CalSTRS 403bCompare.com Wins Best of Web Award
Center for Digital Government applauds improved user features such as side-by-side comparisons and real-time fee data.

News release Michael Sicilia

WEST SACRAMENTO, Calif., – On September 15, the 403bCompare.com website—hosted and recently redesigned by in-house CalSTRS staff resources—was awarded the prestigious Best of the Web Award in the State Government Experience category by the Center for Digital Government. The 403bCompare.com website provides California school employees with information and financial planning resources they can use to make informed decisions about voluntary retirement savings plan options.

In March 2017, CalSTRS announced a comprehensive redesign of 403bCompare.com, a free online resource providing tools to compare hundreds of supplemental savings products available through the users’ employer. The site is available to all certificated and classified employees of California public school and community college districts, county offices of education and charter schools.

“This award recognizes CalSTRS ongoing commitment to providing for the retirement security of its members,” said Teachers’ Retirement Board Chair Dana Dillon. “We know that after decades of service to California’s students, our members, on average, will earn just about half of the income they need in retirement through their CalSTRS defined benefit pension. A supplemental savings plan, such as those offered through CalSTRS Pension2 program, is an effective way to help fill the retirement gap. In addition, the redesigned 403bCompare site helps our members increase their understanding of important consumer information like fees and costs which can cut into 403(b) plan earnings over time.”

Required by a 2002 bill (AB 2506, Steinberg), 403bCompare.com is an information resource filled with objective, non-biased or financially motivated information about 403(b) retirement savings vendors and the products they offer, including fee information and investment fund performance data. Additional information featured on the site includes:

  • 403(b) plan descriptions, investment options, fees and product performance information.
  • Registered 403(b) vendors’ experience and services for the products.
  • General retirement planning tools, financial awareness educational materials and budgeting resources.

“The site strives to demystify investments terminology and increase participation in 403(b) retirement savings accounts through an intuitive interface where members can easily compare investment products.”

Sandy Blair
Director of Retirement Readiness

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The site integrates a real-time data feed interface with the independent investment research firm Morningstar to provide up-to-date fund product information, investment performance figures, and financial data.

“This award is gratifying since it recognizes our success in making sometimes overwhelming financial information, statistics and data accessible and understandable to our members,” said CalSTRS Director of Retirement Readiness Sandy Blair. “The site strives to demystify investments terminology and increase participation in 403(b) retirement savings accounts through an intuitive interface where members can easily compare investment products/fees with data supplied from CalSTRS, a most trusted, objective source focused on our members’ retirement security.”

Since the 403bCompare.com redesign launched in March, site user traffic and account enrollments have more than doubled. In just one month after the launch, site traffic increased from an average of 7,000 users per month to 15,367. Additionally, four in 10 new users returned to access the “Compare Products” tool in subsequent visits. Also, between March and mid-June 2017, 12,000 users completed the “MyNextSteps” wizard to open a 403(b) account based on site data and product comparisons. 

About the Government Experience Awards

The Government Experience Awards 2017, by the Center for Digital Government, celebrate achievements and best practices from states, cities and counties that have gone beyond the web to radically improve upon the experience of government, and push the boundaries of how services are delivered. All U.S. state, county and city governments and U.S. federal agencies and departments may nominate their jurisdictions’ user experience for the Overall Experience Awards. Criteria for judging include: accessibility; citizen feedback; cross-platform approach; data integrations, design and interface; innovations; impact; use of content; and user flow. 

About CalSTRS

The California State Teachers’ Retirement System, with a portfolio valued at $213.5 billion as of July 31, 2017, is the largest educator-only pension fund in the world. CalSTRS administers a hybrid retirement system, consisting of traditional defined benefit, cash balance and voluntary defined contribution plans. CalSTRS also provides disability and survivor benefits. CalSTRS serves California’s more than 914,000 public school educators and their families from the state’s 1,700 school districts, county offices of education and community college districts.

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