Pioneer statements have significant descrepancies!

If you track your finances in a money manager, you should not invest in any offerings of Pioneer Investments. There are several other companies offering UNI-K plans for small business. If you need to track your investments, I recommend going with anyone other than Pioneer. Their statements cannot even be reconciled to themselves, how can you possibly reconcile your account?

7/30/07 Update: Someone from Pioneer DID call last week while I was on vacation, but I either copied the number down incorrectly or was given the wrong number and could not get in touch with the person who called.

Class Action Lawsuit?! My Account# was 78808A14 for anyone who may need to reference it. I suspect that this issue is not at all unique to my account.

NOTE: To this day, Pioneer has done nothing to my knowledge to fix or even acknowledge that they have a problem. And good luck trying to get to a supervisor to escalate this issue - they probably will not return your phone calls. Although I usually account for every penny in all of my accounts, there is a little over $300 through all these transactions that is unaccounted for. I've spent more time than the $300 is worth trying to figure out where the money went, so I've just given up - Pioneer can have it. How many people would be willing to give up $300 for absolutely nothing? You would, if you'd been through this hell with Pioneer.

In early 2006 when I started investing with Pioneer's Unk-K plan, I received my first statement. I entered the statement transactions into Quicken as usual, and found that the values did not match the statement summary holdings after they were entered. I went through the transactions several times to make sure that I had not made an error, and I had not. I contacted Pioneer and after several phone calls and long conversations with the representatives over a period of a month, I was basically told that the descrepancy was due to their agreement with my full service brokerage firm and it was a difference in the way the two company's round their transactions. I accepted this at face value, and chose to use the other firm's statements and discard Pioneer's statements. I have tracked all of my finances in either Quicken or Money since 1989, and enter every transaction. Pioneer is the only company I've dealt with in all these years whose statements do not match their transactions - they are detailed on the statement, but if you add them up, they do not reconcile to the totals!

My frustration was compounded after taking advantage of Pioneer's Roth contribution to a UNI-K in 2007. It turns out that they deposit the Roth funds with the previous traditional funds, and though they maintain records internally to separate the funds, their statments simply lump everything together. There is no way (without complex calculations every time you receive a statement) for you to determine which transactions are Roth and which are Traditional. As anyone who actively manages their investments knows, this throws off all ability for you to track your Roth and Traditional funds separately and determine how each type of investment is performing. I finally decided that based on the fund mixing and the inability for Pioneer to work with their partners (my brokerage firm) to ensure that statement balances and transactions match up, it was time to move on. Was I in for several unpleasant surprises...

Timeline

2006 Spoke with agent regarding Roth contributions. Agent assured me that funds would be tracked separately. What the agent didn't know (and couldn't tell me) was that Pioneer would track the funds separately, but I would have no way of knowing what the individual balances were.

4/2007 Roth contributions were coded incorrectly by Pioneer as Traditional Funds. They put in a request to get these funds re-coded.

4/2007 Spoke with Abdulla after calling the 866-438-8645 main number. Basically, the question was: How can I know which dividends go with Roth and which with Traditional? He didn't know the answer, but said he'd find out and call me back. His message on my answering machine sounded like jibberish. He made no sense, and I can't even summarize what I think he was trying to say. My point was that Roth dividends are not taxable, but the previous employee/employer contributions to the Traditional plan ARE taxable. These dividends must be tracked separately for tax purposes! I have to have a way to know which dividends are roth and which are not! Basically, Pioneer says that they track this internally, and we will find out when we sell the funds how much is in each type of plan. That was enough for me - time to liquidate and go with someone who tracks the two investment types the way they should be - separately, with transactions for each type detailed on every statement.

5/2007 Spoke with Paulette regarding the Roth contributions. She indicated that Pioneer cannot divide out for Roth portion on every statement. She said this was done at the end of each year, but not quarterly. It seems my only way to track these throughout the year was to move either the Roth or the Traditional funds to another company. I was never able to verify if Pioneer really does separate out the funds at the end of the year. I couldn't wait that long, and had no desire to enter a year's worth of data at the end of every year.

5/20/2007 Requested the UNI-K Withdrawl Kit - filled out the form and specified that all TRADITIONAL funds be transferred to a Traditional Account with another brokerage firm. Filled out another copy of the form specifying that all ROTH funds be transferred to a Roth Account with another fund manager.

5/24/2007 Spoke with supervisor Patrick about the issue, because I felt there was a terrible lack of record keeping on Pioneer's part. He confirmed that the problem with reconciliation is due to discrepancies between the rounding the transactions between Pioneer and my brokerage firm. If I change my holdings to just the funds that reconcile properly, I can get statements that are accurate. Pioneer keeps track of Roth vs Regular contributions, but they do not show it until the plan is closed. When the plan is closed, a reconciliation report will show which are Roth and which are Traditional. At some point over the next week, I examined my Pioneer statements more closely. As it turns out, the reconciliation problem was not only with Pioneer Funds, but also with other funds in the account. So the problem is not rounding differences between the two companies, but in the way Pioneer summarizes their own statements!

5/30/2007 Contacted Patrick Ferrel (Omaha) to let him know that it's not just Merrill Funds that show discrepancy - he was unavailable. I left him a message on the 30th, and again on the 31st requesting a callback, and he did not return either call. I told him I was terminating my plan due to Pioneer's conflicting statement information, and wanted to make sure that this issue was logged somewhere to hopefully have someone look into the discrepancies.

6/1/07 The ROTH contribution earnings were confirmed to transfer as specified on the withdrawl form, but the principal Roth investment was missing! As it turns out, Pioneer transferred the earnings, but sent a check for the principal to me! What?! I forwarded the check, which I found could not be countersigned over, so that check was returned to me by the other fund manager, and once again, I requested that Pioneer do what they should have done in the first place - transfer all Roth funds to the new account!

6/18/07 Contacted Patrick Ferrel (Omaha) AGAIN to let him know I closed the account, and that I'd like to talk to him again regarding my experience. His voicemail said he was out of the office until Wed 6/27...

7/16/07 Pioneer cancelled the check they sent to me and sent the Roth funds to the other fund manager. Somehow, the ROTH funds managed to be deposited into the Traditional account with the new fund manager! At least Pioneer is consistent... Contacted the new fund manager to have them re-code everything correctly.

7/19/07 It's still not completely over, but almost. Bottom line is that if I had not kept a constant check on nearly every contribution to the Pioneer account, I could be in deep trouble with the IRS come withdrawl or audit time. I am SO relieved to be out from under Pioneer. I cannot tell you how much time and money I have wasted at this point just trying to get answers. I will never invest in any Pioneer related fund in the future. Based on the accounting I've seen on their statements, they are putting the company at risk of Class Action Lawsuit and potential SEC investigation. What do you think that will do to their fund values?

This page was originally placed here because I got tired of having to explain this situation to every new person I spoke with at Pioneer. When I contacted Pioneer on 7/19/2007 to have a supervisor review this page and hopefully pass along my concerns, I was told that they will have someone call me back tomorrow - big surprise! Maybe Patrick will finally follow up? I doubt it, Patrick still hasn't returned my calls from earlier this year. I decided I'd add a little more history to the page and provide it to everyone. If ONE person can avoid having to go through the time and expense I had to go through, just to finally determine that Pioneer was not going to work for me, that would make me feel better about the situation - at least it can potentially save someone else from all this hassle, lost time, and lost money.

Interesting site discussing Pioneer - Nazi connection?: http://www.antipasministries.com/html/file0000042.htm