Wise Information for K‑12 Employees



K-12 Story: I have an AXA 403(b). Help!

We received this email after the first of The New York Times' 5-part series on the 403(b). 

How have I never heard of you guys?

I learned about you through Tara's article in The New York Times. I am so glad I did. You are now bookmarked on my browser. I listened to your podcast. Loved it. Thank you for being supportive of teachers. You get it. Thank you.

I am an elementary teacher in New York. I am not a financial expert, but I do read a lot about finance and manage our family finances. So, I am not a complete neophyte. My husband pretty much takes a backseat and listens to me. When I met him at the age of 27 and found out he was not contributing to his 401(k) with company match, I was shocked and pushed him to start putting money in. I have encouraged him to up his contribution to his 401(k) over the years. I, in turn, have contributed more to my 403(b) so that we can have a nice retirement.

Duped by AXA? 

Now, I feel like a fool. Like I've been duped. I have been investing through AXA over the last ten years. I even transferred money from ING into AXA. I have been suspecting something was up with AXA because it just seemed like my husband's account was growing faster than mine. I did research and realized fees were the best thing to be mindful of. Everytime I contacted AXA about fees, either they did not get back to me or they sent me some crappy photo copy of a fee structure.

Why is it that I can't see quarterly HOW MUCH I am paying. I mean, real dollar amounts. I can see that with my other bank accounts. My husband's Vanguard account is pretty straightforward. Why not mine?

Thought 403(b) Equal to 401(k)

I truly always figured that investing in my retirement account was the same as any other employee. It was just called 403(b) instead of 401(k). I get it now, well sort of,  and I'm almost 50. What took me so long? I guess I was too busy lesson planning.

Now I am trying to figure out what to do. I am immediately stopping my contributions to AXA, but I want to move forward and continue contributing towards retirement.


I have so many colleagues who are invested through AXA and God knows what else. I know of one teacher who tried to get out of AXA and didn't. Others are just oblivious. I am active in the union, so I want to bring info to our members as well.

Thanks for any information you can provide.