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401(k) Fridays Podcast

The 401(k) Fridays Podcast features a weekly conversation with an expert guest to help employers and their service partners keep up with workplace retirement plan topics and trends. Listen today, improve your retirement plan tomorrow!
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Now displaying: January, 2018
Jan 26, 2018

I’m noticing a trend with the themes from a few recent episodes, leadership, stewardship, foresight and now I’m throwing courage into the mix!  While all of these characteristics are important to run a successful and valuable workplace retirement plan, courage is sometimes underrated!  To share some of her insights on the topic of courageous retirement plan design I was excited to have Shannon Nutter Weirbinsky who heads Participant Strategy and Development for Vanguard's institutional business join me on the podcast.  During our conversation we hit on why she thinks its important for employers to embrace courageous plan design and how it will help both the company and your employees!  We also chat about overcoming inertia with retirement savers, there was talking of how to eat and elephant, quick disclosure no animals were harmed in the recording of this podcast and why it is important to put yourself in your participant’s shoes from time to time.  Really good stuff!

Shannon has also done some great writing on topics that are helpful for employers and I posted a few of her articles on the website at www.401kfridays.com/snw.  Check it out!  While you are there, be sure to join our email list and subscribe to the podcast if you haven’t already.  

Guest Bio

Shannon Nutter-Wiersbitzky heads Participant Strategy and Development for Vanguard's institutional business. In prior roles, she served as head of Institutional Marketing and as head of Market Research and Voice of Client for all U.S. and international businesses. She joined Vanguard in 2007 and has more than 15 years of experience in both consumer and B2B markets, focused on strategic planning, marketing, product development, business consulting, and market research. Additionally, she originated and led the development of My Classroom Economy® (myclassroomeconomy.org), a free program built by Vanguard volunteers for grades K through 12 that teaches children key life skills through experiential learning. Ms. Nutter-Wiersbitzky earned a B.A. from Macalester College and an M.B.A. from Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business.

401(k) Fridays Podcast Overview

Struggling with a fiduciary issue, looking for strategies to improve employee retirement outcomes or curious about the impact of current events on your workplace retirement plan? We've had conversations with retirement industry leaders to address these and other relevant topics! You can easily explore over 100 prior on-demand audio interviews here. Don't forget to subscribe as we release a new episode each Friday!

Jan 19, 2018

No matter how you slice it target date funds continue to play a larger role each year in the conversation around workplace retirement plan outcomes.  However, some of the decisions that plan sponsors and fiduciaries make on their target date funds are not evolving as quickly as maybe they should.  When I discuss with employers how they selected their target date strategy often times I hear answers like, they had the best performance, they were inexpensive or they were the one our provider offered.  While these details and others are important in selecting a target date strategy that will match your employee demographics and needs, there is much more that can and should be explored.  To help inform that conversation and illustrate how two very successful target date strategies can take very different approaches I happy to welcome back Rich Weiss, the CIO for Multi-Asset Strategies at American Century and Jerome Clark, a Portfolio Manager in the Asset Allocation Group at T. Rowe Price.  As portfolio managers of their respective firms target date strategies, there are certain things that both Rich and Jerome agree on but much more that they take very different approaches to or have very different opinions on.  Not only was this a ton of fun to have both guys on the podcast, but it illustrates just how important it is to get beyond the numbers when evaluating target date investments and to ensure you understand their process, beliefs and strategies. 

Guest Bios

Jerome Clark is a portfolio manager in the T. Rowe Price Asset Allocation Group and co-manages the firm's Asset Allocation Target Date Strategies and oversees the College Savings Plan portfolios. He is a member of the firm's Asset Allocation Committee and a vice president of T. Rowe Price Group, Inc.

Mr. Clark has 25 years of investment experience, all of which have been at T. Rowe Price. He joined the firm in 1992 as a quantitative analyst in the Fixed Income Division. He was the portfolio manager of the U.S. Treasury Long-Term Bond Strategy from 1998 through 2003 and began managing asset allocation portfolios in 2001. Prior to joining T. Rowe Price, Mr. Clark was a captain in the United States Marine Corps and spent three years as a mathematics instructor at the U.S. Naval Academy.

