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Prit,

You wrote, I have a question regarding 403b's, I think it is the counterpart of 401k , albiet for small companies.

403(b) is for non-profit and (quasi)government organizations such as public schools.

Also, I am trying to help my friend and her mother out by trying to give her suggestions for her retirement plans and find myself lacking in knowledge about the 403b's.

You will have to contact your friend's mother's payroll department and ask them who is on their authorized list. The payroll department can and often does restrict the list of 403(b) providers obstensibly to ensure that the monies are being directed to appropriate investment vehicles.

Unfortunatley, the the ability to place these restrictions often wind up being abused in small companies and school systems. Such restrictions often mean that the only authorized 403(b) provider is the friend of someone on the board of directors. And that usually leaves you with only high-price annuity or heavily loaded mutual funds.

Check out her options before you push her too hard in that direction.

This behavior with 403(b) is unfortunate. If the authorized 403(b) provider list is relatively unrestricted, a 403(b) plan has the potential to be quite superior to a 401(k). Of course, the offerings in the 401(k)s at some companies aren't any better.

- Joel
Who's only experience w/403(b) is via his XSO, who's a public school teacher.
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