3 Reasons I Rolled Over My 401(k)

I’ve left two jobs in the last five years and each time I rolled over my 401(k) into a Rollover IRA held at Vanguard. In both cases, I rolled over the IRA within a few months of departing my job and I did so for a small handful of reasons.  I know now that I was right as projections in Australia show savings over $30,000 by retirement from rollover into one account.

The number one reason for rolling over my 401(k) into a Vanguard Rollover IRA was simplicity. Why deal with yet another account accessed through yet another website, when I could integrate everything and deal with that account through a great brokerage such as Vanguard? I don’t need more fund balance mailings and fund performance reports, I need my life to be simpler so I can focus on the other things that matter. The end result was that I rolled both of my 401(k)’s into a single Vanguard account (and then I turned on electronic delivery of statements!).

The second reason was for diversification, which is related to simplicity. If I have to access two 401(k)’s in two accounts, it’s much harder for me to control the asset diversification because I couldn’t feasibly see two accounts at once and tweak them concurrently to get the right diversification. One of the 401(k) had some home-brew funds (not created by a major brokerage like Vanguard or Fidelity), so I couldn’t even be certain what the asset allocation within the fund itself was like. It was far easier to pull them all into Vanguard and break them up into Vanguard funds, though any major brokerage like T. Rowe or Fidelity would’ve sufficed as well (I chose Vanguard because I’ve had a long history with them and never been disappointed).

The third reason was cost. At Vanguard, I pay no account maintenance fees whatsoever. If you turn on electronic delivery, the administrative costs go down to $0 and are integrated into the expense ratios of each fund. The funds at Vanguard are much cheaper than the ones at either of my 401(k) plans, though some were pegged to the same benchmarks. Cheaper isn’t necessarily better, much like expensive isn’t necessarily better, but Vanguard has a solid performance record and cost is something I can control.

One account instead of three, an accurate picture of diversification, and controlling the one aspect of mutual fund investing I can control (cost), were the reasons I rolled over my 401(k)’s to a Rollover IRA.





2 responses to “3 Reasons I Rolled Over My 401(k)”

  1. tracy

    I have a question for you. I am thinking about moving my companies 401k to Vanguard. Do you know if they charge a loan initiation fee?

  2. retirehappy

    Tracy: I’m afraid I don’t, but I would guess they do because of the added expense of managing a loan.