Portal Conductor: Brian Graff

Brian is the author of the "Inside the Beltway" column for NAPA Net the Magazine.

He is the CEO of the American Retirement Association, and the Executive Director of NAPA. In the latter capacity he oversees NAPA’s operations. As a member of the Leadership Council, he charts the strategic direction for the organization.

Brian has been named one of 401kWire’s “50 Most Influential Persons in the 401(k) Industry” every year since 2007.

An attorney and certified public accountant, Brian was formerly Legislation Counsel to the U.S. Congress Joint Committee on Taxation. Prior to working on Capitol Hill, he was associated with The Groom Law Group, in Washington, D.C., which specializes in employee benefits. He received his doctoral degree in law, cum laude, from the University of Pennsylvania Law School in Philadelphia. He holds a bachelor of science in accounting with distinction from Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y.

Article Index

Under Covered

Despite positive growth in nearly every single retirement plan metric, the retirement preparations of nearly 4 out of 10 American workers in the private sector have been left sitting on the sidelines simply because they don’t have access to a retirement savings plan at work.   Read More

What Happens in Vegas…

The Silver State — with little fanfare and precious little notice — on July 1 enacted legislation that subjects broker-dealers and advisors doing business in Nevada to a new fiduciary standard, and one that explicitly allows the client to sue under state law. And it might inspire similar actions in other states.   Read More

Code, Read

The 2016 general election is upon us, a knock-down, drag-out fight between two intensely polarizing figures – Hillary Rodham Clinton and Donald J. Trump – vying for votes among an increasingly polarized electorate.   Read More

Cross-Tested Plans in the Crosshairs (Again)

Small business retirement plans are under attack again. Buried in a Treasury Department proposal to make it easier for large corporations to close their defined benefit plans to new entrants is a provision that will make it harder for small businesses to form new retirement plans or maintain their current ones.   Read More

Launch of the American Retirement Association

Several months ago, ASPPA members overwhelmingly voted in favor of a new name and structure for the umbrella organization of our four sister associations — the American Retirement Association. Today, we’re announcing our new name and structure to the media, policy makers and the industry at large.   Read More

Hoosiers Missing the Mark

Here we go again. Yesterday, the Indiana Senate Labor and Pensions Committee unanimously approved legislation that would create a state-run multiple employer plan for private sector businesses in the state. The proposal is being pushed by AARP, which is arguing that there are no cost-effective retirement plan products available to small businesses in the state.   Read More

Tax Reform Fades Away

It’s now less than a year until the next mid-term congressional elections, and the protracted talk about the critical need to reform our nation’s tax laws has yet to result in an actual piece of legislation. So is it time to send the issue of tax reform into hibernation — until 2015 at the very least, after next year’s elections? Recent indicators suggest that it very well might be.   Read More

The Ayres Saga Continues 

Responding to the recent effort by Prof. Ian Ayres of the Yale Law School to threaten plan sponsors with negative publicity for voluntarily offering their employees “high cost” 401(k) plans, ASPPA sent a letter Aug. 9 — co-signed by plan sponsors who personally received the professor’s letter — to the dean of Yale Law School, Robert C. Post. The letter addresses the flaws of the professor’s research and requests a meeting regarding steps the school should take to address the damage that the professor has done by irresponsibly contacting more than 6,000 plan sponsors based on a faulty premise.   Read More

Yale Responds

As we reported last week, a Yale University Law School professor sent letters to over 6,000 plan sponsors suggesting their 401(k) plans were “high cost” and, among other things, implying that they may be violating their fiduciary obligations. We pointed out the serious flaws in the data being used by the professor as well as the general inappropriateness of the tone of the letters.   Read More

Love Letters from Yale

We have recently learned that a Yale Law School professor has sent a letter to thousands of 401(k) plan sponsors. The professor is doing a “study” on the financial impact of plan fees and has identified the employers receiving the letter as sponsoring a “potential high-cost plan.”   Read More

The Not So Uniform Fiduciary Standard

The uniform fiduciary standard has become a holy grail of sorts for the financial advisor industry. Legends such as John Bogle tout how it is the only way to ensure that the interests of average investors will be protected. Proponents of the single standard stress that the current dichotomy between the fiduciary standard applicable to registered investment advisors and the suitability standard utilized by registered representatives is confusing to investors who fail to appreciate that certain advisors are not “acting in their interest.” Only with a uniform fiduciary standard, they say, will investors be safe from the current, misleading bifurcated regime.   Read More

Retirement Plan Services Are Not Orange Juice

On April 23rd, PBS ran an episode of its “Frontline” program entitled “The Retirement Gamble,” which it touted as an “eye opening investigation of a financial services industry that may be draining your retirement savings with every passing year.” The core thesis of this documentary — or perhaps more accurately, docu-drama — is that for retirement savers, fees are by far the most important factor to be considered when choosing an investment.   Read More

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