When you're putting gold into an IRA, there are a lot of hoops to jump through. The first is simply to make sure that you have the right type of retirement account. Traditional IRAs can't hold physical gold, but self-directed IRAs can. These accounts are much more flexible and allow you to personally choose where your money is spent.
Like any retirement account, a self-directed IRA needs a custodian. But the custodian won't choose where your assets are allocated. They will merely maintain the products that you buy and give you ongoing reports about the value of your holdings.
Equity Trust Company is one of these self-directed IRA custodians. They are among the most popular self-directed IRA choices in the entire country. But popular doesn't always equal better. Are their services actually as good as their reputation seems? Are they worth working with? Here are all of the most important things to know before deciding.
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About Equity Trust
Equity Trust Company is a licensed custodian that manages self-directed IRAs. You can customize your portfolio and your investment strategy by using tax-advantaged savings to buy assets. Since there is no investment manager, you are in total control of how the assets are spent. Gold IRAs are self-directed, since they use alternative assets instead of traditional ones. You can't put gold into a traditional IRA.
Equity Trust Company's owners are the Desich family, who have maintained it as a private corporation. Over the years, the company has received numerous awards for incredible customer service along with a positive workplace.
Part of Equity Trust's goal is to make self-directed IRA investments more accessible. It can be overwhelming to get started without a financial background. Many people aren't sure how to diversify a portfolio or how to choose the right assets without losing money. Equity Trust offers a wealth of educational resources, customized tools, and search options.
Equity Trust serves clients in every state in the US. They manage over 213,000 individual accounts that have a combination of over $34 billion in savings for retirement. Their marks with the BBB are very high, and they have thousands of glowing reviews from prior customers.
Equity Trust has more than 45 years of experience in the financial services industry. The company has grown to be a massive operation, boasting over 400 employees who help give each customer individual attention. There are also more than a million transactions processed through Equity's accounts and networks per year, meaning thousands per day.
Some of the assets that you can put into an Equity Trust account include:
If you purchase gold with your IRA assets, it must be at least 99.5% pure. On top of that, if it's a coin instead of a bar, it needs to be approved by the IRS. Only a handful of coins from various sovereign mints have been approved. Your Equity Trust representative can help you determine which coins you can legally buy.
Equity Trust also has a huge number of educational resources available for free for the average investor. Not only are their associates ready to answer any questions at any time, but they also have webinars, guides, articles, blog posts, and videos. They've built up a lot of knowledge after the past 45 years spent in the industry.
There is even an online marketplace where you can compare the offerings of many of the partners in Equity Trust's network. All you have to do is sign in, then use the search system and filters to see what you're looking for. You can compare many of the investments side by side to figure out which ones have the right returns, time commitment, and price for your dollar.
When you work with Equity Trust, you also get access to special benefits that you won't typically find with other companies. Some member benefits are available just for opening your account, even if you haven't put any money into it yet. You can also access extra discounts and investment opportunities.
Creating an account with Equity Trust gives you Valued Member Access to different venues. One perk is that you get a free annual membership to a massive real estate investment association. Membership here allows you to access discounts and benefits for people investing in real estate.
Since real estate is an alternative asset, you can buy rental properties for retirement and keep the income in your IRA. You also get a free entry to an online marketplace with contractors and construction services, so you can compare offers to make sure you're always paying the fairest price.
There are also special discounts. You get discounted titling services that are specifically geared toward real estate purchases that you've placed in an IRA. That's a huge help, since the legal paperwork surrounding these properties can be stressful and difficult to document.
You get special discounts on rental property insurance along with access to a database showing you foreclosures and pre-foreclosures all over the country. These listings will be visible to you before they're ever put on the open market, giving you an advantage if you want to make a plan to purchase.
There's a software system for real estate investors that helps you with automating marketing campaigns, generating leads, analyzing opportunities, managing renovations, and anything else to do with real estate income. Real estate investors have ongoing assistance to help with the process, plus tons of free educational resources.
