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Minisink Valley CSD 403(b) Plan Review

Before You Sign On The Dotted Line, Do Your Homework

A 403(b) plan can be an excellent way to save money for retirement. It can serve as a supplement to your NYSTRS pension plan. But choosing the right 403(b) retirement plan can be overwhelming especially if you work in a school district.

In this article, we aim to provide a comprehensive overview of Minisink Valley CSD’s 403(b) Plan & Provider options. If necessary, please read our 403b Basics article.

Let’s get started!


Minisink Valley 403b Plan Review

Minisink Valley is part of OMNI’s Preferred Provider Program (P3) which allows you to choose your 403(b) provider from a list of pre-selected Providers / Investment Companies.

Minisink Valley currently has 12 403b Providers listed at OMNI, each with their own account options, pricing structures, fees and investment products for you to sift through.

Generally, Providers offer access to their investment products in three different ways:

  1. Via In-House Professionals:

    The investment products offered by these Providers are accessed through a financial professional. Typically to access an annuity or mutual fund from these Providers you would work with a financial professional that is an employee of the Provider. Most of these companies only offer their proprietary investment products.

  2. Via Independent financial professionals:

    The investment products offered by these Providers are accessed through a financial professional like K-12 Financial Advisors. These Providers typically do not sell through in-house employees but rely on independent financial professionals to market their annuities and/or mutual fund products. Independent financial professionals often have relationships and experience with multiple, but not all, Providers.

  3. Direct to Plan Participants (DIY):

    The investment products offered by these Providers generally are accessed directly by plan participants. Typically, participants work directly with these Providers and do not work through a financial professional.


Below, are 12 Minisink Valley 403b Providers with links to provider details. We have tried to provide more informative links about each Provider than are currently available on OMNI’s 403(b) Plan Detail page.

Grandfathered Funds

The following Investment Providers are no longer authorized to establish new accounts for this plan. Employees currently contributing to one of these Investment Providers may continue their contributions without interruption.

AIG/American General **

Fidelity Management Trust **

Putnam Investments **


So how do you choose a 403(b) Provider that’s right for you?

Comparing 12 Minisink Valley 403b Providers, analyzing the pricing structures, and finding any hidden fees is no small task. But it is essential to make an informed decision because your selection WILL affect your retirement account in the future.

Our 5-step Teachers Shopping Guide is a user-friendly guide that covers many of these topics.


We can help.

K-12 Financial Advisors aims to help teachers make the most of their money and utilize their finances to live exceptional lives. We’d love to hear from you and provide more information on how we can help with your financial planning whether it be retirement, insurance, student loans, or other important financial matters.

If you’re suffering from the paradox of too much choice, or if you have questions about your plan and the fees you might be paying, please drop us a note.

If you have recently retired or are terminating employment with the Minisink Valley Central School District, then you have some important decisions to make about your investment allocations. Contact us today to get started on your complimentary portfolio review.

I am an independent advisor committed to the fiduciary standard, and I don’t earn commissions from the recommendations that I make to clients.

Our firm has agreements with Orion Portfolio Services & Aspire Financial who are available on the Minisink Valley 403b Omni Provider list and I offer prospective clients a complimentary portfolio review. This is where we look over your plan, discuss your needs, and identify the investments that are the right fit for you.

Get in Touch Today!


Investing in mutual funds and variable annuities involves risk, including possible loss of principal.

This material was created for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as ERISA, tax, legal or investment advice. If you are seeking investment advice specific to your needs, such advice services must be obtained on your own separate from this educational material.

Warwick Valley Financial Advisors and LPL Financial are not affiliated with or endorsed by the Minisink Valley CSD.

An Independent Review of the Investment Provider Xchange (IPX) 403(b) Platform

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Dear Reader,

If you are like many school district employees, there is a good chance you are using a 403(b) plan as a supplement to your pension to build a healthier retirement.  Many of you probably signed up with a sales rep or agent that came to visit your school offering you their proprietary investment products. Perhaps they bought you lunch in the teacher’s lounge and gave a short presentation about the 403(b) basics. You listened and absorbed as much as you could, but there is a chance that all your other provider options were not fully presented to you.

Many teachers and school district employees are making uninformed investment decisions when it comes to selecting a 403b provider. One of the main reasons most are making poor choices is because they are confused by all the available provider choices. If you work in a school district there is a good chance you have what is called “a multiple provider menu” of companies that offer you different types of product choices for you to choose from. The choices of investments and the fees you will have to pay to vary greatly from provider to provider.

This is a detailed review of the Investment Provider Xchange (IPX) platform, a lesser-known 403(b) retirement plan provider.  IPX does not employ or compensate a sales staff to go into school districts and solicit participants. IPX mainly derives new business by either a participant contacting them directly or through independent investment advisors, so many school district employees probably have never had a chance to learn about the benefits of using the IPX 403b platform.

About this Review

My goal is to make my review of this company platform as impartial and objective as possible. The review will cover the following information on IPX 403(b) Platform:

  1. Platform Overview

  2. Features & Benefits

  3. Investment Options

  4. Fees & Charges

  5. Conclusions/Opinion


IPX 403(b) Plan Review

1. Platform Overview

The Investment Provider Xchange (IPX) is a custodial platform providing recordkeeping and administration services for 403(b) plans and other types of qualified retirement plans. The IPX platform provides employers and their participant’s access to multiple investment products on a unified platform.

According to Plan Sponsor Magazine’s 2019 403(b) Buyer’s Guide, IPX is now ranked as one of the top 10 403(b) providers in the K-12 market by plan count. The 403bcompare.com website ranks the IPX -Vanguard fund platform as one of the lowest-cost products that you will find anywhere in the 403(b) market.

