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Learned by Being Burned Podcast

Episode 5: A Little Cabin on a Lake


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John Kevin (00:06):

It's hard for me to understand how the model can exist going forward. And that's why I think there's a tremendous opportunity for some disruption in the marketplace.

Chris Nye (00:14):

I actually went out on my own and created my own company. So what I'm trying to do is go to different school districts and help them out. You know, school districts have paid me to come and educate their teachers on how the whole 403(b) game is played. I

Elizabeth Warren (00:27):

Believe that the solution here starts with transparency. That's why today I launched an investigation sending letters to the 15 largest annuities companies describing the kickbacks that I found.

Dan Otter (00:40):

Amendment 1: Right to at least one quality low-cost vendor.

Lisa McEvoy(00:45):

I want to move out of suburbia and live in a little cabin on a lake, somewhere in the Northeast. And I wanna spend half of my year traveling and I wanna live in all the different places I've never gotten to live before.

Narrator (01:02):

Welcome to learned by being burned teachers and the K through 12 403(b) the short series that explores the dysfunctional world of supplemental retirement plans, the maddening industry behind them and the growing movement to fix what is broken. I'm your host Barb Besal. I teach high school chemistry in Virginia Beach city, public schools. I'm 15 years into my teaching career and I truly love what I do, but that doesn't mean I'll want to do it forever. In 15 more years, I want the freedom to be able to choose whether I stay in my classroom or take my hard earned retirement. When I look around, I see too many of my friends and colleagues who are at or near retirement age, but don't seem to have that choice. Is that my future too? When I found out that some of my well-intentioned financial decisions could actually be robbing me of my freedom to choose my future. I realized what a massive problem we educators and public servants are facing when it comes to preparing for retirement. At best, we get too little information too late at worst. We are actively pushed toward manipulative sales agents who masquerade as advisors.

Narrator (02:24):

But with early access to proper information through grassroots advocacy, I'm regaining my freedom to choose my future. And I'm hoping to empower you to do the same.

Narrator (02:38):

In the first four episodes we learned about the public school retirement plans known as 403(b)s. We heard from teachers who were horrified to learn about the high fees built into the insurance products, typically sold through such plans. We learned how paying such fees over the lifetime of a plan and often paying a whole new set of fees to get your money out of such a plan, can have devastating effects on a teacher's retirement savings. And we learned how a wave of teachers across the country began to champion reforms only to encounter obstacles from their own school districts and unions. In episode five, we'll actually share some good news in the form of advocate, success stories. Plus we'll discover why supplemental retirement plans are more important than ever before. And we'll learn what can be done to continue improving the quality of K through 12 403(b) plans. And what role unions, school districts and government should play in the fight to ensure that teachers are offered the best possible retirement options.

Narrator (03:52):

Episode five, A Little Cabin on a Lake. Montgomery County Public Schools in Maryland, just outside of the nation's capitol is the country's 16th largest school district, employing tens of thousands of people. Starting in 2004, it became the site of the most sweeping and effective reform of a 403(b) plan anywhere in the United States. John Kevin knows the area well. Until recently he oversaw the K through 12 marketplace for AIG Retirement Services. Before then, and for eight years, he worked as the Montgomery County investment officer overseeing their defined benefit and defined contribution plans. It was there that he discovered the unique challenges of the 403(b) marketplace.

John Kevin (04:42):

I had started my career Vanguard and had an experience with 401(k). So I, you know, assumed that it was the same type of plan type and, provisions and such. And so didn't give much thought to it and came into the job and, and quickly realized that it was gonna be about half of my job, just trying to understand the plans. The multi-vendor structure is very different from 401(k) world. So it took me awhile to get up to speed and really understand. And it kind of was a head scratch for me, why there were 14 record keepers on the plan and varying investment products and service levels, and such.

Narrator (05:22):

Kevin understood that having that many separate investment providers would depress participation in the plan.

