New Direction Trust Company is a self-directed IRA custodian that manages thousands of customer accounts. Self-directed IRAs can include alternative assets like real estate and precious metals, which are different from the usual stocks and bonds. Because of this, managing the accounts is complicated and requires special licensing.
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About New Direction Trust Company
New Direction Trust Company manages IRAs with a huge variety of different alternative assets. They create custom solutions for every individual client, based on that client's assets and diversification needs. In addition, they have a robust online platform where people can manage and view their portfolios.
The company was started in 2001 by Catherine Wynne and Bill Humphrey. Wynne had a strong background in real estate investing and engineering, while Humphrey was a CPA who wanted to use his tax knowledge to help clients with their retirement accounts.
While New Direction was started with real estate investments in mind, they have branched out to manage all types of alternative assets. This includes IRA-approved precious metals. They have also built online platforms to help customers more easily manage their assets digitally.
The company prioritizes education, wanting customers to have enough information to make confident financial decisions. In service of this, they create resources, host webinars, and make educational tools that help investors to make independent decisions. Self-directed IRAs are fully allocated by the owner, so it's important for individuals without a financial background to learn as much as possible.
In addition to precious metals and real estate, New Direction manages alternative assets like private lending, private equity, and checkbook IRAs. Checkbook IRAs involve placing a corporation into your retirement account. You can then buy things with the company's assets through its checkbook, and put those into your retirement account.
Like with traditional IRAs, New Direction will also manage stocks and bonds. They're just also certified to handle the complex portfolios that involve different alternative assets. These assets aren't traditional, but they have different potential for growth, stabilization, and passive income over time.
Is New Direction Trust Company Legitimate?
New Direction Trust Company is a legitimate business. They have worked with thousands of customers over the years. Their Better Business Bureau profile shows that they have been accredited in the industry since 2004. The company maintains an A+ rating, which indicates that they’ve responded to all consumer complaints.
The majority of the customer reviews on the BBB page are positive as well. With 171 reviews and an average of 4.97 stars, over a hundred customers have given New Direction perfect scores. There have been 12 complaints in the past three years, eight of which were over the past year.
However, the company’s Yelp and Glassdoor pages show more mixed reviews.
Glassdoor is a site where employees can review the working conditions at their current and former jobs. New Direction’s employees have not had flattering things to say. While a few seem satisfied with their positions, the highest rated category is work-life balance. It only has 3.2 stars on average.
Other Glassdoor categories fare even worse. The employees have given the management an average of 2.2 stars, and the culture just 2.3 stars. Pay and benefits get 2.6 stars, while job security gets 2.7 stars. The maximum in any category is 5 stars. This seems to indicate that people are overworked, stressed, and don’t have strong confidence in their management.
Yelp is a website where people can review the businesses that they’ve worked with. There are 44 reviews of New Direction on Yelp, nearly all of which are negative. The average is 2.1 out of 5 stars.
So let’s take a look at some of the positive and negative things said about New Direction. That’ll help us get a sense of how well the company functions.
Positive Customer Reviews
One review from November of 2023 was from a customer who said she’s been a New Direction customer for several years. She stated that she has always had smooth transactions and that the representatives are patient and well-informed. She mentioned her broker by name and said that this person had helped her with multiple real estate transactions.
Another reviewer in November of 2023 stated that he thoroughly enjoyed every interaction with the New Direction staff. He said that his representative was thoughtful and worked hard for each client. In fact, he said that this person was an asset to the company overall, and that the company was lucky to have them.
A reviewer in August of 2023 similarly named her representative individually. She said that this rep had put in a lot of time and energy, and that they’d been very patient. This rep was able to help her find a paperwork form that was needed and also provided the customer with information about who to ask a different question.
In July, a reviewer said that he was very happy with the level of communication he was provided. He had been selling a condo that was held in his retirement account. He said that he strongly recommended that people use New Direction to manage the complicated assets in their retirement accounts.
Other positive reviews have similar sentiments. Many clients have praised their account executors specifically and mentioned how lucky the company is to have them. They have said that their account management and transactions have always been smooth, and that they’re very happy that they chose New Direction to manage their retirement income.
