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JudyS

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Everything posted by JudyS

  1. Dan -- Who is the reporter? Who does he work for? Why does he care about OUR opinions? Is he / she asking school districts (because I can give him 1 or 2 to call!!)? What does he plan to do with the information? Perhaps -- in the spirit of full disclosure -- he / she should post here and ask for what he/she wants. Wouldn't that work? JudyS
  2. Mindy -- I thought the program was a start, but I was disappointed that there wasn't a whole lot more depth. There's much more to say than what they chose to focus on. I wondered if they perhaps didn't get someone with broad and deep experience to advise them on what to look for. There is just so much more to do in this field. If you grew up in WA, you will be familiar with Bainbridge. Next summer I will have to wave to Joe heading off to AK... have always wanted to go, but haven't made it happen, as he says. JUdyS
  3. Joe, Joe, Joe, Call a friend!!! Or you could come over here and watch this fine piece... I am just so glad that Chris Hansen has moved on to another worthy set of adversaries. His former set of programs was becoming repititious. Thank goodness there's an emerging public awareness. Hopefully leading to an outcry. BTW, I just got hold of a fine flyer re: 403(b)s for some CA teachers -- you're an author with Schullo, right? Very nice. Very nice. JudyS
  4. JudyS

    Contempt

    Fellow Travellers: An interesting set of articles by Scott Simon, whose thinking I enjoy, can be found at http://morningstaradvisor.com/articles/arc....asp?authId=500 He addresses some issues around "fiduciary responsibility" in Article 5 and perhaps in other places. Admittedly, fiduciary responsibility is much more a part of the 401(k) world, per ERISA, but it sure seems to be coming our way as well. JudyS
  5. JudyS

    Contempt

    Intruder -- Thanks for your thoughts. Individual school district staff are INDEED individually liable and sueable, at least in this state. That's one of the protections that SOMETIMES NEA offers, at least partially. For instance, I am extremely familiar with the provision that a teacher can be personally sued if he /she refuses to enact certain provisions of an IEP. Been there, done that. The new requirements for 403bs puts some more fiduciary responsiblity on administration, as I understand it. That's why they are (and have been) so eager to pass off that duty / responsibility / risk to others. I think if you read back on some posts here you will see conversation about -- and I forget the exact term -- but the release employees must sign when they manage their own investments in their 403b. In fact, for a couple of years, I had to pay $50 a year to an insurance shark to sign that off so I could continue with no-load fund options and the district would feel "safe". I suppose that's the reason that one district had all their non-insurance 403b options on a "secret" list which an employee had to find out about before he/ she could view it. I always wondered who scared the administration so badly about their liability. Who do you think that could be? JudyS
  6. JudyS