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2. Benefits & Features of using IPX 403(b) Platform

IPX allows individuals as well as advisors the ability to access mutual funds, ETFs, and annuity products on one unified platform. IPX platform is one of few that allow participants to manage their own account without the help of a financial advisor. They have easy to use tools that allow clients to self-manage the direction of their retirement investments, change contributions, make exchanges between investment options, and rebalance accounts are all readily available in the IPX portal.  They have a robust web portal with easy online account opening and a call center support line for participants and advisors. IPX provides the tools for Complete online management of retirement accounts.

 Some of the other benefits of the IPX 403 (b) investment platform:

Self-Directed option

IPX provides clients the option to set up and manage their own accounts. They provide an online educational library and resources that will help guide individual clients through the process.

Advisor Directed option

IPX can also facilitate clients working with a Financial Advisor, whether it be an advisor the client is already working with or if they could provide you with a list of advisors that work with clients in your area.

Contribution Source Types:
The IPX platform supports all allowable contribution sources (Pretax, Roth, Rollover, Employer)

Roth 403(b) option is also available on this platform.

Investment Elections/Realignments:
Within your online account IPX provides you with tools so you can manage the direction of your investments including elections for ongoing contributions, exchanges between investment options, realignment of current investment allocations and rebalance of the account.

Automatic Rebalancing:
Your account has an Automatic Rebalancing program that allows you to periodically realign (or “rebalance”) your portfolio to bring your allocations in line with your current asset allocation strategy. This program is offered at no additional cost.

Performance Reporting

I cannot tell you the number of times I have sat down with a school district employee that didn’t know how their investments were performing. They stated that did not receive performance statements or have access to any performance reporting tools from their current 403b provider.

On IPX’s portal provides performance reporting software at no additional charge. You can calculate your investment performance on multiple timeframes and compare rate of return of your portfolio vs. multiple benchmarks. Clients can choose a custom start and end date to see their account performance over time.

Statements & Activity:
Clients have access to online account statements on demand for reviewing account balances and activity. In addition, IPX clients will automatically receive a quarterly statement by mail.

Loans & Distributions:
You may request loans and distributions online from your account based  if these are allowable in your plan provisions. The system can generate customized, e-signature ready PDF documents for processing.


3. Investment Options

What is unique to the IPX platform, is that they provide multiple investment product options on a single platform. The IPX platform is what is referred to in the industry as an Open Architecture Plan.  IPX provides Individual participants as well as their advisors access to multi investment products including:

  • Mutual funds

  • Exchange traded funds (ETF)

  • Stable value funds

  • Fixed guaranteed annuity

  • Variable annuities

  • Professionally Managed Portfolios

IPX is now a member of Omni’s Preferred Provider program (https://www.omni403b.com/P3/Employers) and provides school district employees access to Vanguard and Fidelity investment options again at an extremely competitive fee structure.

IPX’s Mutual Fund Platform

Two of the most popular IPX product platforms are the Vanguard & Fidelity product offerings. These IPX mutual fund platforms provide clients with access to an expansive list of mutual funds from these investment companies.

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IPX –Vanguard:

Vanguard is widely recognized as a leader in low-cost mutual fund investing. The IPX Vanguard platform provides school district employees access to a full spectrum of low-cost Vanguard mutual fund investments. The 403bcompare.com website ranks the IPX -Vanguard fund platform as one of the lowest-cost products that you will find anywhere in the 403(b) market. Having access to an expansive list of Vanguard’s Admiral share class funds is what truly sets IPX apart from the competition.

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  • Account Maintenance Fee: $86 annually

  • Custodial fee: None. IPX waives its custodial fee on this product.

  • Surrender fees: None

  • Mutual Fund Expenses: range from 0.04% to 0.45%


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IPX –Fidelity Investments:

Fidelity is also widely known as a leader in low-cost mutual fund investing.  IPX provides over 140 Fidelity Mutual Funds. These funds span the investment spectrum from international equities to domestic money market funds. The mutual fund expenses are higher on average on this platform than the Vanguard offering, mainly because there are more actively managed mutual fund available on Fidelity’s list of funds. Vanguard is known more for their passive indexed funds which come at a lower cost.

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  • Account Maintenance Fee:  $50 annually

  • Custodial fee:  None IPX waives their custodial fee for using this platform.

  • Surrender fees: None

  • Mutual Fund Expenses: range from 0.04% to 0.45%


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IPX -Fund Portal:

IPX is one of the few companies that offers an open architecture platform. The centerpiece of the IPX’s offerings is the Open Architecture Plus system – an open investment trading platform that allows access to hundreds of no-load, no-transaction-fee mutual funds on their 403(b) platform.  Participants can customize the 403(b) Platform to construct an investment portfolio based on their goals or risk tolerance.  IPX is open to advisors or participant’s requests to add (or delete) funds to your account based on availability at the 403(b) custodians.

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  • Account Administration Fee:    $50 annually

  • Custodial Fee:  0.20% of product account value (deducted .05% per Quarter)

  • Mutual Fund Expense ratios range from 0.04% to 1.28%

    Possible Advisor-Directed Account fee:

    • Advisor Fee: This is negotiated between you & your advisor. (typically range from 0.5%-1.0% of account value annually. The fee is charged quarterly based on average daily balance.

    IPX Mutual Fund Platform has:

  • No minimum investment amounts.

  • No front-end mutual fund charges

  • No surrender fees

  • No transaction costs


IPX’s Fixed Annuity Option:

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The Standard Fixed Annuity Option*

IPX partnered with The Standard insurance company this product is a fixed annuity that pays a highly competitive interest rate. This fixed annuity offers a competitive interest rate for investors looking to put a portion of their retirement funds in a stable fixed interest account.

There are no transfer restrictions to move in and out of this product on the IPX platform. There are also no surrender charges to redeem this product.

·         The Current Interest Rate:  2.55%.

