Author Topic: My 403(b) options - which providers are the least bad?  (Read 6834 times)

ApplePI

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My 403(b) options - which providers are the least bad?
« on: June 05, 2015, 05:57:22 AM »
The following are the approved companies that I can invest with in my 403(b). Off hand, does anybody know which ones to look into with more detail and which ones to not bother with at all?


Ameriprise Financial
AXA Equitable Life Insurance Company
Commonwealth Annuity Life Ins Co (Chase)
First Investors Corporation
Lincoln Investment Planning, Inc
Metropolitan Life Insurance Company
Thrivent Financial for Lutherans
VALIC
VOYA Financial

I don't even know where to start, but if I can knock a few off the list or get a recommendation for one, that would help.

mikesinWV

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Re: My 403(b) options - which providers are the least bad?
« Reply #1 on: June 05, 2015, 06:35:52 AM »
Are you looking into investing in mutual funds?  Or is this an annuity?


ApplePI

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Re: My 403(b) options - which providers are the least bad?
« Reply #2 on: June 05, 2015, 06:41:41 AM »
Most of these companies seem to offer both, but I am under the impression that avoiding annuities is important. So, I'm looking for a low cost mutual fund that will be similar to an index. Some of these companies don't seem to list their funds or ERs.

mikesinWV

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Re: My 403(b) options - which providers are the least bad?
« Reply #3 on: June 05, 2015, 06:50:49 AM »
We are using Voya (formerly ING) for my wife's 457.  There were a number of vanguard index funds available.  They may or may not be available to you.

You may simply need to dig into each of these options and see what they have. 

3okirb

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Re: My 403(b) options - which providers are the least bad?
« Reply #4 on: June 05, 2015, 07:14:38 AM »
You mentioned avoiding annuities, but by definition, a 403b is an annuity.  That being said, you should be able to get paperwork telling you which company charges the lowest fee.  Pick that one.

3okirb

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Re: My 403(b) options - which providers are the least bad?
« Reply #5 on: June 05, 2015, 07:16:31 AM »
BTW, I have mine with Valic, but that doesn't mean it's the best option for your available plan.

ApplePI

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Re: My 403(b) options - which providers are the least bad?
« Reply #6 on: June 05, 2015, 07:25:46 AM »
How do I get this paperwork? My HR department told me they could give me no advice or information, but that these were the companies I could choose from.

Another Reader

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Re: My 403(b) options - which providers are the least bad?
« Reply #7 on: June 05, 2015, 08:02:54 AM »
A 403b is NOT by definition an annuity.  A lot of them have annuities as some or all of the choices, but others do not.

Your HR department should give you a list of providers with contact information.   Most of the insurance companies will offer annuities and/or have expensive mutual fund investment options.  However, in your shoes I would call all of the companies except Ameriprise and Valic and get the investment options.  Don't even bother to call Ameriprise and Valic.  They are just plain awful plan providers. When you call, state that you are not interested in annuity options, and ask if they offer anything else.  If they say no, or try to sell you the annuity, politely end the conversation and move on to the next company on the list.

My guess, based on the list, is that Voya will be your best option.  However, you won't know until you make the calls.


forummm

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Re: My 403(b) options - which providers are the least bad?
« Reply #8 on: June 05, 2015, 08:06:51 AM »
A 403b is not an annuity. It's essentially the same as a 401k. You want to get a mutual fund offering from one of these firms. Find out, perhaps from the firms themselves, what mutual funds they offer and what the expense ratios are.

seattlecyclone

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Re: My 403(b) options - which providers are the least bad?
« Reply #9 on: June 05, 2015, 09:26:12 AM »
Historical note: once upon a time, annuities were the only investments allowed in a 403(b) plan. These plans, to this day, are called "tax-sheltered annuity" plans in official documentation. Therefore when you say a 403(b) is an annuity by definition, you're almost right. It's an annuity by name, but the allowed investments have included mutual funds for decades now.

pbkmaine

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Re: My 403(b) options - which providers are the least bad?
« Reply #10 on: June 05, 2015, 09:39:33 AM »
Don't worry so much about the providers. Look instead at the investments the providers offer. If you have one that has a bunch of Vanguard mutual funds or other low-cost index funds, pick that provider. A caveat: make sure the investments have no additional fees or costs. Some 403(b) providers have low cost index funds INSIDE of an annuity and annuity fees apply. These can be quite high. Others "wrap" the low cost funds with extra fees. Understanding the fee structures of 403(b) plans is not easy and may involve a few phone calls. Key question to ask: "I see that the xyz index fund is offered at 10 basis points (one tenth of one percent). Is that all I pay? Or are there additional fees, wraps, loads or mortality and expense charges?"

