Moving the Conversation Forward


Click HERE to view the newsletter from this month. 

And keep the lights on!

  • The SKINNY on Target Date Funds
    The SKINNY on TDFs The key to growing money in a long-term retirement plan is to be as broadly diversified as possible. That is, to be broadly diversified in an age-appropriate fashion. With investments it’s particularly important for us to act our age. Some will argue for the merits of a risk-adjusted diversification, and certainly risk tolerance is not an unimportant factor in the equation. But a snapshot Read more.
  • SIX Sure-Fire Ways to Make Money in your 401(k)
    SIMPLE. It's not complicated building wealth in a 401(k) plan (or it’s 403b plan equivalent). The money comes out of your paycheck before you get a chance to spend it or even see it (which avoids the loss aversion). Many times, if the retirement plan is designed correctly, there will be some auto-features set up to automatically take care of your savings: you’ll be auto-enrolled, auto-diversified, and your Read more.
  • Mr. Redstone Goes to Washington
    Pleased and honored to report that I was selected in April as a delegate to represent the retirement plan industry with lawmakers in Washington DC this summer. Looking forward to seeing many of my colleagues in our business this July. Now in its sixth year, this prestigious event brings together the industry’s elite advisors and home office professionals in our nation’s capital to meet and share our perspectives Read more.
  • Retirement Advisor Council – PRESS RELEASE
    It is an incredible honor to be invited to join the Retirement Advisor Council, the invitation-only industry group with the top advisors in retirement plan consulting. The Retirement Advisor Council is a national organization that advocates for successful qualified plan and participant retirement outcomes through the collaborative efforts of experienced, qualified retirement plan advisors, investment managers and defined contribution plan service providers. I was invited to join the Read more.
  • Cats out of the Bag … We need a Cardiac Specialist
    Is this a sad day for your 401k? There’s a battle raging for the heart of the retirement plan industry. Yesterday, the Department of Labor (DOL) put Fiduciary Rule Enforcement on Hold … but they can’t put it back in the bag. In the beginning, insurance agents, many of them not even securities registered, were able to “broker” retirement plan business, helping companies set up their 401(k) plan Read more.
  • The Remarkable Fantastical Implausible Game of Forecasting
    Forecasting is … interesting. It’s more of an art than a science, even if we use the word “science” promiscuously. In most other industries, you have to be accurate at least 50% of the time, but not in forecasting. Here in Kansas City some of us are huge fans of Gary Lezak. He’s the best, in my humble opinion. As a local weather forecaster, he claims to be Read more.
  • Dead Investors (and dead goalies) perform best
    What a soccer goalie and a dead guy have in common ... and how it could save you a bundle of money. Here’s a few thoughts on lessons learned from soccer … and how they could save us a bundle in the Stock Market, In honor of my son, who used to play soccer, and some of his friends who are still on the pitch. Goalies have one Read more.
  • April Fool’s … or 401(k) Day
    Today is 403(b) day, the lesser known sibling of 401(k) day. Of course, 401(k) day was obscurred, as it typically is, by April Fool's Day. (And this year, it took a backseat to Easter.) But somewhere in there is an important lesson for us that we would be wise (READ: Prudent) to heed. This is no April Fool. (The weather might have felt like an elaborate April Fool's Read more.
  • New Year’s Resolutions … for Retirement
    'Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Florida anymore.' This is Kansas … Kansas City … where the temps have been single-digit from New Year’s Eve through most of 2018. Today, as the real temperature dives below zero, the Country Club Plaza stands frozen. My last post from Florida was miles and miles (and 80 degrees) away. But a new year calls for new resolutions. Out with the Read more.
  • Final (401k) Grades for 2017
    As the sun was setting on 2017 at the condo in St. Pete… I was reflecting on “Final Grades” for the year. How did America’s 401(k) plans grade out this season? Spending Christmas with the family in Florida was great…and warm…but now it’s back to the frigid reality of this arctic blast here at home; the sun and surf were fun, but we knew it was temporary, that Read more.
  • Repurposement & Happiness
    Just finished the book “Happiness by Design” by Paul Dolan (with a forward by the great Daniel Kahneman). I’d highly recommend the book to anyone who wants to take a deep dive with Behavioral Finance and Behavioral Economics.   Here are a few highlights, and the intersections between Dr. Dolan’s work and my work with Repurposement.     Historically, happiness research has focused on the pain-pleasure continuum, as Read more.
  • Let’s Retire the Word Retire
    (An excerpt from the book Repurposement) On average, Americans work about 40 years during their careers. (Ages 25-65) On average. There are, of course, always exceptions. And on average, back when they thought age 65 would be a good time to "clock out" Americans weren't living much longer. On average. But today, thanks to advances in medical research, we're living longer and longer. It's not uncommon for many Read more.