·         Minimum crediting rate: 1.0%


4. Fees And Charges

All 403(b) providers charge fees for their products. The amount of fees varies greatly depending on which 403(b) product you choose. It is important to know the fees you are paying because a slight increase in fees can substantially reduce the growth in your account which will reduce your income in retirement.

When working with IPX or other 403(b) custodial providers you will encounter fees and investment-related costs that you will have to pay from your account even though most of these fees may not be transparent to participants.  These fees come in two forms: direct fees and indirect fees.

If you are totally confused, let me try to explain.

Direct fees are the fees charged for access to the company’s retirement plan platform or fees for various services, these types of fees are normally visible to the plan participants and would generally be visible online or on your account statements.

AS an example, IPX charges service fees for processing 403(b) loans & distributions.

  • IPX Loan Origination Fee: $100 per transaction

  • IPX Distribution Fee:        $50 per transaction

  • IPX Custodial Administration Fee:  0.20% of product account value

Indirect fees: These are the fees your being charged by the investment product providers.  These fees are often overlooked by investors because are not normally listed on your account statement and often take a little investigating to find.  These types of fees are unavoidable because all investment products have costs. You will encounter this fee on all the IPX’s products you choose to invest in.

The most common fees that you will encounter on the IPX platform are Mutual Fund Operating Expense fees. This is an ongoing fee that is charged for the management of the mutual funds you select. Mutual fund fees on IPX’s Platform can range from as low as 0.04% to as high as 2.00% annually on the dollar value of you have invested in various mutual fund investments that are selected.

So, the total fees that participants pay may differ depending on which mutual funds are selected in their retirement account.


5. Conclusion

IPX is a company that offers one of the most diverse investment product platforms in the 403b marketplace. IPX’s platform are invested in mutual fund products.

They are one of the few investment providers that allow 403b plan participants to manage their own accounts and also let you work with an advisor of your choosing.  IPX gives you access to dozens of different families of mutual funds. If you like the current mutual funds is a good chance that you can invest in the same funds that you’re currently invested in at another 403b company, possibly at a lower cost.

Being low cost does not mean that you miss out on any features and benefits. IPX’s Performance Reporting and other easy to use account management tools are some of the best I have seen in the industry.

 Whatever your investment philosophy, passive index, active managers, or investing to socially responsible investing, IPX provides mutual funds that could potentially fit your all your needs.

If you don’t currently use the  IPX  platform or another open architecture platform now may be a good time to take a look and evaluate these types of companies to see if they would be a good fit for your long-term goals.  If you are interested in a more detailed analysis specific to your situation, feel free to contact me.


Do You Need Any Additional Info? Did You See Any Mistakes in this 403(b) Provider REVIEW?

While we do realize that this product review was a bit lengthy – and we appreciate you sticking with us through it all – we feel that it is much better to “err” on the side of providing “too much” information than not enough. With that in mind, if you felt this 403(b) review was helpful, then please feel free to forward it on to anyone else that you think may benefit from it, too.

Also, as humans will often do, we also understand that information about these providers can change quickly. Therefore, if you happened to notice any details in this review that were out of date or that need correction, please let us know that as well, and we will get it fixed quickly.

Are there any other 403(b) providers that you would like to also see reviewed?

If you have checked out our list of provider reviews and there is another company’s  product that is not currently in our review database, but that you would like to see reviewed, please let us know (https://warwickfa.com/contact-us/ )  the name of the company or product and our team will get right on it. So, be sure to check back with us soon to see any updates.

Thank You

Thanks again for reading, and as always, if you have any questions or would like to have your retirement portfolio reviewed, don’t hesitate to reach out and schedule your no-obligation consultation.

About Me

For readers who have found my website and don’t know much about me, I am a fee-only financial planner held to the fiduciary standard which means I am legally obligated to make recommendations that are in the best interest of my clients. I’m also on a mission to inform teachers and other school district employees about the companies and products that are offered in the 403b marketplace. I have clients that use this the IPX platform & I am registered investment advisor who is approved to manage accounts on the Investment Provider Xchange (“IPX”)


This material was created for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as ERISA, tax, legal or investment advice. If you are seeking investment advice specific to your needs, such advice services must be obtained on your own separate from this educational material.

Investing in mutual funds involves risk, including possible loss of principal. Fund value will fluctuate with market conditions and it may not achieve its investment objective.

ETFs trade like stocks, are subject to investment risk, fluctuate in market value, and may trade at prices above or below the ETF’s net asset value (NAV). Upon redemption, the value of fund shares may be worth more or less than their original cost. ETFs carry additional risks such as not being diversified, possible trading halts, and index tracking errors.

Guarantees are based on the claims paying ability of the issuing company. No investment strategy assures a profit or protects against loss.

None of the third parties referenced in this communication are affiliated with K-12 Financial Advisors, Private Advisor Group or LPL Financial. 

Warwick Valley CSD 403(b) Plan Review

Before You Sign On The Dotted Line, Do Your Homework

A 403(b) plan can be an excellent way to save money for retirement. It can serve as a supplement to your NYSTRS pension plan. But choosing the right 403(b) retirement plan can be overwhelming especially if you work in a school district.

In this article, we aim to provide a comprehensive overview of Warwick Valley CSD’s 403(b) Plan & Provider options. The article is broken into two parts:

1403(b) BASICS
Click and expand these sections below to learn more about each topic.

2403(b) PLAN REVIEW
Warwick Valley CSD’s 403(b) providers and their products.

Let’s get started!


403(b) BASICS

What is a 403b plan?

A 403(b) plan, also known as a tax-sheltered annuity (TSA) plan, is a retirement plan provided by certain employers. Employers such as public educational institutions (public schools, colleges and universities), certain non-profits, and churches or church-related organizations may offer 403(b) plans.

Similar to 401(k) plans, 403(b) plans allow you to contribute pre-tax money from your paycheck to your 403(b) plan to invest in certain investment products.

The 403(b) is named after the section of the IRS code governing it.

