BENEFITS

JHU conducting a review of its 403(b) retirement plans

To make retirement planning easier and more effective for employees, the number of investment choices is expected to be reduced

Drawing of dolalrs being directed to three different investment options

Image credit: GETTY IMAGES

Johns Hopkins University is conducting a review of its 403(b) retirement plans, which will result in changes to the investment fund choices that are available to employees. In an email to faculty and staff, Heidi Conway, vice president for human resources, invited faculty and staff to learn more about the process on the HR website and by attending one of several town hall meetings in January and February.

The Retirement Plans Investment Committee, made up of administrators, staff, and faculty, has been examining best practices in this area. The committee serves as the university's named fiduciary, which means it is required by law to make decisions about the retirement plan while acting solely in the interest of the plan's participants. The RPIC discovered that while many higher education peers offer fewer than 50 investment fund choices to their employees, JHU has more than 400 fund options. In addition, JHU has three vendors through which employees can make investments and which keep records of employees' investments, while other organizations have one or two vendors in this role as recordkeeper. Research indicates that a more streamlined approach with fewer fund choices makes retirement planning easier and more effective for employees.

"The committee expects to significantly reduce the number of investment fund choices, among other administrative changes," Conway said about the review process, which will be complete in 2021. "It is important for you to be aware of this review and how it may affect you."

Addressing specifics, Conway said, "Employees will have their investments moved from funds that are no longer available to a default fund. If that happens to your investments, you will then have the opportunity to move your money from the default fund to a different fund, if you choose to do so."

This review is focused on the recordkeepers and investment menu of the 403(b) plan, and the university is currently not considering changes to the plan's design, such as changes to the employer contribution.

The RPIC is looking for feedback from JHU employees in the next few months, while the process is underway. Comments are welcome at the town hall meetings, or employees can submit comments and suggestions by email to 403bFeedback@jhu.edu.

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