John Kevin (05:28):

When you have 14 investment companies. Some who have different service models and different investment products, all of a sudden you're adding at least two other decisions that ultimately what started out as a good decision. Now, it's what company do I use? And do I understand what the investment products are? And so they're afraid of making a bad decision in their mind. And so they make no decision. The simpler you can make every step of the process, the better utilization you're going to have.

Narrator (05:59):

So Kevin set out to whittle those 14 providers down to a list of six. But when he recommended that to his district school board, the National Tax Deferred Savings Association, which is an industry group that lobbies on behalf of the companies that sell 403(b) plans oppose his proposal. The school board then rejected Kevin's plan, sending him back to the drawing board. That prompted him to reconsider his goals. The second time he asked the school board to request proposals from investment companies, which is known as an RFP, Kevin, decided to focus on the quality of the retirement plans rather than the quantity. The district would not seek to limit the number of providers, but it would hold every provider to certain standards.

John Kevin (06:45):

So we said, all right, going forward, in order to respond to this RFP, you have to agree that you're not going to offer mutual funds with front or backend loads. So no sales charges. Annuity products cannot have a rolling surrender charge. What that means is some annuity products apply a five or seven year surrender period to every contribution that's received, not from the date that you opened the account. So that changes the liquidity dynamic for participants. And we said, anybody who upgrades their investment product, they have to permit their existing clients to move from their old product, to their new product, with no restrictions.

Narrator (07:24):

The school board agreed to the new proposal and Montgomery County began a journey that would end with it having what may be the nation's most enlightened 403(b) plan.

John Kevin (07:35):

We ended up with nine companies. And so it really started us down the path of saying, okay, we can get the plan that we want without saying how many investment providers we need. We just need to dictate the provisions when we're saying, who can respond to this.

Narrator (07:54):

But bidders also had to agree to one more condition and it was a big one. Going forward funds in the plan would be controlled by the school district, not the individual participants. While that might sound like it's not an employee's best interest. Kevin believes it is. Employer control of plan assets is yet another major difference between 403(b) plans and those of their better known sibling 401(k)s. When a company with a 401(k) plan, solicits bids from competing investment firms, it can move the plans entire assets to whichever company submits the lowest bid. That gives investment companies a big incentive to make their retirement plans as affordable as possible. But K through 12 403(b) plans almost never let school districts move all their assets to a new plan. So investment providers have far less incentive to compete on price because they're only competing for new investments. Not all investments. Within a few years after Kevin left the school district, Montgomery County put its entire 403(b) plan in the hands of a single low-cost investment company: Fidelity. The promise of transferring an account balance that Kevin estimates was in the ballpark of $700 million enabled the district to get a very good deal for participants in the plan. And because a plan with just one low-cost vendor was more attractive to teachers and easier to understand participation began to grow.

John Kevin (09:32):

We felt that we were getting the plan that we wanted because every time we went to RFP, the cost to our employees would go down. Their liquidity would improve. Their services would improve.

Narrator (09:44):

Kevin believes that's the kind of leverage that school districts across the country should be using to strike better deals on behalf of their employees. But they seldom do.

John Kevin (09:55):

A long time. Especially when I was sitting at Montgomery County, I felt it was the investment providers who were the problem. But I've come to the conclusion that it is an equally weighted problem between the indifference of the school district officials. And that sounds harsh, but it is a benefit that they offer to their employees. I would say if they put in one 10th of the effort and process that they put into governing their healthcare plans that they would do for these plans, they would improve them. You know, almost instantaneously.

Narrator (10:30):

The changes in Montgomery County were a rare success story in the 403(b) industry, but they weren't the only one. Gradually all across the country, K through 12 teachers and other employees have been making progress to improve the quality of their retirement plans. In California, unlike Montgomery County, it is technically illegal for school districts to solicit bids for their 403(b) plans. Reformers have tried to change the law on two occasions with no success, but their first effort though unsuccessful did result in one victory that has gone on to help teachers all across the United States. Here's Dan Otter, founder of 403wise.