Equity Trust Company manages their client accounts through a proprietary software called MyEquity. This is an online account management system that will show you all of your holdings, the history of your account, notifications of past activity, and suggestions to improve your portfolio.
When you create your account, there's an installation wizard that will take you step by step through the process. Then the Transfer Wizard assistant can help you fund your account with a retirement account rollover, or you can set up contributions from your bank account. These can be one-time funds or regular contributions.
You can use the online account not just to monitor your holdings, but also to buy and sell assets. The marketplace has products including private equity, private debt, real estate, and mutual funds. Plus you can make online purchases for every other type of asset within the Equity Trust network of partners.
When you make a purchase or liquidate your holdings, you can track the order status in real time. Similarly, when you buy gold, you can watch the status of the package. Equity Trust will inform you of when the package has been received, processed, and added to your depository account.
You can use the dashboard to pay any bills surrounding your investments, as well as to upload invoices. Equity Trust charges about $225 per year to manage a gold IRA account, while you can expect to pay $100 to $150 to your storage company. A segregated storage account will be more expensive, as a general rule.
The software also allows you to manage your account preferences. This includes the display, your personal information, and how you interact with your Equity Trust associates. You can even bypass phone calls by simply opening a new chat with your advisor.
Account statements can be simply viewed online whenever you need them, but you can also have paper copies sent to you by mail. Once you become the right age for retirement, you can take distributions whenever you want. It is possible to take distributions before that, but you'll have to pay both taxes and penalties, so the IRS doesn't recommend it unless there's an emergency.
Products and Pricing
Equity Trust Company has a significant focus on alternative assets, although they also offer traditional asset investment as well. The company's biggest focus is on real estate investing for retirement, with many specific member benefits and perks related to this industry. But they are also considered the top custodian to use if you have a gold IRA.
When you create your Equity Trust account, you'll be able to initiate a rollover from your current retirement funds. This must be completed within 60 days. While that might seem daunting, the account software takes you through each step with very little hassle.
If you're opening a gold IRA with Equity Trust, then there are certain fees that you can expect to encounter. You'll also find these fees with other IRA custodians. Unlike many of the competitors, though, Equity Trust charges flat fees. Since they don't charge a full percentage of your holdings, you always know exactly what you'll pay. And you aren't penalized for earning more.
The setup fee for a precious metals IRA is $50, plus an additional $75 as the first year of custodian maintenance. According to the website, the precious metals storage fee is about $150. However, if you work with a gold IRA dealership like Goldco, you may be able to access lower storage costs while still maintaining an Equity Trust account.
The annual fees for your portfolio are flat fees, but they are also measured on a sliding scale. As your portfolio increases, the flat fee also bumps up. For example, anything valued under $15,000 has a standard annual cost of $225. But once you get up to between $300,000 and $400,000, you're looking at an annual cost of $750. The standard fees are:
If you work with gold dealerships like Goldco or American Hartford Gold, though, they may be willing to cover some of these costs. Both companies have promotions for new customers that involve covering a year or more of the fees on qualified purchases. You can talk to your company representative to ask them about the available promotions and how to qualify for them if you're concerned about the costs.
Requirements for a Gold IRA
When you open a gold IRA, there are several requirements that you need to adhere to. There will be three main entities involved: the custodian, the depository, and the dealership. In some rare cases, a very large company might have subsidiaries covering all three of these. But for the most part, you'll need to coordinate between separate firms.
As mentioned, physical gold can only be kept in a self-directed IRA. No other type of retirement account is outfitted for this kind of asset. You will need a custodian to maintain the account and report to the IRS.
Not every IRA custodian is licensed to manage self-directed IRAs. In fact, most aren't. Equity Trust is one of the few that is, and they also specialize in alternative assets specifically.
Once you've filed the paperwork with your custodian to create and fund your account, you need to pick a depository. Retirement gold must be held in a secure vault that meets specific IRS security regulations. These vaults are generally insured for their entire value, and some are located in tax-advantaged areas. You can store the account either within the US or overseas, as long as the depository is compliant.
