Protecting your retirement

Protecting your retirement

September 5, 2018


Imagine you get a phone call one day from someone who wants to help you grow your retirement assets. This person says he is an independent financial advisor associated with ERS.

Red flag! ERS is not associated with independent financial advisors!

You have a valuable asset: your State of Texas Retirement defined benefit plan. Because you participate in ERS’ retirement and insurance programs, financial advisors, investment professionals and even criminals may view you as a prime target. If you’re looking for professional investment or financial advice, do your research—especially if you’re contacted directly by advisors. And remember: ERS is not associated with independent financial advisors.

ERS allows many of its third-party administrators (TPAs) to contact state agencies and institutions directly so they can discuss the benefits they manage with you. Many benefits coordinators and HR departments have established good working relationships with TPA representatives. But if someone contacts you claiming to represent ERS or one of its TPAs, get in touch with your benefits coordinator or human resources office and let them know. You can also go online to verify the information you have been given:

  1. Go to www.ers.texas.gov
  2. Click on the Contact ERS link, located above the Search field.
  3. Click on the brown Additional Resources button
  4. Click on the Directory link for a list of all the TPAs, including Empower Retirement for the Texa$aver℠401(k) / 457 program
If you are contacted directly by an ERS representative and you are concerned, contact the ERS main Customer Service number, toll-free at (877) 275-4377 (TTY: 711) or (800) 735-2989, Monday–Friday, 7:30 am - 5:30 pm. Please know you may have to wait on hold if there is high call volume.

Tips for making informed financial decisions
If you are thinking about getting professional investment or financial counsel, there are important things to keep in mind.

1.  ERS staff members have specialized knowledge about the State of Texas Retirement plan. Our retirement specialists can provide accurate information about your retirement eligibility, projected annuity payments based on when you plan to retire and options for your retirement funds when you leave state employment. 2.  Participants in the Texa$aver 401(k) / 457 Program have access to the Texa$aver Advisor Service, provided by Advised Assets Group, LLC, a federally registered investment adviser. Through three types of guidance—including two that are free to members—participants can create personalized retirement strategies.
  • More information on Online Investment Guidance or Online Investment Advice (both available at no cost to the member) or Managed Account (which has additional fees) can be found at https://www.fascore.com/PDF/Texas/Advice_Fact_Sheet.pdf.
  • Please note: there is no guarantee that participation in the Texa$aver Advisor Service will result in a profit or that your account will outperform a self-managed portfolio.
3.  If you choose to use other investment or financial professionals, you should educate yourself about their qualifications and potential conflicts of interest.
  • Ask a family member or a trusted friend to review the information you get to help decide if the business seems legitimate―or if the offer is too good to be true.
  • Check online for credentials. If a company or individual has a record of bankruptcy filings or regulatory sanctions, be wary!
  • Review the advisor’s fee arrangements to learn if he or she is paid a commission for certain investments, or if he or she charges fees for advice only. An advisor who makes such a commission―instead of simply charging a fee for advice only―may have a bias in steering you toward the investment.
  • Check if the business or professional is registered with the State Securities Board (SSB). The SSB offers free regulatory background checks on registered brokers and investment advisers.
The SSB website has information about making investments, including resources to help make educated investment decisions. One tool is the Texas Investor Guide, which has useful information on how to avoid investment scams and how to find a trustworthy financial professional, among other topics.