Our Full Review of the Self-Directed Custodian Equity Trust

In this Equity Trust audit, we answer many of your questions about the IRS-approved custodian Equity Trust of Westlake, Ohio. Equity Trust fulfills custodial and administrative tasks required for your investment accounts held with them.

The firm is a directed custodian and doesn’t offer investment, tax, or legal advice.

You have the choice to get hard assets like gold and other precious metals in self-directed retirement plans held with Equity Trust. In addition, you may invest in real estate, private equity, mutual funds, and many other traditional types of financial assets.

Equity Trust Directed Custodian Review

Company name: Equity Trust

What do they do? Custodian for self-directed retirement plans (also called trustee or trust: there are different terms for this)

BBB grade: A+

Summary: Equity Trust is one of the most reputable IRS-approved self-directed retirement plan custodians. The firm is highly regulated and has more than USD 34 billion of assets under custody. The company does not charge hidden fees and provides you with all the necessary tools, through the myEquity portal, to invest in alternative and traditional assets.

If you or a loved one wants more control of your retirement or tax-advantaged assets, this company has the account type you need.

Our score: 5/5

five out of five stars

What Is a Self-Directed IRA Custodian?

A self-directed IRA custodian is a type of financial services company in charge of safeguarding retirement plan assets. It holds and administers your account in such a manner that it remains compliant with government and IRS regulations and laws.

Equity Trust company logo a directed IRA custodian

Equity Trust is an IRS-approved self-directed IRA custodian. Not all self-directed IRA custodians are created equal. Take the time to consider what users say about their experience with them.

Equity Trust User Feedback

Before you entrust your retirement funds to any custodian or trustee, do your due diligence. It’s essential to evaluate the information before selecting a self-directed retirement account custodian.

Clients share many reasons they chose Equity Trust as their custodian:

  • “Equity Trust offers…Some of the best customer service I’ve ever experienced.” (President of Dallas Fort Worth Real Estate Investors at a Wealth Building Workshop)
  • “I compared…custodians before deciding to move my money. (Equity Trust) has been fantastic to deal with.” (5/5 on Google)
  • “Anyone (setting up) a self-directed retirement should consider…Equity Trust. (I) set up a self-directed IA account…and a self-directed Roth IRA account…” (5/5 on Google)
  • “I am very satisfied with Equity Trust.” (5/5 on the BBB)
  • “I have been with (Equity Trust) for over 10 years…Thank you!” (5/5 on Google)
  • “The website is user-friendly…Equity Trust employees…provided a wealth of knowledge about utilizing a self-directed IRA.” (5/5 on Trustpilot)
  • “Equity Trust…exceptional customer service…prompt execution of requests…These guys are terrific.” (5/5 on Google)
  • “Equity Trust…a great custodian for acquiring (alternative assets) via a self-directed IRA…I love working with this custodian.” (5/5 on Google)

Many persons post new and updated opinions about this corporation. These are one of the best ways to identify what members like or don’t like about Equity Trust’s services. Their feedback can help you to form your own questions.

Investopedia Ranks Equity Trust as “The Best Overall Self-Directed IRA Company (2020-2022)”

Equity Trust is the best overall self directed IRA custodian according to Investopedia and US News

According to the financial education site Investopedia, Equity Trust leads the competition in SDIRAs (Equity Trust has created “a well-rounded offering supported by superior customer service”).

Investopedia’s ranking relies upon Equity Trust’s member feedback. They considered feedback posted on external sources, including Google, Better Business Bureau (BBB), and Trustpilot.

The following comments reflect their satisfaction. They choose this directed custodian because:

  • “Customer service is…knowledgeable and helpful!” (5/5 on the Better Business Bureau)
  • “My experience…with Equity Trust…has been wonderful.” (5/5 on Google)
  • Equity Trust’s “staff…possess a can-do attitude…very professional.” (Private, 5/5 on Trustpilot)
  • Equity Trust employees “do an amazing job…I have been a customer for years and would recommend them.” (5/5 on Google)

The firm is approved by the IRS as a directed custodian. They assist individuals, financial professionals, and companies with an array of tax-advantaged retirement account plans.

why Equity Trust is one of the most famous and reliable directed custodian in the US

The organization holds more than USD 34 billion in assets and maintains partnerships with thousands of financial advisors. It is also recognized by many more accredited organizations in the SDIRA industry.

They’re best known by individual investors in search of tax-advantaged retirement accounts, financial advisors and professionals, and companies or organizations wishing to offer self-directed retirement plans to their workforce.

Pros and Cons from the testimonies above

Equity Trust is recognized as an established IRS-approved custodian. They’re also accredited by top-tier gold IRA dealers like Augusta and Goldco (click here to know which one we prefer) and depositories.

It’s possible to hold physical assets, e.g. silver and real estate, in a self-directed account. However, applicants have many investment options for their Equity Trust SDIRAs, including equities/stocks, ETFs, and more.

The corporation works with individual investors, brokers and agents, advisors, institutions, organizations, and businesses.