Dan Otter (11:14):

Unfortunately this huge lobbying backlash formed and the legislation was killed. One of the good outcomes though, was the creation of the website 403bcompare.com What that is, is a registration database for every K to 14. So junior colleges as well, any 403(b) product sold in the K-14 market had to register on this database. And so now we actually have a website where all of the fees and surrender charges are listed, and this is a fabulous resource. Now it's designed for California teachers, but we share it broadly and nationally, because if you're a teacher in Ohio and you have Equitable, which is one of the highest cost companies out there that used to be called AXA A-X-A. If you have them available in Ohio, you can go to 403bcompare.com and search their fee structure. So while we lost the battle there, we think we got a really good tool in our advocacy toolbox.

Narrator (12:25):

Retired Los Angeles school teacher Steve Schullo was one of the pioneers of the 403(b) reform movement. And over the course of his decades of activism, he encountered many setbacks, including the failed efforts to reform California law. But over time, Schullo educated himself about investing, extracted his money from two high-cost insurance annuities and invested it in a low cost-mutual fund. Then he began educating his peers about the need for better retirement options. Eventually he was asked to join a district advisory committee.

Steve Schullo (13:02):

Very few advisory committees exist in any school district in the country. And I think we've done a pretty good job. I've been on this committee for 14 years now. And what we've done is replace the high-cost funds with lower-cost index funds. We have auto enroll with two of the unions, which means that the district can just automatically enroll somebody. And then they have three months to opt out if they want. It's been a very successful program with the private sector for years and years. And usually people like the idea that somebody did this for them because after a while they learned firsthand compound interest, that after a few years they didn't realize how much money they could save

Narrator (13:53):

Inspired by Shullo's effort. His LA school's colleague Crystal Mendez began educating her peers about the pitfalls of choosing the wrong retirement plan. And when the time came for her to move her money out of the costly insurance annuity that she had invested in as a young teacher, she used the state's 403bcompare.com website.

Crystal Mendez (14:15):

LAUSD has a huge list of companies that are available. So using the website was actually really beneficial as far as narrowing down my choices based on fees. And I was able to choose a company that I felt had excellent investment options and very low fees. So I got out of the company that I was with and got all invested, felt much better myself and then was really kind of motivated to learn a lot more at that point as much as I possibly could.

Narrator (14:41):

Across the country in Massachusetts, math teacher Eddie Boynton started a financial literacy club for students at his school and began working with his union to help improve the quality of investment options offered by his school district. Boynton eventually succeeded in having Vanguard added as an option. Retired school custodian, Jeff York, after hearing Dan Otter and Scott Dauenhauer of 403bwise explain the drawbacks of annuities managed to move his into a low cost Vanguard mutual fund in late 2002, that decision paid off.

Jeff York (15:17):

The 10th of this October I just finally broke through a million dollar net worth.

Narrator (15:22):

New York teacher, Nancy Bachety. Didn't just want to move her money to Vanguard. She wanted everyone in her school district to have access to such a plan. Even if it meant a bit of deception when she called Omni her district's third party administrator.

Nancy Bachety (15:37):

I didn't say I was a teacher. I just said, I'm calling from the school district. How would I go about adding a vendor like Vanguard or Aspire to the lineup? And I was told step-by-step. Okay, good magic. I hung up the phone. I called the business office. I said, this is how you do it. You just call 'em and they'll add it because Aspire is already on our approved vendor list.

Narrator (16:03):

Just a few months later Bachety's school board approved the change and teachers in her district began contributing to the low-cost Aspire product. New Jersey business education teacher Chris Nye took similar initiative to make a low-cost mutual fund available for him and his peers.

Chris Nye (16:23):

I was talking to T. Rowe Price and Vanguard at the same time. They are two of the best investment companies in the world and really came down to T. Rowe Price. They were going at a little faster pace than Vanguard. So they sent me the paperwork and all I had to do was get 25 teachers to sign a piece of paper saying that they were interested in getting T. Rowe Price. Now, not that they were gonna sign up, right. It wasn't a commitment. It was just to say, I'm interested in T. Rowe Price. And then at that point T. Rowe Price saw that there was a desire, a demand among the teacher and they would then work with the district to give us a 403(b) through T. Rowe Price.

Narrator (16:57):

However, when it came to convincing his fellow teachers, it wasn't quite as easy as he had hoped.

Chris Nye (17:03):

I'll tell you getting those 25 signatures, not the easiest thing in the world, because everyone looks at you thinking, well, what's in it for this guy? What's he doing right now? Like everyone has AXA. Everyone has these companies like what is going on here? I got to a point where I basically told people, look, I need this for myself. If you don't want to get T. Rowe Price, don't do it. But I do. And I need your help. I need 24 more people to sign this piece of paper so we can get the ball rolling. And if no one, you don't have to do it. If you don't wanna do it, then don't but I'm telling you one, you know, I'm doing this for me and two, if you wanna come aboard, I'll show you how the game is played and how to do all this stuff. I just need to get it established first.

Chris Nye (17:42):

In fact, Nye took some extra measures to honor his commitment to helping other teachers.

Chris Nye (17:47):

I actually went out on my own and created my own company. I have a, a company in the state of New Jersey and I have that company recognized as a registered investment advisory. And then over the summertime I went out and I passed my series 65 exam. So I have my securities license and I have my own company. So what I'm trying to do is go to different school districts and help them out. You know, school districts have paid me to come and educate their teachers on how the whole 403(b) game is played. So that's one of the things that I'm trying to do is to kind of take it to the next level is, and really fight back against the insurance companies and just educate my fellow colleagues on what's going on.

Narrator (18:24):

Perhaps most significantly Dan Otter and Scott Dauenhauer of 403bwise have helped to educate tens of thousands of teachers all across the nation about the perils of 403(b) investing. 403bwise.org is a respected source of investment guidance and information. Dan and Scott regularly talk with teachers from all over the country about their personal savings and efforts to improve the investments available in their school district or state and the 403bwise Facebook Group has become a vital community and source of information for thousands of teachers.

Teacher (19:09):

It's homework if you don't finish it in class.

Narrator (19:17):

403(b) plans just continue to grow in importance. As The Great Recession and later the COVID 19 pandemic cut into school district finances. The pensions that teachers rely upon for the bulk of their retirements have been squeezed. Former Securities and Exchange Commission, attorney Edward Siedel expects 403(b) plans and a related type of investment plan the 457(b) to continue to grow in importance.

Ed Siedle (19:47):

As a result of underfunded, state and local public pensions investments like 403(b) plans and 457(b) plans are more important than ever. And I've been encouraging workers to focus on these plans because they can no longer afford to neglect them. What we're seeing nationally is government sector employees, pensions are probably going to be cut. And so these plans really deserve attention. And I would say the message has still not gotten out there. A lot of attention is being directed to understandably to preserving pension benefits. Less attention is being directed to improving 403(b) benefits. But I think the writings on the wall that these 403(b) and 457(b) benefits are more important than ever. And hopefully additional scrutiny will shift in this direction.

Narrator (20:48):

Siedle is not alone. Former Montgomery County Public Schools official John Kevin agrees that 403(b) plans have only grown in importance since The Great recession. And as the pandemic created similar financial pressures upon school districts in late 2020, he more and more of them to begin de-emphasizing defined benefit pension plans and emphasizing defined contribution 403(b) and 457(b) plans

John Kevin (21:18):

Every single governmental defined benefit plan in the country changed, virtually every provision, used every lever. They they increased contribution rates. They changed when you could retire. They reduced the multiplier for new employees. Some of them went to a hybrid model and they've exhausted essentially all of the levers that they have for the next go around. So what you're going start to see by the summer of next year, all these plans that are, you know, doing very poorly in a low interest rate environment, uh, with their funding ratios. So budgets are gonna be under duress after all the COVID issues. While the markets are holding up pretty well, it's creating the perfect storm for defined benefit plans and, and the obvious simple solution for a state legislature is to migrate to a defined contribution plan. The states will just say for every new hire, they're all going into the deferred compensation plan. You know, we're not going to maintain this defined benefit plan for new hires going forward.

Narrator (22:25):

In other words, states are likely to begin steering more and more of their employees away from pension plans and toward 403(b) and 457(b) plans. Kevin says that several states have already begun directing all of their new employees to such plans. Given these growing financial pressures, he believes the 403(b) market is ripe for disruption.

John Kevin (22:50):

It's the only benefit that an employer offers to their employees, that someone comes to the campus or the office on a regular basis to solicit business. Cigna doesn't do it. Aetna doesn't do it with the healthcare Delta Dental doesn't send people to sign people up for the dental plans. And so it's hard for me to understand how the model can exist going forward. And that's why I think there's a tremendous opportunity for some disruption in the marketplace.

Narrator (23:21):

After all, he notes, the impact of COVID 19 changed the industry overnight.

John Kevin (23:27):

The way that the industry believes the K-12 marketplace works is that you need a financial advisor to get people enrolled in the plans. And the way you do that is by face-to-face interaction. Well, what happened in March of 2020? All face-to-face interaction stopped. So the marketplace that is predicated on face-to-face interaction has been turned on its head, just like the schools themselves, right? A hundred plus years of teaching kids face-to-face changed overnight. So I think there's a tremendous opportunity for a firm to break into this marketplace with a digital engagement setup.

Narrator (24:11):

Kevin suggests another way such disruption might arise. He notes that federal legislation has been proposed to eliminate the current prohibition on multiple employers sharing a single 403(b) plan. To explain why that would be advantageous, he cites the hypothetical example of a 403(b) plan from a small school district in rural Oklahoma.

John Kevin (24:34):

That's a small plan. That plan will never get a good investment platform. They'll never get liquidity because they're just too small. But if that school district part partnered with 50 other school districts for a plan structure, all of a sudden you get economies of scale.

Narrator (24:53):

Federal regulation is another realm in which 403(b) programs could be improved. Back in 2015, it attracted the attention of Senator Elizabeth Warren who helped to create the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and is known for her advocacy. On behalf of consumers, here is an extended clip of Warren at a meeting of the Senate banking committee that year. This proved a watershed moment in public discourse for issues surrounding the 403(b) marketplace.

Elizabeth Warren (25:23):

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I'm glad we're here today to talk about insurance and insurance regulation, because I've been looking at a problem that's costing American families about 17 billion a year, and it starts with loopholes in the law that make it perfectly legal for brokers and advisors, including folks who sell insurance products, to take kickbacks for pushing lousy retirement products on unsuspecting families. Now consider what happens with annuities and annuities and insurance product in which somebody invests today in order to get a steady payout when they hit retirement. The insurance industry is selling about $200 billion worth of annuities every year. And there may be some circumstances where buying an annuity makes sense, but as one observer noted, quote, "It is not an accident that objective, fee-only advisors hardly ever recommend annuities, while commissioned sales people seem to love them." Now, I got interested in what kinds of kickbacks some of these insurance salesman were getting when they pushed people to buy annuities.

Elizabeth Warren (Continued) (26:32):

And what I found is pretty amazing. I found free cruises, luxury vacations at five star resorts, an African safari, private yacht tours of the Mediterranean, iPads, Mercedes-Benz leases, and get this one, a diamond encrusted NFL Super Bowl-style ring with a large Ruby in the middle. You know, most Americans have no idea that the people they go to for retirement advice could get such outrageous giveaways for pushing these products. We all know that investing has risks and nobody's entitled to a guaranteed result, but there should be some basic rules of the road to make sure that investment advisors can't get rich on kickbacks and that giveaways like these cause unsuspecting customers to lose out. I believe that the solution here starts with transparency. That's why today I launched an investigation sending letters to the 15 largest annuities companies describing the kickbacks that I found and asking them to disclose complete information on the perks, the rewards, the incentives or whatever else they call the inducements they offer to sell these annuities to families and small investors who are trying to plan for their retirements. I believe the transparency is a powerful first step, but it isn't enough.

