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Need a morale boost around the office?

Employers recognize that financial stress is taking a toll on their workforce — and their bottom line. Financial wellness can help improve employees’ fiscal well-being and reduce stress by providing the education and tools they need to help them
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Financial Wellness and Your Company’s Bottom Line

If you think financial wellness programs are a fad, think again. The industry consensus is that financial wellness not only produces results for employees, but it positively influences company bottom lines.
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Shock, Awe & Perspective

Whenever we experience a significant and unexpected event in our lives, such as the Coronavirus, it can result in a lot of uncertainty and anxiety. As investors, we want to know what to do. Do we run for safety or stick to our plan?
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The Virtue of Optimism

The current pandemic breeds a lot of uncertainty and fear. The media actively participates spreading the fear. Headlines often accentuate the negative because that is what gets us to tune in. Pessimism and cynicism are weirdly addictive. While addictive, they can also be destructive – both mentally and financially. It is easy to be a pessimist. It is more difficult, yet more virtuous, to see the good - even in bad times.
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Four Ways to Help Reduce Financial Stress for Your Employee

Employee financial stress is a hot topic. So much so, that nearly 60% of employees cite finances as their primary stressor. 1 Their financial worries surpass other top stressors, and it’s impacting their job performance.
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What should plan sponsors know about the CARES Act?

What should plan sponsors know about the CARES Act? Everything from eligibility to the four stimulus options!
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CARES Act Retirement plan changes and employee FAQs

For employers, a lot has changed and very quickly. To help you navigate through these changes, our most recent infographic breaks down the retirement plan changes and employee FAQs for the CARES Act.
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CARES Act Update: Changes Impacting Retirement Plans

Signed into effect on March 27, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act is a robust economic stimulus package designed to help small business owners and hardworking American families during these unprecedented times.
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Strategic Ignorance: Coronavirus Edition

Practicing strategic ignorance is about selecting which information you pay attention to, and which information to ignore. It becomes an essential quality during periods of non-stop talk about Coronavirus, infection maps, shelter in place and social distancing. It is also a great characteristic to develop when markets are volatile.
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Preserving Your Mental Health

It is completely normal to experience feelings of loneliness, fear and anxiety during these unprecedented times. We may not be able to control the initial feelings, but we control our internal dialogue. What we tell ourselves and what actions we take can either alleviate or intensify the negative feelings.
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Coronavirus and Retirement Savings: History Lessons

COVID-19 is wreaking havoc on financial markets, both in the U.S. and abroad. However, there are lessons to learn from history. By looking back in time, we might be able to educate and inform investor actions today.
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The Illusion of Control

There is one thing more contagious and dangerous than the Coronavirus; that is fear. Not only does fear and anxiety weaken our immune system (we physically become more susceptible to illness), it also wreaks havoc on our decision making. We all want to make thoughtful and deliberate decisions, but when we allow fear in, it takes over and may influence us to make decisions that feel right at the moment, but end up being detrimental over time.
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Can the tax saver’s credit help your employees get paid to save for retirement?

Many Americans are not aware that they may be eligible for the Tax Saver’s Credit! Your employees may be able to take a tax credit for making eligible contributions to their IRA or employer-sponsored retirement plan. So, what is it and how do your employees get it?
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Predictably irrational!

It is amazing how predictably irrational we humans are. There are certain things we cannot predict, but there are others that we are spot on, near 100% of the time. One of those is that when times are bad, "experts" start downgrading and cutting estimates. It's as reliable as a sunrise.
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What a day!

