You'll need a custodian if you choose to have a self-directed IRA. Picking the right custodian can be tough, especially if you are new to the industry. Knowing which company is right for you requires a bit of research.
Strata Trust Company is a fairly well-known name in the custodial world. However, whether they are suitable for you depends on what you are looking for in an IRA custodian. Figuring that out will require a deeper look at how the company works.
IMPORTANT NOTE BEFORE STARTING:
We understand that selecting a company to invest with is a critical decision. Our team has spent thousands of hours researching and reporting on the good, bad, and ugly of thousands of gold dealers.
We take great pride in providing the most in-depth, researched, and comprehensive information as possible so you can make the best decision for yourself and/or family.
Out of the thousands of dealers that we've reviewed, there are only 5 companies that we'd personal choose to invest with ourselves.
Did Strata Trust Company make it to the top 5? Read the above review to find out. Or continue on.
Who is Strata Trust Company?
A company that's been working with self-directed IRAs since 2008, Strata Trust Company manages over two billion dollars in assets and has a team of over fifty employees. The company has a solid reputation due to its fee structure transparency and its excellent billing system. That said, the company is also well-known for charging more than most other IRA companies regarding fairly basic actions, a definite downside for many investors.
President since 2009, Kelli Click is a former Vice President of Sales from a well-known trust and has a strong background in the world of real estate. The COO of the company is Jeff Thompson, who has been in the self-directed IRA industry for 29 years and works directly as the custodian for the company's larger investors.
Strata's CFO is Michelle Maruri, who has been in the world of self-directed IRAs for over thirty years and has worked heavily in the information technology sector. Along with the C-suite executives are five managers and fifty employees.
Strata is a custodian service, not a storage service. You cannot store any of your metals with Strata, but that doesn't mean the company can't help with storage. Strata has excellent working relationships with two of the best secure storage locations in the United States.
Strata work with the Delaware Depository and Brinks Global Services for storage. These two great organizations can do a great job of keeping your assets secure. The Delaware Depository only has its single location, while Brinks has a few different locations where you can store your metals.
Both storage companies allow customers to choose between segregated and commingled storage. If you decide on segregated storage, you'll pay more, but your items will all be held in their own vault. Commingled storage costs less, of course, but it also requires you to be comfortable with having your assets stored with those of others. In either case, though, your assets will be insured.
You'll need to look elsewhere if you are looking for a company that will deliver precious metals to your home. Strata is an IRA custodian, and they are not in the business of shipping metals anywhere. Remember, Strata does have to follow the rules that the IRS has set up for self-directed IRAs.
Strata works as a custodian for IRAs. This is the only thing the company does, and investors must remember. Since investors can't store the metals in their accounts on their own, they'll need to rely on a good custodian to ensure that all of their assets are kept safe.
It's crucial to remember that Strata is not a precious metals broker. They are a custodian, and as such, the company neither buys nor sells any precious metal.
You will have to find a brokerage with which to work because you will need to add items to your IRA through purchases. The brokerage you choose may well have a program to buy back metals, but that varies by company.
It's always a good idea to talk to your broker about buyback programs before you decide to make your initial purchases. Doing so is an excellent way to make sure that your broker can work together with Strata when you are ready to start thinking about liquidating your assets.
Strata charge its customers fifty dollars to set up flex IRAs, basic IRAs, and precious metals IRAs. Each type of account has a different annual fee, though, with precious metals accounts at the bottom with a seventy-five dollar fee, basic IRAs with a one hundred dollar fee, and flex IRAs with a two-hundred fifty dollar annual fee.
If you choose a basic account, you'll get what you might expect from a reasonably typical investment account. This means you'll see a portfolio full of investments in real estate trusts, brokerage accounts, LLCs, and the odd certificate of deposit.
If you choose a Flex IRA, you'll see a much different picture. Flex IRAs can include precious metals, but they can also have several other assets that aren't present in other types of accounts. These investments include real estate, stock, private notes, and futures.