How does a 403(b) plan work?

School district employees make contributions to a 403(b) on a pre-tax basis through a Salary Reduction Agreement.

This is an arrangement where the participating employee agrees to take a reduction in salary. The amount by which the salary is reduced is directed to investments offered through the employer and selected by the employee. These contributions are called elective deferrals and are excluded from the employee’s taxable income.

These pre-tax contributions and any investment earnings will not be taxed until you withdraw the money, typically after you retire.

What are the benefits to contributing to a 403(b) plan?
There are three main benefits to contributing to a 403(b) plan.

  • The first benefit is that you don’t pay income tax on allowable contributions until you begin making withdrawals from the plan, usually after you retire. Allowable contributions to a 403(b) plan are either excluded or deducted from your income. However, if your contributions are made to a Roth contribution program, this benefit doesn’t apply. Instead, you pay income tax on the contributions to the plan but distributions from the plan (if certain requirements are met) are tax free.
  • The second benefit is that any earnings and gains on amounts in your 403(b) account aren’t taxed until you withdraw them. Any earnings and gains on amounts in a Roth contribution program aren’t taxed if your withdrawals are qualified distributions. Otherwise, they are taxed when you withdraw them.
  • The third benefit is that you may be eligible to take a credit for elective deferrals contributed to your 403(b) account.
Contribution & Catchup Limits

Participants may contribute up to $19,000 for 2019.

Participants age 50 and older at any time during the calendar year are permitted to contribute an additional $6,000 in 2019, for a total of $25,000.

Also the plan offers the 15-years of service catch-up provision. Employees with 15 years of service with their current employer and an annual average contribution of less than $5,000 per year are eligible for an additional $3,000 contribution per year up to a lifetime maximum catch up of $15,000. This is known as the 15-year rule.

Source: Omni 403b

Catch-ups under the Plan

  • 15 Years-of-Service Catch-up Elective Deferral Contributions: Yes
  • Age 50 Catch-up Elective Deferral Contributions: Yes

Contributions to the Plan

  • Direct Rollovers Into the Plan: Yes
  • Employer Contributions Allowed: Yes
  • Employer Post Severance Contributions Allowed: Yes
  • Exchanges Within the Plan: Yes
  • Roth Contributions: Yes

Other Plan Transactions

  • Hardship Distributions: Yes
  • In-service Distributions After Age 59-1/2: Yes
  • In-service Distributions From Rollover Accounts: Yes
  • Loans: Yes
  • Permissive Service Credit Transfers: Yes
  • Plan-to-Plan Transfers To the Plan: Yes
  • Plan-to-Plan Transfers From the Plan: Yes
Roth Contributions Available

MWCSD allows Roth 403(b) Contributions. Roth contributions are deferred from paychecks to investment accounts on an after-tax basis, as opposed to Traditional 403(b) which are deferred on a pre-tax basis.
The Roth 403(b) offers tax deferral on any earnings in the account. Withdrawals from the account may be tax free, as long as they are considered qualified. Withdrawals prior to age 59 ½ or prior to the
account being opened for 5 years, whichever is later, may result in a 10% IRS penalty tax. Future tax laws can change at any time and may impact the benefits of Roth accounts.

For more details read: The Roth 403(b)

Note: Roth 403(b) accounts are not available from all P3 Providers. Please review the information listed on the Warwick Valley CSD 403(b) Providers page for providers that show “403(b) Roth Account Available” after the provider name where applicable, then follow the Enrollment Steps to begin participation.

How do I enroll in the plan and start contributions?
To enroll in a 403(b) Retirement Plan, you must do 3 things:

  1. Select the provider you wish to invest with from the OMNI’s list of approved providers on its Web site.
    Employees should contact each provider for information about the 403(b) products and services it offers. This is often the biggest and most important hurdle!
  2. Establish an account with your chosen provider. Application forms can be obtained from the representative of, or the investment provider you select. The application is submitted to the investment provider for processing.
  3. Make contributions by completing the “OMNI Salary Reduction Agreement” (SRA) form*, which authorizes OMNI to withhold the amount you elect to contribute to your 403(b) via payroll deduction. The Omni SRA
    form is used to establish, change, or cancel salary reductions withheld from your paycheck and contributed to the 403(b). Your employer will forward the contribution to the investment company on your behalf.

*Important- You MUST establish an account with your selected provider prior to the date you begin the Salary Reduction. If the account has not been properly established, your contributions will be returned to you and will be taxable. Verifying that account has been established before submitting the SRA will expedite the process and help to avoid having funds returned to you.

What are the investment options in a 403(b) Plan?

As a participant in a 403(b) plan, you may need to choose among different types of investments. Typically, 403(b) plans offer two types of investment products – annuities and mutual funds.

An annuity is a contract between you and an insurance company that requires the insurer to make payment to you, either immediately or in the future. There are three basic types of annuities:

Fixed annuity.

The insurance company promises you a minimum rate of interest and a fixed amount of periodic payments. Fixed annuities are regulated by state insurance commissions. Please check with your state insurance commission about the risks and benefits of fixed annuities.

Variable annuity.

The insurance company allows you to direct your annuity payments to different investment options, usually mutual funds. Your payout will vary depending on how much you put in, the rate of return on your
investments, and expenses. The SEC regulates variable annuities. For more information about their benefits and risks, please read our Investor Bulletin: Variable Annuities – An Introduction.

Indexed annuity.

This annuity combines features of securities and insurance products. The insurance company credits you with a return that is based on a stock market index, such as the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index. Indexed annuities are regulated by state insurance commissions. Please check with your state insurance commission about the risks and benefits of indexed annuities.

Mutual Fund

A mutual fund is the common name for an open-end investment company. Like other types of investment companies, mutual funds pool money from investors and invests the money in stocks, bonds, short-term debt or money market instruments, or other securities. Mutual funds issue redeemable shares that investors buy directly from the fund or
through a broker for the fund.

