Michael Falcon

Managing director and head of Retirement for J.P. Morgan Asset Management

PA: What’s driving J.P. Morgan Asset Management’s thinking and approach today?

Falcon: Professionally managed solutions are at the core of our position in the retirement space, particularly in the defined contribution (DC) area. Our commitment to target-date funds (TDFs) with our Smart Retirement Series is longstanding and built—like all of our investment solutions—starting from the end client’s point of view.

For that client, the plan participant, the solution needs to be simple. Individuals continually tell us they’re unable to make these types of decisions. They want to be in a product that can meet their needs; and the professionally managed, diversified and rebalanced products and programs can do that.

Plan sponsors need a solution; they need to increasingly make these fiduciary-dependent decisions. More and more money is flowing into target date as the qualified default investment alternative (QDIA), as the default option, so these vehicles that even a decade ago held relatively few assets and maybe less interest now lead the field of what sponsors are driving.

I think, finally, and relevant to your audience, we think about how these professionally managed solutions meet adviser needs. At one time, traditional thinking was that the adviser would create investment menus and lineups, then manage them. We’ve moved beyond that. The role of the adviser in today’s plans is much more complex and demanding.

Advisers need solutions they can understand, that are well-supported and perform well to meet their needs their clients’. 

PA: How has that feedback from the plan adviser community informed your business model at J.P. Morgan?

Falcon: We see the adviser at the center of almost everything we do. Our plan sponsor survey found that only 14% of plans say their advisers proactively bring them ideas and issues.

That speaks to the opportunity still ahead for these specialized plan advisers. We want to be there to support them. We’re already doing that with relevant, timely research and information they can use, both to better improve their practice and their value offering.

We’re there with tools like the Target Date Compass and Plan Design Guide, and with events and communication.