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  • Flagship Question

    I have been in Flagship for several years with a diversified portfolio of stock and bond funds and some individual stocks. Up until this Fall, there was a Vanguard person who was my contact if I had any questions or if I wanted to do something with my account. Once or twice a year, I would need to obtain cash by liquidating some assets. I would call or email my representative and tell him what I wanted and he would recommend which assets to sell given my goals for balancing my portfolio. I understood this service to be part of what Flagship investors received. When I tried to do this last October, I was informed my that representative no longer worked for Vanguard, and if I wanted such advice in the future, I would have to enroll in PAS and a pay an advisor an annual fee based on a percentage of my total investment. to do this. The PAS advisor I was put in touch with did not mention any kind of hourly arrangement. How can access such a service? And why didn't Vanguard notify me of this change in service?
    Last edited by robertgelston; 12-08-2019, 08:35 PM.

  • #2
    Vanguard has done a number of very odd things recently. I have just started transitioning all of our accounts with them to another broker.

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    • #3
      1) Welcome to the forum
      2) I have been super-underwhelmed with VG customer service.
      3) That is super weird that they changed it up on you.
      4) Still hard to beat VG's overall price (I know, I know)
      5) The guidance that you received to raise cash...tell me more: must have been useful or you wouldn't have missed it.
      6) Maybe with the nauseatingly upward trajectory of the market, all those index funds have created too many Flagship clients--sorry, now there is no service til you get to Flagship SELECT.

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      • #4
        Bogleheads has recently & extensively detailed the decline in Vanguard's customer service. Your concerns are not unique I'm sorry to say (I'm not dismissing them at all).

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        • #5
          Obviously this is a result of the competitive pressure in the industry for lower costs across the board (er’s, acct fees, transaction fees etc.).

          Forecast: automated systems with a screening and the potential for a charge by minutes if you actually want to speak to a person. Service costs money and the momentum is to find a way to recoup those costs.

          We have seen this type of change before. Directory assistance, software support, tollbooths, it is a natural migration. I doubt this will be limited to Vanguard. It will be industry wide. New customers will be the focus, existing customers will be serviced in a completely different model. Terms and conditions will be incrementally modified. Probably looking at changes similar to the airlines (baggage, seat selection, snacks) changing how service revenue is generated. The bar for “free” will be raised. Vanguard has a different legal structure than others. They may reverse course if customers start moving. Maybe not.

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          • #6
            This brings to remembrance the change in philosophical direction at Walmart after the death of its founder.
            Financial planning, investment management and CPA services for medical professionals | 270-247-6087

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            • #7
              I think the mantra now is own Vanguard funds, use non-Vanguard brokerages.

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              • #8
                Dang. Yeah looks like you need $5M for any substantial service, though it's unclear as to what is included at that level too.

                The $5M will probably change to $10M++ by the time I get there too.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Lithium View Post
                  I think the mantra now is own Vanguard funds, use non-Vanguard brokerages.
                  Why? Fidelity has 0 expense ratio index funds. Their sector funds tend to outperform Vanguard and most other firms.

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                  • #10
                    Flagship Select...distinguishing the wealthy from the unwashed masses since the rebound post-GFC

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                    • #11
                      I have over 5 million at Vanguard and have not qualified for Flagship select because it must be in Vanguard only products. I have some other stuff also. At least I called and asked.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by EntrepreneurMD View Post

                        Why? Fidelity has 0 expense ratio index funds. Their sector funds tend to outperform Vanguard and most other firms.
                        I am actually a fan of the Fidelity zero funds. Wish they would let me invest in them in my non-prototype accounts. As for the rest of Fidelity’s offerings, I think they’re fine, but I’ve realized that many of their index funds track Russell indexes. I’m not a fan of the Russell indexes generally. As for sector funds, the only one I own is a REIT index fund. The others aren’t worth the risk and trouble. If you have a different style/preference that’s fine, you do you.

                        I will probably move most of my money in Fidelity to their S&P 500 fund and REIT index fund for those reasons (and reshuffle elsewhere).

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Hatton View Post
                          I have over 5 million at Vanguard and have not qualified for Flagship select because it must be in Vanguard only products. I have some other stuff also. At least I called and asked.
                          The Vanguard products rule wasn't always the case. They told me the same exact thing when I recently inquired as well - it now has to be in their own funds, not simply in their accounts.

                          My sector and leveraged funds seem to be my better performers (up as much as 66% YTD), and Vanguard sector funds don't seem to perform as well as others. Their penalties and restrictions are not enough to convince me to go with their funds. They are enough to have me looking elsewhere.

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                          • #14
                            With zero commission trades at Fidelity, Schwab, TDA etc. you can create whatever VG ETF portfolio works for you minimizing the need to keep your account at VG exclusively. Fidelity has a Private Client group with a dedicated advisor if your assets are over $1M . Personally, I haven’t talked with mine in over 15 years.

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                            • Tim
                              Tim commented
                              Editing a comment
                              The Dedicated Advisor is free. Will personally return phone calls and provide specific advice to specific questions on investments, portfolio review, and schedule a financial planning review and recommendations. Keep in mind, the relationship is not fiduciary, it is a brokerage. The tools will default to Fido products. If you ask for zero transaction costs, you get IShares and Fido as the answer. This is a personal contact, not an FA running your account. Mine is a CFP.
                              They do take it seriously and have a person from Fido call you back whether it’s client service, product or taxes on RMD’s in the Financial Planning Tool. Beats the heck out of option 3 and restating your inquiry all over because you are in the wrong department. Vanguard and Fido in my experience are both extremely ethical. Free doesn’t mean fiduciary, it is service. One other point, if you call after hours, your call goes to a private client phone bank. Much, much higher level of service than the normal phone contacts. The advisor will also provide services directly to your family members even though not qualified. Client satisfaction is the goal. They staff it and cut through the red tape.

                          • #15
                            I think of VG as total DIY, and have never contacted them for help. As far as what assets to sell, start with any ones that have capital losses, then lowest Long term capital gains and move on down the line, you want to minimize any short term capital gains. Also keep in mind which securities you don't want for long term and prioritize getting ride of those. Keeping your portfolio simple should be a priority, especially if you need help with issues like this. There should be a cost basis tab that will allow you to sort. Good luck

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