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Our Seat at the Table

Inside NAPA

As NAPA members, the impact we can have on retirement policy and regulations—not just on Capitol Hill, but also lately in state capitols across the country—is critically important.

One of my favorite experiences in my work life has been the annual NAPA D.C. Fly-In Forums.

While it’s always great to see my friends and colleagues at each of the conferences and industry functions, the Fly-In matters. Of course, being a member of this organization matters, and the difference we make in countless lives of American workers matters, but it seems that participating in the actual process of rulemaking and helping to shape those rules is increasingly important! As we join together, no longer competitors but comrades representing thousands of plan sponsors and millions of employees, working toward the same goals, we become a powerful force.

As NAPA members, along with our sister organizations in the American Retirement Association, the impact we can have on retirement policy and regulations—not just on Capitol Hill, but also lately in state capitols across the country—is critically important.

As the only advocacy group exclusively focused on the issues that matter to retirement plan advisors, we are uniquely positioned to carry the torch (or sometimes just the correct information) to those entrusted with our future. With so much pressure coming from all sides today to do the will of those carrying the biggest stick, it is incumbent on us to be a voice of reason.

I am always amazed at the amount of confusion (a polite word for B.S.) that I hear from the Hill. Perhaps that’s because the information they rely on comes from so many competing sources, most of which seem to me to be self-serving. We are fortunate to have a voice that is recognized by those decision-makers and, in fact, sought after by many of them. Brian Graff, our ARA CEO, is a trusted DC insider with myriad relationships that help us be heard.

The collective voices of a nationwide organization of nearly 18,000 advisors committed to preserving, expanding and improving the nation’s retirement system has been a catalyst in moving the needle in the right direction many times over the past several years. Being a member of NAPA is already a step in the right direction, but you can do more. If you are a contributor to the ARA PAC, thank you! If you are not contributing to the PAC, please remember that this is how we fund the efforts of our Government Affairs team to educate legislators at the national and even state levels. If you’d like to help out, just go to

Another really cool thing to come out of NAPA’s greatest minds recently is the NQPA conference and new designation. A few years back, Jeff Acheson and Brian Graff, along with a few others, created the first Non-Qualified Deferred Compensation conference. That first event was a big hit and sparked a renewed—or I would say “new”—awareness of the importance of non-qual as an arrow in the quiver of advisors across the country.

That first conference seemed to be the start of something big! Non-qual has become a key talking point at every industry event, as well as an important tool in more advisors’ toolbox. It’s great way to appeal to a different crowd than we usually associate with inside our client’s hierarchy. A non-qualified deferred comp plan is typically the bridge to the business owners and key management. Not only is it a way to retain and reward their highly compensated and mission-critical employees, but it is also the right thing to do! 

Now that NAPA’s non-qual program has evolved from a certificate to a full-blown designation, the opportunity to learn and benefit from time spent is obvious. This designation is a symbol of your knowledge and commitment to the non-qualified deferred compensation specialty. It sets you apart and ensures that you deserve a seat at the table. As Jeff says, if you don’t have a seat at the table, you might be on the menu. If you are not talking to your clients about non-qual, somebody else will.

NAPA and its passionate members have had a profound effect on the retirement plan industry over the years. There are so many great things that come from camaraderie, friendship and pulling in the same direction. I am, after all, the poster child of benefiting from the collective. It is important that each of us continue to get involved, share our time, talents, knowledge and passion to ensure the future of the American worker’s best chance for financial independence in retirement.

Make sure you save the date of April 2-4, 2023, for another epic NAPA 401(k) Summit—and get involved! 

Corby Dall is a senior vice president of OneDigital's Retirement + Wealth division specializing in retirement plan consulting. He is NAPA's 2022-2023 President. This column originally appeared in the Fall issue of NAPA Net the Magazine.