  • 4 Reasons to NOT participate in your 401k
    In 1991, they published a book called “DOS For Dummies.” It was a how-to book that explained a topic in the most simplistic of terms. It sold. And other titles sold, including one called “401(k)s For Dummies.” It’s easy for some to say that only a dummy would pass on a chance to participate in their company 401k. But is it really that simple? Are there any legitimate Read more.
  • 4 Reasons EVERYONE should participate in a retirement plan
    In 1991, Dan Gookin published a book called “DOS For Dummies.” It was a how-to book that explained a topic in the most simplistic of terms. Not surprisingly, it was a best-seller. Most surprisingly, readers didn’t mind being called DUMMIES. And this was back before Amazon could drop a book at your doorstep in secrecy, back when we had to walk into a bookstore and stand in line Read more.
  • Don’t raise a WHITE Flag over this RED Flag issue.
    Far too many Americans are “surrendering” to the flagrant use of proprietary funds. It’s 2017! If your 401(k) provider is still offering proprietary funds, you’re probably being taken. According to information gathered by the Employee Benefits Research Institute (EBRI), 28% of current retirement plans are still using a proprietary solution. That means that the funds within the plan are from the same company offering the plan. If your Read more.
  • Little Johnny could get a job!
    Should a person save for college and then retirement or save for retirement and then college? How should we prioritize our dollars? Is there a right answer? I thought the answer to this question was easy, or intuitive, or obvious…but I've met so many people recently who had the wrong answer to this question that I thought it was worth spending a few minutes. I thought about this Read more.
  • Retirement? – FUGGEDABOUTIT
    This is what Sal looked like on AGT. But the picture to the left is what Sal looked like when he asked about his retirement and his employer said FUGGEDABOUTIT. A lot of American workers are being asked to SET IT AND FORGET IT. FUGGEDABOUTIT! That requires a ton of faith in the Retirement Plan Committee (RPC) that’s watching their money for them. Unfortunately, many of those RPCs Read more.
    ... OR HAS YOUR 401(k) PLAN GIVEN YOU THE FINGER? Perhaps you've heard your retirement plan provider say "Set it and forget it." You’re not sure what it means … but kind of like when cousin Sal says “Fugged about it” you’re pretty sure you shouldn’t. Here’s what it means: the service providers and brokers refer to your 401(k) savings as “sticky money” because they know that if Read more.
  • Does your team’s record warrant a change?
    This is going to sound a bit like a rant, and I don't mean for it to. But one of my pet peeves is when we call our 401(k) committee an Investment Committee rather than the Retirement Plan Committee. It seems like a small point of semantics, but words are important, and to me this difference is not inconsequential. Calling it the investment committee suggests that investments are Read more.
  • Phyllis Borzi & the new Fiduciary Rule
    Last week I wrote about the black eye that the Labor Department's new Fiduciary Rule has given the retirement plan industry. Last month I had dinner with the author of that Rule, the Assistant Secretary of Labor, Phyllis Borzi. She was here in Kansas City to speak at the Employee Benefits Institute. I did not find her to be vindictive or combative towards the financial industry, and I Read more.
  • Fiduciary Rules … Black Eyes … Part 2
    The new DOL Fiduciary Regulations continue to give a black eye … to the retirement industry, particularly to the insurance industry that dominates portions of the retirement industry. And this week the industry assured us that the issue would stay in the public spotlight and the black eye would grow by filing suit in the US District Court for the Northern District of Texas, claiming that the DOL Read more.
  • DOL Fiduciary Regs giving the Retirement Plan Industry a Black Eye
    The new DOL Fiduciary Regulations continue to give a black eye … to the retirement industry, particularly to the insurance industry that dominates portions of the retirement industry. The Department of Labor released the final regulations in April, meaning we’ve had almost 60 days now of very interesting conversations. (This is not a reference to the months of “interesting” conversations between the insurance industry and regulators. I’m talking Read more.
  • Which should we fund first? College or Retirement?
    Should a person save for college and then retirement or save for retirement and then college? How should we prioritize our dollars? Is there a right answer?   I thought the answer to this question was easy, or intuitive, or obvious, but I've met so many people recently who had the wrong answer to this question that I thought it was worth spending a few minutes.   I thought Read more.
  • President’s Day
    In honor of President’s Day (celebrated the 3rd Monday in February, between Lincoln’s birthday on February 12th and Washington’s birthday on February 22nd) I thought that we’d remind you we have a solution to help your employees manage the Lincolns and Washingtons in their life.   The new Dave Ramsey employee benefits program for the workplace < Waste fewer dollars on Consumer Debt > Save more dollars in your retirement Read more.
  • Retirement is a Percentage
    Retirement is not an age. Retirement is not a number. Retirement is a percentage.    A common misperception is that retirement is like a destination, a station along the track, a target for our journey. If only it were that simple! Retirement is not a destination that Americans reach at any particular age. After all, we can’t even agree on the age. Is it 50, 55, 62, 65, 67 … Read more.
