Retirement Savings Plan


Effective April 24, 2013, new investment fund options will be available.

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Attend A Retirement Plan Investment Workshop

If you missed a Workshop, you can view an on demand workshop here:

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Retirement Plan Changes: Frequently Asked Questions

The following questions are designed to help you understand the changes to the Brandeis University Retirement Plan. Please also refer to the Fund Change Transition Guide that was sent to your home address. It includes details about these changes and key considerations based on your investment needs and preferences.

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What changes are being made to the Brandeis University Retirement Plan?

There are two key changes that we’re making to the Brandeis University Retirement Plan.

We are reducing the total number of funds offered through the plan from more than 190 to roughly 40. This will continue to offer a great deal of investment choice to all employees.  We’re changing the “qualified default investment” for employees who don’t go into their account and actively choose their investments.

Equally important, please note what is not changing. First, we are not reducing the value of the plan, or reducing the contributions we make. The match, what Brandeis contributes to employee accounts, is going to be the same. Second, unlike other universities that have reduced the number of providers, or streamlined to just one provider, we have decided to continue giving employees access to both Fidelity and TIAA-CREF.

Why is Brandeis University making these changes?

Brandeis conducted a lengthy study and analysis—led by the Retirement Plan Investment Committee (which includes members of the faculty) and with guidance from Fiduciary Investment Advisors (FIA), as well as input from the Faculty Senate—before deciding to make changes to the investment funds offered through the Brandeis University Retirement Plan.  It’s important to understand that certain changes to our retirement plan are not optional: regulations are driving these changes for all non-profit organizations.  The changes, which take effect June 3, 2013, comply with the Pension Protection Act and Department of Labor guidance strengthening protections for employees.

Like many other colleges and universities have already done, the introduction of these changes will allow us to more effectively monitor the performance and cost of the investments we offer to you through the Brandeis University Retirement Plan. Under the new rules, plan participants will have the assurance that funds made available by the University are regularly reviewed by the Retirement Plan Investment Committee as well as an independent financial advisor.

Who is impacted by these changes?

These changes impact all faculty and staff who participate in the Brandeis University Retirement Plan,
which includes:

Brandeis University Defined Contribution Retirement Plan for Faculty, Professional and Administrative Staff; andDefined Contribution Retirement Plan for Non-Exempt employees

The changes also impacts plan participants who are former employees of the University, and maintain balances in the Brandeis University Retirement Plan, as well as all future employees who will be eligible for the new investment lineup when they join the University.

Am I required to take any action as a result of these changes?

No, you are not required to take any action. In fact, depending on your personal situation and investment preferences, you may prefer the new default investments and be satisfied with how your account balances and future contributions will be directed. Be sure to review the Fund Change Transition Guide to learn what will happen to existing balances and future contributions if you’re currently invested in a fund that will no longer be offered through the Brandeis University Retirement Plan.

However, you may choose to make changes to your account. If you would like to make changes, please contact your investment provider directly, Fidelity Investments and/or TIAA-CREF.

What happens to my Brandeis University Retirement Plan investments if I don’t take any action?

The answer depends on whether you currently have an account with Fidelity, TIAA-CREF or both providers.

If you have an account with TIAA-CREF, please note:

Five current TIAA-CREF investment options under the Plan will be closed to future contributions after June 3, 2013. You may leave your balance in these accounts; however, no future contributions or transfers can be made to these five accounts after June 3, 2013.

You can start to reallocate your future contributions to any of the five, or a combination of the five, investment options that will continue to be offered after June 3, 2013.

Please note that if your current contributions (either in total or as a portion of your contributions) are directed to any of the five closed TIAA-CREF accounts above, you must redirect them to one of the remaining four TIAA-CREF investment options (TIAA Traditional Annuity, CREF Money Market Account, CREF Stock Account, TIAA Real Estate Account CREF Social Choice) by June 3, 2013, or your entire contribution will default to the target date Vanguard lifecycle fund.

