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Lesko: Beware Retirement Rollover Bonuses

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By Fox 40 Staff.
Jason: Retirement savers need to look twice at rollover bonus pitches from financial companies, according to Greg Lesko of Lesko Financial. Greg?

Greg: Thanks, Jason. As we approach the April 15th tax filing deadline, IRAs are on many people’s minds. If you qualify, you can still put money into a traditional IRA -, up to April 15th, and get a deduction for 2014 taxes.

But this time of year also brings increased marketing from companies offering a “No Fee IRA” or a cash bonus if you move your IRA or 401k to an IRA offered by their firm instead.

Investors need to read the fine print and think carefully before making such a transfer.

Jason: Why should they be wary of these offers?

Greg: There’s no “free lunch”. It may say “no fee” but that’s likely referring to no transfer or annual maintenance fees. These companies are looking to earn commissions or management fees on the large sums that flow into IRAs.

You need to compare your current fees with the fees charged by the company offering the bonus.

You also need to look at the investment choices each one offers--are you switching from one with decent less expensive options to one that is more expensive or more restrictive?

Jason: Any other reasons to be cautious?

Greg: A survey by the general accountability office found that many companies touting rollover bonuses encouraged these transfers even though they had little or no knowledge of the individual's financial situation.

We're often talking about a lifetime of savings; so it isn't a decision to be made under any kind of marketing pressure. It's not like moving a bank account to get a higher rate or new toaster.

You might get a nice thousand-dollar bonus upfront but it might end up costing you tens of thousands of dollars in additional fees or poorer returns.