Frequently Asked Questions

For Employers

I don’t have a plan—how hard is it to create one?

Creating a plan has to be done according guidelines and government requirements. Our team has experience creating plans and can help you merge what is important to you and your employees with the current legal requirements and industry best practices.

Are there any tax benefits to opening a plan?

The SECURE Act of 2019 created significant tax credits to encourage formation of new plans. Contact us to learn how that could apply to your unique situation.

I want to change advisors—how long does that take?

Let’s first learn why you want to change advisors so we can better understand how to help. After that, it just requires some signatures for us to start supporting you and your plan participants.

Is the process complicated to change plan providers?

You should have a reason to change providers. Let’s talk about your goals and objectives so we can help you find the provider that can best meet your needs. This will usually require an RFP, and we’ll review the bids that the marketplace returns for your plan. Once you decide on a provider, we’ll start the transition. Depending on the complexity of the plan, this could take several months. We’ll build a timeline and work with you on the process.

What is a recordkeeper? A TPA? Why do I need them?

Each of these fulfill an important, required role in an effective retirement plan. The 401(k) recordkeeper is essentially the bookkeeper of the 401(k) plan, and they track who’s in the plan, what investments they own, and what money is going in or out. The TPA (Third Party Administrator) prepares employer and employee benefit statements, monitors the plan for compliance with IRS requirements, and prepares the annual reports required by the federal agencies like the IRS and Department of Labor (DOL).

How can I, or my employees, save costs in the process?

We have found that a good benchmarking study can identify cost savings in three key areas: Investment Fund Expense, Recordkeeping and, Third Party Administrator (TPA). In a benchmarking study, we evaluate each area and look to a competitive marketplace to find comparable or better service at a lower price. In many instances we are successful, but there are situations when your plan is operating efficiently. You won’t know until you work with us to find out.

Why is my current advisor getting “ Indirect Compensation ”, and what does that mean?

This is compensation paid directly from the mutual fund company to the advisor. Typically, this indicates that the mutual funds offered in your plan may not be in the lowest cost share classes. If you have indirect compensation, please contact us so we can do a plan benchmarking study and see if we can find lower cost share classes to save your participants money.

How do I know if the fund choices that are offered are right for me, my business, and my employees?

The fund choices should be well-diversified, in the lowest cost share class available, meet your goals and objectives, and align with the needs of your participants. Many times, you will see several Target Date Funds, Large, Mid and Small Cap Funds, International Funds, Index Funds, Real Estate Funds, and others. We can help you review your fund line-up and point out any opportunities.

How much, if any, employer match should I offer?

Offering employer matching contributions is a major incentive to encourage employees to participate in the plan. We can work with you as the employer to figure out what percentage of employees’ salary you would like to match and what can the business afford to offer. Examples: 50% match of salary deferrals; up to 6% of compensation. Alternatively, 100% match up to 3%; plus 50% match on deferrals between 3% and 5% of compensation.

Do you have an education plan and resources for my employees?

We specialize in providing education through in-person meetings, 1-on-1 sessions, new employee orientation, and trustee/employer education. We also offer video presentations for remote learning. One of our key points of differentiation is the depth and quality of our educational materials.

Employees - Just Started

My employer has a match—how does that work?

Every employer’s match is different. Talk with your plan administrator (usually someone in Human Resources or the business manager). They will explain the specifics of the match. In general, an employer match is a contribution to your 401(k) account up to a certain percentage of your salary or your contribution. Regardless of the amount, it is free money to you, and you should take advantage of it if you can.

I’m just out of college. How much should I be saving for my retirement?

The short answer is as much as you possibly can! For example, saving $2,000 a year at a 6% annual return could mean as much as $350,000 by age 65. If you wait until age 30, that same investment may only be $250,000. Try to grow your savings as your paycheck grows until you are saving 10–15% of your salary. A good rule is to take half of your next salary increase and save it, then reward yourself with the other half!

What should my retirement goal be?

Everyone has different needs and expectations. You may want to travel or you may want time for your hobbies. You should plan to have savings to provide at least 80% of your pre-retirement income.

How should assets be diversified differently for different stages of life?

Asset Allocation is the process to balance your risk and reward. It is based on your risk tolerance, investing time horizon, age, and expectations. Everyone is different and we recommend having a conversation with your financial advisor to determine the asset allocation that you’ll be comfortable with.

What is the maximum annual contribution that I can make into my 401(k), and should I do that each year?

The maximum contribution can increase each year. In 2022 for participants under 50, the amount is $20,500. If you are 50 or older, you can contribute an additional $6,500. We encourage you to save as much into the plan as you are able.

