Consumer Complaints & Reviews
I only used them for a few weeks as a contractor – it would have been longer but they're so bad at creating and verifying accounts that it took over a month to get my 401k opened. When I found another job and tried to close my account (less than $2000 in it) they charged me $50 to process the form to roll it over to my current account.
Tried to rollover my 401k funds, got ripped. They would not accept my Charles Schwab rollover paperwork even though EVERYBODY else does. Their rollover paperwork is cryptic at best so I had a professional fill it out for me AFTER HE CONSULTED WITH THEIR FINANCIAL ADVISORS. Even though we left the withholding section blank and made it clear we wanted to be issued a check for the purpose of rolling over the full amount to a taxable IRA they withheld taxes anyway and refused to change it back. Now I'm out $35k in capital and they say "Tough luck". This company is full of misinformation, stay clear they will rip you off.
I switched car insurance and All State gave me a financial advisor. I hated the low bank interest rates so I asked if he could get me a better return. I believed him and so I put all my savings into American Funds. First, they asked for $6,000 in fees. And in 21 days, they asked for another $4,000 down. What a scam.
American Funds is engaging in clearly deceptive and misleading advertising when they emphasize and publish in their mutual fund literature that all (or most) their funds have only 30-day holding periods. The goal of their claim it to make them appear more attractive to mutual fund investors when compared to the competition that have many funds with published 60 and 90- day holds. Most investors -- especially those who wish to take a more active role in managing their account -- desire that flexibility, and would view 30 day holding periods as attractive and, at least in my case, make buying decisions based on it. However, when I exercised my right to buy and sell my fund holdings and reallocate my account according to my investing strategy of monthly review, I was told that I cannot do so, and that I must hold for 90-days.
This is a black-and-white deception and misdirection. Essentially, American Funds is luring investors with the claim that their funds offer 30-day maximum holds and the accompanying increased flexibility. That is, unless you actually want to review and/or reallocate within the stated holding period rules; then the rules change to a 90-day hold. American Funds should be forced to document these "unpublished" rules and clarify that any attempt to manage your money on a regular schedule (in my case, every 35 days) is not permitted. Or otherwise document -- as have other mutual fund companies -- specific rules related to holding periods and round trip restrictions and/or penalties.
Santa Cruz CA. 95062
*** *** ****
19 August, 2008
333 South Hope St.
Los Angeles, CA. 90071-1406
Re: MY AMERICAN FUNDS ACCOUNT
Dear Madams and Sirs:
On December 12th, 1997 I purchased a portfolio of the American Funds through Ms.*******, a Vice President at the Merrill Lynch ( Fenner, Pierce and Bean) brokerage firm in Carmel, California. My initial investment before the 5% front end fee was $119,368.14.
The reason I purchased the American Funds was because I was told by Ms.******* that AMERICAN FUNDS would provide me with a professional financial advisor who would not only help me to invest, but would watch over and adjust my investment according to the climate of the financial markets and my risk tolerance for as long as I held the portfolio!
What a wonderful service and of the utmost important to me-someone inexperienced with the ways of the world's financial markets. I more than welcomed the assistance of tried and true professionals that I was promised along with my purchase, or in the words of Ms.
******* American Funds have long been the mainstay of Widows and Children. (I wrote this down on the same piece of paper that shows receipt of my $119,368.14 check.
The money I invested into the AMERICAN FUNDS was the sum total of my inheritance from my mother and was earmarked for my son, noted as the portfolio's beneficiary. Most unfortunately, he developed a very rare and serious type of cancer at age 29 in l999. Because am the person who pays his medical insurance, doctor's bills and likely more over time, the AMERICAN FUNDS are a very important investment. Of course, I have appraised all of my advisors about my son and my needs.
What follows is a brief account of how, since l997, I have had five, or if you count me six, financial advisors.
It wasn't too long before Ms.******* from Merrill, became too busy with the technology and internet booms to pay much attention to my portfolio. She was either very slow to return, or did not return, my periodic phone calls, nor did she check-in to reevaluate and adjust my portfolio according to market trends, as promised.
I transferred my AMERICAN FUNDS portfolio to Mr.******** a Vice President at Dean Witter (Stanley), Santa Cruz, California.
Mr.******** reapportioned the portfolio, but never readjusted it to the changing times. He too, was slow to return my occasional phone call and at some point more than suggested that he was in the financial business to make money and my AMERICAN FUNDS portfolio was not going to do this for him.
On a suggestion from someone at the AMERICAN FUNDS I then took a turn managing the portfolio myself. These ended up to be quite a mistake. This experience send me back to AMERICAN FUNDS for a list of suggested advisors in my area.
After systematically going through the list of advisors given to me by the AMERICAN FUNDS, I selected Ms. ******* of SUN AMERICA. in Santa Cruz. The head of her company, Ms. ******* was initially enthusiastic.
