Who’s Training Your Advisor? And let’s talk about conflicts of interest…

Another great column from Jason Zweig over at the Wall Street Journal:


In it, he starts with the big issue — there’s a lot of money on the table in the world of retirement savings and, especially, those huge balances growing in people’s 401(k) accounts, many of which will be rolled over in some form or another when folks retire.

Naturally, there is some complexity here – it’s the intersection of taxes, investments, withdrawal rates, retirement.  And there are a lot of folks who really want to help people do their best with this, likely the biggest cash payout of most people’s lives.

So a bunch of companies are apparently taking advantage of this by providing “free” training for advisors — and in the process, convincing many of those advisors that the right thing to do with their client’s money is to turn it over to them.  And the incentives are eye-popping.  The article mentions that one of these companies is offering a Maserati to advisors who convince clients to turn over enough money to them in a year, not to mention massive commissions and payouts to those same advisors whether they get that car or not.

Any time someone gets massive financial incentives like that, you have to be pretty careful about their advice.  Incentives matter.

If you go see a financial professional and tell him or her that you have a substantial amount of money in a former employer’s 401k plan, make sure that you know where that professional’s incentives and conflicts of interest are.  Because somebody is paying for that Maserati.

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