Sunday, April 22, 2007

Moving Back to Legg Mason

I've been a longtime shareholder of several Legg Mason funds. In 2005, Legg Mason sold their brokerage operation to Smith Barney (Citigroup) and my account was transferred.

I've been very disappointed with Smith Barney. Their account fees are much higher ($50/year for taxable accounts, $40/year for IRAs). You can access your account through their website but in order to actually do anything (e.g., sell or buy funds) you need an "FMA Account," which costs extra. They're even taking a cut of reinvested dividends and capital gains now. In short, Smith Barney nickels and dimes you for everything and provides no value.

But...I thought I didn't have any options. Unlike most funds, you can't buy Legg Mason funds through most brokers, so I couldn't just transfer the accounts to a different firm. I could liquidate, but I really didn't want to do that.

Turns out there is another option though: you can transfer your account right back to Legg Mason! Maybe I missed it, but they didn't seem to advertise that option very prominently.

In order to do the transfer you need to complete a new account application (either the "Retail" or "IRA" form as appropriate), and then the "Direct Transfer" form:

Legg Mason Transfer Forms »

Legg Mason has no fees except for the typical IRA custodial fee ($10/year), and it looks like you can actually buy and sell through the Legg Mason website.

No comments: