For over a year, we have been hearing that the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board (FRTIB) has been working on upgrading the TSP platform. Well, the promised updates are nearly here!
In fact, the platform is currently transitioning. By next week, federal employees will have more ways to access their accounts, communicate with the TSP online, complete more online transactions, and access thousands of additional mutual funds.
Now let’s take a closer look at each of the new 2022 TSP features.
New My Account Interface
The word on the street is that federal employees will notice a fresh new look when they log in to their TSP.
The new interface is said to be more user-friendly, making navigating the website and using the tools easier. We are also told that when federal employees log in, they’ll be able to see their investments more “clearly” in the summary display.
The new interface is meant to be more “responsive” and “mobile-friendly.”
New Virtual Assistant & Live Chat
Beginning next week, federal employees will have access to a new 24/7 virtual assistant powered by AI. The assistant is said to be able to help with common inquiries, limiting the need to call the TSP helpline.
If the virtual assistant can’t answer the question, a live chat function is an additional feature being rolled out next week. The live chat feature will allow users to chat with a TSP representative during business hours.
One of the more exciting new features will be the new TSP app. The app is said to have similar capabilities to the TSP website, such as access to the new chat tool and the virtual assistant.
We can also expect some features standard with other financial apps, like displaying account balances, fund performance, and allowing transaction requests, such as submitting documents, managing payment information, and scanning checks.
Also, like other apps, you’ll be able to use your phone’s biometrics (fingerprint, facial recognition, etc.) when logging in.
Easier Online Transactions
You can’t modernize the TSP platform without allowing electronic signatures! The TSP board must have gotten the message because e-signatures are one of the new features federal employees will have access to next week.
Although some transactions will still require notarized signatures (e.g., spousal consent), federal employees will find completing transactions online much easier.
Aiding in streamlining online transactions, the TSP will have a dedicating team assisting federal employees with rollovers. This special support will be available to those who are moving money from an IRA or eligible employer-sponsored plan (401(k) or 403(b), etc.) into their TSP.
It is unclear whether this additional support will be available to those transferring money out of the TSP.
Mutual Fund Window
No new feature has received as much attention as the new mutual fund window. This new feature will allow federal employees to invest in thousands of mutual funds, in addition to the current five core funds.
To access this feature, the federal employee must transfer a minimum of $10,000 to the self-directed account (mutual fund window). Additionally, this $10,000 minimum cannot be more than 25% of the total TSP balance. Hence, any federal employee who wants to invest via the window will need a minimum TSP balance of $40,000.
Unlike investing in the core TSP funds, investing via the window will come with several different fees. The fees will include an annual maintenance fee of $95.00, an annual administrative fee of $55.00, a $28.75 fee per trade, and mutual fund-specific fees.
Transitioning To The New TSP
The transition period for implementing these new features began on May 16th and is slated to finish the first week of June.
The TSP has temporarily suspended account transactions and access to online tools, forms, and correspondence during this transition period. However, contributions and payments will continue uninterrupted.
After the transition period, federal employees will be required to create new login credentials and may register their phones to access their accounts.
While the TSP has continuously changed over the years, these changes might finally bring the TSP’s capabilities to the present day (fingers crossed).
The new functionalities, such as the mobile app, virtual assistant, live chat, and e-signatures, will allow federal employees to complete many transactions entirely online, eliminating the need for those dreaded TSP forms.
While most of the new features are welcomed changes, federal employees should approach the new mutual fund options with caution. The high cost and added complexity of the thousands of unvetted mutual funds make this change more likely to hinder federal employees planning for retirement than help them.
For additional information on the new TSP changes occurring in 2022, visit the TSP website.
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