IMHO: “Swimming″ Pool

Having just spent most of the past week in Chicago at our annual Plan Designs conference (bigger and better than ever, I might add!), my head is still swimming with new ideas, modifications of existing “assumptions,″ and the occasional validation of the “tried and true.″

I’m dedicating this week’s IMHO to a rough summary of some notes I took during that time (in some cases, I have “refined’ statements to be more declarative than they were presented to make a stronger point):

A prudent process helps you win in court; a good result keeps you out of court in the first place.

Lots of people have already decided who they are going to vote for in November.

Automatic enrollment (still) isn’t for everyone.

Some people who nod their head knowingly when you start talking about glide paths don’t have a clue what you are talking about.

In an era where asset-allocation solutions dominate, you’re better off picking the best target-date fund(s)—and then finding a recordkeeper that can/will accommodate that selection.

Target-date fund benchmarks are available—but they incorporate certain beliefs/assumptions on the part of the index maker (though that’s not exactly radical, IMHO. The S&P 500 also incorporates certain beliefs/assumptions in its composition).

Nobody (except perhaps the lawyers who wrote them and the regulators that mandated them) is actually reading all these participant notices.

We’re getting ready to know more about fees charged than some ever thought possible—then, we’re going to have to be taught what to do about what we (now) know.

Lots of plan sponsors are “OK’ with the fees they are paying—but they aren’t sure that they are “reasonable.’

Retirement income is an “easy’ sell, but still a tough “buy.’

Mentioning that you’re thinking about beginning a provider search (even if you’re not) is an easy way to gain a quick fee/service concession.

Tax breaks associated with tax-deferred savings and employer-sponsored health care add up to a lot of money—and some in Washington want to spend that money other ways.

More people (still) seem to be worried about the 25 basis points being split between the recordkeeper/TPA and adviser than the 80 basis points being spent on investment management.

There is an inherent mismatch when revenues are based on something (assets) that has very little correlation with costs (plan structure and participant count).

Most plan sponsors still have a better chance of being struck by a meteor than being sued by a plan participant.

Editor’s Note: If you were at Plan Designs, and have some comments/notes of your own to add, please email them to me at