Specialized Trust Services IRA Review

Specialized IRA Services
Specialized IRA Services - by, April 1, 2011
3.5/ 5stars
Specialized IRA Services
  • Editor Rating
  • Good
Review Summary :

Specialized IRA Services has been serving investors since 2015. The company is one of the few that offers a solo 401(k) option and they offer direct access to customer service through a live chat line. Find out if it’s the right IRA provider for you.

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  • Live chat function available for customer service
  • Wide variety of investing options
  • Solo 401(k) plan available


  • No cryptocurrency offering
  • Room for improvement regarding reviews
Quick Facts about Specialized IRA Services
Year Founded:2015
Location:Albuquerque, New Mexico
Annual Fees:Starting at $219
Offers 401(k)?:Yes
Offers Roth IRA?:Yes
Crypto Offered?:No
Reviewed By:Jack Choros
Published On:June 4, 2020
Last Modified:June 4, 2020
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Specialized Trust Services has been around for more than a decade. It’s not the longest-serving self-directed IRA company that investors can choose to work with, but that’s still long enough to maintain a certain amount of confidence in what the organization has to offer.

The unique value proposition at Specialized Trust Services is the fact that they heavily promote the idea of opening an individual 401(k) plan that allows contributors to put tens of thousands of dollars into their account every year. This strategy is certainly for high net worth individuals for the most part, or groups of individuals looking to invest together. It’s not illegal but it’s a different spin on using something like a Limited liability Corporation that enables the use of IRA accounts as checkbooks if you will.

When it comes to actual investing options Specialized Trust Services offers the same kind of alternative investments as many other providers, though they don’t specifically list things like digital currencies as options. Real estate, private placements, precious metals, those are more Specialized Trust Services’ cup of tea.

After an extensive review of the organization and its offerings, we rate it in the middle of the pack. But you can be the judge and decide for yourself.

The Management Team and Board of Directors of Specialized Trust Services

Edwin Kelly is Chief Executive Officer of Specialized Trust Services.

Edwin Kelly, Chief Executive Officer, Specialized Trust Services

He’s successfully growing the company from 300 accounts to 3,000 accounts and from $2 billion in assets under management to over $12 billion. Prior to joining the company, Kelly’s results at companies like UBS and BISYS allowed him to rise to the top. He has over 24 years of experience in finance and has grown the firm’s staff to 15 employees.

Keith Marsh is the Chief Operating Officer of Specialized Trust Services.

Keith Marsh, Chief Operating Officer, Specialized Trust Services

He founded the company and he’s been working in the industry tirelessly for more than a decade. Marsh is best known in the industry for the following achievements:

  • He’s increased retail accounts with the company by more than 122%.
  • He’s helped increase the company’s net promoter score.
  • Keith serves on the board for the Retirement Industry Trust Association.
  • Keith created the company’s unique 401(k) plans.

In comparison to other IRA companies, Specialized Trust Services’ executive team is obviously small but it’s mighty. Given they’ve managed to add up so many clients and their corresponding assets under one roof, Specialized Trust Services is worth considering for your self-directed IRA. Let’s find out about the investing options available with the company.

Investing Account Options at Specialized Trust Services

IRA providers usually offer basic accounts for individuals looking to be self-directed. You may have heard of them before. The Traditional IRA, Roth IRA, SEP, and Simple IRAs and 401(k) plans.

Specialized Trust Services is actually one of the few providers that doesn’t really promote anything like the above. Still customers can probably phone in and get the traditional accounts of the really want to. What Specialized Trust Services promotes is something different that very few competitors provide. The individual 401(k) plan.

Normally 401(k) plans are reserved for corporations because they carry heavy administrative fees that the average individual wouldn’t be willing to pay. There are several advantages and disadvantages to using a 401(k) plan as an individual, and the company’s website does a good job of providing a description of what exactly an individual 401(k) plan is.

A Self-Directed Solo 401(k) Plan

A self-directed 401(k) plan is a plan for self-employed individuals looking to gain access to special features, advantages and benefits that other plans don’t offer. So what are some of those features, advantages and benefits?

For one, contributors can place up to $56,000 in the account every year. They can also get tax-free loans, tax benefits, flexible contribution options, and personal lines of credit on the account. There are no limits on your income that affect how much or how little you can contribute to the account.

