Choosing a 403(b)

What to look for in a 403(b) plan

When comparing plans, whether you are just getting started or looking to transfer your account to another provider, consider the following in your decision. 


Fees can have a dramatic impact on your earnings. Even one percentage point can make a difference. If a plan charges 5% a year in fees, an investor then has to earn a return of 5% to break even. Fees are often broken down into maintenance expenses and fund-management expenses. Another common fee for annuities is a mortality and expense charge (M&E). Make sure you understand all the fees that apply before choosing a 403(b) provider.

WEA Member Benefits currently charges a 0.35% annual administrative fee for 403(b) accounts, plus there is an annual fee cap of $500. No other fees or surrender penalties apply. More about our fees.

Penalties or surrender fees

Many plans have penalties for transferring into other qualified plans or for closing the account before a specified date. Some annuities require a 7- to 10-year minimum holding period which greatly reduces your flexibility.

Quality of product and company

Research the companies you are considering. Do they have a history of success? What kinds of investment options do they offer? Look for respected third-party ratings such as MorningstarTM and Motley Fool—both offer free analysis online.

Customer service

Being able to speak to someone when you call with questions about your account is really important. Learn what you can expect in the way of customer service before you make a decision about a provider.

Professional assistance

What kind of investment help is offered through the provider? Do they offer fee-based services to assist with your financial planning needs or are these services included in fees and commissions attached to the account and product sales.  

Online resources to help you choose the right 403(b)

View our infographic, "Top 5 things to do when choosing a 403(b) TSA vendor."

Find out how WEA TSA Trust answered these questions, then compare us with other providers you are considering.

FINRA—The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority.—Created by the Securities and Exchange Commission “just for teachers.”—Created by two teachers to provide teachers with unbiased 403(b) education. 

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