November 9, 2015

Are Teachers Being Targeted by Financial Firms?

I am constantly reading numerous publications to stay abreast of the happenings in the financial world. In the last two days, I have received two articles talking about "teachers" and how they handle their financial lives. Interesting...

One was written by an author that discussed how teachers have "a complex financial picture that includes pensions, 403(b)s, flexible-spending accounts and more. Financial advisors who specialize in supporting educators emphasize that teachers need guidance and sometimes even protection from bad choices, to ensure they get the most from their salaries and benefits." The article went on to quote 3 advisors with differing backgrounds and gave various quotes from each about educators as clients.

The second was written by one of the three advisors in the first article pushing a product to advisors to essentially reach more educators. I was a bit astounded to read that the product being pushed to advisors would charge monthly fees of up to $1,000 per month. By the way, the advisor is an advisor of educators and promotes the firm as such.

I guess I was just early to the game...

Over seven years ago (mid-2008), I started this blog as a way to answer questions that numerous educator friends of mine were asking me. If you will remember, things were all over the place in 2008, and financial markets, accounts, pensions, etc. were all being questioned and wondering if we would all make it. I wrote a ton back then because there was a bunch of misinformation and numerous subjects I had never even touched on - 403(b)s, various pensions, PLOPs, Social Security, WEP, GPO, etc., etc. I have tried to tackle each one, and when something has changed, I have tried to update everyone. Looking back, living/working in Georgia I have more knowledge of the Georgia pensions, but I have researched and answered hundreds of emails from just about every single state. Honestly, I have learned a great deal too, and I really do enjoy some of the challenges y'all have thrown at me over the years. This blog and posts have now been viewed more than 100,000 times, and that is pretty impressive for something that started as a simple way to update friends.

Which brings me to today...

  • I wish that I could say that there are not groups preying on educators and suggesting products and investments that benefit the advisor more than the educator, but there are. The vast majority of 403(b) accounts still sit at institutions that eventually try to push the educators into annuity products locking up their money and/or costing them ridiculous fees. After they sign up though, how often do the advisors even reach back out to those clients?
  • I wish more educators - both starting and experienced - contributed to their own retirement accounts. Whatever pensions the educators may have are great, but the flexibility of having additional funds to tap into when needed can make all the difference in the world.
  • I have seen school systems start to make real efforts to try and educate their educators, but unfortunately, it needs to be more prevalent and even more far reaching. From the first year educator to the soon-to-retire educator/administrator, if educators knew more and pushed more, the community as a whole would greatly benefit.
My question to all of you is what changes have y'all seen? Are more people saving? Do your friends understand the positives and negatives of their investments?

I setup this blog to help, so "help me help..." I want educators to make informed financial decisions, and if needed, get advice from those that have your best interest at heart. I do not want to educators be misguided into products and services that are unnecessary or riddled with fees to help the advisor/firm. Please email me ( to suggest subjects, answer questions, or even just say hello.

To me, educators are a critical part of our society that have chosen to serve our communities and educate our children. When they spend so much time trying to help our children, shouldn't they know that they are also being helped?