Your broker gets a financial kiss goodbye

— -- Q: Now that Wachovia wb will no longer be independent, I want to move my account to a discount brokerage firm. How much of a fee will Wachovia charge to transfer my assets?

A: One of the dirtiest secrets many brokerages have is that they punish you if you leave.

Nearly all brokers ding customers with fees to transfer assets to another brokerage. Not only can the fees be significant, upwards of several hundred dollars, they're usually poorly disclosed and hard to find even on the brokerage's website.

That's one reason I recommend that all investors, even before they open an account, find out what the transfer fee is in case they later decide to move their money. You can read more about his here.

Wachovia's fee is listed under "Other" brokerage fees on the fee schedule (pdf). And it's $95.

Don't take that as fact, though, since your account might be different. You'll want to call Wachovia Securities yourself and confirm. The number is 800-326-4434.

Matt Krantz is a financial markets reporter at USA TODAY and author of Investing Online for Dummies. He answers a different reader question every weekday in his Ask Matt column at To submit a question, e-mail Matt at Click here to see previous Ask Matt columns.