Mr. Clark earned a B.S. in mathematics from the U.S. Naval Academy, an M.S. in operations research from the Naval Postgraduate School, and an M.B.A. in finance from Johns Hopkins University. He has also earned the Chartered Financial Analyst designation.

Richard Weiss is a Senior Vice President and Chief Investment Officer, Multi-Asset Strategies for American Century Investments.  He is the co-portfolio manager for the firm’s asset allocation strategies, including Strategic Allocation, Global Allocation and One Choice Portfolios®. He also serves as a member of the firm’s Investment Oversight and Asset Allocation Committees, which is responsible for establishing investment policy and reviewing investment decisions for all of our asset allocation products.

Prior to joining the firm in 2010, Rich was executive vice president and chief investment officer of City National Bank, where he was responsible for their $12 billion investment management group and directed investment policy and strategy. Previously, he was executive vice president and chief investment officer at Sanwa Bank California, where he managed all aspects of their investment department. Earlier in his career, Rich held senior investment positions at Vantage Global Advisors, TSA Capital Management, PaineWebber and Mellon Bank. He has worked in the investment industry since 1984.

Rich holds a bachelor’s degree in finance from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and an MBA from the University of Chicago. He has authored several academic papers and is well known for his advanced work in the field of global investing.

401(k) Fridays Podcast Overview

Struggling with a fiduciary issue, looking for strategies to improve employee retirement outcomes or curious about the impact of current events on your workplace retirement plan? We've had conversations with retirement industry leaders to address these and other relevant topics! You can easily explore over 100 prior on-demand audio interviews here. Don't forget to subscribe as we release a new episode each Friday!

Jan 12, 2018

This is part two of my conversation with Jerry Schichter, to be clear that means there was a part one which was last week. I would strongly suggest you listen to that one first to gain some perspective on Jerry and the retirement plan litigation he has been responsible for.  

That said, in this episode we pick up right where we left off last time and finish off the conversation around whether Jerry feels some of the strategies employers and plan fiduciaries use to determine the reasonableness of plan fees are effective.  Then we wade into some waters were Jerry uses some pretty clear and strong language to describe a few practices he sees in the market.  Right or wrong, his comments will keep you on the edge of your seat.  I also give Jerry a chance to address some of his critics, tell us whether he plans to ride off into the sunset in the near future and share a key concept in closing that should provide some comfort to employers.  I hope you enjoyed part one, I think this one is even better.  

Guest Bio

Jerry Schlichter, Founding and Managing Partner of Schlichter, Bogard & Denton, pioneered Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) excessive fee litigation and has represented employees and retirees in 20 401(k) excessive fee cases.

In recent rankings of the most influential people in the 401(k) industry by 401kwire.com, Schlichter has repeatedly ranked in the top 5. This is in recognition of his accomplishments with numerous nationwide class actions brought on behalf of employees and retirees in large, corporate 401(k) plans, alleging excessive fees and conflicts of interest that reduce employees’ and retirees’ retirement assets.

In 2006, after a year and nine months of investigation into the industry, he and his firm filed his first in a series of cases on behalf of employees and retirees. At that time, no case had ever been brought alleging excessive fees in a 401(k) plan, despite the 401(k) having become America’s de facto retirement system, and there being over 500,000 plans in America. In addition, the Department of Labor had never brought a case for excessive fees in a 401(k) plan.

Since that time his firm has reached precedent setting settlements in over a dozen cases, on behalf of 401(k) plan employees and retirees representing over 1.5 million workers and retirees. These settlements have not only included monetary recoveries for the workers and retirees, but each has also included provisions going forward to reform the plans and to ensure that fees will be reasonable in the future.