Investors are charged only annual account fees, renewals, and storage costs. They aren’t charged according to current account values. For instance, if your self-directed retirement account value increases, you aren’t charged higher costs:

  • While some self-directed retirement plans with other custodians such as GoldStar Trust may bear higher account costs associated with their account values, Equity Trust does not engage in this practice!
  • Self-directed retirement account fees may be higher than traditional retirement plan costs with a bank or mutual fund.

According to average comments on Google, Trustpilot, and BBB, Equity Trust receives solid ratings for product offerings, account types, customer service/user experience. For instance, BBB gives Equity Trust its highest grade of “A+”.

As a self-directed retirement account holder, it provides you with technology and other tools to make decisions about alternative and traditional investment selections.

For more information, discuss your financial goals, objectives, and risk profile with an experienced financial advisor.

Types of Self-Directed Retirement Accounts Offered

types of traditional and alternative investements assets you can choose for your SDIRA with Equity Trust custodian

As an IRS-approved custodian, the institution gives you the option to invest in alternative assets for your retirement. More than 130,000 persons entrust their self-directed and tax-advantaged investment accounts to Equity Trust.

It’s possible to invest in many alternative assets, including gold and silver (see our top 7 silver IRA dealers here), real estate, cryptocurrencies, hedge funds, notes, managed futures, and more.

At Equity Trust, you can select from a variety of tax-advantaged accounts, including self-directed individual retirement accounts, Roth IRAs, FlexIRAs, and 401(k)s, such as:

Traditional IRA

This tax-advantaged account for retirement allows investors to deposit pre-tax dollars and current tax reductions and/or deductions. In a traditional IRA account, your capital grows tax-deferred until you withdraw funds at retirement (age 59-1/2 or older).

If you withdraw funds before that age, you will pay penalties and taxes. In retirement, your withdrawals are taxed as current income. For this reason, a traditional IRA is a good choice if you anticipate your tax bracket to stay the same or decrease in retirement.

Roth IRA

Your Roth retirement account is similar to a traditional IRA with an important difference. The account is funded with after-tax dollars. That is, you pay taxes on the sum used to fund the Roth IRA.

In retirement, your withdrawals are tax-free. It’s possible to contribute $6,000 or less to your Roth IRA at age 49 or less. You may contribute $7,000 per year at age 50+.

Solo 401(k)

If you’re self-employed (or your business has zero employees), you and your spouse may open a self-directed 401(k) at Equity Trust.

Use pre-tax dollars (up to $61,000 in 2022 contribution limits) to fund the account if you’re less than 50 years old. At age 50, your contribution limits increases to $66,500 per year.

Simplified Employee Pension (SEP)

Your SEP plan helps the business owner to contribute retirement funds to both personal and employee accounts. In most cases, your contribution is made to a SEP IRA self-directed account.

Coverdell Education Savings Account (CESA)

If you’re saving for a child’s future college or university costs, CESA accounts allow you to do so on a tax-advantaged basis. Your funds are deposited pre-tax and therefore lower your current W-2 income.

Later on, use the capital to pay for your child’s books, housing, and tuition costs. You may contribute up to $2,000 each year.

Custody Services

If you are a custodian for a beneficiary, you may arrange custodial savings accounts for him/her until the age of 21. In most cases, you as the adult manage the self-directed account until the beneficiary reaches a specific age.

A custodial account may be opened for general, education, or retirement purposes.

Savings Incentive Match Plans for Employees (SIMPLE)

Self-employed persons and employers use SIMPLE retirement plans. SIMPLE allows the employer/eligible employee to contribute earnings to a SIMPLE individual retirement account. SIMPLE accounts often appeal to the sole proprietor or small business owner.

Health Savings Accounts (HSA)

HSAs help employees to save pre-tax dollars earmarked for medical expenses, e.g. coinsurance, deductible, co-payment costs, and more. Individuals may contribute up to $5,300 per year. Families may save up to $7,300 per year.

In addition, the organization provides other online tools and resources, including account management forms and professional forms (e.g., client forms). See below an image of myEquity on a laptop, the account management system provided by Equity Trust.

image of myEquity on a laptop the account management system from the custodian Equity trust

Which Gold IRA Company Works With Them?

More than 300 gold IRA companies and dealers work with Equity Trust, including precious metal dealers leaders like Goldco, Augusta Precious Metals, American Hartford Gold, Oxford Gold, Orion Metal Exchange, Rosland Capital, and more.

As your custodian, the company takes your direction to acquire or exchange hard assets like precious metals in your self-directed retirement account. It maintains working relationships with dealers and recommended depositories.

Remember: you must never take physical delivery of precious metals to your personal address. If you take personal delivery of these assets before retirement, you may be subject to penalties and taxes.

How’s Their Customer Support?

Clearly, users have access to a suite of services and tools on the company portal. It’s possible to perform many tasks associated with managing your self-directed IRA or tax-advantaged account held by Equity Trust completely on your own.

