing, how much they cost, what they are invested in, and how they compare to their peers.
I’d see how the funds stack up and then see who has most of the winners. If its somewhere other than at your fund company, consider making a move.
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