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Transferring Brokerage Assets from E*Trade to TradeKing

When I learned about E*Trade selling their banking business to Discover, I knew my days with them were numbered (I later learned that only bank accounts with no brokerage relationships were moving… but alas the ball was already rolling). Brokers are finding it increasingly difficult to differentiate themselves and when you can get good customer service at a cheaper cost elsewhere, even the pioneers are going to find their businesses suffering. Those who have been reading for a while may remember me mentioning my investments at E*Trade [3] and how I’ve been doing any new investing with TradeKing [4]. My original approach was to leave my assets at E*Trade until I sell them, but a recent offer changed my mind.

TradeKing has a promotion where they will reimburse new accounts, defined as opened in the last thirty days, up to $150 in transfer fees. My account is far older than that but I asked a CSR if they’d be willing to extend that offer to me and they agreed! (had they not agreed, I wouldn’t have transferred…) E*Trade has a $60 full account transfer fee, much less than the $150 reimbursement limit, that is paid using account assets. I’m not sure what would happen if I had $0 cash, but the simple solution was to transfer $60 into the account prior to initiating the transfer. If you plan on doing this, be sure you have the amount of the fee in cash or you might not like what the brokerage does on your behalf!


The process, surprisingly, was painless. Anytime you want to transfer your assets, you need to fill out a form with the receiving brokerage because they are the ones that initiate the transfer. For a full account transfer, TradeKing has a short ACATS form [5] you must send along with your most recent account statement. When you want to transfer assets from one brokerage to another, you need to keep one acronym in mind – ACATS. ACATS stands for Automated Customer Account Transfer Service and that’s a system setup by the National Securities Clearing Corporation (NSCC) to automatically transfer assets from one trading account to another.

Historical Transaction Data

The only tricky part of the transaction has to do with historical data. When I transfer my account assets from E*Trade to TradeKing, the historical data isn’t included. I will need to go into my TradeKing account and manually enter the historical transaction data for those shares. I’m not sure how this will play out whenever I do my taxes but I’ve kept electronic copies of trade confirmations so I can prove, if the IRS requests it, when the shares were acquired. Since I’ll be closing my E*Trade account, I suspect they won’t be retaining those records.

Why am I transferring my assets? Simplification. I have a few holdings in E*Trade (shares of Apple, Southwest, M&T Bank, and Costco) and when I closed my E*Trade bank account [6], I was considered closing my brokerage account so I would have one less account to deal with. Obviously that’s a terrible reason to sell stocks, so the alternative was to transfer it to my main brokerage, TradeKing (#1 reason for them being #1 is price, $4.95 per trade). There’s nothing wrong with E*Trade, I’ve always been satisfied with them, it’s just a matter of another broker being slightly better.

One more account scratched off the list! (it’s looking pretty slim now)