If you have an account with Fidelity, please note:

Over 100 Fidelity investment options that are currently offered through the Brandeis University Retirement Plan—including the current default fund, the Fidelity® Money Market Trust Retirement Government Money Market Portfolio—will be closed to new contributions and exchanges. This means that you will not be able to direct any future contributions or move money into these investment options.

You may choose to direct future contributions to investment options in the new fund lineup. If you do not, future contributions to those closing funds will be transferred to new investment options as indicated in the Fund Change Transition Guide.

What if I want to keep my money invested exactly as it is today? Why didn’t the University “grandfather” all of the current investment options, so we could keep our money invested in those funds?

We understand that the upcoming investment fund changes will impact many employees.  These changes are necessary for Brandeis to comply with the law and fulfill its fiduciary responsibilities.  The reduction in funds will allow Brandeis to exercise greater oversight over our retirement funds’ performance and fees and to fulfill our legal and fiduciary responsibilities as a retirement plan sponsor.   Our new fund lineup is designed to offer you a best-in-class selection of investment options, with considerable flexibility to create a well-diversified and balanced portfolio.

A streamlined investment fund line-up will allow the University to more effectively monitor the performance and cost of the investments we offer to you through the Brandeis University Retirement Plan. We focused intently on the expenses of each individual fund, to make sure that the money you invest has fewer costs and fees taken out. We focused equally intently on the historical performance of each individual fund that we opted to keep in the plan or introduce in our plan—for a valuable balance of cost and performance designed to help you achieve your goals.

Can I have an account with both Fidelity and TIAA-CREF?

Yes, you can maintain an account with both of our Brandeis University Retirement Plan administrative providers.

What is a Qualified Default Investment, and why has Brandeis made the Vanguard Lifecycle Funds our new default?

All employer retirement plans, like the Brandeis University Retirement Plan, must indicate a “default” investment for participants who do not make an active investment election. An “active investment election” means an employee makes a specific choice through the plan provider to invest in certain funds at certain percentages.

The Pension Protection Act  and subsequent Department of Labor guidance specifies that qualified default funds must meet certain criteria:

  • Lower investment fees and expenses
  • Passive (index) management
  • Automatic asset reallocation as the employee ages
  • Strong performance

The current default investment in our plan (the money market fund) does not meet these criteria and is therefore not qualified. So we’re introducing a new default investment fund, per Pension Protection Act and Department of Labor requirements and guidance, with lower fees and expenses, passive management, automatic asset reallocation and strong performance. Fiduciary Investment Advisors helped us reach the decision to make Vanguard Lifecycle Funds our new default investment.

Will the University save money by making these changes?

Brandeis University is not making these changes to save money. In fact, the University incurred a significant expense to perform the analysis and due diligence to assess the implications of the Pension Protection Act and Department of Labor guidance.

If I’m not an employee of the University any longer, what options do I have?

If you are an account holder in the Brandeis University Retirement Plan, with either Fidelity or TIAA-CREF, you are impacted by these changes, just like any other plan participant.

However, please note that as a former employee, you are not required to maintain your account balances as part of the University plan. You may roll your money over into an individual account at any time—with Fidelity, TIAA-CREF, or any other account provider that will accept your rollover. Through an individual account you set up on your own, you will have access to all of the investment fund options offered through the account administrator you choose.
How can I get help understanding what I should do as a result of these changes?

To help Brandeis University employees learn about these changes, Fidelity Investments and TIAA-CREF will conduct several days of live, on-site educational meetings throughout April and May. These sessions will provide an overview of the investment option changes and allow you to ask Fidelity and TIAA-CREF representatives your questions.

You may also choose to schedule your own, individual, confidential consultations with Fidelity Investments and TIAA-CREF. To schedule a consultation with a Fidelity Workplace Planning and Guidance Consultant, call 800-642-7131 or click HERE.  To schedule a consultation with a TIAA-CREF Financial Consultant on campus, call 866-843-5640.