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JamesOlson403bASP

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Everything posted by JamesOlson403bASP

  1. Yes, Vanguard is available. We have various financial advisors who use our platform to work with participants -- many of these advisors have restrictions from their home office as to which funds they may use. This is not an ASP restriction, it is a restriction with that financial advisor. You may self direct your account and have access to Vanguard funds. James Olson
  2. To everyone on 403bwise, We at 403b ASP appreciate the feedback we receive regarding our service levels and product quality, whether here on this site, or otherwise. Certainly, we are as aware as anyone that the IRS regulation changes caused a huge upheaval in the 403(b) industry, for sponsors, TPAs and vendors alike. It is for numerous reasons that a great many vendors in these plans have not agreed to sign the new Information Sharing Agreements with the employers they have long worked with, causing a great gap in service that we have endeavored to fill with our product, 403b FundSource. Our product has proven successful, as we have been named as a vendor in over 3000 plans in less than one year, and have brought in over $300 Million in 403(b) assets through contributions and transfers over the same period. We will be the first to state that we were overwhelmed by the response, and our initial level of unpreparedness due to the extreme volume was unacceptable by our standards as well as those of our clients. To be fair, with few exceptions, nearly all other firms in this industry felt the same overpowering surge, as TPAs and common remitters that planned to begin services at the start of the year are in some cases still relying on the sponsors to act directly, often with little or no direction, and the vast majority of those employers waited until year-end or later to address the situation, to the point that the IRS felt the need for an extension. Have we made mistakes? Yes. Do we correct our mistakes? Yes. If there has been any occurrence within an account that needed to be adjusted due to delays in OUR service, we have made the corrections. Are we challenged by the mistakes of other? Yes. We, as the vendor, are the site where clients correctly expect to see their contributions, feel the brunt of the blame, whether justified or not. We will, however, in all instances, give our assistance to bring the client an acceptable level of comfort and trust, wherever the issue may lie. Since those early days, we have constantly added new staff (over 50 new associates), created new training systems, and are consistently bolstering the Call Center to our present situation wherein hold times are minimal, service tickets are created and tracked, and e-mails and voice-mails are retrieved, answered and tracked as well. We have come a long way and I'm confident we have addressed our service issues. Even our greatest critics have acknowledged that our pricing is beyond competitive, especially when compared to annuities and the like. If anyone out there has had difficulties contacting us in the past, or has issues with their accounts, statements, access, etc., please feel free to contact us toll-free at 866-634-5873 or through e-mail at info@403basp.com. Thank you for attention, your patience and your trust. If we have lost any of these, we will continue to endeavor to win them back. James Olson Principal 403b ASP
  3. James, Only problem I as an advisor am having is talking to anyone at ASP to get a couple of questions answered regarding required forms. I keep calling and punching in on phone as advisor and all I have gotten for two days is a recording telling me ASP has such a high volume of traffic. No way to leave a message. Then when I send an email, I am on my second day waiting for a reply. Hope this is not normal for you. BPG I know our service levels have been strained in the last few weeks. We have added 15 new staff members and reworked our phone system. It is not the norm for us and I hope to have things normalize soon.
  4. 403bASP does look pretty good, and its fees are low. But if it is not a TPA, then we have yet another level of players: - 403bASP - A TPA - A school district - A mutual fund company Doesn't this seem ridiculous? I can top that. Our TPA won't accept checks or ACH transfers so we have to move money from one place to another just so we can do a wire transfer. - 403bASP - TPA - bank (wire to TPA) - treasurer's office (check to bank) - a school district - A mutual fund company Are these regulations helping anyone other than the IRS? I'm not sure of the details of your Plan operations but the typical structure in the 403b landscape is: - School District (Plan Sponsor) Payroll does salary deferral and sends to approved investment vendors directly or to the TPA/Common Remitter - TPA/Common Remitter (TPA/CR) validates contribution amounts and sends to approved vendors (optional -- district may send contributions themselves and opt to self administer) - Investment Vendors (Fund Companies (that chose to stay) | Trading Platforms (403b ASP/Fidelity/Etc) | Annuities) receive contributions from District and/or TPA/CR What has really changed is the TPA level that has been introduced to have a compliance oversight to help districts with complying with the new regulations. This has also impacted the investment vendors that need to comply with information sharing to ensure the Plan remains in compliance. The investment vendors have always been there and if there is any good from the regulatory changes it has introduced new vendors that bring the cost savings and efficiencies from the other aspects of the retirement plan industry that has been long overdue tin the 403b market.