Then you need to decide where you're going to buy the gold. One of the easiest ways to approach this is to look for a gold IRA dealership. These are companies that sell gold on a retail level, but they have a high amount of expertise in retirement accounts. Their associates work with custodians and help file IRA paperwork all the time.
You'll work with this dealership to decide on the right gold products for you. The products must be at least 99.5% pure and either certified from an approved refinery or approved by the IRS and from a sovereign mint.
Is Equity Trust Company a Scam?
Equity Trust Company is absolutely not a scam. They are one of the top custodians in the industry, managing billions of dollars in funds for thousands of customers. Their reviews are overwhelmingly positive, with customers stating that they are responsive and really demystify the IRA process.
In fact, Equity Trust Company may be the best self-directed IRA custodian on the market. That's part of why they are partnered with so many of the top gold IRA dealerships. Companies like Goldco and Augusta Precious Metals love to work with them because of their consistently good feedback and customer satisfaction ratings.
Equity Trust has been given so many awards that they have an entire section of their website devoted to them.
For the past three years, Equity Trust has always been named as Investopedia's top pick for an overall self-directed IRA company. They have also been recognized nine times as one of the top 99 best workplaces in northeast Ohio.
The CEO of the company has also been heaped with praise both recently and in the past. For two straight years, he has been named one of the top leaders in the Ohio region. He has also been named as a Cleveland Business Notables in Finance contender for 2022.
In 2021, Equity Trust was given the Gold Award for Healthy Workplace Practices, in addition to being named as one of the top companies to work for. In 2020, they received the Platinum Award for the Healthy Workplace Practices.
This award is specifically for employers in Ohio who commit to keeping their employees healthy and well through health promotion onsite along with wellness programs and healthcare. It's not a COVID-era award, either -- Equity Trust received another Gold Award in 2019.
Also in 2019, Equity Trust was given the Cigna Well-Being Award for the company's overall culture of client and employee well-being. In 2018, they were given several awards by the Smart Business association, including accolades for excellent customer service and achievements in family business.
As Equity Trust is a licensed custodian for IRAs, they are subject to a rigorous amount of regulations and oversight. They go above and beyond with their compliance, always taking a customer-first approach. The goal is to protect not just your wealth, but also your privacy, goals, and future.
Equity Trust is regulated in South Dakota and registered as a trust company there. They comply with the various state regulations set forth by the South Dakota Division of Banking.
Meanwhile, the company's financial statements go through an annual auditing process by a third party. This third party checks to make sure that there are no discrepancies or unexplained assets. They comply with AICPA standards for professional custodian conduct.
Equity Trust also has multiple policies and tools in place to help ensure customer security. They train all of their employees and use specialized technology to protect customer information. Some of the security processes that they employ include:
Finally, Equity Trust has completed a Service Organization Controls report, which was given to them by the AICPA. This is an organization of accountants who ensure best practices with people's finances. The report showcases the company's internal controls and regulations regarding their financial reporting.
This is an incredibly difficult report to complete, requiring a great deal of time, energy, and resources. Equity Trust compiled it with the help of people across many different teams and departments within the company to create the most robust picture possible. While the report is jargon-heavy and dense with facts, it does tell you most of what you need to know about the financial picture.
Pros & Cons of Equity Trust
Equity Trust sets the standard for gold IRA custodians. Unlike some of the custodian options on the market, they focus on every aspect of the self-directed IRA, rather than focusing just on precious metals. They're the best company to work with if you want a diverse portfolio, or if you want a gold IRA that you know is secure.
However, they don't sell gold themselves. You'll need to find a gold dealer for that. Several of our top choices are already affiliated with Equity Trust, such as Augusta Precious Metals and Goldco. An employee at the dealership will help you with the Equity Trust paperwork and then make the various required phone calls for you.
Overall, we definitely recommend using Equity Trust as an IRA custodian, especially for a gold IRA. Combined with one of our top gold dealerships, the customer service and the flexibility are both unbeatable. You won't find another custodian who's received more positive press or good customer reviews.
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Currently our #1 recommendation is offering up to $10,000 in free silver!