Universal Plan Truths

Universal Plan Truths(sm)

  1. Lowering fees is the only sure-fire way to boost investment return.
  2. Trusting a broker or salesperson to lower your fees will be a long wait.
  3. If fees get too low, be prepared for limited service.
  4. If fees are really high but hard to figure out, don’t expect great service.
  5. A broker or agent distributing enrollment booklets is not the same as a Specialist Plan Adviser.
  6. The business owner’s college buddy may not be the best person to lead your Workplace Retirement Plan.
  7. The business owner’s personal broker may not be the best person to lead your Workplace Retirement Plan.
  8. Banks are loaded with fees.  This doesn’t stop when they take over your Workplace Retirement Plan.
  9. Robo-advisors probably aren't very helpful to people.  They're likely even worse for a Workplace Retirement Plan.
  10. Big investment companies making exotic commercials with celebrities likely subtract years from your retirement.
  11. Wall Street firms make money by gathering assets.  Stopping them from gathering yours will help you retire sooner.
  12. If your employer gave your Workplace Retirement Plan to a financial vendor or bank as a favor, you may expect to work a few extra years.
  13. If you’ve been with the same company for over a year and don’t know what your Plan Advisor looks like, you probably have a broker.
  14. If your Workplace Retirement Plan hasn’t changed at all in 3 or more years, you probably have a broker.
  15. If you have investments that you can’t research online, you probably have an agent.
  16. If all of the investments in your plan begin with the same name, your plan probably hasn’t been updated since the ‘90s.
  17. If your plan has lots of money in it, left by employee’s who no longer work with you, you probably have a broker or agent.
  18. Whatever plan you have, it will probably run better with a Third Party Administrator ("TPA").
  19. If your company’s accountants also run your Workplace Retirement Plan, it’s probably one of only a few types they can offer (ask them about "selling agreements" and potential conflicts of interest).
  20. If you receive fee disclosures that are really long and reference other documents, you probably have a broker or agent instead of a specialist.
  21. A Plan Partner is always more objective than a broker or agent. (Okay, we may be a bit biased on this one, but our bias is toward you, not a product or commission.)
  22. If someone claims to be highly successful at IRA rollovers, they’re probably not going to also be very helpful to your Workplace Retirement Plan.
  23. You should never trust a “Trust" company unless they earn it.
  24. The most successful plans have interchangeable parts that can be replaced when broken, not brokers that are hard to replace.
  25. If your Plan Adviser talks a lot about one investment or product, you probably have a broker.
  26. If your Plan Adviser’s firm has words like “Capital” or “Wealth Management” in the title, they’re probably brokers.
  27. If your Plan Adviser has letters after their name that have nothing to do with Workplace Retirement Plans, they’re probably a broker or agent.
  28. Active funds, passive funds, ETFs, CITs, SMAs, and Custom Models all might prove helpful to your plan.  If your Plan Adviser has not brought them up, you probably have a broker or agent.
  29. If your Plan Advisor was selected to run your Workplace Retirement Plan simply because one investment did better than another in the past, you probably have a broker.
  30. If your Plan Advisor was selected to run your Workplace Retirement Plan simply because one investment received more trophies than another, you probably have a broker.
  31. If your Workplace Retirement Plan has an investment with the word "guaranteed" in the name, you likely have an agent.
  32. If you've received a Fee Disclosure report but can't read it, despite your degree in advanced mathematics, you probably have a broker or agent.
  33. If your Workplace Retirement Plan's disclosures don't have a person's name on them, you probably have an 800 number ("robo") broker.
  34. If your Workplace Retirement Plan's website is full of links to buy more stuff, you probably have a selling provider, who's a broker.
  35. If your Workplace Retirement Plan is with a provider that also has products and services and who also provides plan oversight, you probably still don't know what your true fees are.
  36. If your Plan Advisor has never spoken to your Plan's Investment Managers, you probably have a broker or agent.
  37. If your Plan Advisor runs education by talking about "great investment opportunities", you probably have a broker.
  38. If your Plan Advisor runs education by talking about volatility and "guarantees", you probably have an agent.
  39. If your Plan Advisor still hasn't provided your Workplace Retirement Plan with a clear Service Agreement, you probably have a broker or agent.
  40. The "Prudent Person Standard" is really the Prudent Expert Standard.
  41. A Fiduciary has more of an interest in your Workplace Retirement Plan than a broker or agent.
  42. The Duty of Loyalty is always owed and never takes a break.
  43. Conflicts of interest, when un-addressed, are a bad thing.  When addressed, they're only less bad.
  44. Evaluation of an ERISA Fidelity Bond is best done annually, by someone who isn't conflicted or paid commissions.
  45. Having an Investment Policy Statement is great, unless you don't follow it.
  46. A Retirement Planning Advisor is not the same as a Retirement Plans Specialist.
  47. Anyone who attempts to be both a Retirement Planning Advisor and a Retirement Plans Professional at the same time should have a good legal team, and a few extra disclosure documents.
  48. If your Plan Adivsor is avoiding a fiduciary role on your Workplace Retirement Plan, they're likely also avoiding serving your plan.
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