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401k Communication helps Participants and Families

401k Communication helps Participants and Families

401k Communication and Participant Education go a long way in making employees aware of the benefits of the qualified retirement plan. Proper 401k communication is a large contributor to the success of a 401k plan.  At the conclusion of the Financial Wellness and Advice Panel of the 401kTV GENIE Awards, Category Finalist and Panelist Derek Fiorenza was interviewed by 401kTV Correspondent Frank Licari.  Derek is Vice President, COO and CCO of Summit Group Retirement Planners in Exton, Pennsylvania.   Mr. Fiorenza discussed the importance of viewing each plan participant as a single component of a much larger group.  They also discussed the speed at which the retirement industry is changing – and the amount of information that each plan sponsor is responsible for knowing.

Full Transcript Here

Frank Licari:
Frank Licari here, at the 401KTV Genie Awards. Congratulations for being here and being a finalist on the panel. Give us your name and the role of your company.

Derek Fiorenza:
Thank you for having me. Derek Fiorenza from The Summit Group and we were on the financial wellness and advice panel, and it was great to be around other advisors and providers with such great insight and experience.

Frank Licari:
Tell me a little bit about what you did personally to get here or what your company did and to honor you here today.

Derek Fiorenza:
Well, it’s very humbling to be here, and what you guys are doing, I think, is so helpful and beneficial to the industry. Specifically what TRAU has done and now 401KTV because you’re reaching plan sponsors and providing education. And I think one of the things I talked about today on the panel was the importance of focusing on a solution and not a product, and understanding that behind every asset that we as advisors manage, there’s a person, there’s a heartbeat, there’s a family, there are children. And I think it was our philosophy that enabled us to have the opportunity to be on this panel.

Derek Fiorenza:
But ultimately as an industry, I think our focus needs to be on education first and coming to the table with an idea and a and a and a mentality that we’re here as their advocate, as their champions, that the employees can not only retire with security but also retire debt-free.

Frank Licari:
Right. So in terms of the industry, is that the main issue that you’re seeing, sort of the lack of education leading to people sort of out there swimming in with the sharks, not knowing what to do, how to do, why to do? Is that kind of what your-

Derek Fiorenza:
It’s a combination of a lot of things, and I won’t even claim to be smart enough to know all of them. But I know a lot of it stems from lack of transparency. Number two, a lack of engagement, you know, and it’s at the employer and employee level and it’s not … I’m not even saying it’s their fault, but there’s so much information to consume and to know. So part of our job and our role as advisors, and you’re providing this role too as a channel of communication, is to provide that basic education level, taking complex concepts and breaking them down into tangible, bite-sized chunks that we can consume.

Derek Fiorenza:
And if we can articulate what the different things mean, whether it’s disclosure or whether it’s a plan of action to consolidate debt or save for retirement. Well, here’s what you have to do, but more importantly, why do you have to do it? And if we can understand what an employee’s heart and their head are thinking and feeling as an industry, I think we’ll not only have better results but the people that we work with, the employees, the plan sponsors will have a more fulfilling experience and be more enjoyable. And we always say as a firm, our goal is to create a Disney like experience. We call it the summit experience.

Derek Fiorenza:
We want everybody that we work with to come away feeling fulfilled and elated and happy and excited and charged up about their plan because it’s really a benefit. 30 to 40 million Americans have access to a workplace retirement plan in our country. And since that number is so great, that means that we have not only healthcare issues in this country, but retirement security issues. So one of our jobs is to educate the companies that don’t have it, they’re cost-effective ways to offer a retirement plan. Whether it’s a simple IRA or a SEP IRA with a payroll deduction. IRA doesn’t have to be a 401k with all of the the the regulations that follow and on the expenses, but providing access to your employees that they have something to save.

Derek Fiorenza:
And then telling the employees, once you have access to a retirement plan, we’re reaching that inflection point. Does it make sense to save now or does it make sense to pay your debt off and then save? Having that thoughtful conversation and dialogue with each employee is, paramount to our success.

Frank Licari:
Yeah, and it sounds like you’re taking everything off, the page off that, you’re making it personal to each individual.

Derek Fiorenza:
Like I said before, for every person, there’s a heartbeat behind every dollar. And I think we can never lose sight of that, not only as an industry but as a people. And one of the things I said on the panel was, that the most impactful thing that we can take from the work that we do and even beyond, is our ability to love. And being inclusive to all people. Being understanding and compassionate to all people and trying to address their needs, meeting them where they’re at. Loving someone is not just making them do what you want them to do. Loving someone is meeting them where they’re at, and understanding, being able to empathize with them or sympathize with them and saying, “I understand you have this stress. You’re living paycheck to paycheck you can’t save right now. I get it.”

Derek Fiorenza:
That’s the real conversation that’s happening every single day. So what can we do as a team to put a plan in action that gets you into a spot where you’re financially better off and then you can start saving. Because we will both agree you need to save, just a matter of how do you do it and when can you start. So it’s having that thoughtful dialogue. And I said that if you approach every situation, not just me, any advisor, any person, not just in investments, with a focus on, I want to serve this person with a humble love and without any other self-motivated agenda, it’s just I’m here to help you selflessly, then the results will be something we can all live with.

Frank Licari:
Well, it sounds like that philosophy goes far beyond 401K and investment should be put into the world. So thank you ber much.

Derek Fiorenza:
Thank you, sir.

Frank Licari:
What do you think of the Genies Awards so far?

Derek Fiorenza:
It’s been incredible, we had four really great sessions so far, very informative. The thing about this industry, the 401k industry specifically, it’s number one, constantly changing. So the evolution rate is off the charts. And then number two, there’s so much knowledge to consume, and being able to, as a fiduciary practitioner, being able to take in the information that’s coming at you and changing at such a rapid rate, whether it’s legislation or best practices that are being started or restarted or revitalized or added brand new. And then also managing all the compliance issues because in our business, whether it’s FINRA or the FCC, we as advisors have compliance issues. And then the retirement plans themselves have a RESA and IRS issues and Department of Labor.

Derek Fiorenza:
So everything is heavily, regulated, which is a good thing, we need regulation. But all of it is constantly changing. So with all of these changes, I don’t think you can get enough information, and what this conference or this event, the Genie Awards has been able to do, it’s been able to take some of that information, some of the most pertinent topics of the day and distill it integration, fragments that we can easily digest. And then think about, you know, what can we then take from this presentation or this review and apply to our practice to better serve our base, our employees.

Frank Licari:
And put you together with other like-minded individuals who are working on the same thing in one room, which is amazing.

Derek Fiorenza:
It’s an honor because these other advisors that I’ve had a chance to kind of interact with, extremely successful. The practices they’ve built and, what also is nice and encouraging to see is the philosophy that seems to be shared. They seem to have a, a really common goal, commonality here is that we want to help people and it’s really, for me, that’s the most important thing. When I see other people that are focused on service rather than the dollar. That to me is what it’s all about.

Frank Licari:
Well, Derek, pleasure having you, man.

Derek Fiorenza:
Thank you. Appreciate it.

Frank Licari:
You bet.

Derek Fiorenza:
Thanks for having me.

Frank Licari:
All right.

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