    Contempt

    Jim -- I agree wholeheartedly. Unfortunately, those who are the most responsible -- and who will have more fiduciary duties with the new provisions for 403(b)s -- seem to be the dumbest at this sort of thing. (I sat here for a long while trying to find a word nicer than dumb, but it was the nicest I could come up with.) That would be administrators and business office folks. Like I said, of the people I know in my district, those who are with a low cost provider and know WHY they are there are two -- the mail guy and me. There may be some others, but I don't really know folks at the other buildings much. It does seem that people tend to get smarter as they get older, and those who get it tend to be in their 40s and 50s or even 60s, not the 20s and 30s or even most of the 40s. Apparently there ARE some ethical professionals coming out of the woodwork who will be proposing low cost plans with predetermined investments that will conform with the what is generally known as "best practice". I know a couple of them (at least a little) and have high hopes that the landscape will change. I would love to have a chance to support them in some way!! I LOVE it that Ameriprise has been found out... to tell you the truth, in late 2004, when I was looking to retire, I applied with them and going through the first 4 or 5 steps of the application / training was VERY interesting. I learned a LOT. Being a Vanguard client, an indexer, and an investment hobbyist gave me a different perspective than anyone else in the room, and I'm sure if I had spoken up I would have been shown the door! Unfortunately, I got sick and couldn't continue at that time (all better now). JudyS
  7. Gerry -- I'm with you on the apathy business. With 8 people interested, you have 6 more than I can find, and none of mine are in administration. It's interesting that one of the most knowledgeable people around my workplace is the guy who drives the old blue van and delivers the mail between buildings. He knows what he's talking about and is a long term Vanguard investor. But the superintendent, ######'t supe, business manager and other administrators -- never mind most of the teachers -- don't apparently care. When I asked the business manager when we could talk (because I had never met her before or had a chance to talk about the issues coming up, but I had started with a letter to her a few weeks prior) she turned, sneered, and said, "Well, you got your check, didn't you? THAT's what we work on." With apathy being so widespread, you'd assume it is an attitude people have been aspiring to, wouldn't you? Gerry, maybe we're missing something. JudyS
  8. Jerry -- I am a LITTLE familiar with this company and have heard good things from a number of people in this field whom I respect as ethical. In a (fruitless, hopeless, dispairing) effort to get my district to consider THINKING about the 403(b) issues, I have talked to one of the principals of this company. So I have been to their website and looked it over at length, read about them, talked to one of the principals in some depth, and discussed the company with people in the field who have a high level of integrity ........ and all the flags so far are green. I sure wish I worked in your county!! JudyS
  9. Some (or all?) of these have run here before, but here's the whole menu, from April 2007 to November 2007. Maybe they're even worth re-reading. Judy S http://www.prudentllc.com/publications/mor...ciaryfocus.html
  10. Steve -- We have NOT discussed an annuity per se, although we have looked into the notion of a charitable donation / annuity -- can't recall at the moment what that's called. Maybe a charitable annuity trust? Intruder will know. Universities and large charitable organizations are all set up to help you with that. There is also a HUGE tax benefit because much of it qualifies as a charitable donation. AND it benefits an organization you respect, which brings a lot of satisfaction, I should think. Especially good if someone is not worried about heirs. We have not thought we had enough $$ to pursue that, quite frankly. With a windfall from a real estate sale, it could work for you and might be worth investigating,tho. I cannot get through Swedoe's book on bonds. It makes me dizzy, but it dustily has laid on the bedside table for 3 years. Maybe someday I will take another whack at it, but it will probably be right after I do my own appendectomy. We have read his other book, "The only Guide To A Winning Investment Strategy You'll Ever Need", which is just about as good as its title suggests. Real readable, workable and makes sense to little old me. Best wishes... Judy
  11. Joe -- Oh, NOW I get it!!!!! Fabulous piece -- I sent it to everyone I know who might care! JudyS
  12. Steve -- Congratulations on selling with the adverse real estate situation at the moment -- you must have been doing a lot of things right!! Soon we hope to be in your position, though the $$ amounts will (unfortunately) be considerably more modest. We'll for sure check out the For Sale By Owner site. Over the last 6 months or so we have been doing some more reading in the Swedroe vein, which has changed how we are looking at our portfolio a little bit. With the overall market being down, we have had an opportunity to move some $$ on the stock side. Whether such things make sense to you, only you can answer. We have looked at and invested a little in VIG and VYM, given that the dividends are taxed at a low rate and some appreciation may be expected. We thought it might be a better idea than bonds for a piece of the portfolio. (I would be interested in anyone's argument to the contrary, actually.) These are not in concert with Swedroe's suggestions, but there you are. More along with Swedroe, we have also recently placed more $$ in small cap value areas and we have bought the REIT index through Vanguard. Oddly enough, my husband moved $$ from a fund focusing on financials to the REIT fund. Though we make WAY more than our share of errors and our historical returns are modest, this particular move has allowed us to have momentary flashes of what it must be like to be really, really brilliant at this stuff. (It's kind of like a h-o-t flash, but faster!) Good luck!! JudyS
  13. JudyS

