Thinking about Switching to TD Ameritrade? Transferring Is Easier Than You Might Think

A shift among retail brokers to a zero-commission structure has led some investors to ask if it’s time to make a change. If you’re thinking about switching to TD Ameritrade, here are a few things you should know.

https://tickertapecdn.tdameritrade.com/assets/images/pages/md/Switching tracks: changing brokerage firms
5 min read
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Key Takeaways

  • Switching to TD Ameritrade can be a relatively simple process that typically doesn’t require positions to be closed out
  • Here’s what you need to know about “in-kind transfers” and other basics

You probably spent a lot of time and effort constructing your portfolio—maybe you consider it a work of investing art and you’ve grown attached to it. Investors may be reluctant to take the plunge and switch to a new brokerage, worrying it will be disruptive and complicated. But switching to TD Ameritrade is relatively easy, doesn’t require you to close out your positions, and can offer benefits.

Here’s some information to help you get started.

Why Switch to TD Ameritrade?

From the powerful tools and trading platforms, to investing and retirement resources, it’s all about taking it to the next level. What’s more, as a TD Ameritrade client, you’ll gain access to a wide array of educational resources. Here’s a sample:

  • Immersive curriculum. Our industry professionals have designed and developed free online courses to help our clients become more informed investors. These in-depth courses are accessible to TD Ameritrade clients via tdameritrade.com and the thinkorswim® trading platform. They feature lesson plans, quizzes, and even final exams.
  • Articles and videos. Clients can search our catalog of more than 200 instructional videos, publications, and tutorials, covering investing basics to advanced strategies and pretty much everything in between.
  • Webcasts. TD Ameritrade offers weekly online webcasts for investors of all experience levels. Webcasts allow attendees to interact via live chat with Education Coaches and fellow investors. Can’t make the live events? Most webcasts are available to watch on demand.
  • In-person events. An online curriculum can be perfect for those who want to self-learn and self-pace, but some people prefer the live experience. In-person events offer the opportunity to learn, interact, and network with industry pros and Education Coaches as well as fellow investors. Check our schedule and join us in a city near you.

How Long Does It Take to Transfer Securities to TD Ameritrade?

Most “total account transfers” are made through the Automated Customer Account Transfer Service (ACATS), a regulated service operated by the National Securities Clearing Corp. (NSCC), and take five to eight business days once initiated (see below for details on in-kind transfers).

Transfers from some smaller brokers that aren’t NSCC members are processed as “non-ACATS transfers,” and require a similar time frame.

Easy as 1-2-3-(4)

Here’s quick run-through on how you’d transfer a brokerage account to TD Ameritrade:
  1. Open your account using the online application.
  2. Once your account is open, you can log in and complete a transfer using the External Account Transfer Wizard.
  3. The names or titles on the account being transferred must match the names or titles on the receiving TD Ameritrade account.
  4. After your transfer is complete, you can add or remove account owners on your TD Ameritrade account. You can also establish other TD Ameritrade accounts with different titles, and you can transfer money between those accounts.

What’s an In-Kind Transfer?

An in-kind transfer is essentially about keeping it simple for investors. With an in-kind transfer, you can transfer your investments from one broker to TD Ameritrade as presently comprised—no need to sell anything and shift the cash proceeds.

Typically, most equities, bonds, mutual funds, and a few other asset categories can be transferred in-kind. TD Ameritrade accepts in-kind transfers, which can help you avoid tax implications (while you’re at it, brush up on possible capital gains taxes or any other tax consequences from selling shares).

Can I Transfer Just a Portion of My Securities to TD Ameritrade?

Yes. For “partial” account transfers, you must complete a transfer form listing the specific number of shares for each asset to be moved. If you’d like to handle the process online, login to your account at tdameritrade.com. Under the My Account tab, select Account Transfer and follow the steps. Make sure you have a copy of the latest account statement for the account from which you’re transferring funds.  

If you’d rather make your transfer request via paper, you’ll need to complete an External Account Transfer Form).

Partial transfers through ACATS are typically completed within 3-5 business days. Non-ACATS partial transfers could take 3-6 weeks (mutual funds held directly with a mutual fund company can also be transferred through the non-ACATS process).

Will I Be Charged Fees to Transfer Funds?

Whether you’ll be charged fees for transferring will depend on your current broker.  TD Ameritrade doesn’t charge clients a fee to transfer an account to TD Ameritrade. However, there may be fees attached to holding certain types of assets in your TD Ameritrade account.

For example, “non-standard” assets, such as limited partnerships and so-called private placements, can only be held in TD Ameritrade IRAs, and will be charged additional fees.

The “delivering” broker will usually charge fees to transfer the account out, which may result in a debit balance once your transfer is completed. Investors seeking to avoid transferring their account with a debit balance should contact the delivering broker before making any transfers.

If your broker does charge you a transfer fee, TD Ameritrade will refund you up to $100.

Should I Keep Records from Previous Brokerage Accounts?

Yes. Good record-keeping is fundamental to sound investing practices and strategy.

The Bottom Line on Switching Brokers

Though a number of brokerage firms have moved to a zero-commission structure, not all brokers are the same.

Just know that, if you’re considering a move to a greener pasture for your investments, the physical transfer of your portfolio doesn’t need to be an impediment. The process can be relatively simple and straightforward. 

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Key Takeaways

  • Switching to TD Ameritrade can be a relatively simple process that typically doesn’t require positions to be closed out
  • Here’s what you need to know about “in-kind transfers” and other basics

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TD Ameritrade does not provide tax advice. We suggest you consult with a tax-planning professional with regard to your personal circumstances.



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