Cutting Your Loses: My Brokerage Battle and How I Finally Fixed It
Late last year, word came down that the app Bumped — which allowed customers to earn stock in the companies they made purchases from — was shutting down. As bummed as I was at the time, it turns out that this announcement would only be the start of my troubles. Let me explain.
After learning of Bumped’s impending demise, I went ahead and sold the stocks and attempted to transfer the cash to my linked bank account. Despite receiving emails that the transfer was in the works, the money never arrived. Instead, the deadline passed and my account was left in the hands of Apex Clearing. “That’s not so bad,” I thought, “I’ll just log in and transfer from there instead.” Not so fast, Kyle.
The first problem I had was that I didn’t know my Apex account number. While I was able to get ahold of someone relative quickly and was told what info I’d need to obtain the number, the communication halted there for at least a couple of weeks. Eventually, I was able to get my account number and log in. Except, upon doing so, I realized that there wasn’t really any option to do an ACH transfer or anything else for that matter.
So, I once again turned to Apex’s contact form. This time, after sharing my question, I received a form letter sharing options for my account — one of which was to fill out a form, email it to a certain address, and have a check mailed to me. With this sounding great, I downloaded the form and filled it out immediately. Yes, there was a part about having the damn thing notarized, but I skipped that and sent it along to the address provided.
Soon after hitting “send,” I got an email back saying that, since I was an individual investor, I’d need to use the contact form on the site… as in the form I’d used to get the other email that contained the directions to email this other address. At least I didn’t bother to get the notification.
There is one other wrinkle to the story that I guess was probably my fault. See, since I opened my Bumped account years ago, the address they had on file was wrong. So, even if I could get through to someone with my check request form, the odds that they’d see the correct address on the form and use that rather than send it to the one on file seemed slim. Oh, and did I mention there was no way to just update my contact information on Apex’s site? Awesome.
This is when I decided to throw in the towel — sort of. Rather than continue to fight Apex (while they were also charging me maintenance fees, by the way!), I decided to try Robinhood. After all, I’d recalled that they have an account transfer option. I’ll write about this whole process another time but, the moral of the story is, it worked. Within a few days, the money I had sitting with Apex had been pried away from them and triumphantly returned to my control.
Now, I will note that Apex does apparently have a $75 fee for outgoing transfers. Nevertheless, I figured having around $150 instead of $0 was a better option, so I went ahead with the move. I assumed this fee would be removed from the funds sent to Robinhood but that was not the case. So, I’m bracing for a bill from Apex — but, perhaps since it was all cash already, they’ll choose not to be awful and waive the fee instead?
Truth be told, as much as I’m annoyed with Apex, I do have to realize that there’s likely a reason why their service is so bad. Really, they’re supposed to be the behind-the-scenes company, not the ones dealing directly with small-time investors like me. In fact, if it weren’t for Apex keeping custody of accounts, customers would just be totally screwed when FinTech brokerages failed. I guess that means I should be a smidge grateful… but I reserve the right to be bitter as well.
In the end, this whole ordeal taught me a few things. First, while FinTech can be great, there are some risks involved — so act accordingly. Second, in some cases, it’s best to just cut your losses and move forward rather than beating your head into the wall. Personally, I’ll be carrying these lessons with me as I continue to navigate and review the world of FinTech.