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Woke mind? Nah! 401k common sense.

Woke mind? Nah! 401k common sense.

| March 13, 2024

It never ceases to amaze me how everyday quotes apply to the world of the 401k advisor. Take the above photo, for example.

  1. I spend a fair amount of time reading up on the 401k industry including competing views on if 401k plans are broken/ how to fix them. I may not agree with all the views but am willing to be challenged. And I know my Plan Sponsors are reading this info so I need to be ready.

  2. I take #2 as I embrace empirical evidence. In the on-going debate of pre-tax versus Roth contributions, someone will inevitably bring up the need for tax rates to go up. What does the evidence say? What is currently written into tax law? Where does Congress stand on this issue?

  3. Speaking of tax, I had an interesting discussion with a fellow advisor on why he feels pre-tax is better for most of his clients. I am happy to look at the new info but also must ask whether his clients are similar to mine.

  4. Early on in my career, I did tend to see the world in black and white. As I found out in my first job, many issues are grey. The ability to see the nuance and be open to other views is a sign of maturity.

  5. We can get more done and go further if we work together. Diversity can produce better results. I would love to see everyone on a level playing field and then all compete according to their abilities. I have no issue that I may not be #1. If the game is golf and there are 30 people competing, I guarantee I will place 31st! But don't cripple my chances before I even start. Give me a fair shot and if I flub it, that is on me.

  6. Empathy and compassion go a long way in this industry. It is not to say you don't hold people accountable. At the same time, I was chatting today with a recently laid-off employee. He is a financial bind as a result. His outstanding 401k loan was defaulted and the remaining cash in the account was taken to pay the 20% withholding on the cash as well as the defaulted loan. Bottom line: He netted nothing out of his cash withdrawal. Yes, I empathize with his situation. Any of us who have been in challenging financial straits can empathize.

  7. Cooperation makes sense. Yes, a bit of healthy competition is good but we get further as a team by pulling together as opposed to working at logger-heads. Reminds me of the efforts the team put into a 401k RFP.

  8. Respect for others' rights is common sense. I am not asking you to shift your own beliefs or agree with someone else. But accord them basic respect. Not surprisingly, they will do likewise. You might find your 401k message (ie, auto-enrollment, etc.) might be better received.

  9. I am amazed every year at the creativity I see on display at Burning Man. The art and culture are mind-blowing. Even if the art may not make sense, I can appreciate what went into it. It is imperative on me to be open minded. This is no different than when I am communicating my 401k message. Where is the employee I am talking with starting from? I would be wise to do likewise.

  10. One of the key tenets of my 401k practice, Green Retirement, is a focus on sustainability. It is important to examine the impact of fossil fuel extraction on our planet (cities on East Coast that are sinking?) and correspondingly the impact on our investments. As I think about our planet and climate change, I am reminded of a client of mine. He and I don't see eye to eye on many topics but one thing we do agree on is the need to preserve our planet. Neither of us is eager to be on the first manned rocket ship to Mars!

    I hope you can see common sense in these rules as opposed to seeing them as "woke minded". Perhaps there is applicability in your field of work?