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Leading from Behind

Inside NAPA

It’s hard for me to believe that I am now the President of NAPA! And probably even harder for most of you to believe! I am humbled to be serving in this capacity and honored to have served alongside so many people that I respect and revere. In fact, my very existence in this industry is born from emulating some of the best and brightest minds in the industry. Someone once told me that imitation is the highest form of flattery, so I hope you all take it as a huge compliment that I imitated you to rise to any form of success on your coattails! 

Since this is my first article as President, I want to thank all of NAPA Nation for the contribution you have collectively made, not just to me and my small corner of the world, but to this great nation and its people as a whole. I know you recognize the difference we all make in the lives of the American worker, and I also know I’m preaching to the choir when I give an “atta boy,” but I am sincere when I say that without 401(k)s and advisors to coach and promote their availability, most people in this country wouldn’t have a chance at a dignified retirement. 

When I first got into the financial services industry, way back in the day, I started out on the individual side and quickly recognized that there was a great need for more education and certainly better saturation to help more people reach a dignified retirement. I stumbled across several different methods of getting in front of people, with modest success, but never really made big progress until I discovered the 401(k). It was in its infancy then and there weren’t a lot of choices, but it was obvious to me that this was the way to reach more people and have a greater impact. As I learned more—and more importantly, met more people who were focused on retirement plans—I felt I had found my calling.

In the beginning I was having a blast doing enrollment meetings with 10 to 12 people and trying hard to teach them the importance of saving for the future.

Next came daily valuation, replacing the old annual valuation with a statement every January. That was a game changer. Daily valuation also brought new investment opportunities through multiple investment families at one record keeper. This was obviously much more confusing for the employee, so as cool as it was for us, it created another stumbling block for potential participants. 

The next big thing to move the needle was auto features. As they began to catch on and HR departments began to trust the process, this made the biggest dent in the participation problem to date. Obviously it came with its own set of problems, but overall, with auto features and target date solutions, we were on the right track. 

Of course, the evolution continues, and many great and some not-so-great changes have solved problems and created challenges to our existence as retirement plan advisors. 

We know that the defined contribution plan is the retirement plan for the American worker, but it is important that we continue to advocate for more and better access in each of our communities, regardless of investors’ age, income, gender, ethnicity or educational background. My goal is to promote and deliver on key initiatives that NAPA has launched and work to lower the barrier to entry.

In terms of closing the coverage gap, I have high hopes for the positive impacts that SECURE 2.0 will have, building on the successes of the SECURE Act and the positive impact that NAPA has already had in discussions about ESG, the fiduciary rule, in-plan retirement income and now crypto.

I’m very excited to meet more fabulous retirement-focused advisors throughout the coming year, and I always look forward to each gathering of our great big dysfunctional family! I promise to serve our community any way I can, but I may give new meaning to the phrase, “leading from behind.” 

Corby Dall is an SVP of OneDigital’s Retirement & Wealth division specializing in retirement plan consulting. This, his inaugural column as NAPA’s 2022-2023 President, first appeared in the Summer issue of NAPA Net the Magazine.