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Author: kala04 Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: of 25318  
Subject: Re: Which vendor -- too many choices Date: 11/17/2004 2:36 AM
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Teehoe,

I've only been investing for 2 years, so take my comments with a grain of salt!

My 403b is with TIAA-CREF and I've been very happy with them. They are great as far as educational resources on the internet, in person, and on the phone. Investment professionals visit my place of work several times a year and hold educational seminars about retirement and set up appointments with individuals to discuss their portfolios. I took advantage of this immediately--being new to the investing world I was overwhelmed with all of the options and needed assistance in determining my retirement goals, developing a plan, and choosing an asset allocation right for my level of risk tolerance. It looks like they'll be visting your college for Baltimore, Baltimore County, and College Park in December. TIAA-CREF customer service reps have also been very friendly and helpful over the phone when I've had any questions.

As pauleckler mentioned, fees are low (my funds are all well under 0.50% except intenational which is in the 0.60s%) and the performance has been good. See http://www.tiaa-cref.org/charts/ra-performance.html and http://www.tiaa-cref.org/charts/mf-performance.html if you want to see how annuities and mutual funds have performed and some information about each investment option. Then you could compare them to benchmarks they are seeking to track or beat or compare them to how funds at your other vendor options performed for the same time frames.

The only complaint I have so far is that I prefer indexes and until recently (when my employer got more options for us, at a price I assume) there were few indexes available to me with employer contributions (plenty of them for my own contributions though). Most equities available to me had a "dual strategy" approach, where half of the annuity or mutual fund is actively managed and the other half uses an index approach. Some people prefer that, but if given a choice I always choose an index.

I've been very happy with TIAA-CREF and would highly recommend it, but again, keep in mind that this is the only place I've ever had a 403b, I didn't have the choice of other companies so I didn't bother to comparison shop, and I've only had my account for 2 years.

I hope you find something you are happy with!

Kala
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