<img src="//bat.bing.com/action/0?ti=5598587&amp;Ver=2" height="0" width="0" style="display:none; visibility: hidden;">

Have an old 401(k)?

You can consolidate your old  retirement plans into one self-directed IRA. We can help you.

Contact us

Compare Our Fees


To invest in alternative assets such as real estate or private equity with your retirement savings, you need a self-directed IRA. The IRS states that this must be through a passive 3rd party. Many investors choose a custodian for the added protections this oversight brings.

However, there are many financial institutions out there that hold alternative investments in IRAs, not all of which are custodians. It's important to differentiate between these types of companies, since they're not all regulated the same (if at all). It’s important to choose the right company— one that will help you meet your retirement goals. 

Here are the basics differences between types of companies that provide self-directed IRA services:

IRA Providers & Administrators

  • Usually NOT custodians— these companies rely on a custodian (a separate entity) to conduct business.
  • Not directly regulated by state and federal law, they act as a third-party administrator for your account.
  • May be backed by an outside custodian who they operate under or have a contract with. 

IRA Promoters

  • Usually offers a product such as an LLC to hold your investment. 
  • May or may not be custodians, but typically works with one.
  • Most act as a third-party investment provider, referring business to one or many custodians.  

IRA Custodians:

  • Are regulated directly by state and federal law.  
  • Hold the title of the assets and investments in your IRA directly.
  • Must comply with IRS requirements, and are directly overseen and regularly audited by the regulating state.


DOWNLOAD: Self-Directed IRAs: What You Need to Know to Get Started

About Self Directed IRA Custodians

A company must apply to become a self-directed IRA custodian. They must demonstrate certain requirements and meet certain legal and IRS regulations before approval. This is a complex process. The company must meet strict standards and provide a capital pledge, insurance to cover liabilities, a fidelity bond, and other stringent qualifications. When the company and its leaders have demonstrated they are capable to perform custodian duties as outlined by the law, then it receives a Charter and Certificate of Authority from the state in which it applied. 

Trust companies are audited regularly and held to specific guidelines based on written policies and procedures. During these reviews, auditors do a thorough examination of the books, records, funds, and IRA investments held by the company. They want to make sure that everything is being done correctly. Auditors will specifically be looking for any prohibited transactions (transactions involving disqualified persons or asset-types), as this falls afoul of IRS regulations. Our charter (and all self-directed IRA custodian charters) specifically forbids these types of investments. For example, a self-directed IRA custodian cannot legally offer one of their clients any investment advice or investment opportunities. The investment options are yours as is conducting due diligence on the assets.

IRAR is a custodian regulated directly by the South Dakota Division of Banking. The state of South Dakota has the most knowledge and experience in working with self-directed IRA custodians. Our annual account reviews include but are not limited to audits of:

  • Rrecordkeeping
  • Safekeeping of assets
  • Compliance with federal and state laws
  • IRS Reporting
  • Trust accounting
  • Account correspondence
  • Completing trust account tax returns
  • Distributing account statements


Custodians Come In All Types And Sizes, But Choose Wisely

Not all custodians are the same or provide the same services, but they all are regulated similarly by federal and state law.  

It is important to determine the type of company you want to work with, based on your investment strategy. Are you looking for a one-stop shop? If so, perhaps a large company with many types of services would be ideal. But beware, don't get stuck with a company that is a jack of all trades, master of none. Read How to Avoid the Worst Kinds of Self-Directed IRAs for suggestions on picking the right provider for your investment strategy.

If you are looking for specialized services and personalized service, IRAR is the ideal custodian. We specialize in real estate and private equity transactions in self-directed IRAs. We bring years of knowledge, experience, and hands-on assistance as needed. We do not offer, endorse, or promote products or investments. Your IRA, your choice. 

When choosing a self-directed IRA custodian, here’s what to look for:


Overlooked fees can have a huge impact on IRA accounts. Retirement plan fees are the biggest drain on retirement funds, keeping your hard-saved money from growing like it should. Learn how custodians charge and compare to understand transaction fees and schedules. As your investments grow, you shouldn’t have to pay more. Use this TEMPLATE to compare custodian fees across multiple providers.

Industry Knowledge

At IRAR, our team holds the Certified IRA Services Professional (CISP) designation. Our average employee has 8 years of experience in self-directed IRAs, uncommon in our niche industry. We’re a seasoned and dedicated group. We have a passion for education. No matter the question, you know you’re getting up-to-date information every time you call.

Clear communication is very important, especially when it comes to your retirement. If you have a time-sensitive question, you want to make sure you can get ahold of the staff. — and when you do, they know what they’re talking about. IRAR’s committed to answering the phone, because we know it’s essential to have a team you can trust behind you. We’ll be waiting in the wings, to help keep your retirement fund on the right side of IRS regulations. Want to discuss strategy with our self-directed IRA experts? Set up a free consult.

Servicing Times

Servicing times are very important. Timing can make or break an investment deal. You can end up paying late fees if your bills aren’t paid on time. You want the custodian you chose to make things easier for you, not harder.

To learn about a company’s customer service, servicing times, or communication style, pay attention to the signs. Did someone call you back in a timely manner? Did you get tossed around from one person to the next? Ask how long it takes to process your transaction. Asking these types of questions can save you major headaches when trying to get the basics handled down the line.

Below are important factors that you should take into consideration when researching companies. If you have any questions on how to get started, reach out to an IRAR representative and we’d be happy to help.

Self-Directed IRA Fee Comparison Template

If you need assistance with transferring your account to IRAR, call us:    888-322-6534