    Naive Question

    C -- Okay, no one else has given this a s######, so I will hazard an answer.... I don't see why not! If you're reluctant to take the chance, just call the 1-800 number and call Fidelity and ask. Let us know what they say! JudyS
  14. He explains why not to do what the Yale group does in his book, "Unconventional Success..." It's in the top 5 best investment books I've ever read, well worth the $$ to order IMHO! JudyS
  15. Scotty -- Love your article! I also spent time talking with John Wendtland before writing up my pitiful little comparison that was published here a couple of years ago. I agree that you're well within the ballpark in terms of the continuing expenses (and the subaccount fees included 12-b1, right?). I haven't done an indepth look at each of these things for a long while, since I have neither the credentials, the materials, the time, or the patience. I'm just a school district employee. And yes, front end loads (I THINK that are there, within the annuity -- aren't most of the choices A funds?) and the surrender charges would only be charged once, but their effect, long term, is onerous. We are on the same page, Scotty, on the same page. But being a VERY intelligent and perceptive investor, I can tell you that I paid the WHOLE 12-13 percent on most of the $$ I had invested in Valuebuilder. Slowly, I am getting a little smarter, though it's a tough battle given the alarming rate at which I seem to be losing brain cells! Thanks for sticking with this argument and posting your delicious article. JudyS
  16. Intruder -- The court will figure out, we hope, what the costs were for the plaintiff. Then you can argue with them. Good night. JudyS
  17. Intruder -- The new Valuebuilder Direct is, as far as I know, a brand new program. As an NEA member, I received the first notice of it last week. Apparently it is not an annuity and as such would have no M&E fees, correct. The class action lawsuit has been filed on behalf of participants who have the only other Valuebuilder program that has been available lo! these many years. And I would presume that none of the individual mutual funds would have any 12% fees in and of themselves, of course, in either program. But the question has always been what are the TOTAL fees, costs, expenses (and whatever else you call $$ that goes to someone other than the participant), not just the fees WITHIN any mutual fund. Come on, Intruder. You knew that. In this area of inquiry, there are only two questions that matter. 1. What is the TOTAL amount of $$ that is being paid? 2. Has every last bit of it been disclosed to the participant so that he/she can make a reasoned, knowledgeable choice? (Full disclosure on my part: # 1 and #2 are not original thoughts!!) And here is another interesting question: Would Valuebuilder Direct ever have happened without the class action suit? JudyS
  18. Intruder -- If you go to this site you will find info on the Direct Invest option. Go to the 2nd page, 4th line, column 2 and you will see the $30 charge for the paper prospectus. Some of the other expenses are outlined here, too. http://nea.securitybenefit.com/neavaluebui...SAFactSheet.pdf By the way, in reference to Scotty D's concerns about overstatement of fees in the Valuebuilder product with the advisor, I THINK you can figure on a 7% redemtion fee on contributions held less than a year, and many funds have a 5 % (or thereabouts) front end load. We aren't even talking about a 12-b1 fee, yet, but I do believe there is the ubiquitous "wrap fee", which is 1% I think. So if you were so unlucky or silly as to get in and out in a year, you would have approximately 13% right there. Those are the obvious costs. AND there are other fees, expenses, costs, and charges in there somewhere, I suspect. Now not everyone will pay all of those, of course. JudyS
  19. Tom -- They appear to be a lobbying group, if I understand their website fully. I have to wonder if the standard form they are asking for would benefit the industry members more than us. Just wondered if anyone read their actual recommendation. After posting here, I went back to the website and while there I found a copy of the testimony they are submitting to a DOL hearing -- last week, I think. It appears most certainly NOT friendly to plan participants. They seek to dodge full disclosure in many ways, according to what I understood. JudyS
