The Certified Gold Exchange has just confirmed that at least nine major IRA custodians with U.S. clients have decided to start phasing out clients who reside outside of the United States. Individuals who are U.S. citizens but live abroad are known as expats, and expats with IRAs worth less than $500,000 may be hearing from their IRA custodian soon, if they haven’t already.
The following companies have been actively contacting expats with sub-$500,000 retirement accounts in order to inform those clients that the accounts need to be moved or closed:
Additionally, the Certified Gold Exchange has confirmed that the following companies will most likely deny an expat the opportunity to open a new retirement account, or to transfer an existing account should its total value not exceed $500,000:
“These companies control hundreds of billions of dollars in retirement account assets, but because expats tend to not be active traders these custodians and their brokers don’t collect as many service and transaction fees,” said Certified Gold Exchange spokeswoman Janet Jones. “These Americans have worked hard, saved their money and are paying taxes on money withdrawn from their accounts, and the big investment firms are rewarding them by telling them to find somewhere else to store their money.”
The custodians in question have stated that they do not want to inconvenience clients but in the last decade it has become more difficult for custodians to comply with U.S. “know your customer” laws when the customer lives abroad. “The legal department of banks are looking at these rules and realizing that it is impossible to ‘know’ your client if he or she lives outside the U.S.,” says financial adviser David Kuenzi. Kuenzi owns and operates Thun Financial from Madison, Wisconsin, where he says he has helped “scores” of expats transfer their IRAs and 401(k) plans to custodians that still accept modest-sized expat accounts.
Certified Gold Exchange’s Jones says there are only a handful of IRA custodians that are willing to accept expat IRA rollovers. “We work hand-in-hand with SDIRA Services and Equity Institutional because both companies have voiced their support of Americans’ right to live abroad without having to suffer financial consequences or difficulties at home.”
The Washington-based Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) exists to protect investors as well as market integrity, and a spokesman for the organization said it has received a few complaints from expats about the issue. The complaints have been few but consistent, and expats who have struggled with a custodian over an IRA because of living abroad are advised to file a complaint with FINRA . “Filing complaints with multiple government and oversight agencies could lead to more visibility on the issue and hopefully change the self-serving way some IRA custodians do business,” said Jones.
Expats do have recourse in the event that their custodian demands the account be moved. “If your account is in the $15,000 to $500,000 range we can help you transfer the account to Equity Institutional or SDIRA Services free-of-charge,” said Jones. “Our brokers do not work on commission so there is no obligation if you decide not to buy gold from the Certified Gold Exchange.
Expats and others interested in an IRA and/or 401(k) rollover can contact the Certified Gold Exchange directly at 1-800-300-0715 or by visiting http://www.certifiedgoldexchange.com/contactus.php to send the Retirement Division an email.