IMPORTANT! Vendors may use different names for these investment products. After reviewing the vendor’s plan materials, if you are uncertain about what type of investment product a vendor offers, contact the vendor and ask them to explain it to you.

For more information about annuities and mutual funds, please read our descriptions on Investor.gov (annuities,mutual funds).

Things to consider before selecting a provider
First, do not assume that your employer has endorsed any vendor. Neither your employer nor Omni 403b can offer any investment advice or market investment products.

Determining which investment products best meet your financial objectives and identifying a vendor who sells those products is very important. Different vendors sell different types of products, and some vendors only offer a limited number of choices. Before selecting a vendor you should:

  • Read your employer’s 403(b) documents to learn the basic rules for how your plan operates.
  • Read each vendor’s 403(b) plan materials. A vendor’s plan materials generally may include:
    • A background description of the vendor
    • A description of the vendor’s investment products and services, including information related to product fees and past investment performance
    • Information related to the vendor’s fees for administering and operating the 403(b) plan (“vendor fees”), including: brokerage fees, advisor fees, account transfer or closure fees, record-keeping or custodial fees, and general administrative fees
    • Any additional information the vendor may need to provide as required by applicable federal or state laws.
  • Research each vendor’s background, credentials and experience. For tips on researching a vendor registered with the SEC or state securities regulators, please read the SEC’s Investor Bulletin: Top Tips for Selecting a Financial Professional. Vendors that are insurance companies generally register with your state’s insurance commission. For information on how to research insurance companies in your state contact your state insurance commission.
  • Understand how much you’ll pay for the vendor’s investment products and services, including any fees or commissions. Ask each vendor if it provides this information in a simple form that you can easily compare to similar information from other vendors.

You may want to consult with your own stock broker, tax advisor, financial consultant, or insurance agent before making your decision.


Warwick Valley CSD 403(b) Plan Review

Warwick Valley CSD is part of OMNI’s Preferred Provider Program (P3) which allows you to choose your 403(b) provider from a list of pre-selected Providers / Investment Companies.

Who/what is the Omni Group?
OMNI® is a Third-Party Administrator (TPA) of 403(b) plans. They work with your school districts to help ensure compliance with IRS regulations governing the operation of 403(b) plans. OMNI® also helps your employer remit 403(b) contributions to participating service providers. OMNI® is NOT an investment company/ service provider- they do not offer and cannot recommend any specific investment vehicle.

Warwick Valley CSD currently has 15 different Providers listed at OMNI, each with their own account options, pricing structures, fees and investment products for you to sift through.

Generally, Providers offer access to their investment products in three different ways:

  1. Via In-House Professionals:
    The investment products offered by these Providers are accessed through a financial professional. Typically to access an annuity or mutual fund from these Providers you would work with a financial professional that is an employee of the Provider. Most these companies only offer their proprietary investment products.
  2. Via Independent financial professionals:
    The investment products offered by these Providers are accessed through a financial professional like Warwick Valley Financial Advisors. These Providers typically do not sell through in-house employees but rely on independent financial professionals to market their annuities and/or mutual fund products. Independent financial professionals often have relationships and experience with multiple, but not all, Providers.
  3. Direct to Plan Participants (DIY):
    The investment products offered by these Providers generally are accessed directly by plan participants. Typically, participants work directly with these Providers and do not work through a financial professional.

Below, are Warwick Valley’s 15 Providers with links to provider details. We have tried to provide more informative links about each Provider than is currently available on OMNI’s 403(b) Plan Detail page.


PROVIDERProduct TypesROTH eligibleProvider Details
Ameriprise Financial / River Source Annuities
403b provider details
Aspire Financial ServicesMutual FundsROTH eligible403b provider details
AXA Equitable 
Life Insurance Company
Annuities
ROTH eligible403b provider details
axa annuity review
MetLife


Brighthouse Life Insurance Co.
AnnuitiesROTH eligible403b provider details
metlife annuity review

Brighthouse 403b Annuity Review
Confidential Financial Planning / Multichoice
Mutual Funds
403b provider details
confidential planning 403b review
Foresters Financial 
(First Investors)

Mutual Funds
ROTH eligible403b provider details
FTJ Fundchoice / Orion Portfolio Solutions
Mutual Funds ROTH eligible403b provider details
GWN/Employee Deposit Acct*Mutual Funds
ROTH eligible403b provider details
IPX FidelityMutual FundsROTH eligible403b provider details
IPX VanguardMutual FundsROTH eligible403b provider details
Lincoln Investment Planning, Inc. Annuities & Mutual Funds ROTH eligible403b provider details
The Legend Group, Inc / Adserv
Annuities & Mutual Funds
ROTH eligible403b provider details
Lincoln Investment Planning, Inc. Annuities & Mutual Funds ROTH eligible403b provider details
New York Life Ins. & Annuity Corp.
Annuities
403b provider details
Oppenheimer Funds Distributors, Inc Mutual Funds ROTH eligible403b product details
VALICAnnuitiesROTH eligible403b provider details
Voya (formerly ING) AnnuitiesROTH eligible403b provider details

Effective July 1 2014, the following Service Providers are no longer authorized to establish new 403(b) accounts for this plan. Please note, Employees contributing to one of these service providers as of July 1, 2014 may continue their contributions without interruption:
Fidelity Management Trust Co.,   Mass Mutual VA,   MetLife (FC), Paul Revere Insurance Group, Putnam Investments,   T. Rowe Price Trust Co., Vanguard Fiduciary Trust Co.


So how do you choose a 403(b) Provider that’s right for you?

Comparing 15 Providers, analyzing the pricing structures and finding any hidden fees is no small task. But it is essential to make an informed decision because your selection WILL affect your retirement account in the future.