As mentioned, though, not all of the feedback on the BBB website is positive. There are 12 total complaints from the past three years. Of those, eight were written in the past year, which indicates that there might be new issues with the service.
While we can’t get into every single complaint, we can look at a few of the most recent ones to see how New Direction responded.
Over $300 in Fees
As of writing, the most recent complaint was filed in August of 2023. The customer stated that they were charged a fee of over $200 for mailing a check. In addition, there were mailing and check fees. Another fee of nearly $100 was charged for the customer’s account to receive precious metals after a sale had closed. The customer believed that the fee amounts were excessive and unnecessary.
The company responded to say that while they understood fees are frustrating, they wanted to be transparent in their policies. They said that because alternative assets come with many complex tasks and administrative policies, the fees help to cover the costs. Each client agrees to the fees when they open an account. On top of this, the fees can be found on the company website.
The customer said that they did not accept the response because the term “transaction” was never explained or defined in the initial paperwork. Every movement of funds into or out of the account was considered a transaction. Receiving precious metals was a transaction with a fee of $95, and the customer did not think that this was reasonable.
New Direction responded to say that transactions are processes in which precious metals and other assets are bought and sold. They pointed out that the client had agreed to the terms when she opened her account. Then they provided a copy of the letter that the client had signed.
Mishandling of Inventory
One complaint was filed in July of 2023 regarding the mishandling of certain inventory. The customer had bought precious metals and had them stored in a third party storage unit for their IRA. But the storage company was later charged with mishandling the inventory. Then they were placed under receivership.
While under receivership, an audit was done of the storage company. It found that hundreds of New Direction accounts, including this customer’s, were missing inventory. Clients were asked to decide how their metals should be distributed, because all of the inventory was being liquidated.
The customer was given three options. One was to have the metals sent to another depository. One was to have the metals shipped directly to them, and one was to pick the metals up in person. However, none of the shipments would have package insurance. So the customer decided to pick up the metals in person.
But when the customer tried to put their metals into another depository, New Direction told them that they wouldn’t put metals back into their account. The customer was told that the metals could be given to another IRA company, but New Direction wouldn’t accept the transfers.
The customer was upset because the circumstances were out of their control. But even though they had worked with New Direction for years, they were still told that their metals were unacceptable.
New Direction responded to say that they understood the client’s frustration, as they were helping multiple customers with the unprecedented situation. Regulations stated that the customer needed to roll the metals over to another account within 60 days, or else the distribution would be taxed.
New Direction had allowed the metals to be rolled over within 60 days, but the same metals needed to be added to the account that had been taken out. The customer in question had sold many of their metals, so they couldn’t put all of the same metals back into their account.
New Direction stated that this policy was part of their business model since before the incident with the storage depository being closed. It was not intended to target the individual customer or any customers who had had issues with the depository.
The customer rejected this initial response. They said that their original investment had largely vanished, since the depository company had mismanaged their assets. Because of the extenuating circumstances, they believed it was New Direction’s responsibility to make exceptions and provide solid customer service.
New Direction said that there had clearly been a breakdown in communication between them and the customer. They were moving the customer’s case to a team leader and were going to improve the customer care policies. A senior specialist reviewed the case and came to the conclusion that they could help with rolling over the client’s silver. They offered to work with the client individually on the logistics.
The client then stated that they found the resolution satisfactory.
Pros & Cons of New Direction Trust Company
New Direction Trust Company is one of the most popular IRA custodians for people who hold alternative assets in their retirement accounts. These assets might include real estate and precious metals. New Direction's staff help to manage the accounts, provide portfolio updates, and file the paperwork for transactions and sales.
While they do have largely positive reviews, there are some drawbacks. One of the biggest drawbacks is the exorbitant fee schedule. Transactions within accounts can have fees of hundreds of dollars apiece. In addition, there are mailing and check fees. Customers do agree to the fee schedule when they sign up, but there are other companies that have much less significant fee structures.
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