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403(b) Providers: Does Size Matter?

By John Iekel • October 17, 2017 • 0 Comments
A recent blog post lists the biggest 403(b) providers and administrators and describes the circumstances under which a non-profit may be better served by considering a wider range of options.

In “What Are the Top 403(b) Providers?” Alex Goldberg of the ForUsAll 401(k) Blog offers some information regarding 403(b) providers and which non-profits may be best served by those of varying size. The blog post cites statistics from PlanSponsor showing the 10 largest 403(b) providers in 2014 and 2015, the most recent years for which they have complete data.

Rank  2015  Rank 2014
1 TIAA 1 TIAA
2 Fidelity Investments 2  Fidelity Investments
3  VALIC 3 VALIC
4 Transamerica Retirement Solutions 4 Voya Financial
5 Voya FInancial 5 Transamerica Retirement Solutions
6 Lincoln Financial Group 6 Lincoln Financial Group
7 Vanguard 7 MetLife
8  AXA 8  AXA
9 Empower Retirement 9 Empower Retirement
10 Principal 10 Prudential Retirement

Size may give one an indication of how prominent a provider is, but size isn’t the only measure of importance and usefulness. “Large, well-known companies like TIAA and Fidelity may seem to be the obvious choice, but these investment giants aren’t always the answer for smaller nonprofits. While they can offer a wide selection of investment options, large financial players more often cater to larger retirement plans,” says Goldberg.

And that can matter to small non-profits, which are less likely to offer a plan. A TIAA study, Goldberg notes, shows that 34% of those in organizations with less than 50 employees lacked access to an employer-sponsored plan. Furthermore, the Government Accountability Office has reported that just 14% of non-profits with 100 or fewer employees offer a plan.

PlanSponsor’s statistics bear that out. They show that 12% of TIAA’s 403(b) participants come from entities with less than $5 million in business in 2014; 62% came from ones with business of $50 million or more.

So if smaller non-profits are less likely to make a 403(b) available to their employees, and the employers are not well-served by a large provider, what’s a small employer to do?

Goldberg points out that there are new, and smaller, providers that may better serve small non-profits. Those providers, he says, are more attuned to employing and incorporating technology to help in enrolling participants and administering the plan — and may charge fees that reflect the different business model.

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