Three years ago, almost to the day, I had the worst rollover, stock market recovery experience ever. I know you must be getting tired of all my nightmares (HMO Nightmare). But hear me out. Since I can finally speak freely about said nightmares, I can move on to bigger and better things. Which is always a good thing, right?
Months after financial Armageddon, I too was picking myself up by the bootstraps. I was settling into a new job and wanted to simplify my life. I had two rollover IRA accounts. One was in Vanguard and one was in Fidelity. Since I had more assets in Fidelity, I decided to roll my Vanguard funds into Fidelity.
Trust No One
Near the end of February 2009, I called Vanguard and told them I wanted to move my retirement money to Fidelity. I also wanted the transition as painless as possible and requested everything be done online or over the phone. The operator said no problem. We’ll take care of everything for you. I gave them my data and I was happy to get my life in order. Days went by and the funds didn’t transfer. We tried putting in another request via the website to no avail. I lost two weeks. Finally Vanguard threw up the white flag and said I had to fill out offline forms and mail them in. I was livid as this was exactly what I was trying to avoid.
My funds finally appeared in Fidelity on the first weekend of March. I was going back into the market with all my funds at my disposal. I placed my trade, but an error message popped up. My funds were still pending and I needed to wait one more day to fully access the entire amount. Since I was in all or nothing mode, I delayed my order. On Monday, the market was listless. On Tuesday, the day I wanted to re-enter, the market took off. I was beside myself. “If I only had gone in yesterday! Stupid Vanguard! Dumb Buck! The market is taking off without you! Don’t worry, it will come back down tomorrow and then you can get back in.”
Your Wishes Don’t Control the Market
Tomorrow never came. The market continued marching up in March. My co-workers were jumping for joy. I was frozen with all of my assets, dressed up with nowhere to go. “Laugh now, the market will come back down next week.” Days turned into weeks and weeks turned into months.
Sell in May, Go Away?
March turned into April. I still wasn’t over missing that one Monday in March. That day and price point was burned into my brain. I needed the market to get below that day and then I could get back in. Keep dreaming Buck. Things turned bad to worse. The market was still marching higher and I used another mantra to help me sleep at night. “Sell in May, Go Away is coming”, I better wait this out and buy on the pullback. I was reading articles and convincing myself that the market would correct. The market kept moving up. I’m surprised I could even crawl out of bed as I was the numbskull who was missing out on one of the greatest stock market recoveries of all time.
After three and a half months of gut wrenching horror, as the markets ran away from me, I caved and bit the bullet. I went back into the market mid-June. Right on cue, the markets corrected. I then had to eat humble pie going the other direction. Thankfully, I was so beaten down with my will all but gone; my funds stayed in the market as I had no fight left. The worst was over.
Last week, I rolled over my old Wells Fargo 401k into that same Fidelity account. My how times have changed. This time, I could do everything over the phone. I gave them my account number and Fidelity’s mailing address. They needed 3 business days to process and the time it takes to mail the check. I loved how they threw in redemption fees (stinkin’ fees), but I was glad it wasn’t déjà vu circa 2009. I executed the move last Wednesday and the funds appeared on Monday. The Search Is Over. Three years later, I finally got past my Rollover IRA, Great Recession Recovery Nightmare.
Do you have any stock market horror stories? Please share with the class.