Madison Trust Company Reviews: Legit or Scam? (2024 Upd.)

Written By Colin Kuehn  |  Precious Metals IRA 

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Investing in a retirement plan is an important financial decision. It requires careful consideration and understanding of various investment options.

Traditional Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) and 401(k) plans typically offer a limited range of assets such as stocks and bonds. However, a self-directed IRA provides a broader scope, allowing investment in alternative assets like real estate, precious metals, promissory notes, and private startups. One of the most respected providers of self-directed IRA services is Madison Trust Company. 

This Madison Trust Company review will offer a comprehensive evaluation of their services, customer experiences, and overall reputation.

What is Madison Trust Company?

a screenshot of the Madison Trust Company homepage

Madison Trust Company is an IRS-approved custodian specializing in self-directed IRAs. Based in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, it's been serving customers since 2004. The company's key focus is to provide an expanded universe of investment options to their clients, while ensuring utmost compliance and smooth execution of transactions. Its team of experienced professionals is dedicated to providing excellent customer service, helping you navigate through the complexities of self-directed investing.

Madison Trust Company Self-Directed IRA

A Madison Trust Company self-directed IRA provides the account holder - the investor - with the power to direct their IRA investments. This offering allows investors to explore a wider array of investment vehicles not typically available in traditional IRA or 401(k) plans. It's ideal for those who want more control over their retirement portfolios and the opportunity to invest in areas of personal expertise and interest.

Self-Directed IRA Assets

a selection of the investment options that the Madison Trust Company offers

A self-directed Individual Retirement Account (IRA) provides investors the flexibility to diversify their portfolios beyond conventional assets like stocks, bonds, and mutual funds. This investment strategy lets you direct your IRA funds towards a broader range of alternative assets. Let’s delve deeper into some of these asset types that can be held within a self-directed IRA through Madison Trust Company.

Real Estate

Real estate is a popular investment choice in self-directed IRAs. Investors have the opportunity to invest in a broad range of real estate types, including residential properties, commercial real estate, agricultural land, rental properties, and more. Investing in real estate through a self-directed IRA provides potential benefits such as rental income, capital appreciation, and tax advantages. However, it's crucial to be aware of the rules and restrictions imposed by the IRS. For instance, any property purchased with IRA funds cannot be for personal use by the IRA owner or disqualified persons.

Promissory Notes

A promissory note is essentially a form of loan agreement between the lender (the IRA) and a borrower. The borrower promises to repay the loan plus interest to the IRA over a set period. These can be secured (backed by collateral) or unsecured. The terms, interest rates, and duration of the note are flexible, allowing for potentially significant returns. However, it's important to note that investing in promissory notes comes with risk, particularly if the note is unsecured.

Precious Metals

Investing in precious metals can serve as a hedge against inflation and market volatility. Madison Trust Company allows for the inclusion of IRS-approved gold, silver, platinum, and palladium bullion in your self-directed IRA. The precious metals must meet certain purity standards and must be stored in an approved depository to maintain the tax-advantaged status of your IRA. It's a unique way to diversify your portfolio while safeguarding it from economic uncertainties.

Crowdfunding and Startups

With the rise of crowdfunding platforms and the potential for high returns, investing in startups has become more accessible. A self-directed IRA allows you to invest in these early-stage businesses, offering them the capital they need to grow while potentially providing substantial returns if they become successful. However, this type of investment carries a high level of risk, as startups often fail. Thorough research and understanding of the business model and market are critical before investing.

Other Assets

Beyond the aforementioned asset types, a self-directed IRA through Madison Trust Company offers the ability to invest in other alternative assets such as tax lien certificates, private equity, private lending, and Limited Liability Companies (LLCs), among others. These options can provide additional diversification and potential returns but require a thorough understanding of each asset's unique risks and benefits.

Remember, the key to successful investing through a self-directed IRA is diversification, due diligence, and understanding the rules set forth by the IRS. While these assets can provide substantial returns, they also come with their own set of risks, making it crucial to consult with a financial advisor or tax professional before proceeding with these types of investments.

How to Set up a Self-Directed IRA with Madison Trust Company

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Opening a self-directed IRA with Madison Trust Company involves a series of steps:

  1. Fill out an application online, providing your personal information, beneficiary designations, and your choice of IRA type (Traditional, Roth, SEP, or SIMPLE).
  2. Once your account is established, fund it either by making a contribution, or by performing a transfer or rollover from an existing retirement account.
  3. When funds are available, select your desired investments and submit the purchase order. Madison Trust will then execute the transaction on your behalf.

The Madison Trust Company Directed Trust

In addition to self-directed IRAs, Madison Trust Company offers a unique service known as a Directed Trust. This service presents a compelling choice for investors seeking additional control over their financial assets while also benefiting from the legal protections offered by a trust structure.

A Directed Trust is a specific type of trust agreement where the duties are divided between an administrative trustee and a set of investment advisors, or directors. Madison Trust Company serves as the administrative trustee, handling the technical and administrative aspects of maintaining the trust. This includes tasks like regulatory compliance, record-keeping, reporting, and executing transactions.

