Saturday, April 24, 2004 Holds What May Be Last Advisory Council Meeting......Are They On Track?

I attended the advisory council meeting for the website created out of the AB 2506 legislation on Thursday. The meeting was probably the last meeting before the website goes live on July 1st, 2004. The meeting was not heavily attended, but the attendees were all very serious about they wanted to accomplish.

Eric Norton, the project manager did a great job of bringing together several disperate agendas and finding compromise. There was however a lively discusson on what "Guaranteed annual rate of return" actually means.....what we found out is that fixed annuity is rarely fixed and has more variables than you might expect! We did finally agree on a definition (it was the one that we actually started out with), but it took about 45 minutes.

All in all, I am quite impressed with the progress and what the end result will look like. Each time I see what Eric and his team are doing I get more excited about what is going on. The best news of the day was that the fee for vendors has now dropped to around $8,000 (assuming all the vendors who sent in "letters of intent" actually register).

There were quite a few advocates in the meeting trying to make sure that the end user (the educator) was always in the forefornt when building the database. Despite the work of a few vendors to undermine the usability of the site, I believe that the educator will be able to navigate the site, learn a lot, and in the end benefit tremendously.

July 1st is coming, that will be the day that sovereinghty is handed over to the Iraqi people and educators that own 403(b)'s in California! While I believe there is still a lot of work to do in the 403(b) arena, I think we are making a ton of progress - who would have thought four years ago that we would be where we are today.

Till next time......