However, their dedicated customer service team is available to help you, Monday through Friday during business hours (8:00 AM – 6:00 PM Eastern) by calling (888)382-4727. It’s easy to find their number on the home page or top taskbar.

If for any reason you need to communicate with them by mail, their address is Equity Trust Company, One Equity Way, Westlake OH 44145.

The Competitive Landscape

There are many would-be competitors in the self-directed retirement plan space. Some of these competitors include Alto IRA, IRA Financial, and Entrust Group.

Compare offerings, fees, and testimonies before selecting a direct custodian for your retirement investment or tax-advantaged accounts.

Was There Any Complaints About Equity Trust?

Almost every business of any kind in all industry groups must deal with complaints. Businesses in the financial industry receive complaints for a variety of reasons.

Administrative errors occur, mistakes happen.

Let’s say you’re a new investor. You want to save for retirement but you don’t perform any due diligence. Perhaps you don’t understand that both gains and losses are possible in your retirement account.

Self-directed retirement accounts put you in charge.

You are responsible for due diligence. You decide when to get and dispose of assets in your account.

Specifically, let’s say you’ve heard that real estate is a good investment. Of course, not all real estate IS a good investment. It is up to you to evaluate the real estate as a suitable one or not.

Other factors, including supply, demand, interest rates, occupancy, etc., will determine the future value of your real estate holdings.

What’s more, if you acquire real estate for retirement, are you prepared to hold a long-term buy-and-hold strategy? Your real estate investment might not be liquid. Unless a ready buyer agrees to purchase when you want to sell, a ready market is lacking!

As a directed custodian, they can’t provide you with advice about your investment, risks, or tax implications associated with it.

You bear the responsibility and obligation to perform due diligence. In this scenario, Equity Trust is not responsible if your investment loses value on paper or if you book a loss.

Because all businesses receive complaints, it is important to consider how the business handles them. For example, if the company receives a Better Business Bureau (BBB) complaint, does it quickly resolve the complaint?

Their A+ on the BBB shows that complaints are properly received and managed.

Because all businesses receive complaints, it is important to consider how the business handles them. For example, if the company receives a Better Business Bureau (BBB) complaint, does it quickly resolve the complaint?

Equity Trust is recognized as a credible and reputable business by its industry partners and associations. The institution has more than USD 34 billion in assets.

The Bottom Line

Equity Trust works with individual, businesses, and some of the largest financial institutions in the financial community.

If you’re an individual, you don’t need a financial advisor or anyone else to request information from them: the decision to take more control of your financial future is yours with Equity Trust.

If you’re a small business or organization, it’s also possible for you to choose the best retirement plan. The company provides solutions depending on your business size, employees, and goals.

If you’re a financial advisor with the desire to help members make the most of their retirement and tax-advantaged investments:

  • This custodian makes it easy to stay up-to-date regarding current market needs and requirements.
  • It’s also easy to help clients choose an IRS-approved custodian when they ask about how to invest in alternative assets, including palladium, gold, real estate, cryptocurrencies, and others.
  • The organization helps your members to easily manage their self-directed retirement or tax-advantaged accounts.

Overall opinions and comments

Equity Trust is acknowledged as a reputable SDIRA custodian and maintains many strategic relationships with gold and silver firms.

When it comes to questions about how to safeguard retirement savings, due diligence is essential. It’s important to ask questions of a prospective direct custodian and perform some research.

U.S. News ranks them in the top seven IRA accounts (2022) and Investopedia ranks them tops (2020-2022). With more than USD 34 billion in assets, it is a directed custodian leader.

What Kind of Company is it ?

You might assume that Equity Trust is a bank. Importantly, this firm is a special type of provider in the financial services industry.

As a non-bank-directed custodian,it assists private individuals, individual investors, advisors and other financial professionals, and financial institutions to diversify portfolios.

Which Regulatory Authorities Oversee them?

The U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is responsible for the evaluation and approval of custodians. They must remain in strict compliance with statutes and regulations that apply to trust companies.

As a South Dakota trust, it is overseen by South Dakota’s Division of Banking. As such, Equity Trust:

  • Prepares and files the Service Organization Controls Report (SOC) issued by the AICPA (American Institute of CPAs)
  • Submits to annual audits of its financial statements by certified public accountants

They are highly regulated. That is good news for you.

What About their costs?

Equity Trust’s published cost structure is inclusive. Investors, advisors, and others won’t find “hidden fees.”

Can They Give Advice of Any Kind to Members?

No, because it is a custodian. It must not provide investment, tax, or legal advice. The reason investors come to Equity Trust is clear and simple.

The company provides self-directed access to investors. Many people want to assume more control of their capital and view this access as financial empowerment.

Are Equity Trust’s Client Accounts Insured Against Losses?

Your account is not insured by the FDIC or by Equity Trust. When you invest in the financial markets, you assume risk. How much risk you decide to assume depends on your personal resources and circumstances.

As a directed custodian, the firm may not give advice regarding investments or risks associated with them. It’s important to ask questions about any guarantees associated with investment vehicles or strategies.