The monthly meeting of the Board that governs the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) was held on November 14th, 2023. Here are some of the highlights from the meeting.
TSP Participants Taking More Loans
- September 2023 loans were up 25% over September 2022
- August 2023 saw the highest one-month number in more than three years
- Other 401(k) plans are also seeing increases in loan activity
- The increase in loan activity is likely related to current economic conditions correlating to financial hardship for some TSP investors
2023 TSP Satisfaction Survey
There were numerous complaints with the new TSP website when it was introduced in June 2022. FedSmith had several articles detailing problems readers were experiencing. This article from August 2022, highlighted the problems and how the TSP was resolving the issues.
In light of the initial problems with the new website, the recent participant satisfaction survey probably generated more interest than usual. The FRTIB meeting this month outlined some of the results of the most recent survey.
Here are some of the “key takeaways” from the latest satisfaction survey results for the TSP as presented to the FRTIB. This survey was conducted from March 27 – May 28, 2023—about 10 months after the June 2022 transition to the new record keeper.
Because of the problems with the new website that occurred as it was introduced, it is not surprising that the overall satisfaction scores declined from the previous year. In 2022, the overall satisfaction rate was 87% and the most recent survey results of overall satisfaction were 82%.
“Key Takeaways” in Overall Satisfaction
- Overall 82% satisfaction rate remains on par with the Employee Benefits Research (EBRI) Institute benchmark for plan satisfaction
- Satisfaction rates show declines over the past two years except for US Legacy, which has held steady
- Blended Retirement System (BRS) participants have lower levels of satisfaction compared to other groups
- Participant satisfaction is higher among TSP participants (86%) who are retired or are late in their career (50 years +)
This chart from the TSP shows the overall satisfaction rate for the TSP combining all groups of participants.
The survey broke down participant satisfaction in a variety of areas. This table shows results in these areas by year from 2021-2023. The biggest satisfaction declines were on “Plan information on TSP website (tsp.gov)” and “Access to My Account.”
“Key Takeaways” From Survey Results
- Following the trend in overall satisfaction: Satisfaction of many underlying aspects declined
- Satisfaction has remained steady overall and increased slightly in two areas: ability to take a loan from TSP account and ability to transfer money FROM other retirement plans.
- Account security and annual statements remain the highest-rated aspects
- Plan information on TSP website saw the steepest decline
Some topics have the most impact on the overall satisfaction score. These are called the “Top Drivers” in the satisfaction survey.
Key Takeaways” for the Top Drivers of Satisfaction Results
- All top drivers have had a downward trend in their average net satisfaction/usefulness scores over the past year
- The top drivers with the largest decreases in satisfaction since 2022 are timeliness of rolled over/transferred balances out of TSP
- Rolled over/transferred balances into TSP (-15 point decline)
- Timeliness of withdrawal (-14 point decline)
TSP Returns Bounce Back
In October, the stock market ended the month with stocks declining in value for the third month in a row. For October, all TSP Funds, including the Lifecycle Funds, were down except for the G Fund. The G Fund was up 0.40% for the month, 3.40% so far in 2023, and up 4.10% over the past twelve months.
So far this November, things are looking up again for TSP investors. The C Fund, despite several months of lower stock prices, is now up more than 16% in 2023. The S and I Funds are also up, although significantly behind the C Fund.
TSP Returns for All TSP Funds—Month and Year-to-Date
As we are only halfway through the month, and November has one of America’s biggest holidays coming up, there is no certainty how the stock returns will look by December 1st. Events such as the war in Israel and Ukraine could develop in a way that will impact the stock market or additional information impacting stocks may be a surprise.
So far in 2023, despite some strong stock movements up and down, TSP investors have reasons to be pleased with the overall returns.