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  1. I'm actually not the guy who did all the work, just a former colleague of his. However, I think I can answer the questions regardless. Had you approached the board previously as an individual? If so did your request fall on deaf ears? We went to Union, Business Admin., all were not interested. Lack of knowledge was a huge obstacle which then led to reluctance to do anything or hear our calls for change. Only persistent effort over months by Bruce got the Superintendent to listen. This effort included letters to all BOE members, a petition from staffmembers, and when it was necessary- the press. How did you go about getting in front of your peers to present your ideas? Was formal approval required by your SD or Union? Bruce, despite threats from insurance company, started giving presentations and sending mass emails to colleagues explaining his cause. Finally the SD relented as long as our Union supported it and we had 25 people who agreed to sign up with VG- a completely pointless stipulation. I read about the AXA email, has there been any other type of negative response or effect? No, the various reps still come into the building but now they know they have an informed population that is aware of high fees and what they mean to a portfolio. How long was the process from first step to the first payroll deduction to VG? Between 6 and 7 months. Have there been any professional or career ramifications (positive or negative) for you as a result of your efforts? Bruce has received many invitations to speak at other districts and has even turned a few job offers. No professional ramifications. When it was all over I think all parties involved realized that what he was doing was for the betterment of the district- the entire district. The Union has come full circle and now has asked Bruce to be a liason of sorts between the union and the district regarding 403bs. What in your personal experience were the barriers to change? (Yes, there it is Intruder. Ha!) Ignorance, reluctance to act on something that not many people understand. Fear of damaging relationships with long-time sales people (I know, crazy). Finally, a lack of understanding of where people's own money is being invested. If we polled our district I would say 90% would not be able to explain what an annuity really is nor have any idea what they are paying for it. So first you must educate: asset allocation, index funds, fees, mutual funds vs. annuities, fees impact on returns, death benefits, the whole nine yards- nothing beats the look in someone's eyes, that 'Ah Ha" moment, when they realized what a crappy product they have been dumping money into. I used to be one of them. I took a job in a new district, and without knowing anybody it has been tough to survey the staff about their investment knowledge. This new district has the same crappy products and this blind faith in these salesmen that peddle crap, but with a nice suit (sometimes), a smile, and a fancy business card. My first step was to sit down with the district Business Administrator to discuss 403b's , what they are and how they can be better. I have no choice but to sit and wait to hear his response to my proposal of adding a low-fee mutual fund provider. I will conclude with this: It is my experience that the very people in charge of overseeing 403b's in most districts have little to no understanding of what people on this site have pointing out for several years now....that is scary. But it makes sense, they are too worried about bus expenses, heating bills, budgets, etc... We will fight tooth and nail for a$10 copay, but too often we don't give a crap about something that will have such a greater impact on our financial well-being than going ###### or brand name.
  2. http://mcnuttmath.com/403b/contents/extras...eacher_wins.pdf if it doesn't work go to http://mcnuttmath.com/403b/contents/index.htm click on articles
  3. Vickie, Great move! I just recently opened up a VG 403b and I also transferred $$ from my previous vendor to Vanguard. Don't get frustrated by the paperwork, just do it and smile your way into retirement. If you need any help with the paperwork please let me know dlayman@wayneschools.com
  4. Sullivanke, 1. Be careful about the information you got on Fidelity. Make sure that Fidelity is an actual 403b vendor in your district and not just available. What I mean by that is MetLife, for example, may sell Fidelity products- this would not be ideal. You want to go directly through Fidelity. My district once tried to tell me that Fidelity was a vendor, but through Lincoln Financial- NOT THE SAME THING. 2. A 10% return on two accounts worth $50,000 is the same thing as a 10% return on $100,000. 3. Although I hate giving these Insurance Companies any more money than necessary, in your case cutting and running may be a good option. With only $5000 in, paying the transfer fee will be made up for over time with your new, lower fee account. The more money in the account in my opinion, the more it makes sense just to execute small, penalty-free transfers. 4. Congrats on "seeing the light". Now the hard part...convince the rest of your colleagues that fee-laden 403b plans stink and you deserve better choices for your retirement. Your going need to some help on that one.
  5. Unfortunately like many posters on this site you may have to put in a lot of blood, sweat, and tears to get better options. Neither school districts, unions, or of course sales reps want us to have good options (fidelity, vanguard, t.rowe, tiaa-cref) so it is often left to renegade teachers to force the issue. How possible would be for you to organize a sizable amount of like-minded teachers/staff to request a new, low-fee, vendor be added to your list? If this sounds like a monumental, nearly impossible task you are right. But as many of us have learned it is so worth it in the end.
  6. The wall street journal does an annuity report in every Monday edition.
  7. Emmie, I recently opened a 403b(7) with Vanguard after contributing to a MetLife account for nearly 7 years. Without paying any fees or penalties here is what you can do with MetLife: -You can transfer up to 10% per year from your MetLife to your new 403b provider- penalty/fee free -After 5 years of no contributions to MetLife you may tranfer the remainder of your balance -For some reason MetLife's fiscal year begins in November so for example you can transfer 10% now but wouldn't be able to transfer again until November of 2007, and then November of 2008, and so on -Also, you must fill out the asset transfer paperwork every year, you can't have it done automatically every year. This process was a big pain for me to get through, but now that I've done it I'm very pleased to see my money moving, although slowly, away from MetLife and into a more efficient savings vehicle. Say goodbye to mortality and 12b-1 fees, and hello Vanguard.
  8. The point that was made in the article was not that the teacher was threatened with violence but that he was threatened with a potential lawsuit (what most people assume would happen when contacted by a legal department). There was nothing in the article about violence. TR tries to make a point that the reporter's use of the word is inappropriately used. A man making less than $65,000 is told by a billion dollar insurance company to expect to be contacted by their legal department. All things being equal I would rather have been threatened with violence in this situation. There is nothing missing in the article. A teacher was educating colleagues, without compensation, about the impact of the fees of in an annuity. A sales rep finds out, so does his superior, and it is obvious that they would want this teacher to stop informing their clients and potential clients that they may be losing money. The mistake this rep made was assuming that this teacher did not know what he was entitled to say under SEC regulations. He assumed wrong. There was nothing else to the email, I have a copy but I'm afraid to send it to TR because I'm afraid I may be contacted by insurance company's legal department, :). Thanks much to Dan Otter and this website for making stories like the one out of Wayne hopefully more and more common. Change is possible, the teacher in this story proved it. Doug Layman
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