The stock (and bond) market move has been swift, and it appears it will continue as the media reports on more Coronavirus cases. We can’t predict nor control either one, so it is best to simply focus on what we can do that is within our control.
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Detrimental Data

We are bombarded by information from all sources. Scientists estimate the brain can handle three terabytes (3TB) of data. That sounds like a lot, but IBM estimates that is only 1/1,000,000 (one millionth) of the data produced daily. We can’t possibly process it all, which is why it is imperative we select what data to pay attention to.
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Investing: Simple, Yet Difficult

Warren Buffett said, “Investing is simple, but not easy.” Sounds like a contradiction, but in real life simplicity has little to do with ease. Take losing weight. Very simple. Burn more calories than you take in. Not so easy!
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Coin Tosses and Our Brain

Our brain is a pattern-detecting machine and will influence our opinions of the future based on prior patterns it has detected. This hardwiring helps us be very efficient in life but can sometimes cause us to err – especially when making financial decisions.
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Improving the Quality of Our Decisions

We often evaluate the quality of our decisions based on its outcomes. If it was a favorable outcome, then it was a good decision – and vice versa. This form of evaluation may be useful in a lab setting when variables can be controlled, but not in a situation where outcomes are influenced by randomness, chance or luck.
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The Coronavirus: A Healthy Perspective

We have our first surprise of the year: The Coronavirus. Just last month I wrote in my annual forecast that we will be surprised by something this year. This is likely the first of several unexpected, unpredicted events we will experience in 2020.
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Managing Risk: Do’s and Don’ts for Your Company’s Retirement Plan Committee

Scan the business news and you will likely find an article detailing the latest 401(k) litigation against a company accused of a fiduciary breach. The litigious trend started with corporate behemoths but has been trickling down to small and mid-size plans.
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10 Steps to Help You Handle a DOL Investigation

Hot breath, fear, sweaty palms - You’ve received a request from the Department of Labor (“DOL”) to provide documents about your retirement plan. You are being investigated.
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Thinking About Changing 401(k) Providers? Five Things You Should Know

Offering a competitive benefits package, including a top-notch 401(k) plan, is essential for your company to recruit and retain top talent. Today’s workers highly value employer-sponsored retirement plans: 88% of them say that an employee-funded retirement plan is important to them.
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Who would have thought?

One year ago, the markets had just experienced a sell off. The Fed was raising rates and there was talk of a potential government shut down, trade wars and economic uncertainty. Based on recent performance and news headlines, 2019 did not look promising.
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A reliable forecast for 2020

My forecast is persistent and reliable because it is based on how we feel, and temptations we face as investors. Not only are these more predictable than market outcomes, they are also more important to investor well-being.
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SECURE Act and What 401(k) Plan Sponsors Need to Know

On 23 December, one of the largest changing legislative acts to impact America’s retirement system was signed into effect. The SECURE Act – has many updates and modifications that seek to enhance retirement security activities. The Act strives to addresses challenges that small business owners face including helping your employees better understand their workplace savings plans, encouraging employees to save more for their future, and offsetting plan costs.
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Achieving Success

Oftentimes we look at others’ success and see some circumstance that may have contributed to said success. While circumstances may make it easier or more difficult to achieve success, they do not create success on their own. Researchers have found that mental toughness and perseverance predicts our level of success more than any other factor.
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Impeachment Inquiry

It seems that we can’t turn on the TV without hearing talk of the impeachment. Political outcomes seldom drive market movements (except in the short term). While we may be quite passionate about our views and politics in general, it may be unwise to make financial decisions based on those feelings.
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Beware of Hype!

The media loves hype. It is exciting, it is engaging, and it can be quite fun. Who doesn’t want to invest in the next big thing…especially when everyone else is talking about it. But hype can be dangerous!
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NEW 2020 Retirement Plan Contribution Limits!