  • (10) Questions every Plan Sponsor better be asking in 2015
    These is just the first two questions on the minds of most Plan Sponsors, questions that you’ve probably wondered about if you manage the retirement plan at your office, but questions that maybe you didn’t know that you could ask (or didn’t know were legal to ask). We’ll add new questions in the coming weeks. __________________________________________________________________________________________________ Why should you pay your advisor more just because the market goes Read more.
  • Hypocrites cannibalizing your 401(k) Plan?
    Will cross-selling cross you up with the DOL? A key axiom is that even if something is not illegal it still might not be good.   All things are lawful but not all things are beneficial, helpful or profitable; All things are permissible but not all things are constructive, build up, or edify. No one should seek their own good or their own advantage, but the good of Read more.
  • Marathons are NOT SEXY
    Sex sells. Marathons are not sexy. Sprints are sexy. Overnight success grabs all the headlines. But marathons win the day. Everyone wants quick, fast, easy ... but quick and fast are not easy.  In the NFL they measure your speed in the 40 but what about the 100? When my team touches the ball I want to know if they can cross the goal line, not whether they can run Read more.
  • $ave your Money – Don’t pay for Managed Accounts
    The GAO is questioning the advantages of Managed Accounts … and you should too Sometimes participants in a retirement plan (a 401k or 403b plan) have the opportunity of participating in a Managed Accounts (MA) program where their retirement plan is handled for them, but it generally comes at a hefty price and it is difficult to measure the value, if any, of this added cost. In fact, Read more.
  • Are we afraid to scare people?
    Last week I was with clients in Louisiana and after a Financial Education meeting with 401(k) plan participants I had one participant approach me to say that I'd scared the crap out of him. This is a retirement plan that had auto-enrollment at 2% prior to me becoming their Retirement Plan Consultant and did not have auto-escalation. (Note: the three biggest mistakes I see with these auto features Read more.
  • Help Improve Financial Literacy Among Working Adults
    Although Americans are being asked to bear more responsibility for their retirement, many lack the financial literacy skills or interest to answer the most vital questions, such as: “How much should I contribute? In what options should I invest? How much money will I need in retirement? And how will I manage the many financial risks I’ll face as a retiree?” Solutions to the retirement readiness challenge usually Read more.
  • Which Expert does a Prudent Person Hire?
    The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (E.R.I.S.A.), applies the “Prudent Man Rule” to explain the fiduciary burden of employers. The "Prudent Man Rule" says that the plan sponsor should make decisions on behalf of the plan participants as a prudent person would if making informed decisions about their own account. In other words, what investments, fees, plan design, and plan provisions would a prudent person choose Read more.
  • Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
    I'm reminded of this prayer that a friend of mine learned in an Irish monastery. It’s called the Prayer of St. Patrick. The Irish Saint may or may not have penned these words, but I’d like to think that this is how he might have commemorated this day if he were still alive. "Christ as a Light, Illumine and Guide Me; Christ as a Shield, Overshadow Me; Christ Read more.
  • March Madness
    This week is Spring Break in Kansas City. It's that glorious time sandwiched between the conference tournaments and the national tournament (March Madness). It's the Big Dance, and Cinderella always seems to make an appearance, because in a single-elimination tournament the best team doesn't always win. It just depends on how the ball bounces. Imagine how much more difficult the game would be if they threw more than Read more.
  • Make Financial Literacy Mandatory
    This nation's financial literacy statistics are startling, as are the consequences. The U.S. ranked 27th of 28 countries for this question in the 2012 Global Financial Literacy Barometer: "To what extent would you say teenagers and young adults in your country are adequately prepared to manage their own money?" Seven in ten respondents to the survey believe that U.S. teens don't understand money management basics. Three-quarters of teens Read more.
  • Can we still justify proprietary funds?
    CAN WE STILL JUSTIFY PROPRIETARY FUND? According to information gathered by the Employee Benefits Research Institute (EBRI) 28% of current retirement plans are still using a proprietary solution. This means, basically, that all of the funds in the retirement plan are from just one fund family. And, as you can imagine, no one mutual fund family manages all of the different sectors and investment styles with the same Read more.
  • The Travel Prayer
    Traveling is such an ascetic experience, especially when it involves public transportation. So much is beyond your control and you can either resist it or submit to it. You can hardly break it, but if you are lucky it can break you. And yes, being broken is a blessing. If you read my blog regularly you know that any reference to luck is always tongue in cheek because Read more.
  • An IPS is NOT required … but if you have one it IS required that you follow it
    AN IPS IS NOT REQUIRED ... BUT IF YOU HAVE ONE IT IS REQUIRED THAT YOU FOLLOW IT Confused yet? When you create an Investment Policy Statement you are creating a plan document. While it is not required that you ever create one, it is almost always the first plan document that the Department of Labor auditor asks for when paying you a visit. Having an IPS shows Read more.