Our 5-step Teachers Shopping Guide is a user-friendly guide that covers many of these topics. Visit our (b)informed blog for more informative 403(b) articles.

There is no cost or obligation to ask a question about your options. Call 845-981-7300.

We can help.

Warwick Valley Financial Advisors aims to help teachers make the most of their money and utilize their finances to live exceptional lives. We’d love to hear from you and provide more information on how we can help with your financial planning whether it be retirement, insurance, student loans, or other important financial matters.

If you’re suffering from the paradox of too much choice, or if you have questions about your plan and the fees you might be paying, please drop us a note.

If you have recently retired or are terminating employment with the Warwick Valley Central School District, then you have some important decisions to make about your investment allocations. Contact us today to get started on your complimentary portfolio review.

I am an independent advisor committed to the fiduciary standard, and I don’t earn commissions from the recommendations that I make to clients.

My firm has agreements with FTJ Fundchoice & Aspire financial who are available on the Warwick Valley CSD Omni Provider list and I offer prospective clients a complimentary portfolio review. This is where we look over your plan, discuss your needs, and identify the investments that are the right fit for you.


Investing in mutual funds and variable annuities involves risk, including possible loss of principal.

Fixed and Variable annuities are suitable for long-term investing, such as retirement investing. Gains from tax-deferred investments are taxable as ordinary income upon withdrawal. Guarantees are based on the claims paying ability of the issuing company. Withdrawals made prior to age 59 ½ are subject to a 10% IRS penalty tax and surrender charges may apply. Variable annuities are subject to market risk and may lose value.

Equity Indexed Annuities (EIAs) are not suitable for all investors. EIAs permit investors to participate in only a stated percentage of an increase in an index (participation rate) and may impose a maximum annual account value percentage increase. EIAs typically do not allow for participation in dividends accumulated on the securities represented by the index. Annuities are long-term, tax-deferred investment vehicles designed for retirement purposes. Withdrawals prior to 59 ½ may result in an IRS penalty, and surrender charges may apply. Guarantees are based on the claims paying ability of the issuing insurance company.

None of the third party service providers mentioned are affiliated with Private Advisor Group, Warwick Valley Financial Advisors or LPL Financial.

Warwick Valley Financial Advisors and LPL Financial are not affiliated with or endorsed by the Warwick Valley CSD.

This material was created for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as ERISA, tax, legal or investment advice. If you are seeking investment advice specific to your needs, such advice services must be obtained on your own separate from this educational material.

Monroe-Woodbury 403b Plan Review

Monroe-Woodbury CSD 403(b) Plan Review

Before You Sign On The Dotted Line, Do Your Homework

A 403(b) plan can be an excellent way to save money for retirement. It can serve as a supplement to your NYSTRS pension plan. But choosing the right 403(b) retirement plan can be overwhelming especially if you work in a school district.

In this article, we aim to provide a comprehensive overview of Monroe-Woodbury CSD’s 403(b) Plan & Provider options. The article is broken into two parts:

1403(b) BASICS
Click and expand these sections below to learn more about each topic.

2403(b) PLAN REVIEW
Monroe-Woodbury 403b providers and their products.

Let’s get started!


403(b) BASICS

What is a 403b plan?

A 403(b) plan, also known as a tax-sheltered annuity (TSA) plan, is a retirement plan provided by certain employers. Employers such as public educational institutions (public schools, colleges and universities), certain non-profits, and churches or church-related organizations may offer 403(b) plans.

Similar to 401(k) plans, 403(b) plans allow you to contribute pre-tax money from your paycheck to your 403(b) plan to invest in certain investment products.

The 403(b) is named after the section of the IRS code governing it.

How does a 403(b) plan work?

School district employees make contributions to a 403(b) on a pre-tax basis through a Salary Reduction Agreement.

This is an arrangement where the participating employee agrees to take a reduction in salary. The amount by which the salary is reduced is directed to investments offered through the employer and selected by the employee. These contributions are called elective deferrals and are excluded from the employee’s taxable income.

These pre-tax contributions and any investment earnings will not be taxed until you withdraw the money, typically after you retire.

What are the benefits to contributing to a 403(b) plan?
There are three main benefits to contributing to a 403(b) plan.

  • The first benefit is that you don’t pay income tax on allowable contributions until you begin making withdrawals from the plan, usually after you retire. Allowable contributions to a 403(b) plan are either excluded or deducted from your income. However, if your contributions are made to a Roth contribution program, this benefit doesn’t apply. Instead, you pay income tax on the contributions to the plan but distributions from the plan (if certain requirements are met) are tax free.
  • The second benefit is that any earnings and gains on amounts in your 403(b) account aren’t taxed until you withdraw them. Any earnings and gains on amounts in a Roth contribution program aren’t taxed if your withdrawals are qualified distributions. Otherwise, they are taxed when you withdraw them.
  • The third benefit is that you may be eligible to take a credit for elective deferrals contributed to your 403(b) account.
Contribution & Catchup Limits

Participants may contribute up to $19,000 for 2019.

Participants age 50 and older at any time during the calendar year are permitted to contribute an additional $6,000 in 2019, for a total of $25,000.

Also the plan offers the 15-years of service catch-up provision. Employees with 15 years of service with their current employer and an annual average contribution of less than $5,000 per year are eligible for an additional $3,000 contribution per year up to a lifetime maximum catch up of $15,000. This is known as the 15-year rule.