The IRS has announced cost of living adjustments affecting dollar limitations for pension plans and other retirement-related items for tax year 2019. For company retirement plans, the most recognized highlight is the 401(k) contribution limit increase to $19,500 for the new year. Review the full list of contribution limit changes below and share with your plan participants!
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Planning tips today for financial security tomorrow

In America, most people have debt and as an employer and plan sponsor, it's helpful to provide resources that encourage your employees to pay down their debt.
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Avoid failing the test – Proactive steps to avoid Corrective Distributions

If the thought of failing ADP testing makes your blood pressure spike, take a deep breath and read these 3 tips!
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20 Important Questions You Should Be Asking a Recordkeeper

Your retirement plan recordkeeper should be a valued partner that helps support your plan and participants. It's important to be confident in your recordkeeper and fully understand the value they can deliver for your plan.
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Practicing Gratitude

Tis the season of gratitude. Thanksgiving is perhaps one of the most underappreciated holidays, but most needed. Because Thanksgiving is not marketable, there is not publicity on it. Instead, it’s all about consumerism. The focus is not on giving thanks, it is getting a good deal on some product. Retailers are now starting their “Black Friday” sales before Thanksgiving.
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Lunacy of the Financial Media!

Every now and then I am amazed at the lunacy of the financial media. Early in October, the media printed headlines telling us that we were off to the worst start to the quarter since the financial crisis as recession fears accelerate. Some of them reminded us that Black Monday happened in October or that last year October was a negative month.
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One Key Component Your Plan May Be Missing

Number Crunching – How can data analytics help you make plan decisions toward improving participant outcomes?
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Recession Rampage

This year the media has been talking about recessions quite a bit. May, August and now in September. Spring, Summer and Fall. Perhaps it is just a seasonal thing. Whenever we hear something a lot, we tend to believe it, or at least allow the information to influence our opinions. With the media talking so much about recessions, many investors may begin to allow that to influence their financial decisions.
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Big Data to Drive Participant Outcomes

Predicting the needs, wants, and fears of your employees could be as easy as understanding the predictive analytics of your 401(k) plan!
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Creating Happiness

Does money buy happiness? Yes and no. Researchers have found that money can increase happiness for individuals living in poverty. However, once we are above the poverty level, money doesn't do much to promote happiness...
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What are MEPs and Should You Consider One?

A Multiple Employer Plan (MEP) is a qualified retirement plan for two or more employers who are not related. It can be particularly appealing to smaller businesses for a number of reasons. MEPs can be easier and may be cost effective to operate, allowing employers to focus on running their businesses while a professional manages the administrative and legal aspects of the plan. This can potentially help you attract and retain top talent. Learn more about MEPs in our short 2-minute video!
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Back to School Lessons

As students return to school, it is a good time to review one of the most important lessons for investors – ignore the media! It is hard to ignore the media. They are available 24/7. But they are detrimental to an investor’s well-being, so learning to tune them out could be a significant benefit for any investor.
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The Power of Adaptation

Humans are very good at adapting to our changing world. Adaptation is a change in behavior that allows us to be better suited for our current environment. Anticipation of change is often more powerful than the long-term effect of the change itself.
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Organize your financial life with these 7 simple steps!

Your workplace is full of employees with different financial goals; however, the one common denominator is they want to always achieve financial health! In our recent participant guide, we have outlined 7 steps to help your employees organize their financial life. This easy-to-use checklist will help them take charge of their financial health. Send and share it with your workplace today!
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3 Tips to Stay Calm When the Market Isn't

Whenever markets move drastically and the media is promoting fear, it is best for investors to take a step back and ask themselves a few reflective questions. Reflective questions are a powerful antidote to making knee-jerk, hasty decisions.
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5 Lessons Every Plan Sponsor Should Heed from Recent Lawsuits

The barrage of excessive fee lawsuits filed in 2006 started a trend that continues to this day. At first, plan sponsors saw early signs of success in getting cases dismissed. However, dozens of additional lawsuits have been brought, and plan participants have won both trials and settlements, totaling in the hundreds of millions. Here are 5 ways plan sponsors can manage their fiduciary liability during the rise of lawsuit trends.
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My thoughts on the Yield Curve