Bicycle_B

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Re: My 403(b) options - which providers are the least bad?
« Reply #11 on: June 05, 2015, 09:47:04 AM »
Historical note: once upon a time, annuities were the only investments allowed in a 403(b) plan. These plans, to this day, are called "tax-sheltered annuity" plans in official documentation. Therefore when you say a 403(b) is an annuity by definition, you're almost right. It's an annuity by name, but the allowed investments have included mutual funds for decades now.

Interested reader on this issue.  SeattleCyclone, thanks for explaining.

dandarc

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Re: My 403(b) options - which providers are the least bad?
« Reply #12 on: June 05, 2015, 09:52:16 AM »
You really have to look at the offerings at each place.  My wife's 457 has VTSAX available, but through VALIC - a life insurance company.  We had set her up in the 2045 fund at T. Rowe Price well before I noticed this, and she's happy with that, so that's what we're sticking with for the time being.

3okirb

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Re: My 403(b) options - which providers are the least bad?
« Reply #13 on: June 05, 2015, 10:05:06 AM »
Don't assume VALIC is a terrible company based on the previous poster.  In our state, they offer vanguard institutional funds (even lower fees than you can get on the open market unless you have a lot of money) and there are no fees to the investor (flat fee paid by the state)  Fee wise, they're the lowest option available, but you need to call each company and get plan information sent to you and go through it.

ApplePI

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Re: My 403(b) options - which providers are the least bad?
« Reply #14 on: June 05, 2015, 08:16:11 PM »
Don't assume VALIC is a terrible company based on the previous poster.  In our state, they offer vanguard institutional funds (even lower fees than you can get on the open market unless you have a lot of money) and there are no fees to the investor (flat fee paid by the state)  Fee wise, they're the lowest option available, but you need to call each company and get plan information sent to you and go through it.

I was able to get a hold of the VALIC funds available to me. The lowest ER were:

DISSX .50
PESPX .50
SVSPX .16
POMIX .35
ACITX .47

And there are a bunch of 1%+ funds. Having trouble getting information about VOYA's funds. After an hour on the phone, they gave me some spiel about "sub-plans" and I told them to mail me the info because the guy on the line was getting pushy.

pbkmaine

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Re: My 403(b) options - which providers are the least bad?
« Reply #15 on: June 05, 2015, 08:28:10 PM »
SVSPX is State Street Global Advisors S&P 500 Index Fund. 16 basis points is decent.

3okirb

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Re: My 403(b) options - which providers are the least bad?
« Reply #16 on: June 05, 2015, 09:33:55 PM »
Don't assume VALIC is a terrible company based on the previous poster.  In our state, they offer vanguard institutional funds (even lower fees than you can get on the open market unless you have a lot of money) and there are no fees to the investor (flat fee paid by the state)  Fee wise, they're the lowest option available, but you need to call each company and get plan information sent to you and go through it.

I was able to get a hold of the VALIC funds available to me. The lowest ER were:

DISSX .50
PESPX .50
SVSPX .16
POMIX .35
ACITX .47

And there are a bunch of 1%+ funds. Having trouble getting information about VOYA's funds. After an hour on the phone, they gave me some spiel about "sub-plans" and I told them to mail me the info because the guy on the line was getting pushy.

Yeah, unfortunately, it doesn't look like you have access to the funds that we do.  Our Vanguard S&P index fund has a .04% expense ratio and many other funds that aren't far behind that.

I would get everything sent from every company and make a spreadsheet.  Chances are, they're going to be pretty similar.

forummm

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Re: My 403(b) options - which providers are the least bad?
« Reply #17 on: June 05, 2015, 09:48:32 PM »
SVSPX is State Street Global Advisors S&P 500 Index Fund. 16 basis points is decent.

Yes, I would be happy with that one.