After explaining the situation with my son and my financial needs, I expressed concern about inattentiveness. Ms. ******* assured me that all would be taken care of. After making her allocations she promised to keep with it,-rebalancing my AMERICAN FUNDS portfolio as needed.
Within a year she passed my account on to one of her assistants, Lisa, who was not very experienced nor, I am sorry to say, very bright. This in combination with a serious illness in Ms. *******'s family, left me without the attention my AMERICAN FUNDS portfolio called for.
When Ms.******* and I got to speak in early 2006 she told me that my portfolio had earned more percentage points that it actually did for 2005. When I later queried her about this inconsistency, she did not return my phone call. Seeing the handwriting on the wall, I decided to try yet another advisor from the AMERICAN FUNDS list.
I must note that I kept giving AMERICAN FUNDS personnel feedback regarding my difficulties finding an advisor who would keep his/her word about managing the portfolio throughout the years.
After interviewing everyone on that list in early 2006 and eliminating folks who wanted to do such as sell me insurance or part or a business along with managing the AMERICAN FUNDS, I settled with Raul ******** a pleasant and seemingly knowledgeable man. I was truly horrified when Mr. ******** unexpectedly began lecturing me on the importance of investing in third word countries (or emerging markets as I later found out) as their women don't have as many abortions as women in the United States and thereby have a larger and cheaper work force.
It was just a matter of a few weeks before I took the portfolio out of his hands. (The people who oversaw his work, were very upset when I related my story. They offered to manage the portfolio, but wanted to charge me for doing so.)
I began searching for another advisor. However, I did give AMERICAN FUNDS feedback on Mr. ********. I found it disconcerting that when I recently requested the list of financial assistants in my area, Mr. ********'s name was still present.
Clearly in limbo, I opened the Santa Cruz phone book and called one financial advisor after another. Most interesting, I received a call from a woman named Blanca at AMERICAN FUNDS on August 13th 2008 and this is one of the things she suggested I now to do find an advisor.
What in heaven's name ever happened to AMERICAN FUNDS promise to provide me with this financial assistance?
After some very intensive work in March of 2006, I hired Mr. ******** of Foothill Securities in early April 2006.
Initially, Mr. ******** was very interested in working with the AMERICAN FUNDS. In early 2008 I told Mr. ******* that I wanted to preserve the gains that I had made under his management. At that time he transferred some of my funds from stocks into bonds. Between December 30th 2007 and March 30th 2008 I lost nearly $22,0000.00.
When I finally initiated selling my AMERICAN FUNDS portfolio in early July, 2008 and putting their proceeds into the AMERICAN FUNDS US Treasury Money Market Funds of America A shares. Mr. ********, who was helping me to sell the funds said, The portfolio is now under the magic number of $200,000.00. It will take you at least a year to get back to the $200,000.00 in this Money Market Fund.
There I was insisting that he preserve my investment (I had already lost so much money in the midst of a steadily deteriorating economy) and he was making this comment without offering me any alternative!
During a July 25th meeting Mr. ******** stated, I no longer want to manage your AMERICAN FUNDS account because it does not pay me enough money. Yet another financial advisor had put me on the bottom of his/her list because they felt they were not getting enough financial compensation for their work. He went on to tell me, I am a Capitalist, and I work for money.
Please be advised that I called AMERICAN FUNDS early the week of August 10th and had Mr. ******** removed as my financial advisor. When I asked AMERICAN FUNDS for the names of other possible advisors in this area the names of two other Foothill Securities people came up.
Needless to say, I am more than hesitant to call anyone else from Foothill after my recent experience with their management. I am presently feeling at a loss as to what to do. I paid more than $6,000.00 in fees to get into the AMERICAN FUNDS and now I can't even get management.
In closing, I spoke with Joanna @ extension ***** from AMERICAN FUNDS early in the week of August 10th and told her of my plight. She promised to pass along this information and have someone contact me. I received a call from Blanca of AMERICAN FUNDS of the on afternoon of August 13th. We went round and round about various ways of remedying my
situation --all of which I have done over the years
. At one point, however, Blanca was candid enough to tell me that many other owners of the AMERICAN FUNDS are having the same problems---having bought into the AMERICAN FUNDS with the promise of financial representation and then having advisors not attend to their portfolios as promised.
I feel that I have been misled and that AMERICAN FUNDS has misrepresented itself to many millions of Americans. I am sadly disappointed and concerned about, not only my financial future, but the future of my son.
In advance thanking your for your review and prompt response.
Was contacted by Jean ************ via phone last week and was told American Funds is not liable in anyway for what has happened. Perhaps the broker at Merrill Lynch is---as she likely got a kickback from selling me the funds with the promise to provide financial services for life.
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