Meanwhile, the role of investment decisions falls upon the appointed investment advisors or directors. In many cases, this may be the grantor of the trust (the individual who has established the trust) or a team of investment professionals chosen by the grantor. This division of labor allows the grantor to maintain control over investment decisions while freeing them from the administrative complexities of trust management.

Here are the key characteristics of a Directed Trust:

Control

As a grantor, you maintain significant control over the investments within the trust. You can appoint yourself or any person(s) or institution(s) you trust to make the investment decisions. This could include financial advisors, investment firms, or family members. This high degree of control is particularly appealing to sophisticated investors who desire more autonomy over their investment strategies.

Even though the grantor maintains control over the investment decisions, the assets in the trust are legally owned by the trust itself. This ownership structure can offer a degree of protection against creditors and legal judgments, provided the trust is correctly structured and administered.

Flexibility

Directed Trusts offer a broad array of permissible investments, similar to a self-directed IRA. You can invest in real estate, private equity, precious metals, and many other alternative asset classes. This flexibility allows for sophisticated investment strategies and portfolio diversification.

Efficiency

By dividing duties between an administrative trustee and investment directors, Directed Trusts create an efficient system that combines expert trust administration with personalized investment control. The grantor is free to focus on investment decisions without having to worry about the day-to-day administration of the trust.

It's important to understand that a Directed Trust is a complex financial instrument and should be used by investors who understand the risks and responsibilities involved. Additionally, as with all financial decisions, it's recommended to consult with a trusted financial advisor or legal professional to ensure a Directed Trust fits within your overall financial strategy.

Customer Reviews and Ratings

a screenshot of the Madison Trust Company's BBB rating

BBB Rating

At the time of publication, Madison Trust Company has an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau (BBB), an indication of the company's commitment to resolving customer complaints and providing excellent service.

What Customers are Saying

Customer feedback for Madison Trust Company is generally positive. Many clients appreciate the company's responsive customer service, streamlined transaction process, and knowledgeable staff. However, as with any business, there are also some negative comments, mostly regarding administrative fees and occasional delays in transaction execution.

Madison Trust Company Pros and Cons

As with any financial institution or service, Madison Trust Company presents its own set of advantages and disadvantages. Here's a detailed look into the pros and cons associated with investing through Madison Trust Company:

Pros

Wide Array of Permissible Investments

One of the primary advantages of a Madison Trust Company self-directed IRA or Directed Trust is the wide range of permissible investments. Unlike traditional IRAs that typically allow for stocks, bonds, and mutual funds, Madison Trust allows investments in real estate, precious metals, promissory notes, and crowdfunding campaigns, among others. This variety provides investors with an opportunity for greater diversification and potentially higher returns.

Reliable and Responsive Customer Service

Madison Trust Company is often praised for its customer service. They maintain a dedicated team of professionals that are readily available to answer queries and guide investors through the intricacies of self-directed investing. This level of service can be a significant asset for investors who are new to self-directed IRAs and alternative investments.

A+ BBB Rating

Madison Trust Company has an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau, demonstrating its dedication to customer satisfaction and its commitment to resolving customer complaints.

High Level of Expertise

Madison Trust Company's team exhibits a high level of expertise in self-directed IRAs, Directed Trusts, and alternative investments. Their knowledge is a vital resource for investors navigating the complex rules and regulations associated with these types of investments.

Cons

Higher Fees

One of the most commonly cited drawbacks of Madison Trust Company is its fee structure. Some investors find their fees to be higher than those of other self-directed IRA providers. These fees can include account setup fees, annual account fees, transaction fees, and more. It's important for potential investors to fully understand the fee structure before opening an account.

Transaction Execution Time

While many customers appreciate Madison Trust Company's customer service, some have reported longer than expected wait times for transaction execution. It's important to keep in mind that self-directed IRA transactions can be complex and require a certain amount of time to execute properly, especially for unconventional investments like real estate or private equity.

In summary, Madison Trust Company offers a flexible, diversified approach to investing in retirement accounts, backed by reliable customer service and a high level of expertise. However, potential investors must weigh these advantages against the potentially higher fees and transaction execution times. As always, it's crucial to conduct your due diligence and consult with a financial advisor before making any investment decisions.

Final Thoughts

Madison Trust Company is a well-respected provider of self-directed IRAs, offering a wide range of investment options to help diversify your retirement portfolio. Despite higher fees compared to some providers, the wealth of expertise and commitment to client satisfaction makes Madison Trust a strong contender for anyone looking to take control of their retirement investments.

As always, it is recommended to perform your due diligence and consult with a financial advisor before making any investment decisions. If you're interested in alternative assets and believe you have the knowledge to manage them effectively, a self-directed IRA from Madison Trust Company may be an excellent option for you.

a pile of free silver

Last Updated: December 31, 2023