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March 19, 2019 – Basics on How to Access Most Cost-Effective Advice

With an annual subscription you’ll receive direct access to eleven ✓ theTicker® eLearning modules, Flip the Classroom Select Publication Platform by Growth, Aggressive Growth, Balanced and our new ESG Integration Fund Five. You will receive a quarterly newsletter to dissect performance changes in top five by category, relevant financial news and ability to practice your new skills in our “second opinion” quarterly feature.

Click on the modules below for a brief course description.

Core Modules

Through our modules and data, retirement investors are able to select top performing low expense ratio mutual funds, while also eliminating conflicted intermediary advice and costs.

Get started below:

Understanding the Core Retirement Investment Environment

Module Description

A step-by-step hands-on, interactive session describing the current “retirement financial advice” marketplace, and how Check the Ticker SBC meets the demand for eLearning, employee and IRA/HSA investor engagement with a new direct model.

  • Why there is less risk, and potential greater performance, with ✓ theTicker “direct” model, than with using a broker dealer platform
  • Cyber security risks with multiple intermediary platforms and newer retirement plan custodians
  • Government Accounting Office (GAO) reports on concerns about managed accounts lacking SEC-audited performance, and a February 2015 White House report on costs of conflicted intermediaries to retirement investors
  • Sales distribution process for mutual funds (registered investment companies), and broker dealer platforms; and why the confusion in the role of intermediaries “best interests” presents Check the Ticker as the immediate and most cost-effective solution.
✓ theTicker Core Tools (for IRA, Small Business and Larger Businesses and Non-Profit Plans)

Module Description

✓ theTicker Core Tools are where one begins to understand how to take charge of evaluating the investment selection process for core retirement investments.

  • ✓ theTicker step-by-step process for evaluating any investment option using tools that provide fee information, portfolio holdings and audited
  • ✓ theTicker 6-Point Selection Criteria and how to use it
  • How to evaluate “rating” companies’ top-10 recommended retirement SEC registered investment company portfolio managers, based on ✓ theTicker 6-Point Selection Criteria
  • How to use ✓ theTicker Tools to evaluate, understand and eliminate redundant costs and cyber-security risks
Understanding Core Retirement Products through Performance Evaluation

Module Description

How to Evaluate Performance using SEC Disclosures with Online Tools Here are some other considerations on performance:

  • When an investment has a Ticker, the performance is filed at the SEC, is audited and presented consistently.
  • The SEC has warned investors, in an SEC August, 2016 Bulletin on Performance Claims – performance can be presented in many different ways.
  • By looking at investments with a Ticker, you can be assured that performance is presented in the same manner, to easily permit valid comparisons.
  • There are other criteria in addition to performance. We will review those in subsequent sessions. However, do not believe the statement, “performance does not matter.” It matters significantly.
Understanding Core Retirement Products through Fee Evaluation

Module Description

There are mutual fund fees for managing assets by the portfolio manager and there may be intermediary fees to buy the mutual fund.

Fees to Buy a Mutual Fund through an Advisor:

  • Assets Under Management Fee or
  • Sales Commission or both
  • Annual 12b-1 fee

Fees to Buy a Mutual Fund through a Broker Dealer Platform

  • Transaction Fee
  • Omnibus Accounting Fees and other Administrative Fees

Fees to Buy a Mutual Fund directly from the Fund company

  • No additional fees. All costs are included in the Expense Ratio.
Understanding Core Retirement Products through Portfolio Turnover Evaluation

Module Description

  • What is portfolio turnover?
  • How does portfolio turnover impact my performance?
  • Where do I find portfolio turnover data?

Understanding the Costs of Portfolio Turnover

  1. Portfolio turnover may significantly impact performance.
  2. Portfolio turnover is reported to the SEC for mutual funds.
  3. Portfolio turnover is not reflected in the performance figures. It is an additional cost an investor should be aware of.
  4. Consider this criteria in the selection of any retirement mutual fund, passive or active.
  5. Understand robo advisors may not disclose portfolio turnover costs that directly impact overall performance of your portfolio
Understanding Core Retirement Products through Evaluating Dividend Yields with SEC Disclosures

Module Description

Dividend Yield may be particularly important as you move into retirement and out of the accumulation phase. In retirement you will be drawing funds from your retirement nest-egg.

