How to Close a Brokerage Account

How to Close a Brokerage Account
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Brokerage accounts are used by investors to trade securities. Without them, it would be impossible to purchase stocks, bonds or other types of investments. There are various reasons for wanting to close a brokerage account. For example, you might be dissatisfied with your broker, or you might simply need the funds in your brokerage account. Regardless of the reason, closing your brokerage account is relatively easy.

Step 1

Contact your broker--in person, by phone, email or in a letter--and tell him or her that you want to close your account. List the account number for each account you want to close. The closure could be delayed if you don't clearly identify all relevant accounts.

Step 2

Specify whether you want all of your investment holdings sold or transferred to another broker. Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) regulations specify that you must wait three business days for your trades to settle (when you can withdraw the sale proceeds). It might take even longer if you want to have all of your securities issued in certificate form, because your broker's back office will have to custom-print and issue them, which can take a couple of weeks.

Step 3

Notify your broker if your account is not closed within three days. This is as long as it should take for your request to be processed if you don't need to have any securities sold or issued in certificate form. It might just take your broker or the customer service department that long to get around to processing your request due to their current workload. But they cannot substantially delay your request without cause per New York Stock Exchange Rule 412, which requires accounts to be closed within three days.

Step 4

Check your account after it has been closed to make sure that no funds or securities remain. Notify your broker immediately if any remain in the account. Your broker might need to wait for residual interest (interest that accrues between the time of your request and when it is processed) to sweep into the account after it is closed before sending you the remainder. If you can't see your account online after it is closed, ask your broker if any residual interest has swept in.

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