Who Knew Being a Plan Advisor Could Be So Exciting?

Editor’s Note: This is the first quarterly message from Paul D’Aiutolo, NAPA’s 2017-2018 President. It appears in the Summer issue of NAPA Net the Magazine, published in June, and is available in pdf form here.

First and foremost, I want to say thank you to Sam Brandwein, NAPA’s Immediate Past President, for his contributions to NAPA. As NAPA President, there are significant responsibilities and oversight given to NAPA’s conferences, thought capital, our government affairs work, our lobbying efforts on the Hill and many, many other time-consuming activities. Sam, like all of the past NAPA Presidents, managed these responsibilities with class and helped NAPA navigate many obstacles. Thank you, Sam, for all of your efforts!

Please welcome Jeff Acheson as President-Elect, and thanks to the entire Leadership Council for your contributions.

I also want to highlight the contributions of Lisa Smith and Melissa Cowan and the entire Summit Steering Committee for an amazing experience at the NAPA 401(k) Summit in March. What an incredible conference, combining the best speakers, content and our newest twist: “NAPA After Dark”! Thank you, Lisa, Melissa and the entire Summit team!

In this, my first byline as President, I want to talk about the importance of member engagement and the importance of having an association like NAPA advocate for what we do.

I have been in the 401(k) industry since 1993. It is hard to believe that what started as a tax-deferred offering in the IRS code has morphed into a trillion-dollar industry now solving for retirement readiness for millions of Americans.

With the launch of NAPA, the American retirement industry provided something we plan advisors have never had — “cover” in Washington, DC. No conference, magazine, RIA, mutual fund manufacturer, insurance company, recordkeeper or broker-dealer is spending their time in DC or their PAC contributions to lobby to ensure that we plan advisors have a career tomorrow. That is exactly what NAPA does, and at our core, exactly what NAPA is.

Ensuring that we have careers tomorrow takes more than putting on a conference or attending a conference. Sure, acquiring technical expertise and honing best practices is an essential part of what we do, but making sure regulatory changes don’t make us obsolete is a 24/7/365 effort. It is about our conferences — NAPA now offers three of them to provide different experiences for our members: The Summit, the DC Fly-In-Forum and now NAPA Connect. We have the NAPA Net web portal and NAPA Net the Magazine, where thought capital is at your fingertips. We have our Government Affairs Committee (GAC), where we are constantly tweaking our stances on regulatory opinions. We have Steering Committees and Agenda Committees for each of our conferences. We have designations that members can earn to demonstrate their expertise. We have a Leadership Council that provides governance to NAPA, and we have a PAC to ensure that we have a seat at the table to ensure that what we do will go on.

To make all of this happen, what is required most is member engagement. Each of our conferences and committees is managed by advisor members who volunteer their time and resources for the greater good of all of us. Every Hill visit and every meeting with the Department of Labor and IRS is done with advisor members.

As I enter into my first year as President, my “ask” for every member is two-fold. First, spend some time learning about all that NAPA is and does. And second, find a way to become more engaged. You can start with baby steps: Spend some time on NAPA Net. If you are feeling more ambitious, volunteer to be on a committee. Attend a conference. Consider making small monthly contributions to the PAC.

The more our members get engaged, the greater our association is. With tax reform and the ongoing saga of the DOL fiduciary rule playing out, not only is what we do continually at risk, but the importance of what we do in helping millions of working Americans achieve financial security has never been greater.

I applaud our NAPA staff for their tireless efforts. I realize each of you can choose where you work, and I am extremely appreciative that you chose to work on behalf of plan advisors. Thanks again to all of the NAPA advisors who volunteer their time and invest in the PAC. And thanks to Brian Graff for his passion and to the NAPA Past Presidents who have led the way for me.

I am grateful to have the opportunity to serve all of you for the next year. Rest assured, I will do all that I can to ensure the future for plan advisors.

Paul D’Aiutolo is the founding principal and lead consultant of the D’Aiutolo Institutional Consulting Team in Rochester, NY. He serves as NAPA’s President for 2017-2018.

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