Schlichter and his firm have been referred to by federal judges as “preeminent “in the field of 401(k) fee litigation; as demonstrating “extraordinary skill and determination”; as making “a significant, national contribution,” having “educated plan administrators, the Department of Labor, <and> the courts” about fees and fiduciary obligations; and he has been referred to by federal judges as a “private attorney general,” causing fees to come down in the entire 401(k) industry.

He has also been referred to as the “Lone Ranger” of 401(k) plans in the NY Times, and the term “Schlichterized” has been used to describe being sued by his firm.

401(k) Fridays Podcast Overview

Struggling with a fiduciary issue, looking for strategies to improve employee retirement outcomes or curious about the impact of current events on your workplace retirement plan? We've had conversations with retirement industry leaders to address these and other relevant topics! You can easily explore over 100 prior on-demand audio interviews here. Don't forget to subscribe as we release a new episode each Friday!

Jan 5, 2018

This episode marks a few milestones on the 401(k) Fridays Podcast, it’s the 100th episode, the first episode of 2018 and features part 1 of 2 of my conversation with Jerry Schlichter.  For some of our listeners Jerry requires no introduction.  If you are not familiar, Jerry and his firm Schlichter Bogard & Denton have been the driving force behind many of the headline grabbing 401(k) lawsuits over the past decade. 

As you will hear, his firm has successfully garnered multi-million dollar settlements, argued a 401(k) case in front of the US Supreme Court and has recently filed several more lawsuits against some very prominent universities.  In part 1 of our conversation we discuss the origins of 401(k) litigation against employers, the “bet the farm” decision he made with his firm, why they turn down certain cases, why some cases succeed and others don’t, an important beacon for plan fiduciaries to follow and much more. 

What clearly comes through is that Jerry has a tremendous passion for retirement plan participants, he is very knowledgable about how retirement plans work and has strong opinions on what employers should and should not do if they don’t want to run into him or his firm in the future! 

Guest Bio

Jerry Schlichter, Founding and Managing Partner of Schlichter, Bogard & Denton, pioneered Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) excessive fee litigation and has represented employees and retirees in 20 401(k) excessive fee cases.

In recent rankings of the most influential people in the 401(k) industry by 401kwire.com, Schlichter has repeatedly ranked in the top 5. This is in recognition of his accomplishments with numerous nationwide class actions brought on behalf of employees and retirees in large, corporate 401(k) plans, alleging excessive fees and conflicts of interest that reduce employees’ and retirees’ retirement assets.

In 2006, after a year and nine months of investigation into the industry, he and his firm filed his first in a series of cases on behalf of employees and retirees. At that time, no case had ever been brought alleging excessive fees in a 401(k) plan, despite the 401(k) having become America’s de facto retirement system, and there being over 500,000 plans in America. In addition, the Department of Labor had never brought a case for excessive fees in a 401(k) plan.

Since that time his firm has reached precedent setting settlements in over a dozen cases, on behalf of 401(k) plan employees and retirees representing over 1.5 million workers and retirees. These settlements have not only included monetary recoveries for the workers and retirees, but each has also included provisions going forward to reform the plans and to ensure that fees will be reasonable in the future.

Schlichter and his firm have been referred to by federal judges as “preeminent “in the field of 401(k) fee litigation; as demonstrating “extraordinary skill and determination”; as making “a significant, national contribution,” having “educated plan administrators, the Department of Labor, <and> the courts” about fees and fiduciary obligations; and he has been referred to by federal judges as a “private attorney general,” causing fees to come down in the entire 401(k) industry.

He has also been referred to as the “Lone Ranger” of 401(k) plans in the NY Times, and the term “Schlichterized” has been used to describe being sued by his firm.

401(k) Fridays Podcast Overview

Struggling with a fiduciary issue, looking for strategies to improve employee retirement outcomes or curious about the impact of current events on your workplace retirement plan? We've had conversations with retirement industry leaders to address these and other relevant topics! You can easily explore over 100 prior on-demand audio interviews here. Don't forget to subscribe as we release a new episode each Friday!

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