Narrator (28:00):

Warren's investigation eventually revealed that 13 of the 15 top providers of insurance annuities offered their sales representatives gifts or other payments for selling policies that often weren't in the best interests of the people who buy them. What kind of gifts? Paid vacations to ritzy destinations like Ireland's famous Dromoland castle, the Ritz Carlton Aruba, a week in Bora Bora Tahiti or other destinations, including Tuscany, Costa Rica, the Napa Valley, Rome, The Bahamas or Monte Carlo. That investigation helped lead to an Obama era regulation that imposed fiduciary duties on insurance agents. But the regulation was struck down by the courts, following a suit by industry opponents, and then president Trump turned to the very lawyer who filed that lawsuit Eugene Scalia, the son of former Supreme court justice Antonin Scalia, to write its replacement. The Biden administration is expected to impose new regulation. Former SEC attorney Edward Siedle believes that it should.

Ed Siedle (29:11):

Regulators should be more proactive in pursuing abuses in the 403(b) area. I know the SEC recently got involved, somewhat involved, I believe involving Valic. The SEC has been slow to respond. The way to clean up 403(b) abuses would be to have regulators today be more proactive in ferreting out 403(b) abuses, and then to consider having 403(b) plans and public pension subject to ERISA.

Narrator (29:49):

ERISA is the acronym for the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, which requires the people who administer 401(k) plans to make decisions in the best interest of their investors. The employees of public agencies like school districts are inexplicably exempt from these protections.

Ed Siedle (30:10):

So the problem with 403b(s) and other plans that aren't governed by ERISA is that there's no comparable regulation of them. Therefore they're far riskier than ERISA plans. If 403(b)s and other types of plans like public pensions were governed by equally comprehensive regulation then one would be less concerned. The problem is 403(b) and the trillions that are invested in state and local pensions are not subject to ERISA and are not protected by any comparable legislation.

Narrator (30:47):

New York teacher, Lisa McEvoy finds it galling that the retirement plans for teachers and others who have dedicated their lives to public service are not protected. Like those offered to private employees.

Lisa McEvoy (31:00):

It's infuriating especially when I find out that, you know, there are different regulations for 403(b) investment companies than there are for 401(k) investment companies. And when I found out how much transparency there is in the 401(k) industry versus the 403(b) industry, I just really felt taken advantage of, you know, a teacher and I'm trying to do the right thing, be in the service industry, giving you know, back to my community and trying to do the right thing for myself and my family and my future, and no idea about this. So I just really felt like we were taken advantage of, and I don't understand why we're not protected in the same way that investors who have 401(k) plans are protected.

Teacher (31:58):

Slowdown please. Don't run in the halls.

Narrator (32:05):

To call attention to how bad the investing choices are for teachers, 403bwise launched a comparison of K through 12 403(b) vendor list in the fall of 2021. The advocacy group gathers, posts and rates more than 14,000 school district 403(b) plans through an A through F grading system. It is a tall task, but early reaction suggests it is an invaluable resource. Finally, with all the work that still needs to be done, making 403(b) plans a safer place for teachers to put their money, 403bwise recently released a 403(b) Bill of Rights, founder, Dan Otter.

Dan Otter (32:47):

We really should just have one amendment: offer teachers one-low cost investment. That's it. But unfortunately we have to have 10.

Narrator (32:57):

Here are the 10 amendments.

Dan Otter (32:59)

Amendment 1. Right to at Least One Quality Low-Cost Vendor

School districts must offer access to at least one quality, low-cost vendor. The following companies serve the K-12 403(b) market and offer quality, low-cost products: Aspire Financial Services, CalSTRS Pension 2 (California only), Fidelity Investments, ICMA-RC, TIAA, T. Rowe Price and Vanguard. 

