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Oh, that's right I forgot about the French Teacher. I should have stipulated that we are looking for another, just one more teacher, that believes his/her union is NOT failing the members.

 

 

Guess it's easier to disregard the dissenters than answer them, huh, Joel?

 

Maybe do one of two things before sweeping my entire post under the rug:

* point out if I've said anything that's incorrect?

* since you have a copy of the Opportunity Plus prospectus, show me the investment that costs 3.59% annually, as the article cites?

 

I'm pointing out inconsistencies and inaccuracies in the LA Times piece. Please do the same with my writing if you wish others to consider it worthless. Thanks.

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French Teacher,

 

I have no problem at all criticizing TIAA-CREF, Vanguard, Fidelity, or any other company that does a poor job of service. I'll also put in my two cents and criticize TIAA-CREF for raising fees on some of its funds.

 

I'm in favor of looking out for the interests of investors. Companies that do a good job deserve commendation, and those that do a bad job deserve criticism.

 

Having said that, I have had absolutely no problem with service from Vanguard, T. Rowe Price, and Fidelity. Without exception, they have been terrific. With these companies, I have paid very low fees and have gotten excellent service.

 

By the way, I had lousy service from AIM (which charges a nice heft sales fee for its former INVESCO funds). In that case, I certainly did not get what I paid for. Those morons could not even provide average cost basis when I redeemed some shares.

 

My experience with GALIC was even worse. No service at all would have been far better than the service I got from my sales agent.

 

I cannot make generalizations for all investors, but in my case, the low cost companies provided much better service than the high cost providers.

 

 

apteacher,

 

I don't disagree with a single thing you just wrote. In particular, I wholeheartedly agree that a.) we should all be looking out for the interests of investors, criticizing and praising whichever companies earn it, and b.) it's important not to make generalizations for ALL investors...there is NO one-size-fits-all solution.

 

I have been equally outspoken in my time as a teacher for the need not only for full-service companies (whose quality should be monitored and reported on) but also for the low-cost providers, so that those teachers who don't need professional advice aren't forced to pay for it.

 

Good post. Thanks.

 

 

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Guest TR1982

"I guess it's not unlike the union issue. When advertisers or vendors pay the freight, they are pretty much immune to any kind of criticism here."

 

TR,

 

That's a real cheap s. You and the other agents are perfectly free to criticize any company you want on this site. If you knew of WSJ articles that were relevant, why didn't you just start a thread and bring them up?

 

 

How is that a cheap s? If the people who run this site and set the content aren't willing to criticize advertisers or a least give equal time to the criticism that exists in the press, how can that be construed any differently than a union being paid to give an endorsement? The truth is that this site bashes annuities. That's OK. I don't see any annuity companies advertising here. But this site also has advertising from TC, T. Rowe Price and Bolton Partners. It seems pretty intellectually dishonest to ignore front page criticism of one of these firms in a national daily on 3 different occasions to focus on the same old annuity bashing story in the LA Times. I don't care, but don't ignore the facts when they are out there in plain view for everybody to see. I'm not naive enough to think the site owners don't feel pressure to ignore criticism of advertisers. That doesn't mean I can't point it out!

 

 

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How is that a cheap s? If the people who run this site and set the content aren't willing to criticize advertisers or a least give equal time to the criticism that exists in the press, how can that be construed any differently than a union being paid to give an endorsement? The truth is that this site bashes annuities. That's OK. I don't see any annuity companies advertising here. But this site also has advertising from TC, T. Rowe Price and Bolton Partners. It seems pretty intellectually dishonest to ignore front page criticism of one of these firms in a national daily on 3 different occasions to focus on the same old annuity bashing story in the LA Times. I don't care, but don't ignore the facts when they are out there in plain view for everybody to see. I'm not naive enough to think the site owners don't feel pressure to ignore criticism of advertisers. That doesn't mean I can't point it out!

 

 

This is, indeed, the same logic that people on this site constantly use to denigrate the "financial ography" of investment magazines that won't recommend indexing strategies when their pages are filled with advertising from actively-managed funds.

 

If this site aspires to higher standards, it should also rise above such double standards, no? Is it considered "wise" to just stick with TIAA-CREF, regardless of how high they raise their fees or how slipshod their service becomes?

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Guest Joes

 

How is that a cheap s? If the people who run this site and set the content aren't willing to criticize advertisers or a least give equal time to the criticism that exists in the press, how can that be construed any differently than a union being paid to give an endorsement? The truth is that this site bashes annuities. That's OK. I don't see any annuity companies advertising here. But this site also has advertising from TC, T. Rowe Price and Bolton Partners. It seems pretty intellectually dishonest to ignore front page criticism of one of these firms in a national daily on 3 different occasions to focus on the same old annuity bashing story in the LA Times. I don't care, but don't ignore the facts when they are out there in plain view for everybody to see. I'm not naive enough to think the site owners don't feel pressure to ignore criticism of advertisers. That doesn't mean I can't point it out!

