All brokerage account transfers start and end with your new firm. Customers initiate the transfer process by completing a Transfer Instruction Form (TIF) and sending it to the new firm. Most account transfer delays occur because the TIF is either incorrect or incomplete. It is critical that you use the correct form and fill it out very carefully. Be sure to provide the requested information exactly as it appears on your old account. Once the new firm receives the TIF, it begins the transfer validation process by sending the TIF to the old firm via the Automated Customer Account Transfer Service (ACATS), with a list of assets to be transferred.
The old and new firms must act to complete the transfer so it is important to stay in touch with both of them. If there is a problem, ask for an explanation of how to correct it. If the old firm takes no action on the request or a problem is not resolved within two business days, the transfer request is purged (or deleted) from ACATS. If that happens, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) is notified and the new firm must start over by inputting the transfer request into ACATS. Once the transfer is complete and you receive your first statement from your new firm, it is a good idea to take the time to compare it with your last statement from your old firm to verify that all assets have been correctly transferred. Finally, make sure you understand the fees you will pay in transferring your account. You should ask your old and new firms about their fees.