Amendment 2. Fiduciary Pledge

Anyone selling K-12 403(b) product must sign a Fiduciary Pledge requiring them to put their client's interests above their own. We have created the 403(b)wise Advisor Fiduciary Pledge for this purpose. 

Amendment 3. Union Ethics

Unions must cease accepting "donations" or any other financial support from financial institutions that sell 403(b) products to their members. Furthermore, Unions must take an active roll in improving K-12 403(b) and 457(b) plans.

Amendment 4. Fee, Surrender Charge & Performance Disclosure

Vendors must supply a clear breakdown of all fees including M&E charges, loads, exit charges, operating costs, maintenance fees, and 12b-1 fees, surrender penalties, and performance data. 

Amendment 5. Right to Objective Financial Education

Employers must provide objective plan information and 403(b) eduation to employees, especially new hires. 403bwise is happy to assist in the 403(b) education effort. We will gladly put on — at no cost — interactive video sessions. Reach out to us via the "Contact Us" link at the top and bottom of this page.  

Amendment 6. End to Unreasonably Long Vendor List

Plans should contain a manageable number of quality vendors. Regular audits should be conducted to achieve this goal. Furthermore, employers should utilize the Request for Proposal (RFP) process to leverage economies of scale to get the best combination of pricing and services. 

Amendment 7. Knowledgeable Benefits Administrators

Benefits administrators must possess 403(b) training and knowledge. Moreover, they must be permitted the freedom to provide general plan information to employees without fear of legal reprisal.

Amendment 8. End Agent Trawling at Schools

Sales agents must be banned from K-12 campuses. No more agent-run "free" lunches and "information" seminars especially at new hire orientations. See: An Even Fishier Smell in the Teachers' Lounge. 


Amendment 9. End to the Term TSA

The 403(b) plan should be known as just that: the 403(b) plan. Calling it a TSA (tax sheltered annuity) or a TDA (tax deferred annuity) is confusing and leads participants to falsely believe they can only invest in annuity products. All plan information, including salary reduction agreements and payroll documents, should only use the term 403(b). 

Amendment 10. Add a 457(b) Plan

Due primarily to it's requirement of more employer oversight, the 457(b) can often be a better plan than the 403(b). Every school employee should have access to a quality, low-cost 457(b) plan. Many states make excellent state-wide plans available to teachers. 

Narrator (35:46):

If those 10 simple ideas were implemented, then public school employees all across the country could invest confidently in their 403(b) plans and teachers like Lisa McEvoy would have a way to achieve their goals for retirement.

Lisa McEvoy (35:59):

I want to move out of suburbia and live in a little cabin on a lake, somewhere in the Northeast. And I wanna spend half of my year traveling and I wanna live in all the different places I've never gotten to live before in the United States. And I'd like to travel in other countries as well. That to me is the payoff. And that's what I think of every time I increase my 403(b) savings or, you know, Nick's another bill that we don't need anymore, because somebody's not doing gymnastics or something like that. You know that freedom and flexibility that we'll have because of these choices that we're making. Now, that's what I think about.

Narrator (38:16):

I'm your host Barb Besal. Thanks for listening.

Teacher (38:23):

If it's not yours and not part of your body, don't touch it.

Neal Weiss (Producer) (36:50):

"Learned by Being Burned: Teachers and the K through 12 403(b)" is created by fuzzyville industries in Culver City, California in partnership with 403bwise.org. The series is produced by Neal Weiss. Research, reported and written by Stephen Buel. Hosted by Barb Besal. Mixed and mastered by John Adams. Assistant audio editing, Jesse Mechanic and Kai Grady. Music by Neal Weiss and Brad Richard. Teacher voiceovers by Colleen Morrisey. The non-profit 403bwise.org is funded by the generous support of Tim Ranzetta, co-founder of Next Gen Personal Finance. Find out more about 403(b) advocacy 403bwise.org. Find out more about fuzzyville industries at thisisfuzzyville.com. Thanks for listening.

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