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Tip of the Week: Establishing Relationships with Colleges and Universities

Editor’s Note: This is an occasional feature in the NTSA Advisor. It is drawn from The Source, a book that covers technical, compliance, administrative and marketing aspects of the 403(b) and 457(b) markets. More information about The Source is available here.

This is the second installment of a series of tips concerning establishing relationships with plan sponsors for elective deferral 403(b) programs. This week’s concerns establishing relationships with colleges and universities. The first, which concerns establishing relationships with public school systems, is available here.

Colleges and universities have historically limited the number of 403(b) product vendors. This is probably due to the fact that these organizations typically offer employer-funded 403(b) plans along with elective deferral programs with both generally serviced by the same entity(s). TIAA (formerly TIAA CREF) is the largest product provider for higher education employers, but a growing number of mutual fund families and other insurance companies are also competing for market share.

For companies and financial representatives that want to participate in this marketplace, it will be necessary to determine the approval process from the colleges and universities. The procedures for approval may not be clearly defined and may differ significantly from one organization to the next. In fact, the approval process for state colleges may rest with the state’s Board of Regents.