Source: Omni 403b

Catch-ups under the Plan

  • 15 Years-of-Service Catch-up Elective Deferral Contributions: Yes
  • Age 50 Catch-up Elective Deferral Contributions: Yes

Contributions to the Plan

  • Direct Rollovers Into the Plan: Yes
  • Employer Contributions Allowed: Yes
  • Employer Post Severance Contributions Allowed: Yes
  • Exchanges Within the Plan: Yes
  • Roth Contributions: Yes

Other Plan Transactions

  • Hardship Distributions: Yes
  • In-service Distributions After Age 59-1/2: Yes
  • In-service Distributions From Rollover Accounts: Yes
  • Loans: Yes
  • Permissive Service Credit Transfers: Yes
  • Plan-to-Plan Transfers To the Plan: Yes
  • Plan-to-Plan Transfers From the Plan: Yes
Roth Contributions Available

MWCSD allows Roth 403(b) Contributions. Roth contributions are deferred from paychecks to investment accounts on an after-tax basis, as opposed to Traditional 403(b) which are deferred on a pre-tax basis.
The Roth 403(b) offers tax deferral on any earnings in the account. Withdrawals from the account may be tax free, as long as they are considered qualified. Withdrawals prior to age 59 ½ or prior to the
account being opened for 5 years, whichever is later, may result in a 10% IRS penalty tax. Future tax laws can change at any time and may impact the benefits of Roth accounts.

For more details read: The Roth 403(b)

Note: Roth 403(b) accounts are not available from all P3 Providers. Please review the information listed on the Monroe-Woodbury CSD 403(b) Providers page for providers that show “403(b) Roth Account Available” after the provider name where applicable, then follow the Enrollment Steps to begin participation.

How do I enroll in the plan and start contributions?
To enroll in a 403(b) Retirement Plan, you must do 3 things:

  1. Select the provider you wish to invest with from the OMNI’s list of approved providers on its Web site.
    Employees should contact each provider for information about the 403(b) products and services it offers. This is often the biggest and most important hurdle!
  2. Establish an account with your chosen provider. Application forms can be obtained from the representative of, or the investment provider you select. The application is submitted to the investment provider for processing.
  3. Make contributions by completing the “OMNI Salary Reduction Agreement” (SRA) form*, which authorizes OMNI to withhold the amount you elect to contribute to your 403(b) via payroll deduction. The Omni SRA
    form is used to establish, change, or cancel salary reductions withheld from your paycheck and contributed to the 403(b). Your employer will forward the contribution to the investment company on your behalf.

*Important- You MUST establish an account with your selected provider prior to the date you begin the Salary Reduction. If the account has not been properly established, your contributions will be returned to you and will be taxable. Verifying that account has been established before submitting the SRA will expedite the process and help to avoid having funds returned to you.

What are the investment options in a 403(b) Plan?

As a participant in a 403(b) plan, you may need to choose among different types of investments. Typically, 403(b) plans offer two types of investment products – annuities and mutual funds.

An annuity is a contract between you and an insurance company that requires the insurer to make payment to you, either immediately or in the future. There are three basic types of annuities:

Fixed annuity.

The insurance company promises you a minimum rate of interest and a fixed amount of periodic payments. Fixed annuities are regulated by state insurance commissions. Please check with your state insurance commission about the risks and benefits of fixed annuities.

Variable annuity.

The insurance company allows you to direct your annuity payments to different investment options, usually mutual funds. Your payout will vary depending on how much you put in, the rate of return on your
investments, and expenses. The SEC regulates variable annuities. For more information about their benefits and risks, please read our Investor Bulletin: Variable Annuities – An Introduction.

Indexed annuity.

This annuity combines features of securities and insurance products. The insurance company credits you with a return that is based on a stock market index, such as the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index. Indexed annuities are regulated by state insurance commissions. Please check with your state insurance commission about the risks and benefits of indexed annuities.

Mutual Fund

A mutual fund is the common name for an open-end investment company. Like other types of investment companies, mutual funds pool money from investors and invests the money in stocks, bonds, short-term debt or money market instruments, or other securities. Mutual funds issue redeemable shares that investors buy directly from the fund or
through a broker for the fund.

IMPORTANT! Vendors may use different names for these investment products. After reviewing the vendor’s plan materials, if you are uncertain about what type of investment product a vendor offers, contact the vendor and ask them to explain it to you.

For more information about annuities and mutual funds, please read our descriptions on Investor.gov (annuities,mutual funds).

Things to consider before selecting a provider
First, do not assume that your employer has endorsed any vendor. Neither your employer nor Omni 403b can offer any investment advice or market investment products.

Determining which investment products best meet your financial objectives and identifying a vendor who sells those products is very important. Different vendors sell different types of products, and some vendors only offer a limited number of choices. Before selecting a vendor you should:

  • Read your employer’s 403(b) documents to learn the basic rules for how your plan operates.
  • Read each vendor’s 403(b) plan materials. A vendor’s plan materials generally may include:
    • A background description of the vendor
    • A description of the vendor’s investment products and services, including information related to product fees and past investment performance
    • Information related to the vendor’s fees for administering and operating the 403(b) plan (“vendor fees”), including: brokerage fees, advisor fees, account transfer or closure fees, record-keeping or custodial fees, and general administrative fees
    • Any additional information the vendor may need to provide as required by applicable federal or state laws.
  • Research each vendor’s background, credentials and experience. For tips on researching a vendor registered with the SEC or state securities regulators, please read the SEC’s Investor Bulletin: Top Tips for Selecting a Financial Professional. Vendors that are insurance companies generally register with your state’s insurance commission. For information on how to research insurance companies in your state contact your state insurance commission.
  • Understand how much you’ll pay for the vendor’s investment products and services, including any fees or commissions. Ask each vendor if it provides this information in a simple form that you can easily compare to similar information from other vendors.

You may want to consult with your own stock broker, tax advisor, financial consultant, or insurance agent before making your decision.


Monroe-Woodbury 403b Plan Review

Monroe-Woodbury is part of OMNI’s Preferred Provider Program (P3) which allows you to choose your 403(b) provider from a list of pre-selected Providers / Investment Companies.

