The California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS) announced a comprehensive redesign of 403bCompare.com, a free online resource providing tools for visitors to compare hundreds of supplemental savings products available through their employer.
The site is available to all certificated and classified employees of California public school and community college districts, county offices of education and charter schools.
CalSTRS created 403bCompare.com in 2004. California law states that CalSTRS will provide and maintain the site and that 403(b) vendors are required to register and clearly disclose product and fee information.
“403bCompare directly supports CalSTRS’ commitment to provide our members with financial planning tools as we underscore the importance of retirement preparedness,” says CalSTRS Chief Executive Officer Jack Ehnes. “With its vast array of robust tools and enhanced user functionality, 403bCompare is the only comprehensive resource in the U.S. providing fee comparisons by product type, with the goal to make our members’ retirement planning experience less of a gamble and more of a well thought-out-plan to meet their future income needs.”
The average CalSTRS member dedicates a little over 25 years of service to their profession, and upon retirement, receives a defined benefit pension that typically replaces around 55% of their final salary. In order to bridge the gap between the average defined benefit replacement ratio and their retirement income goal, employees have the option to voluntarily participate in a supplemental savings plan, such as a 403(b) or 457(b).
However, employees are often faced with an overwhelming amount of complex and sometimes hard-to-understand information when they attempt to choose between hundreds of 403(b) products encompassing more than 5,000 investment options. The 403bCompare website serves as a helpful guide to easily compare up-to-date information across a variety of vendors, investment product options and account management fees, all in a user-friendly interface.
“More than 72% of CalSTRS members trust our organization to provide them with accurate, secure information and superior customer service, and 403bCompare directly fulfills these facets of our member-focused mission,” says CalSTRS Director of Retirement Readiness Sandy Blair. “Everything our members need is available on 403bCompare in one central resource, including retirement planning resources with clear, step-by-step guides; a glossary of investment terms; and the ability to register for a secure account so compared products can be saved for quick reference.”This is the second generation of the 403bCompare site design over the years as CalSTRS continually implements best practice trends in user-interface design and navigation tools. CalSTRS used in-house staff resources to complete the site redesign, in addition to conducting member focus groups to obtain user feedback and make adjustments prior to launching the refreshed site interface.