I would not spit on them if they were on fire. Less than 0
Took multiple fees (set up fee,IRA distribution method fee, annual fee). When I requested a distribution which can only be done by fax/mail, I requested direct deposit. I neglected to send in a voided check, so they mailed it to me without even the slightest attempt to reach me & let me know they would need in voided check... funny how they can trust everything else I put on that form, but not the routing number and account number of my bank... Shysters....>RUN AWAY!!!!!!!!!
RIP OFF -- $25 fees!!!
RIP OFF! IF YOU HAVE MONEY WITH THIS COMPANY REMOVE IMMIDIATELY!!! $25 fees taken out... how long will it take before your account is in the negative numbers - ?!?! No communication rather than the form needed for tax purposes which mysteriously appeared one year - !?!?
They say anything to get you off the phone
My former employer used this company for the 401k so I had no choice. Managing your funds on the website is cumbersome and slow. They say transactions made before a certain time are good that day but it isn't true. You are also only allowed a few transactions per month.
I'm still in the middle of rolling my money over and it is a nightmare. My funds gave gone mysteriously offline and even the rep I called doesn't know why. Sent them a fax and they never got it even though I have the fax confirmation, and he said the confirmation doesn't mean anything.
I had a 401k through Principal. Customers are supposed to be able to withdrawn their funds using an online application process. When I notified Principal that I no longer worked at the company I worked for, they blocked my ability to withdraw my funds using electronic forms. By the time I submitted my paper application, my account had lost over $700 in vested balance.
Customer service and financial advance are not priority #1
**Principal Financial Group as a 401k administrator**
I recently started with a company that uses Principal as its 401K admin. I knew trouble was afoot when I started reviewing the funds in which I was going to invest my 401K contribution. All the funds are 'private', i.e., not regulated by the SEC, and they do not provide a prospectus (nor offer much information about the funds). The pool of funds is small - about 2-dozen. No money market funds. One fund is a real estate fund that has a history of refusing sell orders until months have passed. The expenses for their funds are 2-3 times higher than comparable funds administered by another well-known 401K admin company.
One bond fund they run hijacks the name of a retail bond fund that pays dividends. Their version of the fund with the same name does not pay dividends. Dishonest, misleading - I don't know which.
The reporting available on the 401k website is horrible, e.g., it's extremely difficult to review what you paid for a share of any fund in the past (and their website is the only source for this data). I finally figured out you have to display a graph of the fund's share price and then click on a point on the graph's price line corresponding to the date for which you want a price. A request to simply provide a table of historical prices for the funds was answered "We have no plans to change our reports".
The "current balance" and "activity" reports are equally cumbersome to use. It's very difficult to simply harvest transaction records off the website for the purpose of running your own charts. For example, they insert daily "transaction" records recording how much you have "lost" or "gained" based on the increase or decrease of the price of a share in the funds in your portfolio. Stuff like this is noise - proper transaction records should simply show contributions and purchases, their source and which fund's shares were purchased
Principal.com customer service reps are friendly, but generally incompetent to answer questions (an exception is the Princor brokerage reps - they seem knowledgeable and provide fairly accurate answers immediately). Each time I've called, I get "we'll need 2-3 days to research that". About 1/2 the time, a return call never comes. For the times I have received an answer, it has turned out to be wrong about 1/2 the time. I managed to exchange a few e-mails with the CSR manager. He ended the exchange with a form letter that primarily described what a 401k plan is for (!??). I guess they don't have much in their arsenal they can use to mollify dissatisfied customers.
In an attempt to invest in funds other than their small pool of private funds, I opened one of their Princor "self-directed brokerage accounts". They charge $75/year and $25/trade to use it - another rip-off (almost $675 per year if you trade each payday). For the funds you can trade in, they don't honor the prospectus, e.g., they set their own rules for minimum purchases for 2nd and subsequent purchases. When I called and asked where these rules were published, I got the old "we'll need 2-3 days to research that".
The "seam" between Principal and Princor is obvious. I won't get into the difficulty of reconciling transaction records from the Principal 401k website and the separate ones on the Princor website, but, doing so is very hard.
I documented a comparison to another 401K admin company, talked it over with my company's mgmt and they agreed to research the other 401K admin company to determine if we should switch to the other company. I sure hope they fire Principal and select the other company!
Principal may be the "largest", but, in my opinion, they are the worst.