 

 

This is, indeed, the same logic that people on this site constantly use to denigrate the "financial ography" of investment magazines that won't recommend indexing strategies when their pages are filled with advertising from actively-managed funds.

 

If this site aspires to higher standards, it should also rise above such double standards, no? Is it considered "wise" to just stick with TIAA-CREF, regardless of how high they raise their fees or how slipshod their service becomes?

 

Ill agree NEA value builder sucks! Its pushed by a fly by night company "The Legend Group" http://www.legendgroup.com/

 

They gave my school hand outs about no load mutual funds and then eneded up selling the value builder from security mutual. 2 Months later both reps who were in the school quit and 2 more NEW 20 year old kids showed up a month later.

 

I'd rather stick with a seasoned financial planner than a copuple of kids whose idea of diversification is 25 per pay in a mid cap fund.

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Welcome back FrenchTeacher!

 

I too was very shocked when I first read that the "NEA received $49.6 million from Security Benefit Life Insurance, the provider of Valuebuilder." But the sentence goes on to read: and other endorsed companies in 2004." It's my understanding the deal is more along the lines of $2 million from Security Benefit. I am no fan of this product in its current form but I think it is important to point that out.

 

Dan Otter

 

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Hi all,

Here are comments on the series. The important issues are transparency of fees, inappropriate annuities in 403b plans and the unethical behavior of our unions for supporting and sponsering only high fee vendors. Click here.

Regards,

Steve

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"How is that a cheap s? If the people who run this site and set the content aren't willing to criticize advertisers or a least give equal time to the criticism that exists in the press, how can that be construed any differently than a union being paid to give an endorsement?"

 

Response: Equal time? Are you kidding? This site provides it to folks like you day in and day out, and I'm glad they do. If you see criticism of companies that advertise here, just post it. If there is valid criticism of companies like Vanguard, Fidelity, TRP, or TC, I would like to see it. That will help to make me a more informed investor. Have you been unable to post anything critical about advertisers of this site?

 

"It seems pretty intellectually dishonest to ignore front page criticism of one of these firms in a national daily on 3 different occasions."

 

Response: Just post it yourself, TR. I'll be happy to read it. If the criticism seems valid, I'm there with you. I think you believe that because some of us are critical of certain companies, we are therefore in love with others. Not me. I like V, F, and TRP simply because of the products and service that they provide. If those products and services change, then I'm out of those companies.

 

Example: I used to invest in INVESCO. INVESCO was bought out by AIM, which promptly raised fees and changed the no load structure of its funds. Bam, I left AIM. If the same were to happen to V, F, or TRP, I would do the same thing.

 

"I'm not naive enough to think the site owners don't feel pressure to ignore criticism of advertisers. That doesn't mean I can't point it out!"

 

Response: OK, I'm waiting to hear complaints about V, F, TRP and any other company you can think of. Again, have you been prevented from airing criticism of any company at all?

 

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Hi, I'm Crystal's boyfriend. It seems to me the biggest problem teachers are facing is education about their 403(b) options. Crystal's come home many times and told me how the teachers she talks to react when she tells them they have other options. It seems that many teachers see the 403(b) as a savings account and not an investment. The ones she talks to don't expect to build any serious value.

 

It's a real shame, especially since there are so many more options as compared to my Los Angeles County 457 which only has 10.

 

--Roman

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Equal time? Are you kidding? This site provides it to folks like you day in and day out, and I'm glad they do. If you see criticism of companies that advertise here, just post it. If there is valid criticism of companies like Vanguard, Fidelity, TRP, or TC, I would like to see it. That will help to make me a more informed investor. Have you been unable to post anything critical about advertisers of this site?

 

 

I won't presume to speak for TR, but I think he was referring to articles that are posted on the main page of the site. It's true that we can all come into the far less visible discussion groups and post what we want, of course...but the slam piece on "high-fee" 403(b)'s was given a prominent page-one placement here, whereas the piece I saw in the Wall Street Journal on TIAA-CREF (along with a couple of others that TR cited) were not placed there at all. Perhaps the Journal forbids such placement of their material, perhaps there is some other reasonable explanation. But if the site is genuinely intended to educate 403(b) investors to manage their accounts in a "wise" fashion, wouldn't such investors be equally interested in the ongoing difficulties at TIAA-CREF?