  20. Scotty D -- A couple of years ago I wrote a short piece for www.403bwise.com comparing using Valuebuilder to invest in a certain American Century Fund vs. investing directly in that fund. In preparation, I asked for and received the prospectus for Valuebuilder. Despite hours and hours searching through that paperwork, I could never come CLOSE to understanding what the fees/ costs/ expenses were. Additionally, there are multiple additional costs that the participant can elect, pushing the overall costs skyward. I'm no numbers person and not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but decided that if I couldn't understand it, most people probably couldn't. And maybe, just maybe, there was little intention to have a participant really and truely fully understand. Maybe. Recently I saw the new low fee (no salesperson) offering from Valuebuilder and intended to order the prospectus to look it over. However, they charge $30 for a paper copy, which I wasn't willing to spend merely to satisfy my curiosity. Perhaps if I had in hand a terrific new book I just read, Loeper's "Stop the 401(k) Ripoff", I would have been better prepared to seek out the hidden costs. I continue to believe that NEA's time and effort would be well spent helping teachers learn how to effectively and efficiently invest in a 403(b). JudyS
  21. J Simmons, Tony and others -- Re: The Bloomberg article, I'm pretty sure it was "aimed at" anyone who cares to become involved and DEMAND that we have better alternatives in our retirement vehicles. And by "better alternatives", I mean options that have FULL DISCLOSURE of all fees, charges, costs, and whatever else they want to call the money that WE lose and that go to someone ELSE'S pockets, unbeknown to us. In that sense, the article was "aimed at" people just like us who hang out on this board. Darrell may be able to clarify that a bit, tho. JudyS
  22. Fellow Travelers... On the home page there is a comment from the Spark Institute asking for a pre-approved 403(b) prototype. So I went to the SPARK homepage and poked around a little and looked at their Comments and Materials section. Perhaps I am misreading something... These guys do not appear to me to be on the same side of the fence as most of us here. Does anyone else have an idea or knowledge of these fine folks? JudyS
  23. Novice -- There's more than one way to skin a cat. First option is, if you're 59-1/2 you may have some opportunities. The next option is "separation from service", which means moving to a different school district. Any chance of that? (worked for me!) JudyS
  24. Craig -- You are my favorite poster of the day!!! You asked if there are books you could read -- oh, are there ever! If you could only read one book about 403(b)s, get Dan Otter's book, which you can order from the home page of this site. Note that the changing regs will mean some alterations in the way things work, and it's not all sorted out yet in most districts. Then here's the next book (or the first one if you want info on a slightly broader basis): Bogle, John The Litte Book of Common Sense Investing. You can zip right over to Amazon and get it. Now if you have one of those deals where you get free shipping if you order a little more, add to your order cart Swensen, David Unconventional Success, A Fundamental Approach to Personal Investment. I promise that if you read and understand these books you will know 80% of what you need to know to be a perfectly successful investor. Not the kind who can go to cocktail parties and brag that you found the next Microsoft, but successful nonetheless. We at our house have been moderately successful investors. Sometimes a little less, to tell the truth. But I am home on medical leave and today finally got to one of those jobs that's been waiting for a while, shredding. This required going through files and getting rid of quarterly reports for the last 15 years or so. AMAZING how far we have come when I had to look at those old statements! Happy trails! JudyS
  25. Realgoldn -- I am sorry to inform you that there may be an error in your thinking. Not unusual, and many of us here suffered from the same problem at one time or other. It APPEARS that you are thinking that there is a company, or representative, or even a poster here that has the information that will make whatever you do work best. All you need to do is get someone to tell you who that is or what the information is. Sorry to tell you, but it won't work. There are no absolute answers that are correct or absolutely best in each circumstance -- at least looking forward. Looking backward anyone can figure it out, of course. But the people here on this board know that you have to take a trip up the learning curve to increase your chances of making solid, reasonable decisions -- not foolproof ones. And the people here have had, as a group, plenty of experience with salespeople (often called advisors, planners, and the like) and we know that using one of them is the LEAST likely to provide you with solid information. Keep asking questions, read a few books, and hang out. You're on your way.... JudyS
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