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Hi! 

 I am a silent reader here as this is my 2nd post since my 1st more than 12 years ago...  I am really enjoying and learning a lot from posts and stories of teachers here. I thought I was in good place till something  happened. 

Last year, our school district changed 3rd party administrator (TPA) from TSA to Omni. We used to have Fidelity but no longer available now. I will not touch my 403b at Fidelity, leave it there until I retire. Is that ok? 

I am also making Roth IRA contribution to Vanguard but still want to continue 403b contributions (or make new 457). However,  I am now lost which one should I get. Here are the choices left for me 😞

MetLife, AXA, AIG, American Century, Aspire, Forester, Oppenheimer, Lincoln, Voya, Waddell, National Life, Security Benefits, PlanMember Services

I prefer to have mutual funds but most of the companies above are offering annuities ;-(

Please help! I would appreciate any advise you would give... 

Thanks,

Luisa

P.S.

 I was at Metlife 12 years ago but reading a lot here made more confident to transfer my account to Fidelity (per advise by expert good hearted people here) 

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Hi Luisa glad you have returned! Aspire is a decent vendor for both 403b and 457 plans. They add 0.15% fee to a $40/yr fee to Vanguard Admiral class funds. Their phone help is professional.

The other option is Security Benefit’s Direct Invest. It is very low cost if you use their Vanguard index funds. It is also internet based but their phone support has been reported as sometimes unsatisfactory. Their admin fee is $35/yr for balances under 35k. They are usable if you are determined and patient. 

If you use the search feature of this site you will find lots of threads on both these vendors and at least one comparing. 

What state are you in? You may have access to a low cost state run 457 plan.

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Security Benefit’s NEA DirectInvest is your lowest cost option; it’s an elite 403b plan. I documented the plan and the funds you can use to build fully diversified portfolio.

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My district offers similar vendors Luisa and Krow36 suggested I look into PlanMember Services Direct option.  Presently I pay about $70 a year fee plus 0.34% expense ratio.  They offer Vanguard Total Stock Market and Total Bond Market Admiral index funds.

 

 

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In the past when my district eliminated a company from the approved vendor list, current enrollees were considered "grandfathered in" and allowed to continue making contributions.  It might be worth asking about if you want to keep contributing to Fidelity.

 

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On 2/1/2020 at 12:07 AM, krow36 said:

Hi Luisa glad you have returned! Aspire is a decent vendor for both 403b and 457 plans. They add 0.15% fee to a $40/yr fee to Vanguard Admiral class funds. Their phone help is professional.

The other option is Security Benefit’s Direct Invest. It is very low cost if you use their Vanguard index funds. It is also internet based but their phone support has been reported as sometimes unsatisfactory. Their admin fee is $35/yr for balances under 35k. They are usable if you are determined and patient. 

If you use the search feature of this site you will find lots of threads on both these vendors and at least one comparing. 

What state are you in? You may have access to a low cost state run 457 plan.

Yes, it is good to be back Krow36!  403bwise is blocked in our school wifi since last year.   Thus, I have to get home to do more reading, unlike in the previous years that I was always taking a look at the posts whenever I wanted to take a break from grading papers and doing lesson plans. 

Thanks for the suggestions.  I contacted both Aspire and Security Benefits. True enough, I was able to get in touch with Aspire after 3 phone calls but never got any response from Security Benefits. I need to read previous posts here to compare.

Anyway, I teach at one of the Maryland public schools.  Do I have access to a low cost state run 457 plan? I am new to 457 but as I am reading posts here, I am getting more interested with it as I can see the advantage on my part. 

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On 2/2/2020 at 10:52 AM, MNGopher said:

In the past when my district eliminated a company from the approved vendor list, current enrollees were considered "grandfathered in" and allowed to continue making contributions.  It might be worth asking about if you want to keep contributing to Fidelity.