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Hi Roman,

Welcome to this site. I met Crystal (Crystal Mendez was the teacher featured in the LA Times article) over a year ago and she told us that you encouraged her to come one of our 403bAware meetings. I was so excited when I saw her picture in the front page of the Times, I screamed, I kid you not! She was in a bad situation with that horrible fixed annuity at age 22, but she dug her heals in and straightened herself out. She is lucky to have you. Interesting, I was sold two of those products 20 years ago and those sales people are STILL doing this.

 

What makes LAUSD unique, IMO, is that they have good options, but very few people know they exist because the union and the district does not publicize them. Our watch dog group tries to fill in this void. We will be having another meeting sometime soon to celebrate this great article in the times and thank Kathy Kristof for doing the right thing for educators. I hope you can come. We would love to me you.

 

Speaking of LA County Office of Education. LAUSD has 87 options and that is not always a good idea. Quality is always better than quantity. LA County office of education did one thing right. They adopted TIAA CREF as their 457 Vendor. I only wish my district would have done that. More about that later next month. There is another story looming.

Welcome again Roman,

Steve

 

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"But if the site is genuinely intended to educate 403(b) investors to manage their accounts in a "wise" fashion, wouldn't such investors be equally interested in the ongoing difficulties at TIAA-CREF?"

 

I would. Please post such articles that are critical of TC.

 

I guess this brings up the issue of whether this site is "nonpartisan" (for lack of a better word) or whether it has a point of view. I can't speak for the folks who run the site, but my impression is that it generally has a point of view that investors are capable of running their own 403b accounts without the services of agents. People who come here generally want to inform themselves so that they can become better investors without the paying the costly fees that agents charge. Therefore, an article like the one in the LA Times is relevant to those folks. An article about (still) low cost TC seems less relevant.

 

I don't see anything conspiratorial about this at all. All I see is a point of view that the site takes. Furthermore, unless I am missing something here, all views can be expressed, and anyone who wants to post anything that is critical about anything is free to do so. The people who run the site can post what they want, and the people who have another point of view can post what they want. What is wrong with that?

 

I'll put this another way. If there were a 403b site that took the agent point of view, I suspect that the articles posted by the site administrators would certainly reflect that. Fine. No problem here, especially if the site would accept postings from other points of view, as this site does.

 

I really do believe that this site DOES help educate people about 403b plans. If it does so with a point of view, so what?

 

 

 

 

 

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TR and FT,

I like AP suggestion. Do something different and start a new discussion. In all of your combined posts, which are over a thousand, both of you have only started 7 discussion threads. Its soooooo easy to criticize, but sooooo hard to come up with new ideas. Both of you have NONE. But heck thats OK. We are all here to learn.

 

Come on, lets us have all the cristisms of TIAA CREF, Vanguard, Fidelity Investments, TR Price.

Its a free country and a free website. Don't wait for somebody else, Dan for example, to do this for you. Its is good lesson we in the reform movement learned. Heck, because of your insightful and informative warnings about how horrible TC and Vanguard are over and over again, I make take all my money out of TC and Vanguard and stuff it under my mattress.

Enough said.

Steve

 

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Here's another analogy:

 

The LA Times is a liberal publication. Not surprisingly, its editorials reflect a liberal tone. I would hardly expect its editorial page to espouse neoconservatism.

 

However, on the op-ed page, one can find other points of view [/u]written by others who take such views.

 

That's fine with me.

 

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TR and FT,

I like AP suggestion. Do something different and start a new discussion. In all of your combined posts, which are over a thousand, both of you have only started 7 discussion threads. Its soooooo easy to criticize, but sooooo hard to come up with new ideas. Both of you have NONE. But heck thats OK. We are all here to learn.

 

As I said, Steve, my "issue" (I hesitate to use that word) is that the LA Times piece was placed on the front page of this site, which presumably gets a whole lot more eyeballs than this thinly-read discussion group. I'll happily post the TIAA-CREF piece that I saw here, and offer it up for discussion, but clearly it won't get the same attention among the site readership that the LA Times piece did. Hey, it's Dan's site and he can do with it whatever he wants, at the end of the day. I'd just be interested in hearing his rationale for "overlooking" the piece that was critical of TIAA-CREF. Even accepting apteacher's opinion that...

 

I can't speak for the folks who run the site, but my impression is that it generally has a point of view that investors are capable of running their own 403b accounts without the services of agents. People who come here generally want to inform themselves so that they can become better investors without the paying the costly fees that agents charge. Therefore, an article like the one in the LA Times is relevant to those folks. An article about (still) low cost TC seems less relevant.

...I can't see how ongoing allegations of bad service at a low-cost provider would NOT be relevant to such an investor. Can you?

 

 

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