How Sagewell protects your 403(b)

How Sagewell protects your 403(b)

Did you know the annual fees associated with a 403(b) can cause you to lose hundreds of thousands of dollars in fees? Sagewell is the only account built from the ground up to combine drastically lower fees and (often hidden) monthly savings to help you thrive in retirement.


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    Excellent, especially my RSA Anne. She’s so patient and knowledgeable, I love it and I’m going to be bugging her for other program offers. I’m so glad I found Sagewell.
    Bernardina Herrera, helped save $20 per month in available senior discount programs

    Frequently Asked Questions about 403(b) and Switching

    Switching your 403(b) to Sagewell helps you get:

    • Drastically lower fees that compound over time, saving upwards of hundreds of thousands of dollars over the lifetime of your account.
    • Monthly savings on items like medication, insurance costs, and cashback rewards at your favorite stores.
    • Personalized care and protection, and an assigned Sagewell Retirement Advocate to help you navigate your golden years.

    401(k) are regulated under ESIRA (Employee Retirement Income Security Act). 403(b) are not. 

    Instead of getting an open market and a fiduciary (legally obligated to work on behalf of a client) you get salespeople, often working for insurance companies. 

    This allows statements so misleading we at Sagewell believe they border on lying, with the real details often hidden in 100 pages of fine print. These same sales staff often poach from teachers’ lounges, providing food and preying upon overworked and underpaid public servants. Lobbying interests have stopped any reform thus far, though the issue is becoming more widely known and acknowledged. 

    While this can be hard to believe, the difference is often upwards of hundreds of thousands of dollars. You can use the above calculator to see exactly how much of an impact switching to Sagewell can have over the lifetime of your account.

    The numbers are striking. Let’s take the average 403(b) holder who has been in the market for 35 years, and adding $200 / month into their account. 

    They started at 30, and now at 65 they are ready to retire. If their 403(b) had a 2.2% management fee then (because of the magic of compound interest) their total account would be over $297,000 less, and they would have paid (mostly hidden) fees of over $106,000. 

    Assuming that there are about 5.6 million people eligible for 403(b) this is an enormous loss for our teachers, nurses and other public servants. The difference amounts to over $1.1 trillion dollars that the financial industry managed to bilk. And that is even before taking advantage of monthly savings from negotiated bills, cash back, and more that Sagewell offers. 

    In sum, it can be hard to believe how much money has been lost in financial fees but that’s why we built Sagewell – to help people just like you fight back and thrive in retirement. 

    A 403(b) plan is not covered under Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA).

    What are the implications of this?

      • Unlike the 401(k), there is no auto-enrollment or qualified default investment alternative (otherwise known as a low-cost target-date fund)
      • Stringent ERISA fiduciary rules are not mandatory, as they are with 401(k)s;
      • Single vendor plans, which would greatly lower costs and simplify matters, are not required in 403(b)s;
      • Only high-cost annuities and custodial mutual funds are allowed as investment options
      • Prohibited transaction rules don’t apply. For example, insurance salespeople care often hugely incentivized with prizes when selling 403(b)plans; this would result in a lawsuit if done inside a 401(k) plan;
      • Employers are not required to send out notices regarding fees paid by participants;
    • 403(b) vendors are not required to disclose both indirect and direct fees; and
    • There is no standard authority to hear complaints over 403(b) plans and courts have consistently ruled against teachers and other public servants

    Sagewell combines lower retirement account fees with monthly savings. Saving money always leaves you in a better position with more options. Among our thousands of members we have supported people in a range of life goals, including:

    • Leave more money for your children and loved ones
    • Offer meaningful protection against inflation and market downturn
    • Retire early to spend more time with loved ones and doing what you love
    • Have more monthly budget with which to better enjoy your golden years
    • Protect you from being bankrupted by a large, one-time expense
    • Help you feel less confused and more in control of your retirement finances

    This is the best part of our work BY FAR – helping people like you build the retirement life they want. 

    At the top level, it’s because the agents are not incentivised to act in your best interest. In practice:

    • Fees are often hidden deep within documents
    • Most often deducted daily and therefore not reported as line items
    • Sellers are incentivized to hide them, and because they are not fiduciaries they are not required to disclose them
    • Because unions are often receiving millions in kickbacks, they are incentivized to hide the fact that advisors are not acting in your best interest

    Unfortunately the unions and the individual sales people are getting the kickbacks, and the states and legislative bodies have been unsupportive of teachers.  

    Just one example: in 2020 the Newport Beach, California owner of Tax Deferred Services, a firm that provides 403(b)/457(b) plan compliance for over 300 California school districts was arrested in what the CA Department of Insurance called a “$4 million securities fraud scheme.

    The courts have ruled on behalf of the financial industry over teachers. In one case a judge said she had no jurisdiction over the dispute because the plan involved is a 403(b) program set up by a New York school district. (Source:

    This is such a rampant, widespread issue that there is a whole podcast dedicated to the topic:

    We started Sagewell to change all this, and help you thrive in retirement. Get in touch today and learn more about how you may have been duped and how to start recovering your financial freedom.

    It’s completely free to set up an account and speak to one of our Sagewell Retirement Advocates about your options. Typically if you already have a 403(b) and are interested in switching, we can help you with every step of the process. Just visit here or our homepage and sign up today to speak to someone who can help.

    Our job is to help you manage risk and enjoy a comfortable retirement, but in any investment there will always be some risk – based on unforeseen shifts in the market or unforeseen expenses you might incurr. Regardless of your situation it never helps to pay unnecessary fees or miss out on savings!

    Sagewell helps by reducing hidden fees and uncovering hidden savings, as well as by offering personalized planning to help you find a plan that matches your lifestyle. Meet with one of our advisors today for a FREE consultation that will help you build a retirement lifestyle and plan that works for you. 


    Yes, IRAs can invest in individual stocks and other investment vehicles as well as everything else a 403(b) can invest. 

    Though in general our Retirement Advocates tend to recommend low fee index funds as optimal for most people transitioning. 

    There are several moments in life when you can switch your 403(b) over to an IRA, it is a common occurrence and your Sagewell representatives can help you navigate the process. Some of the common qualifying events are:

    • When you reach age 59½;
    • Have a severance from your employment;
    • If you become disabled;
    • If you die (rollover to be undertaken by your beneficiary); or
    • Encounter a qualified financial hardship, such as hospitalization or any other kind of financial crisis.

    You can find more details on what the IRS considers qualifying events to roll over your 403(b) here. Or call one of our Retirement Advocates at Sagewell, at +1 617-397-3764.

    Contact us for a completely free consultation in which we will review your situation holistically and help you save and flourish in retirement. You can visit our website or call one of our representatives directly at 704-287-7745.

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