 

I made several inquiries but could not be answered by the people I talked to at our new TPA.  In my frustration, I stopped my contributions at the early part of last year.  Thus, "grandfathered in" is no longer applicable.  

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On 2/1/2020 at 12:04 PM, EdLaFave said:

Security Benefit’s NEA DirectInvest is your lowest cost option; it’s an elite 403b plan. I documented the plan and the funds you can use to build fully diversified portfolio.

Thanks for sharing your story, EdLaFave!  I do admire your hard work and perseverance in getting the NEA DirectInvest to work well on your part.  As mentioned in earlier post, it's hard to get in touch  with Security Benefits.  Well, I am still in the process of comparing my options.  

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My advice is that you don’t get in touch with them at all. Fill out all of the necessary paperwork and let the machine do its work.

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1 hour ago, Luisa said:

Anyway, I teach at one of the Maryland public schools.  Do I have access to a low cost state run 457 plan? I am new to 457 but as I am reading posts here, I am getting more interested with it as I can see the advantage on my part. 

It looks like the MD state-run 457 plan is for MD state employees and employees of state educational "institutions", which I take to mean higher ed, not K-12. But I could be wrong and you should call them up and ask them. In any case, your district has to have a the vendor on their 457 list for you to be able to use it. If the state does allow K-12 employees to use their 457, and it is not on your district's list, you can probably get it added without too much trouble. In some states, the district cannot refuse to offer the state 457 plan. https://www.marylanddc.com/iApp/tcm/marylanddc/learning/library/public_sector_plan_types.jsp

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4 minutes ago, krow36 said:

It looks like the MD state-run 457 plan is for MD state employees and employees of state educational "institutions", which I take to mean higher ed, not K-12. But I could be wrong and you should call them up and ask them. In any case, your district has to have a the vendor on their 457 list for you to be able to use it. If the state does allow K-12 employees to use their 457, and it is not on your district's list, you can probably get it added without too much trouble. In some states, the district cannot refuse to offer the state 457 plan. https://www.marylanddc.com/iApp/tcm/marylanddc/learning/library/public_sector_plan_types.jsp

Thanks, Krow!  More options for me to look into...  

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On 2/4/2020 at 6:19 AM, techteacher said:

I also teach in Maryland and my district does offer a 457 as well as 403. Been maxing both for several years now. 

OK, but is it the MD state-run 457 or is it using PlanMember Services 457? 

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Luisa, the vendors of non-annuity custodial 403b accounts to consider are:

Aspire, Security Benefits and PlanMember Services. I would prefer Aspire to PlanMember Services due the admin fees of 0.15% and 0.34%, respectively. I think they are both honest, non-deceptive companies without hidden fees.

The choice between Aspire and Security Benefit’s NEA Direct Invest depends on how hard you are willing to work to get the very lowest-cost 403b account. SB DI admin fee is only $35 for balances under 50k. I don’t think Ed had problems dealing with SB, but his problems were with his district’s TPA and HR office. Recently, there have been reports of finding SB phone help with NEA Direct Invest. You should be aware that NEA DI is designed to be serviced over the internet with minimum phone assistance. Perhaps teachers call SB just to confirm that NEA DI actually exists? There’s really no reason or need to call SB and make initial contact. The way it’s set up, you fill out the application form and send it to SB. After a week, make the phone call and ask if they’ve received your application. You may or may not get the answer right away. Be persistent. Then call a week later and ask if your account is set up. If it is, they’ll give you access to it. Then you should fill out your district’s TPA salary reduction form.

There have been no complaints about Aspire's phone service. They have a very useful FAQ website for routine questions. Aspire’s admin fee is $40 and 0.15% per year. Both SB DI and Aspire have very low-cost Vanguard Admiral class index funds. The account websites of both Aspire and SB DI have been reported to be very adequate. I think transfers of other 403b accounts have gone smoothly with both vendors, but I would  leave your Fidelity 403b with Fidelity.

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