Precious metals IRAs have the lowest annual fees because they only focus on a single type of investment. Those who choose this kind of investment account will only have precious metals in their accounts.
Opening up a Flex IRA comes with some extra costs. You will have to pay one hundred dollars yearly to hold real estate and another hundred dollars per year to hold private notes. Adding in precious metals is another hundred dollars per year while getting segregated storage will run you about one hundred forty dollars annually.
Segregated storage is a must for many consumers. This storage is only accessible by the customer and the custodian, making it a bit safer than standard storage. It isn't for everyone, but it is a valuable option.
While the annual fees are present, they are lower than you'll see with most other custodians. Be wary, though, because fees for record-keeping and wire transfers drive up those fees. It's really up to you to decide if the cost is fair for your needs.
The good news is that most consumers don't have a problem navigating Strata's website. It does a good job of helping to keep customers educated and explains the types of accounts that are available quite well.
Opening an account on the website is very easy. As long as you have some basic personal information, your account can be opened far more quickly than you might expect.
You'll also get access to excellent resources as soon as you open your account. The company provides materials that teach their customers about different investing methods and the pros and cons of each type of account. There's no shortage of information here for those customers who really want to make the best choices for their futures.
The company also has a great resource known as ServiceNow. This online concierge resource isn't quite the same as a full customer chat, but it does guide customers through the company's FAQs and helps them to find answers to those questions quickly. Likewise, the company has a great resource center that can answer most questions.
Strata's website is also where you can pay your various fees. This is definitely out of the ordinary for most IRA custodians, but it's a welcome change from the norms. This makes it easier for most people to stay current on their various fees.
If you have a question that needs to be answered by a real person, you can fill out an online form so that the company can contact you. The company also has a telephone support line that you can use to speak with someone more quickly. Unfortunately, the company does not have a live chat support feature.
It's not surprising that customer complaints about fees exist, mainly because no one likes paying fees. If you've ever looked at a real estate company's profile, you'll note that people constantly complain about how much they pay for transactions. While these individuals are paying more than most metals investors, the basic principle is the same.
With this in mind, you won't be surprised that Starta gets a lot of complaints about its business model from investors. It has a fee structure that doesn't work for certain types of investments, with real estate investors getting the worst of a bad lot.
Another major complaint was that the company took over ninety days to process a transaction for a customer. It's unclear what caused this problem, but we know that taking ninety days for a single transaction is far too long. If you're investing, you want your custodian to be more responsive than this.
It's always a good idea to look for red flags when you work with a company. The most significant warning sign that you're going to find with Strata Trust Company comes in the form of its mixed online reputation.
On the plus side, the company does get a 4 out of 5 and an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau. However, it only has six consumer reviews online with that organization.
Trustpilot, on the other hand, has 768 reviews at the moment and thus can give you a clearer picture of what consumers think about this company. Strata Trust only has a 3.6 out of 5 on that site, which puts it in the middle range.
Only Yelp the company averages a little lower - a 3 out of 5 star rating based on 53 reviews. This shows that consumers have had fairly mixed experiences with the company, with the bad thoroughly mixed in with all of the good.
While it's normal to see bad reviews for any company, the best IRA custodians tend to have better reputations than Strata. Not only do they tend to charge less, but they also tend to have better overall customer service. As a consumer, you do owe it to yourself to work with a company that will take your needs seriously.
Is Strata Trust Company a Scam?
We can, thankfully, say without reservation that Strata Trust Company is legitimate. Not only does the company have a lengthy history of operating in this industry, but the fact that they comply with IRS regulations makes it very hard for them to fly under the radar regarding how they run their business.
Strata do tend to excel when you look at their basic annual fee structure since it's much lower than what you would expect to pay. They lose points, though, when you realize that you will end up paying smaller fees for virtually everything you do for the company. In fairness, the company is at least transparent about this fee structure.