  5. Hey Steve, I have explained everything in my previous post. I did not change the 403b regs I'm just trying to improve upon what happened by giving participants a low cost option to get to the funds that are no longer available -- A through Z -- American to Vanguard and so on... thanks for debate.
  6. So what are the cost going through Fidelity? Do they get paid revenue sharing? Do they charged for Vanguard funds because they don't get paid revenue sharing? I noticed on thier website they don't disclose fees but they do state the following "I understand that my account may be subject to an annual maintenance and/or recordkeeping fee." Does this make them a middle man to get to funds other than Fidelity? Are they consiered a TPA then? For the record 403b ASP is not considered a TPA. We are a mutual fund recordkeeping platform like Fidelity's FundsNetwork. I can assure you that Fidelity has negotiated a very rich revenue sharing arrangement with themselves for Fidelity funds and did not have much success with negotiating revenue sharing with Vanguard (and others) so the investor must still pay to get it.... same as it ever was. If you look at the funds marked NTF (no transaction fee) from Fidelity I thinks it is safe to assume that the get paid RS -- after reviewing their site they sure have a lot funds that you have to pay extra on. Or is it less because that transaction amount could be less that what they receive in RS from the fund (that they don't disclose)... depending on the expense of the fund I guess. At least 403b ASP has NO transaction fee on ANY fund and gives you the freedom to choose whatever fund you like regardless of any RS. We are not biased to steer you into proprietary funds or funds that pay RS. Steve we updated our website and you can access our fee information right off the home page.
  7. So what are the cost going through Fidelity? Do they get paid revenue sharing? Do they charged for Vanguard funds because they don't get paid revenue sharing? I noticed on thier website they don't disclose fees but they do state the following "I understand that my account may be subject to an annual maintenance and/or recordkeeping fee." Does this make them a middle man to get to funds other than Fidelity? Are they consiered a TPA then?
  8. Hi Barney, we do not take "constructive receipt" of your money. This means that your assets are directly sent to MG Trust Company as the custodian. MG Trust Company is a $100B Trust Company (bonded and insured). From the custodian your investment positions are actually held at the mutual fund company via the NSCC FundServ system. The NSCC (National Securities Clearing Corporation) is a non profit entity run by the NASD and the NYSE -- basically the FundServ system is the trading platform for mutual funds similar to how the NASDAQ and NYSE are the trading platform for stocks. 403b ASP is a mutual fund recordkeeping platform that clears, settles, and trades mutual fund positions held at the NSCC. Our recordkeeping platform has been calibrated for servicing the 403b market under the new regulations. We are SAS 70 Level II Audited and CEFEX Certified (Center for Fiduciary Excellence). We have been in business over 7 years and we are a profitable employee owned company. Please Note: Part of the CEFEX Certification is financial viability. In short we are a strong growing company that is not beholden to venture capitalist or other similar entities. We have developed the company from the ground up... oddly enough my books are better than some large insurance vendors out there... I just don’t have as many zeros in the numbers. Worst case scenario: In the unlikely event that 403b ASP becomes insolvent we would resign as recordkeeping investment vendor and give you the opportunity to transfer and move to another vendor. You would not loose your investment money; it is tied directly to the fund company. I know that was a lot of industry jargon but I hope it helps. thanks.
  9. I can appreciate your being cautious of 403b providers; historically they have not been candid. I very proud of our fee structure and we will be updating our site to show our fees -- We had the fee section listed on our website previously and are still in the process of making updates. This is not an excuse just an explanation. (FYI are fees are clearly shown on the enrollment forms if you choose to download one). If participants see the value of what we offer great -- if not, they can keep the garbage that is out there. Groundswell? you're right maybe no, but we will help who we can. Not sure if I understand your comment regarding ignoring RS. I did say that we receive RS compensation from some fund companies. And I did say that is was built into the fund expense ratio. The RS amounts vary by fund family and share class. I also said I do not restrict participants to invest in funds that pay RS. I believe I was very clear about RS and was not "hiding" anything. I know Scott and have participated with RFPs for 403b plans with his firm. His articles were posted on our website as well before our redesign and we plan on adding them to the site again. I also know some of the members of the LAUSD and know they are working in the best interest of their employees and if 403b ASP is fortunate we can participate as a vendor. Scott, I have a very simple plan. Try and help participants achieve a better retirement. I don't think I'm playing catch up. I view what we are doing is surpassing the industry. I believe the educators are very savvy and know the complete game... and if they do not we should help them understand it. My company is not "evil" or trying to be evasive. We just trying to run a good company and make a positive difference -- some will believe us and some will not.