Many are speculating about a potential recession because of an inverted yield curve. I am not so sure. Economic activity is strong, balance sheets are still in good shape. While every recession was foretold by an inverted yield curve, not every inversion has resulted in a recession. Mental shortcuts aid in this misunderstanding and may cause investors to jump to the wrong conclusion.
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Timely Lessons from Argentina’s Stock Market Crash

This week the Argentine stock market, known as the S&P Merval Index, lost over 48% in dollar terms. We are not talking about a single stock, we are talking about a complete stock market crash. To make matters worse, the Argentine peso lost 15% in one day, which is a huge movement in the currency markets. What caused this? The same thing that causes just about every big move in any market index – something unexpected and surprising happened. In Argentina’s case, it was a surprise political outco
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4 Reasons to Benchmark Your Company’s Retirement Plan This Year

An old saying goes, “You get what you pay for.” But as a consumer, how do you know if you’re getting the best value for your dollar unless you shop around and compare costs? Benchmarking is the process of comparing your retirement plan with others that are similar in size and type. Benchmarking can help reduce fees and improve retirement readiness; check out our plan sponsor guide to four reasons to benchmark your retirement plan!
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Forecast for 2nd Half 2019

Before I get into my forecast for the remainder of 2019, I want you to consider why forecasts are so alluring to investors like ourselves. What is the force that influences us to make decisions based on forecasts? There is ample evidence that expert forecasts are correct only half of the time, yet we are still attracted to them. Why?You may not be able to put your finger on it because our attraction to forecasts is largely subconscious. It boils down to how the brain likes to operate.
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The Thinking Brain

The brain is extremely complex, but we can simplify it down to two parts: the thinking brain and the feeling brain. Understanding these parts can help us make better decisions in many aspects of our lives.
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The Power of an Orderly Life

Order is a powerful and underappreciated aspect of life. Without order, we may experience increased uncertainty, anxiety and frustration. Order requires deliberate effort. It is not a “natural” state. When we leave things alone, disorder tends to be the result.
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401(k) Investments on the Watch List? Best practices to help manage it.

As a member of your company’s retirement plan committee, if you have recently been informed that one or more of your company’s retirement plan investments are on the Watch List, don’t panic. This is an opportunity for due diligence and possibly to enhance the plan’s performance. Here are some best practices to manage.
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Automatic Enrollment and Auto Escalation Boost Participation and Savings Rate

The use of auto features in 401(k) plans has continued to climb in popularity over the past decade. In fact, auto features such as automatic enrollment and auto escalation are considered best practices in 401(k) plan design as ways to help boost participation and employee savings rates. If your company’s 401(k) plan design doesn’t currently include auto features, and/or if you’re thinking about implementing them, then keep reading.
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Summertime Surprise!

We are halfway through 2019, and there have already been two market surprises that may leave investors scratching their heads and wondering what is next.
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The Virtue of Slowing Down

Time seems to “fly” when we are engaged in a fun, exciting or stimulating activity. And it appears to stand still when we are scared, anxious or bored. When we are engaged in desirable activities it may be worthwhile to take a moment to slow down and reflect on the experience. And slowing down can also help us make better financial decisions.
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5 Plan Design Features for Retirement Readiness

Successful financial wellness programs help employees feel in control and on track in their financial lives – and that includes planning for retirement. We’ve outlined five quick ways to help your employees work toward financial wellness when savings for their retirement future!
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Sometimes We Just Get Lucky

Last month, a single bet on Tiger Woods winning the Masters resulted in a $1.2 million payout. Luck happens in life. Sometimes it goes our way, sometimes it doesn’t. Outcomes, especially in the short term, are seldom evidence of skill or even wise decision making. They are more likely driven by luck or chance than skill. The same is true with investing.
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The stages of financial wellness for 401k participants

Did you know that 53% of full-time employed American adults felt stressed dealing with their personal financial situations over the past few years? Financial wellness programs can be beneficial to financially-stressed employees, but there are many stages to financial wellness!
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Thinking About Financial Wellness ROI

Financial wellness is a hot topic in boardrooms these days, but to sell your company’s leaders on a program, you’ll need to talk numbers.
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Strategic Ignorance

Strategic ignorance can be beneficial to your investment plans!
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Take action to improve participant outcomes!