Investment Choices at Specialized Trust Services

Most of the investment choices available at Specialized Trust Services are focused around real estate. That’s the case with many other self-directed IRA providers: Here’s a quick list of all of them:

  • Trust Deeds & Mortgages
  • Real estate
  • Tax/Liens, Trusts and Deeds

Each of the three categories above are pretty standard practice when it comes to offering investments to customers. Specialized Trust Services also offers these alternative types of investments:

  • FOREX and futures.
  • Private stock
  • Partnerships and Joint ventures
  • Precious metals
  • Private placements and more…

The reality is the matter what a self-directed IRA company offers its patrons on their website, usually if you contact them they might be willing to work with you on other kinds of alternative assets not listed. As long as an asset class is legal in the eyes of the IRS, if not Specialized Trust Services, many other providers will offer you the right services and investments to suit your needs.

The Fee Schedule at Specialized Trust Services

Specialized Trust Services’ fee schedule is one of the more straightforward schedules we’ve reviewed here in comparison to other IRAs. Many offer a fee structure that charges based on a combination of quarterly and annual fees. Those fees also get charged based on the value of the account.

While Specialized Trust Services does engage in some of this, it’s a little more of a straightforward approach on their end. The one-time activation fee for a standard Traditional or Roth IRA is $95. They also offer a concierge style of this account opening for $225.

The company’s minimum annual fees are some of the lowest in the industry which is great. An investor with less than $50,000 in their self-directed IRA will pay just a $219 annual fee. Specialized Trust Services charges each level of fees a small multiplier to get to that fee.

At the next level, the minimum fee is $450 a year with a multiplier of 0.006 for an account worth up to $100,000.

Moving all the way up to $200,000, the fees go up to $600 a year minimum with a multiplier of 0.0045.

From there an account worth up to $1 million will cost a minimum of $900 a year and anybody with over a million dollars pays $4,000 a year in fees.

Here’s a simplified version of Specialized Trust Company’s fee chart:

Fee TypeMinimum Fee Amount
Standard Activation$95
Conceirge Activation$225
$1,000,001 and up$4,000
Buy and Sell transactions included4
Additional transactions$75 each

Customer Support at Specialized Trust Services

As soon as you get to Specialized Trust Services’ website, you get a pop up for a live chat customer service representative. Not every provider offers this.

Specialized Trust Services Customer Reviews

In comparison to other IRA companies, Specialized Trust Services actually doesn’t have too many reviews listed online. It doesn’t have a Google business profile but it does rate a 3 out of 5 stars on BridEye.com with nine people leaving a comment. That review alone ranks Specialized Trust Services in the middle of the pack in comparison to other IRA providers, like uDirect Services.

Another rating on a similar website, Yelp.com ranks the company a three out of five stars as well.

The Better Business Bureau website confirms all of this with its own three out of five star rating for the company, with two complaints on the record.

Overall it does seem Specialized Trust Services takes care of its customers most of the time so it’s still a decent IRA company to work with.

Specialized Trust Services FAQs

Here are some questions you might want to know the answer to when dealing with Specialized Trust Services.

Specialized Trust Services is one of the few custodians of serious about promoting the concept of opening an individual 401(k) plan. The 401(k) plan usually comes with more administrative costs than most traditional IRA options, but it does offer greater flexibility than those other options including the option to open a limited liability corporation so that you can use your IRA like a checkbook.

Specialized Trust Services allows you to cash checks just like you would from anywhere else. You can go to a bank, credit union or cash advance business to get your hands on your money. Most IRA companies charge a fee of between $25 and $50 to issue you a check. You will also likely pay a fee to sell the assets in your account in order to get the cash. It will usually cost you more than $100 to sell your assets and then also get a check on top of that.

The same rules apply to all self-directed IRA accounts and businesses. They are not allowed to offer their clients the opportunity to invest in collectibles like coins or art. They also can’t allow you to invest in life insurance policies or anything that lives inside of an S-Corporation.

Specialized Trust Services doesn’t have the greatest customer reviews but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t work with them. They do a fair job of taking care of complaints and have been in business for more than 10 years. That’s more than enough to develop an established reputation, so let’s give Specialized Trust Services some credit.

As far as product offerings go its clear they are after a specific audience who wants an individual 401(k). If you want something more specific than that, other IRA providers might be better for you.

That’s exactly why we recommend taking a look at other retirement investing options before choosing the self-directed IRA account that works best for you. Once you have a clearer picture of what you want, go ahead and work towards your retirement dream!


See our Top IRA Reviews page for more company reviews and a comparison table of self-directed IRA providers.


Specialized IRA Services
Specialized IRA Services - by, April 1, 2011
3.5/ 5stars
Specialized IRA Services
  • Editor Rating
  • Good
Review Summary :

Specialized IRA Services has been serving investors since 2015. The company is one of the few that offers a solo 401(k) option and they offer direct access to customer service through a live chat line. Find out if it’s the right IRA provider for you.

Get Info Kit Now
Have you purchased products from Specialized IRA Services? Leave a review!

Leave your rating

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