Fee Disclosure Challenge Means Opportunity

Despite the weight of anecdotal evidence suggesting that the DOL’s fee disclosure regulations are not achieving at least one of their main goals — educating participants — the rules are here to stay, so everyone concerned must pay attention to them. That message was conveyed by ASPPA’s General Counsel Craig Hoffman at the organization’s annual conference Oct. 30.   Read More

Case of the Week: Federal Tax Withholding and Distributions of Employer Stock

The ERISA consultants who serve on the Columbia Management Learning Center Resource Desk regularly receive calls from financial advisors on a broad array of technical topics related to IRAs and qualified retirement plans. In this premiere installment of a new weekly feature on NAPA Net, the tax treatment of an in-kind distribution of employer stock is explained.   Read More

Getting People to Watch Your Videos

Are you using video to connect with prospects, clients, referrals and potential alliances? Video is an incredibly powerful marketing tool. But in order for it to work, you have to get people to watch. Maribeth Kuzmeski, president of Red Zone Marketing, offers eight quick tips for engaging people so they will want to watch your video and connect with you.   Read More

Evaluating DC Plan Options? Challenge the Conventional Wisdom

It’s been a couple of months since DC plan sponsors received DOL-mandated fee disclosure statements from their service providers, and participants have had a few weeks to review — or ignore — the fee and performance benchmark information shared with them. And while one potential outcome is more attention to fund options, the fact is plan sponsors have already been active, with nearly two-thirds of 401(k) plans changing their investment offerings in 2011, up from just 19% in 2009.   Read More

Trone and Cormier Hook up to Conduct Fiduciary Impact Study

3Ethos’ Don Trone, founder of fi360, and Warren Cormier of Boston Research Group, in cooperation with Financial Advisor magazine, have completed the first edition of an annual study intended to benchmark best practices and ultimately measure the rate of adoption and the success of advisors who have adopted those best practices. While success and adoption will have to be measured in ensuing years, there were some interesting findings among the first year’s results.   Read More

Social Media and High Net Worth Investors

It’s evident that financial and retirement plan advisors are wary of the social media platform. Some of the leading reasons include the compliance issues involved, the time it takes to manage social media, and simply getting started. However, research by LinkedIn and Cogent Research points to some compelling reasons for participating in this fast-moving communication channel.   Read More

Wave of 401(k) Lawsuits Could Wash Over Plan Advisors Next

Think that 401(k) lawsuits are over? Think again. Emboldened by recent successes and armed with more information through the fee disclosure regulations and benchmarking data, plaintiff attorneys’ next target could be advisors, warns Fred Reish of Drinker Biddle. Section 408(b)(2) only details the fees charged, he notes — providing no sense of whether those fees are reasonable without applicable benchmarking data. Reish warns that advisors whose fees are above the norm could become targets of an ever-active plaintiffs’ bar.   Read More

Defined Contribution Investment Only Provider List

The 2012 DCIO Provider List includes the 39 firms actively selling to plan advisors. To be on the list, providers must have dedicated sales people calling on advisors in the DC market and must available on a majority of the platforms of national record keepers. Twelve of these 39 firms are in their own version of “401kHeaven” — as measured either by DC AUM or by annual flow driven by sales people, value add or outstanding performance in a unique category.   Read More

Fiduciary – or ‘Steward’?

Like many things in the DC world, “fiduciary” has become a commodity that providers are offering — in some cases, for as little as three basis points. Clearly there is massive confusion and misuse of a term that was intended to distinguish well-intentioned advisors and help improve outcomes. I’m not advocating that the industry drop the term, but I do think it’s time to move to a more holistic, less technical term that does not come with baggage for advisors that do the right thing for clients.   Read More

Getting Small Business Owners to Focus on Their Own Retirement Needs

According to a report from The American College, 40% of small business owners have no retirement savings or pension plan in place — even though many are over 50. Equally surprising, many of these business owners don’t engage advisors to help them. Many business owners focus so much on expanding and maintaining their businesses that their own retirement planning winds up on the back burner. But most are concerned about their retirement.   Read More

Why Reagan Cut the Top Tax Rate to 28%, But Romney Can’t

Twenty-six years ago today, President Reagan signed a sweeping bipartisan tax reform that chopped the top individual income tax rate from 50% to 28%; curbed special deductions, exclusions and breaks; gave most families a tax cut; left the richest 1% paying a slightly higher share of taxes; and didn’t add to the deficit. In short, the Tax Reform Act of 1986 did much of what Mitt Romney says he will do as president.   Read More

Withdrawal ‘Symptoms’

Like so many of our assumptions about retirement, the withdrawal rule of thumb — the rule of thumb that many financial advisors rely on as a formula for how much money can be withdrawn from retirement savings every year (generally adjusted for inflation) without running out of money — has drawn additional scrutiny, especially in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis. What’s not clear is whether adhering to that guideline produces an income stream in retirement that will be enough to live on.   Read More