  10. Hi Hannibal, I'm with 403b ASP and wanted to pass along that we (403b ASP) have no hidden fees and you do NOT have to have an advisor to use our platform. If you are self directing your account we can provide access to Vanguard and Fidelity funds for an annual $40 and 0.10% (fund expense ratios apply). Furthermore, out of the $40 account fee we will apply up to $20 as a TPA fee offset. By example with Gatekeeper our fee is reduced to $20 and 0.10% annually. If your are interested there is a posting that discusses 403b ASP and fees in more detail http://bwise.ibforums.com/index.php?showto...amp;#entry23441
  11. Yes, in some funds we receive revenue sharing. However, we do not restrict investments to certain funds and or share classes based on revenue sharing. A participant is free to use any fund we can clear, settle and trade (unless investments are restricted by the District/Plan). As you know Vanguard and other fund families do NOT pay revenue sharing. I could go on and on about the dirty secrets about revenue sharing. Revenue sharing is built-in to the fund expense ratios so it is easy to hide. When we came up with our fee structure we factored in that some funds would pay revenue sharing -- this allowed us to have a low asset based fee of 0.10%. As a vendor if we do not collect it the fund company keeps it and there is no savings to the participant. In short, many vendors will not aknowledge what compensation they receive from revenue sharing and adjust thier fees as we did or present thier fees in a... well lets say a less than transparent way. I wish that revenue sharing would be abolished... maybe one day it will.
  12. James, First... Thanks for your "horse's mouth" response. That $20 offset -- how do you pay that? To the employee's 403bASP account? To the TSA? (In my case, that is CPI, who charges ME $30, to cover the district's behind, as far as compliance.) It sure makes a good deal sound even better, to someone who lost a direct link to low-fee Vanguard funds. I did some quick calculations, and see that it is the equivalent of paying 3 or 4 Vanguard $15 annual per-fund fees, and will be recommending this option to my fellow employees who were Vanguard and Fidelity investors before the Great IRS Snafu of 1-1-09! Gordon The fee offset depends on the TPA. In some circumstances we reduce our fee to $20 and the TPA fee is then applied. In others we charged the $40 and remit the $20 to the TPA and they charge nothing if that amount covers thier fee and/or the difference of the remianing TPA fee is charged. In the end the net effect is the same. In your case the all in cost with the CPI fee would be $50 and 10 bps.
  13. First let me say thank you for the interest with 403b ASP. I'm one of the founders of the company and developed our 403b offering. I wanted to jump in and clarify some of the dialogue regarding 403b ASP. Regarding Fees: We charge an annuall account fee of $40 per year -- we will apply $20 of this amount to offset any TPA/Common Remitter fees. We charge an annual custodial fee of 10 basis points (bps). For the record 10 bps equal 1 cent for every dollar. You may see this expressed as 0.10% or .10% -- to get the correct figure you need to enter 0.0010% on a calculator. (To be sure we do not charge 1.00% on any account -- we are NOT an annutiy product) For example if you had the account is outline below the fees would be as follows: $5,000 Vanguard Growth & Income - VQNPX $5,000 Vanguard Dividend Appreciation - VDAIX ---------------------------------- $10,000 Total account value ---------------------------------- $10.00 Custodial Fee -- 10 bps (0.0010%) $40.00 Account Fee ---------------------------------- $50.00 Total 403b ASP Fee Please note there is no account fee applied by Vanguard – the fund expense ratio still applies -- which is always applicable regardless of vendor selection; mutual fund or annutiy product. Rtngolf: Thank you for your comment regarding our site. I will have a fee section added to our website to provide a clearer picture -- and too clarify the 10 bps is an annual fee not quarterly -- it is charged at 0.25% (0.0025) per quarter). The $40 account fee is charged at $10 per quarter. We are an open free agent platform that allows a participant to appoint a financial advisor to their account regardless of the firm they work with and we charge nothing for this service. The advisors compensation can be a RIA fee (agreed to by the participant and the advisor) or they can be compensated by 12b1 fees paid by the fund companies which are built-in to the fund expense ratio. Yes I think we offer a very good deal... maybe too good. We have a very simply belief. "Help participants accummulate a better retirement benefit". Do I make money doing this? Yes. I do not make a lot of moeny off any single account, however, I do not loose money on any single account. Our goal is that participants when they become aware of a low cost mutual fund offering that provides all of the features without the cost we will capture a lot of accounts. Thanks for letting me chime in.
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