I am a 27 year old teacher in Missouri whose district's 403(b)/457 options are provided only by FTJ FundChoice. I've attempted to parse through all the documents, understanding the layers of providers, RIA's, fees, etc... It's been a rabbit hole!
In short, here are some things I *think* I've found out:
My District's plan guy (perhaps IRS Coordinator? not sure) has a title of "Investment Advisor Representative". His business card says "Forrest T. Jones & Company"
researching him online, he is apparently with National Pension & Group Consultants Inc. in Kansas City, Missouri. Not sure what that means.
He informed me that his fees are:
$25/year for the account
.95%/year AUM Fee
Two Options - Self Directed or Outsourced.
Self Directed - all done in FTJ FundChoice Website called, 'portfoliologin'. It is built on Orion Architecture. In addition, FTJ FundChoice uses TD Ameritrade Trust Company for the purchase and sale of securities. Not sure exactly why Orion's 'interface' is needed, especially if trades go through TD Ameritrade...
Vanguard is available. Admiral Shares.
Outsourced - This is where things get interesting. I initially brushed this aside, as I was planning to go all Vanguard and be done. However, I did not realize that the option of DFA access might be available. I am especially irked by the .95% AUM fee, especially that it seems all my 'investment manager' does is sign me up and let me decide to have another company allocate my money, or have me do it myself. I'm not exactly sure how or why this is the case, but knowing that FTJ is built on Orion's web interface, which in turn uses TD Ameritrade Trust Co to actually enact trades... I feel like the layers of fees are just egregious, and I do not understand to whom every basis point is going. I guess I just took the .95% at face value, since that's our only provider.
Three 'strategist spectrums': Strategic, Tactical, and Diversifiers
Strategic - Loring Ward & PGR Solutions available.
Loring is an additional 0 pb, PGR is 10. Both offer acccess to DFA Funds.
So, after all of this: my only concern is that both Loring & PGR (I think) offer comprehensive portfolio solutions; I seek to create an 'all value' portfolio, preferring to invest in VTSAX/VTIAX in my Roth IRA at Vanguard. Knowing that I have a well-diversified pension (14.5% employee contribution), I know I can take the volatility that the all-value/small/emerging markets portfolio would afford.
I tried contacting FTJ themselves about DFA Access, and they seemed unsure, claiming that my 'advisor' (Mr. .95%) might have to 'request access' himself. If this is the case, then maybe I will be able to create my own custom allocation... still unsure here.
Anyways, I just wanted to get some thoughts. This is my first foray into the 403b/457 world, and I want to take advantage of my age, low fees, and the academic research as best as possible. If I had known day 1 that there 'might' be a DFA option, I might have chosen to do that instead of self-direct and choose Vanguard funds...
TLDR; navigating these is a PITA, looking to offset the .95% management fee via beta, and figure out if I have DFA access/to what extent I can customize.
Linked is a .pdf of the handout the advisor gave me when I signed up for my plan. Took me a while to find it, but its the exact same as my worn, pocopied copy...