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Posts from the ‘Participant Education’ Category


Cake Vs. Cupcakes

I have been quoted as saying that “cake is a delivery system for frosting” (or icing depending on which word you prefer).

Two of the most watched shows in my home are The Cake Boss and DC Cupcakes.  Not because we are confection junkies but because my kids like to watch the inner workings of any businesses.  They also have a knack for asking for the most complicated and realistic designs for their birthday treat.

What is notable here though is how parents get frustrated after seeing how much cake & frosting  are left after the party.  In the final analysis we have found that cupcakes give us more variety and portion control, and yes, waste reduction.

What does this have to do with retirement plans you ask?  When we speak with many Advisors the questions we normally get focus on the debate of cake vs. cupcakes.  Should it be a feature rich platform with loads of bells and whistles or should it be skinnier and more individualized?  Will extra features actually be utilized or will they be the leftover frosting, wasted and perhaps expensive?  Is the success of the participant outcome dependent on the platform or the Advisor?

Do plan sponsors often buy cake with extra frosting but later find out their participants really needed cupcakes?


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The Long and Winding Road | Dalbar Certification

 A guest post by John Marion from Howard Capital Management

Contry Road

Howard Capital Management started on the journey to achieving Computer Model Certification 5 months ago.  We started down the road because we wanted an independent third party to review our methods for compliance with ERISA and we wanted the certification to show it.

There are very few companies that are approved by the Department of Labor to certify computer models under ERISA. DALBAR is one of the best know of these companies. So we chose DALBAR as the “gold standard” to conduct our certification.

Five months ago, we asked DALBAR to open the Optimizer’s hood and kick the tires. The certification process covers the following points, among others:

  • Clean background check
  • Investment theory is generally accepted
  • Performance and fees are reasonable
  • 5-year track record
  • No conflicts of interest

After 7 weeks of intense scrutiny, we received DALBAR’s certification on May 20th, 2013. Needless to say we are proud to have received this credential.

 Now we can say that the Optimizer has been evaluated by DALBAR to determine if it meets the requirements to be used as a Certified Computer Model as defined by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, as amended [“ERISA”] Section 408(g) and Internal Revenue Code [“IRC”] Section 4975(d)(17). As a result, the HCM 401(k) Optimizer® computer model has been granted Certified Computer Model status by DALBAR. This is important, because ERISA plan fiduciaries who meet all other ERISA requirements and use a certified computer model will qualify for the fiduciary relief granted under ERISA Section 408(g).

There are very few companies offering models that have been certified and none that we know of that embrace the Advisor as the Optimizer does.This is very important because it allows us to partner with advisors to offer plan sponsors a solution that can grant them fiduciary relief.

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Using Financial Literacy to Grow Your Practice


Participant Education | The Question Continues


We have always believed that the local Financial Advisor working on cooperation with a Proactive Plan Sponsor can make a difference when it comes to participant outcomes.  We also believe that when you unconditionally serve the rank and file employees good things happen for the employees, the Plan Sponsor and the Advisor.

The debate continues as more and more data is revealed about the effectiveness of: Auto-enrollment; auto-escalation; one-on-one enrollment meetings.

So when I come across a person that HAS seen it work, I am happy to listen to what they have to say.  Ed Dressel, the President of Trust Builders and TRAK is one of those people that does believe it works.

You can listen to how his product is helping Advisors garner more business and increase participant outcomes here

You can read his thoughts about participant education here

You can watch how his software enables Advisors to get away from technical talk and show participants the money and how time changes their outcomes here

Photo courtesy of Adamr and