If you, your plan or your participants suffer from poor participation, low deferral rates or shortsighted investment decisions, you would not be alone. These are three major obstacles that sponsors need to overcome to produce better participant outcomes. The 90-10-90 rule is a great benchmark for plan sponsors to aim for!
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What is your number?

In the financial world someone may ask you, “What’s your number?” Odds are they aren’t trying to pick you up. Rather, they are referring to the amount of money in which you achieve financial independence. But, focusing too much on numbers has a downside.
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Should You Include ESG Funds in Your Retirement Plan? Maybe, Maybe Not.

ESG and socially responsible investing funds can be appealing to many investors, including millennials. But should employers include them in their retirement plan’s investment menu? Well, that depends.
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Ever wonder if a Cash Balance plan is right for your company?

Ever wonder if a Cash Balance plan is right for your company? A cash balance plan operates differently from other types of traditional retirement plans in that it combines features of both defined benefit and defined contribution plans.
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Assumptions

Assumptions can be damaging to your financial plans!
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Simple, yet Difficult

Warren Buffett said, “Investing is simple, but not easy.” You would think that if something were simple that it would be easy. Not so. Take losing weight. Burn more calories than you take in. The surefire way to invest is to buy low and sell high. Both are very simple, but extremely difficult. Why?
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FAKE Headlines

You've heard of Fake News, but are you familiar with Fake Headlines and how they might be influencing your financial decisions?
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When Smart Money Isn’t So Smart

We often hear pundits on TV talking about what the “Smart Money” is doing. Who are these smart people? What makes them so smart? And if they are smart, what are we?
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What’s Not Going to Change

Change. We spend much of our time thinking about, predicting and anticipating it. Several years ago, the founder and CEO of Amazon, Jeff Bezos, turned the question of change on its head. He said it is more important to consider what will not change. In other words, what are some fundamental truths we can rely upon?  
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How Did Wall Street's "Smartest Investors" Fare in 2018?

Every year Barron's gets together a roundtable of "Wall Street's Smartest Investors" to make stock picks for the coming year. I honestly don't know what makes them the "smartest", but one thing I can tell you - it isn't performance.
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Investing: Simple But Not Easy

The basic principle of investing is simple: buy low, sell high. But why does this seem so hard sometimes?
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A reliable forecast for 2019

Why are forecasts so alluring to investors like ourselves. What is the force that influences us to make decisions based on forecasts? There is ample evidence that expert forecasts are correct only half of the time, yet we are still attracted to them. A flip of the coin would be just as accurate. So why do we continually rely on them?
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Market Volatility Reality Check

With the continued volatility, I wanted to ensure we keep some things in perspective with the following points. Having a down year is completely normal. It’s been a while and we may have forgotten what it is like to have a good sell off. Every time the market goes down, there is always a “really good reason”. They say “this time is different”, except it never is. The media spreads fear. It is important to note that the media’s job is not to help you invest wisely, it is to get you to tune in!
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Illusion of Average

How can averages be misleading?
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The Peril of Investment Fads

It was just one year ago when Bitcoin was the talk of anyone who could fog a mirror. It was a Thanksgiving dinner topic that resulted in many people confusing investing for speculating. There was a lot of positive momentum in price, forecasts and bragging rights to own this new “investment.”
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Financial News for Long Term Investors

A quick look at how the financial news media affects long term investors.
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The Costanza Investment Strategy

Seinfeld fans love the irrationality and craziness of George Costanza; many of us can relate to some of his antics. While he may be crazy, he has given investors some great advice on how to be better investors. He didn’t give any explicit advice, but he taught us about human behavior, and how our responses can help or hurt us as investors.
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Time: Friend or Foe?