What is the “right time” to really start focusing on investing? Should I save for a house / pay off student loans / pay off other debts first?

Debt is expensive and it’s important to understand exactly how much it costs. Paying off your most expensive debt first is important, like credit cards, boat or ATV loans, and student loans.

Should I buy individual stocks or invest in an index fund? What about other investments like CDs, real estate, annuities, or Bitcoin?

Investment decisions are based on your asset allocation and your investing time horizon. There are many options and it is important to talk with your advisor about the choices in your employer’s retirement plan.

Employees - In Your Prime

What does “vested” mean?

Vested means that you are entitled to the contributions that have been saved in your account. An employee is always 100% vested in their own contributions, but may have to be employed a certain amount of years until they are vested in their employer’s contributions.

What’s an expense ratio? I thought this was employer covered.

It is a fee that covers the annual operating expenses of a mutual fund. It covers compensation for fund managers, administrative costs, and marketing costs. Most plans will show you the amount deducted in your annual end of year statement.

I saw an attractive stock on the news. How do I add it to my retirement plan?

Most investment options include mutual funds or exchange-traded funds (ETFs). If you like a particular stock you will need to do some research to see what fund holds the specific stocks in them that you are interested in.

What are signs my employer’s plan doesn’t have the best options for me?

The expense ratios could be higher than normal or the lineup does not offer a diverse menu of funds. Your investment options should include Target Date Funds, Large, Mid and Small Cap funds, International Funds, Index Funds, Real Estate Funds, Bond Funds, and a Money Market Fund.

What if I need to withdraw money from my retirement account?

Every employer’s retirement plan has details on how to withdraw money from your retirement account. The plan document will provide you with the ways you can access your funds. The most common ways are taking a loan, hardship withdrawals, and in-service distributions.

Employees - Near Retirement

Rolling over your 401(K) into an IRA

When you retire, you have options about how to handle your 401(k) account. You can leave the account with the employer you retired from and set-up a periodic distribution. You can also roll the 401(k) over into an IRA account with your investment advisor. No matter your choice, you will need to consult with your plan administrator and your investment advisor about the process to retain the tax deferred status of your funds.

How does my retirement keep up with inflation?

That depends on how you are funding your retirement. Typically, pension plans are flat amounts that don’t change each year as the cost of living changes. Social Security has a small Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA). If your retirement income is from your investment accounts, your ability to draw a bit more each year to cover increased costs will depend on your assets and their allocation. Please contact us for a detailed discussion and review.

Making a decision on when to take Social Security

The decision about when to take Social Security isn’t as easy as it seems. While you can draw payments at age 62, the amount you’d receive at that age is less than your “full retirement” amount. You can also elect to take Social Security at age 70 and the amount you will receive grows about 8% a year from full retirement age to age 70. The decision is based on your budget, your life expectancy, and your medical history. It’s best to consult with us to walk through the analysis.

Does Social Security count as part of my retirement plan?

Yes! Most retirees look to social security to fund about 30% of their retirement income needs. The remaining balance comes from your 401(k) or other savings.

How can I see how much Social Security I should get?

Visit and follow the steps to create an account, login, and view your anticipated benefit.

How can I get the most out of my Social Security?

Social Security is based on your wages and the years that you’ve worked on a full-time basis. The more you earn and the longer you work full time, the greater your benefit will be.

How can I cover increased medical costs after I’m retired?

There are several options to help you manage health care expenses. There is Medicare, private insurance, long-term care insurance, and more. Since each person’s needs and medical history are different, it is important to consult with a financial advisor who can help you evaluate your options.

How can I begin estate planning?

Estate planning is complex and requires the advice of a qualified attorney. If you feel you need estate planning, please gather your will, a list of your assets, and your goals for your plan. We’d be happy to review where you are and recommend estate attorneys for you to interview and evaluate.

Our Services

What services can you offer my employees?

We should have been teachers because we value education and strongly believe in educating our clients so they build an understanding of markets, our investment philosophy, and our strategies. Your employees will learn our view of Finance 101 and can also expect to learn about budgeting, saving, compounding, and preparing for retirement.

Can you manage something other than a 401(k)?

We are a full service wealth management firm. We offer detailed financial planning, personal investment accounts, IRAs, ROTH IRAs, SIMPLE IRAs, trust accounts, and other services like financial consulting, and analysis. Contact us with your question or concern and let’s talk.

Can you manage a plan for a business with any number of employees?

Yes. Contact us and let’s talk about your objectives, the size of your business and, your vision.