Who/what is the Omni Group?
OMNI® is a Third-Party Administrator (TPA) of 403(b) plans. They work with your school districts to help ensure compliance with IRS regulations governing the operation of 403(b) plans. OMNI® also helps your employer remit 403(b) contributions to participating service providers. OMNI® is NOT an investment company/ service provider- they do not offer and cannot recommend any specific investment vehicle.

Monroe-Woodbury currently has many different 403b Providers listed at OMNI, each with their own account options, pricing structures, fees and investment products for you to sift through.

Generally, Providers offer access to their investment products in three different ways:

  1. Via In-House Professionals:
    The investment products offered by these Providers are accessed through a financial professional. Typically to access an annuity or mutual fund from these Providers you would work with a financial professional that is an employee of the Provider. Most these companies only offer their proprietary investment products.
  2. Via Independent financial professionals:
    The investment products offered by these Providers are accessed through a financial professional like Warwick Valley Financial Advisors. These Providers typically do not sell through in-house employees but rely on independent financial professionals to market their annuities and/or mutual fund products. Independent financial professionals often have relationships and experience with multiple, but not all, Providers.
  3. Direct to Plan Participants (DIY):
    The investment products offered by these Providers generally are accessed directly by plan participants. Typically, participants work directly with these Providers and do not work through a financial professional.

Below, are the Monroe-Woodbury 403b Providers with links to provider details. We have tried to provide more informative links about each Provider than is currently available on OMNI’s 403(b) Plan Detail page.


PROVIDERProduct TypesROTH eligibleProvider Details
American CenturyMutual FundsROTH eligible403b provider details
Ameriprise Financial / River Source Annuities
403b provider details
Aspire Financial ServicesMutual FundsROTH eligible403b provider details
AXA Equitable 
Life Insurance Company
Annuities
ROTH eligible403b provider details
axa annuity review
MetLife


Brighthouse Life Insurance Co.
AnnuitiesROTH eligible403b provider details
metlife annuity review

Brighthouse 403b Annuity Review
Confidential Financial Planning / Multichoice
Mutual Funds
403b provider details
confidential planning 403b review
Faculty Services Corp
Annuities & Mutual Funds
ROTH eligible403b provider details
Foresters Financial 
(First Investors)

Mutual Funds
ROTH eligible403b provider details
FTJ Fundchoice / Orion Portfolio Solutions
Mutual Funds ROTH eligible403b provider details
GWN/Employee Deposit Acct*Mutual Funds
ROTH eligible403b provider details
IPX FidelityMutual FundsROTH eligible403b provider details
IPX VanguardMutual FundsROTH eligible403b provider details
Lincoln Investment Planning, Inc. Annuities & Mutual Funds ROTH eligible403b provider details
Mutual Inc/Plan Member Services Corporation Annuities & Mutual Funds ROTH eligible403b provider details
New York Life Ins. & Annuity Corp.
Annuities
403b provider details
Oldham Resource Group
Mutual Funds
ROTH eligible403b provider details
Oppenheimer Funds Distributors, Inc Mutual Funds ROTH eligible403b product details
Primerica Financial Services
Mutual Funds
ROTH eligible403b provider details
Security Benefit Annuities & Mutual Funds ROTH eligible403b provider details
TEG Federal Credit UnionAnnuities & Mutual Funds
403b provider details
The Legend Group, Inc / Adserv
Annuities & Mutual Funds
ROTH eligible403b provider details
Thrivent Financial for LutheransAnnuities & Mutual Funds
403b provider details
VALICAnnuitiesROTH eligible403b provider details
Vanguard Fiduciary Trust Co.Mutual Funds403b product details
Voya (formerly ING) AnnuitiesROTH eligible403b provider details
Waddell & Reed, IncMutual Funds403b provider details

Effective July 1 2012, the following Service Providers are no longer authorized to establish new 403(b) accounts for this plan. Please note, Employees contributing to one of these service providers as of July 1, 2012 may continue their contributions without interruption:
Cadaret, Grant & Co., Capital Bank & Trust, Diversified Investment Advisors, Fidelity Management Trust Co., Mass Mutual VA, MetLife (FC), Phoenix Home Life Ins. Co., Putnam Investments, T. Rowe Price Trust Company, Vanguard Fiduciary Trust Co., Wilton Reassurance Life Co of NY


So how do you choose a 403(b) Provider that’s right for you?

Comparing the Monroe-Woodbury 403b Providers, analyzing the pricing structures and finding any hidden fees is no small task. But it is essential to make an informed decision because your selection WILL affect your retirement account in the future.

Our 5-step Teachers Shopping Guide is a user-friendly guide that covers many of these topics. Visit our (b)informed blog for more informative 403(b) articles.

There is no cost or obligation to ask a question about your options. Call 845-981-7300.

We can help.

Warwick Valley Financial Advisors aims to help teachers make the most of their money and utilize their finances to live exceptional lives. We’d love to hear from you and provide more information on how we can help with your financial planning whether it be retirement, insurance, student loans, or other important financial matters.

If you’re suffering from the paradox of too much choice, or if you have questions about your plan and the fees you might be paying, please drop us a note.

If you have recently retired or are terminating employment with the Monroe-Woodbury Central School District, then you have some important decisions to make about your investment allocations. Contact us today to get started on your complimentary portfolio review.

I am an independent advisor committed to the fiduciary standard, and I don’t earn commissions from the recommendations that I make to clients.

My firm has agreements with FTJ Fundchoice & Aspire financial who are available on the Monroe-Woodbury 403b Omni Provider list and I offer prospective clients a complimentary portfolio review. This is where we look over your plan, discuss your needs, and identify the investments that are the right fit for you.


Investing in mutual funds and variable annuities involves risk, including possible loss of principal.

This material was created for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as ERISA, tax, legal or investment advice. If you are seeking investment advice specific to your needs, such advice services must be obtained on your own separate from this educational material.

Warwick Valley Financial Advisors and LPL Financial are not affiliated with or endorsed by the Monroe-Woodbury CSD.