Time is something we have very little control over, and yet complete control over. We cannot extend time nor can we shorten it. Yet, we have complete control over the consequences of its use. How we employ time can be a significant contributor whether we are happy or miserable.
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Back to School

This brain teaser teaches an important lesson on how to be a better investor.
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Strengthening your Investment Conviction

One of the biggest detractors to investor performance is a lack of conviction. We may have an investment strategy, and may even feel strongly towards it. But is that conviction circumstantial, or is it based on sound principles?
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Trade Wars

What will be the impact of tariffs and potential trade wars on your portfolio?
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World Cup Predictions

Many investment banks make predictions for the World Cup. So how do they do? And what does their accuracy say about how investors should view security and market forecasts?
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The Influence of Skill and Luck on Outcomes

Most outcomes in life are a culmination of both skill and luck (or bad luck). How much an outcome is influenced by skill versus luck differs among activities. Basketball is dominated by skill…typically you see the best teams win. Roulette is dominated by luck. What about investing?
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Investing: Simple, Yet Difficult

Warren Buffett said, “Investing is simple, but not easy.” Sounds like a contradiction. But in real life simplicity has little to do with ease.
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Brain Teasers

Investors can learn how the mind processes information from brain teasers. Try these two teasers and understand how those processes also influence our investment decisions.
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Psychologically Important

Short-term data and outcomes only are psychologically important to day traders and speculators…and perhaps others that have a fetish for round numbers. It’s all noise to investors, and should be ignored.
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May Fables

We are told that April showers bring May flowers, but this year it appears to be that April showers are bringing May fables when it comes to investing.
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What happened to Bitcoin?

From Nov 2017 through Feb 2018, you couldn’t turn on the TV or read the news without hearing about Bitcoin. The coverage seemed universal across media platforms. Families were discussing Bitcoin over holiday dinners. It was so commonplace just a few months ago. Now we hear very little about it. Why is that?
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So far so normal...

As investors, we have been spoiled the last few years, especially last year. We have enjoyed very nice gains with very little fluctuation in prices…things have just gone up quietly. I have to be honest, I don’t like that. It desensitizes us and makes us forget that wild fluctuations and stock price declines are not only normal, but healthy and necessary functions of a stock market.
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Learning from Bear Stearns

It has been 10 years since Bear Sterns went bankrupt. What can we learn from its collapse that can help us make better decisions?
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Know Thy Investment

In February, some investors got an unwelcomed wakeup call; they realized they didn’t know their investments very well. When we invest, we typically have a belief that the asset will go higher and tell ourselves all the ways it can work out.  And, because we have a natural reversion to regret, we seldom seek to understand the cost of being wrong. 
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February Fluctuations

After a long time of very calm markets, we suddenly were reminded what volatility is. Learn how we can mentally prepare and make good decisions in volatile markets. 
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Cultivating a ‘Firmness of Character’

Benjamin Graham said what investors need, but few have, is a “firmness of character.” What he was referring to is the ability for investors to keep their emotions in check. Investing success is more influenced by DQ than IQ. Our Discipline Quotient, or ability remain disciplined during emotional times, is what sets investors apart. Exercising investment discipline is a difficult endeavor, but it’s not impossible.  
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The Melt Up of 2018

The media is talking about the melt-up in the market (dramatic increase in stock prices). While we may be tempted to get in on the action, it is seldom in our economic best interest.  
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Complacency

Is your plan prepared for the inevitable ups AND downs in the market?
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Predictably Emotional

We are all emotional. The good news is we can predict what triggers our emotions, and take steps today to ensure we make less emotional decisions tomorrow.
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How accurate was the 2017 consensus forecast?

Each year financial experts provide their forecasts and a "consensus" is made.  How accurate was the consensus in 2017 and what does that mean for us going into 2018?
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Check the background of this financial professional on FINRA's BrokerCheck