The Saviors

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Normally, I am strongly against all forms of discrimination; this is the exception.

My friends, Scott and Dan, work tirelessly to reform the horror show also known as public school teachers’ retirement plans.

Innocent teachers are held hostage by egregious surrender fees. The result of unwittingly purchasing expensive and unnecessary annuity products.

Financial terrorism is alive and well.

Scott and Dan created a unique, game-changing directory of advisors; individuals strongly motivated to liberate teachers from these awful products.

There are only eight of us at the moment. I know we are not alone.

Full disclosure, I am part of this initial first wave.

Greg Iacurci wrote a terrific piece for the InvestmentNews on this groundbreaking idea that is now a reality.

“Advisers must apply for inclusion in the directory, and the website is placing strict standards on the advisers included. At a minimum, advisers must be fee-only fiduciary financial advisers and hold the certified financial planner designation.”

This velvet-rope weeds out the pretenders from the contenders.

“‘403(b)wise isn’t accepting applications from registered representatives or those licensed to sell insurance,’ said Scott Dauenhauer. ‘We don’t want our participants working with the people we rail against every day.'” 

403(b)wise, the website run by Scott and Dan, attracts thousands of visitors a month; mostly teachers.

Instead of just providing great content, they are taking things to the next level.

Salespeople dominate non-ERISA 403(b)s with virtually no regulation or consequences.

“In particular, public K-12 teachers often get plans that receive little oversight from their school district, allowing brokers to peddle high-fee investment products to unsuspecting investors. ‘They’re the ones that are most ripped off,’ said Daniel Otter, founder of 403(b)wise. ‘[People] always call it the Wild, Wild West, the K-12 403(b).'”

The lame argument by financial salespeople, “If we didn’t prowl the halls, teachers would not save anything for retirement,” is dead.

They accuse people like Scott, Dan, and me of being salespeople.  After all, at the very least we need to sell our point of view in order to get people to buy into our movement. This is one thing they get right.

There is a big difference between a salesperson’s motivation to collect commissions and to earn a decent living by helping people.

To paraphrase Seth Godin, “We are selling a new way of thinking and a chance to make a difference. We are selling possibility. We are selling forward motion.”

Unlike conflicted salespeople who are, “selling something too aggressively, invading your space, stealing your attention and pushing you to do something that doesn’t match your goals.”

Good salesmanship shouldn’t require passing a Series 7 exam. It’s about selling bold ideas to help make the financial world a better place.

In the words of Godin, ‘”If you’re trying to make change happen, then you’re selling something.”


Change just happened — commission-free.

Sources:  Seth Godin’s Blog: “I’m not selling anything;” and “Popular 403(b) resource launching directory of fiduciary advisors” by Greg Iacurci, InvestmentNews.