I too was really irked to get this notice. In 1977, Merrill Lynch invented the asset management account with Bank type abilities for deposit and check writing. It was pretty 'revolutionary' then, but now its simply table stakes if you want to gather assets. As another member said, Trusts in particular, require that the entity pay its bills directly. I suppose I could set up a whole bunch of linked checking accounts to write a couple checks a year, but thats a lot to ask of a customer when, as I said up front, this service is tablestakes.
I am sure the rationale was 'we arent making money.' I pulled the SEC filings for TD Ameritrade. They somehow manage to eek out 20 basis points on the overall value of customer assets in their accounts, and they charge no account fees, and small commissions.
I called Fidelity to ask if they wanted my accounts, and they said they could have a team in my office the next day. They also said they would pay me $2,500 in cash for each account I moved with over a million dollars. There are 5. Given that Fidelity is now the back end for USAA, its passing strange they can write a check for $12,500 simply to do me the kindness of holding my assets....and eat whatever the future ACH services cost them. But then again, 20 basis points is $2,000 minimum per account per year they will make with securities lending, etc. What is it Fidelity and TD see that USAA cannot? Obviously, they see a profitable relationship. They are not dumb.
I cannot believe they won't change this back, even if they have to require a minimum account size, so I will wait a bit longer before letting Fidelity pay me to provide the basic brokerage services we need from USAA. Its ironic that the first paragraph in the new contract we signed when USAA moved our accounts onto Fidelity started with "We will" and was explicitly about ACH services.
I would rather have USAA make money on my assets than the Johnson's, but if I need 9 more checking accounts and lots of manual fund transfers, thats too much to ask.