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Fred’s Fake News

Inside NAPA

We’ve got a bone to pick with some assertions made in a recent Investment News column.

Specifically, a recent column by Fred Barstein (“Dangers advisers may face due to record-keeper consolidation”) commented on the impact to advisors of the consolidation trends currently underway in the recordkeeping industry. His point seemed to be that all this consolidation would soon serve to squeeze out small, unaffiliated advisors—on their way to disintermediating advisors of all shapes and sizes. 

As long-time advisors serving retirement plans, we understand and appreciate the concerns Fred outlines. However, his comments on the potential impact of federal legislation that would broaden access to retirement plans are inconsistent with the recent findings of Pew Research of the impact state-run IRAs have had on advisor opportunities. If anything, these programs have increased the opportunity for advisors to sell plans to employers who otherwise wouldn’t have given them the time of day. 

But the real issue with Barstein’s perspective is a random comment about “a national association that purports to lobby for plan advisors”—which seems directed at the National Association of Plan Advisors, an organization that has done much more than “purport” to represent the interests of some 15,000 advisor members for more than a decade. 

We should know—we’re not only members but have had the opportunity to be in leadership positions as the organization has not only grown and prospered but been instrumental in advocating for legislation and regulation that is, in fact, supportive of advisors and the role they play in helping secure the retirements of millions of hard-working Americans. This includes recent DOL guidance that finally provided a clear path for fidiciary plan advisors to work with participants on rollovers. This also includes supporting the legislation he criticizes, legislation that, despite his comments, stands to significantly expand access to retirement savings at work for millions of individuals as undermining the role of plan advisors. 

Despite the heroic efforts of retirement plan advisors, fewer than half of full-time working Americans in the private sector have had the ability to save for retirement at work, as it has been so for the past 40 years. The status quo that Barstein appears to favor seems to consist mostly of advisors and providers taking current business away from other advisors and providers, rather than cultivating new opportunities and markets. Indeed, research sponsored by the American Retirement Association suggests that this legislation could create more than 600,000 new plans and more than 60 million new retirement savers.

Fred’s provocative comments may be good for “clicks”—but they’re bad—even dangerous—for retirement policy, retirement savings—and thoughtful retirement plan advisors.

Joe DeNoyior is the President, Retirement and Private Wealth at HUB International and President of Washington Financial Group in McLean, VA. A Past President of NAPA, he will serve as President of the American Retirement Association in 2022. 

Alex Assaley is Managing Principal and Lead Advisor for Retirement Plans at AFS Retirement Services in Bethesda, MD. He is NAPA’s current President.

Corby Dall is the Senior Vice President at OneDigital Retirement + Wealth. He is a founding member of NAPA and the organization’s President-elect.



All comments
James Joyner
1 year 10 months ago
Really, 600,000 new retirement plans? You live too close to Washington DC and have been affected by the nonsense it oozes. The IRA regulations are just another opportunity for the DOL and ERISA trolls to sue advisors and firms. Just like the fiduciary regulations were. You must be assuming that (i) 600,000 (net) new small businesses will materialize with owners who (ii) will be eager to sponsor increasingly regulated retirement plans. You’re dreaming of flying unicorns that flatulate rainbows.
Nevin Adams
1 year 10 months ago
No nonsense - it's (just) math. The number of businesses with more than 5 workers who don't currently offer a plan. Places where full-time workers (still) don't have access to a plan at work.