Principal - I can't wait to be done with you forever!
This was the investment company my former employer chose to use. I am convinced they chose Principal Financial Group because they were the cheapest. Well, you get what you pay for. When the market tanked - Principal Financial Group's investments really tanked. I have other investments and theirs were by far the worst. As the market improved, their funds did not improved. I wonder what in the heck they were doing managing the funds.
I have contacted them a few times and they have been less than helpful. I left my company in February 2010 and received a handful of phone calls and letters from Principal Financial Group which almost seemed like threats. You better call us...or else. Or else what? I have been moving, getting ready for a baby, and starting a new job so I haven't called them. But once I get my act together, they will get a nice call from me to get that money out of there to some competent investors.
Huge runaround ripoff on 401k withdrawal
I lost a new home sale waiting for them to give ME MY MONEY. Endless phone calls, "we're over nighting it" Oh it didn't get there"? Cancel that one wait another 45 days. Still no check. My next call with be to the SEC.
Do not use them, they stole intersest money from me by making ME wait for my funds.
plagued with inefficiencies and painfully slow
When my Father passed I was informed by his previous employer that all of the pensions and 401Ks are handled through Principal Financial group. Since my Father had a pension, I anticipated that having his money rolled over into my inherited IRA would take a bit longer than a 401K, but I had no idea that it would take more than 4 months!!! After logging over 20 calls to Principal Financial group and dealing with the terribly inefficient customer service reps, I am still waiting for the funds to come through.
As a benefits administrator of a company, I would highly, no STRONGLY discourage you from using the Principal Financial Group. There are no case managers per se, so each time a claimant calls, they get an entirely new rep who does not have any background on the account. This results in them placing you on hold for 2- 3 minutes while they review their, obviously, antiquated database to come up to speed. There was one rep who had not known the background of my claim and had made assumptions about my inability to claim my Father's benefit as I was a non- spouse beneficiary despite the paperwork my Father had completed stating that I was.
My entire process of having to deal with the Principal Financial Group has been excruciating, frustrating and a complete drain of my patience. DO NOT DO BUSINESS WITH THEM!
WORST I'VE SEEN. Lousey experience overall
I find this company very hard to work with. In addition to the no-name fund limitations, and the comments above about their fund choices being costly and largely unregulated, the user interface stinks. Every time I try to deal with them it is a headache and disappointment.
After the housing bubble burst, my company had them in to speak to us about investing in tough times. I specifically in writing asked if the fund managers of their "bond and mortgage fund" were let go after their abysmal performance. No response. The guys who were supposed to be mortgage industry experts, didn't think anything of buying securities based on foolish priciples like no money down and 105% funding. They are not accountable to anyone, as far as I can tell. Their reputation is poor, choices are poor, interface is poor, ethics are ???? What is to like about them? Fidelity where 3 of my previous employers maintain accounts - smokes these guys every day of the week.
THIS COMPANY IS A GOOD TARGET FOR A CONGRESSIONAL INVESTIGATION into why private citizens are individually punished by the decisions of their employers. I will be contacting my Congressman about how citizens stuck with companies like this through the decisions of their employers should be allowed to roll out their moneys without leaving the company. Please let me go elsewhere! Why are we citizens stuck with bad financial options because our employers make bad service decisions? This reminds me of the healthcare problem: Your only choice may be lousy one, but it is connected to your boss. What a bad idea. Tying my personal investment choices to my continued employment quashes competition and drives 401K management company behavior based on the wrong motivations. Principal appears more concerned with the companies with which they contract than with the persons who those companies represent. We need to separate retirement accounts from corporate relationships and let the free market settle the winners and losers. These clowns are clearly the losers, in my opinion.
Principal is incompetent and unethical in business.
Principal held my money in US property account for over a year while I lost thousands of dollars. They had initially listed this account as stable and when I tried to discuss this with an advisor she said that she was mad too and there was nothing I could do. Every interaction with staff was troubling. They even told me that they had never heard of educational withdrawls from IRAs being penalty free. When I switched employers and was finally able to take out my money from the other accounts, I called for a rollover form to get out of there. Although it took them two weeks to send me the form (while I lost an additional $2k), I did receive an email that same day stating that they were now allowing distributions from the frozen property account. The account had been frozen for almost a year and a half, and magically the same day I request to withdrawl my other funds I receive that email? They are engaging in unethical business practices and they know it.