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doug91

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  1. Does this plan have a specific name or account type? We've still had no luck in finding a bearable 403(b) in my wife's school district, and if this is on the level, I'd like to check it out (and to make sure that I ask for the exact right thing, since that seems to matter when you're dealing with these retirement plan salespeople). ...never mind, just noticed that the name of the thread is the name of the program. Apologies.
  2. I appreciate the feedback. I don't think we'll do business with Merrill via the RSA based on the feedback above.
  3. Here are the answers to my questions, in case others are looking at this same account type. It's a shame that in an account with "thousands" of funds that they don't have a single no load/no NTF option. I guess it's worth the tax-deferral benefits, although I hate paying sales load. 1. Is the RSA an advisory service? Does it carry an advisory fee? no, no 2. If we invest in a fund through the RSA account, will we pay only the fund's listed expense ratio, and no more? For example, if I invested in PRBWX (first on your list), would I only pay that fund's 2.34% expense ratio and the Merrill Lynch annual fee of $35, or would Merrill Lynch add additional recurring charges to that? Examples could include wrap-around fees, management fees, custodial fees, etc. yes, just the expense and the 35 3. If my wife changes jobs, are there any penalties or restrictions against rolling over the assets in the RSA to a Rollover IRA at another firm? If there are penalties, do those penalties go away over time? account close out fee of 50 I think 4. Are the answers to questions 1, 2, and 3 available in writing, e.g. the "small print" official documentation about the Merrill RSA? not that I’m aware 5. Does the RSA have access to any funds with no load (front, back, or level) and no transaction fees? I understand that sometimes a fund is just so great that those fees might be merited, but I've seen some great no load/NTF funds too. no 6. Can I buy ETFs through the RSA, or are only mutual funds offered? no… [district] only allows mutual funds and annuities Is it weird that they don't have a written schedule of funds & fees for a retirement account? I've still got little red flags here, but at least I've got clearer answers to the big questions.
  4. Hi -- my wife's school district offers a Retirement Selector Account from Merrill Lynch as one of their 403(b) options. I'm having trouble getting straight answers from the Merrill rep that is in charge of opening it, and I don't know if it's because I'm asking the wrong questions. Anyone have any experience with this account type? Is it basically just a standard Merrill brokerage account, or is it something special? Here are the specific questions I'm trying to get answered: 1. If we invest in a fund through the RSA account, will we pay only the fund's listed expense ratio, and no more? For example, if I invested in PRBWX (first on your list), would I only pay that fund's 2.34% expense ratio and the Merrill Lynch annual fee of $35, or would Merrill Lynch add additional recurring charges to that? 2. If my wife changes jobs, are there any penalties or restrictions against rolling over the assets in the 403(b) to a Rollover IRA at another firm? If so, do those penalties go away over time? 3. Are the answers to questions 1 and 2 available in writing, e.g. the "small print" official documentation about the Merrill RSA? 4. Does the RSA have access to any funds with no load (front, back, or level) and no transaction fees? I understand that sometimes a fund is just so great that those fees might be merited, but I've seen some great no load/NTF funds too. 5. Can I buy ETFs through the RSA? Are these the right questions? Am I making this too complicated? If not, does anyone here happen to know the answers? Thanks.
  5. 403(b)s aren't taxable, and can roll over to a brokerage IRA if she changes jobs. I'd take the 3% guaranteed in a tax deferred setting simply because it expands our tax-deferred capacity, which the folks over at Diehards keep reminding me is either there or it's not, and every year you don't increase it is a year with smaller retirement benefits. I wouldn't accept 3% fixed return in a taxable account, though, so I'm with you there.
  6. Thanks -- I did post our full financial detail at diehards.org, but thought that this group might know about the quality of the specific vendors on the list. We really don't need the tax-deferred space -- something like 2/3 of our total investments are in Rollover IRAs from my previous 401(k)s -- and like I mentioned, my income disqualifies us for Roth plans, so I'm thinking that taxable investments may be the way to go for her. I may look at a few more fixed annuity plans if I can find a guaranteed rate at or above 3%, since they don't seem to charge any sales or maintenance fees, and that would be a reasonable way to fill in our bond-like asset allocation.
  7. I got that number by adding the 1.4% adminstrative fee to the 7% "deferred sales charge" that's incurred in the first and second years of the plan. With some Googling, it does appear that that deferred sales charge is the same thing as a back-end load (why with the jargon??), so if I'm reading it right, the 7% is only incurred if there's a sale of the mutual fund. It's still 1.4% + the mutual fund ER for the 'privilege' of buying your mutual funds through ING, so it's a bad deal, but you're right that it's not as bad as I imagined.
  8. I contacted ING, since another group told me that they would probably have some decent offers. It's actually ING Reliastar that happens to offer 403(b)s, so we're back with life insurance companies... and it shows! Check out these numbers on their mutual funds and fixed annuities: Mutual funds (ING Advantage Century): - Annual "account charge" of 1.4%. - $30 annual adminstrative fee - Deferred sales charge over 6 years, as follows: 7%, 7%, 6%, 5%, 4%, 2% So for mutual funds, you're paying an 8.4% expense ratio (plus $30) for your first two years! Fixed annuity (QuintaFlex) - No fees - No withdrawal charge after 5 years of receipt of premium (5% during years 0 - 5) - Guaranteed minimum interest of "1.0% to 3.0%" When I called the rep to clarify this, he said that the guaranteed minimum interest can apparently fluctuate over the life of the annuity (which hardly makes it fixed, does it?), which if true, means that the only true guarantee is 1.0% interest. His statement sounds wrong to me -- I thought that you locked in the fixed rate when you entered the annuity contract -- but after looking at the mutual fund numbers, I'm prepared to believe anything. Does this jive with what others have seen? If so, who USES these things?
  9. Hi. I married a teacher and have just started looking into her 403(b) options. They're pretty grim, from what I can tell. We're not eligible for Roth plans because of my income, and we're in good financial shape (e.g. no obvious high-interest debts to pay down), so it seems like it would be nice to take advantage of the tax deferred options -- I've always tried to max out my 401Ks. I know one option is to try to get her district to add a decent provider, but there are pretty significant hurdles, include a qualification process and then a subsequent 35-person minimum enrollment before payroll deductions are allowed... and since we're OK generally, it doesn't seem worth the effort. So, looking at the companies below, would this board advise: a) Picking a not-terrible company (e.g. Oppenheimer or Merrill) and find their lowest expense index fund (if any)? b) Skipping it entirely and just put her surplus into a taxable investment account? c) Doing more research, because you can't tell the quality of the offering just by seeing the company name? Here are her options: Traveler's Insurance Company Services AIG/VALIC Oppenheimer Mutual Funds (this one seems chancy, though -- the 'approved solicitor' lists his home phone number as the contact... would an Oppenheimer rep really do that?) Franklin Life Insurance ING MetLife Waddell and Reed Western Reserve / ARK Life Insurance Company of the Southwest Primerica Legend Equities Merrill Lynch State Farm Pacific Life Insurance (Source document is http://www.leon.k12.fl.us/Public/Person/cu...SA_listing.pdf) Thanks in advance for any tips on the above.
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