Definition – Dividend Yield*

  • The term “yield,” on its own, is an imprecise term that can mean any number of things:
    • A security’s annual percentage rate of return, to
    • The annual income from an investment as a percentage of the price at a particular point in time (for example, the current price).
    • The more precise definition of yield becomes apparent when a qualifier is used—for instance, dividend yield, current yield, or yield to maturity.
    • Understanding the difference between “yield” and “total return”.
Understanding Core Retirement Products through Evaluating Custodians with SEC Disclosures

Module Description

The most important factor is to be sure your money is safe and you know exactly who is holding it on your behalf.

What Custodian does your Advisor Use?
The SEC Custody Rule states:

“What is custody?

Custody by investment advisers means holding client funds or securities, directly or indirectly, or having the authority to obtain possession of them. For example, advisers have custody where the adviser has possession of client funds and securities or has power of attorney to sign checks on a client’s behalf, to withdraw funds or securities from the client’s account, including fees, or to otherwise dispose of a client’s assets for any purpose other than authorized trading.”

What Custodian does your mutual fund use?

What is significance of a custodian for a mutual fund.

  • What are the fees the custodian charges me to administer and hold my money in a given mutual fund?
  • What is the reputation of the custodian? How long have they been in business?
  • Can I avoid fees, such as “omnibus accounting” or double accounting fees?
  • What is the relationship between the mutual fund, broker (advisor) and the custodian?
Understanding Core Retirement Products through Portfolio Holdings and ESG Considerations with SEC Disclosures

Module Description

Understanding a Portfolio Manager’s Objective that drives the Holdings

  • The fund’s objective outlines what the fund will invest in and should give an indication of how actively it will be traded.
  • Using ✓ theTicker tools you can see how the fund is doing relative to it’s objectives.

Learn how to further analyze holdings to determine if you believe the companies they invest in are in the best interest of society overall.

  • Are the companies selected by the money manager focusing on long-term value creation or are they simply buying and selling stocks, trading derivatives to generate short term profits?
  • “Norms-based – checking companies’ and countries’ compliance with international conventions such as Human Rights conventions, labor rights (International Labour Organization’s convention) or the convention on hazardous chemicals (Rotterdam Convention); (from Financial Times)”

Is Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) “real?”

For the first time in history, retirement investors hold trillions of dollars in defined contribution plans and IRA’s. They are in a position to engage and select what money managers and their respective holdings will shape the future of our economy and society.

Cumulatively, retirement investors can engage and select what portfolio managers operate in the best interest of society.

Putting it All Together with Check the Ticker Worksheet and Online Tools to Access SEC Disclosures

Module Description

  • We provide you with ✓ theTicker worksheet to analyze any core retirement investment selection.
  • This module uses Ticker Checker-Worksheet from the previous modules. Learn out to fill in the data that is the basis for any retirement investment selection process. We would utilize the worksheet to look at investments for a 401(k), 403(b), IRA investment or to analyze an advisor’s recommendation or any Fund on Flip the Classroom Platform at ✓ theTicker Pla.
How to Evaluate and Find Top ESG Funds with ✓ theTicker Tools

Module Description

In this Module, we address four factors:

  • Sustainable funds and investments mean something different to every individual, but we provide broad categories used internationally.
  • Individuals can review the holdings of any Fund and determine their own “sustainable” ratings.
  • In 2016, Morningstar launched a “Sustainability” rating for over 21,000 mutual funds, with the research that many Funds are “very sustainable” without necessarily being dedicated to ESG investments. Many Funds are already selecting holdings in a sustainable basis.
  • Proxy voting is an issue that individual retirement investors are becoming more concerned with. What is it? How does direct purchases of mutual funds simplify the Proxy voting process for retirement investors.

Understanding Proxy Voting

With the advent of brokers selling the bulk of mutual funds and maintaining the records of who owns the mutual funds, investors have become more distant from what governance issues by the Funds for two reasons:

  1. With index funds, it is difficult for retirement investors to focus on where their funds are invested
  2. Broker dealers typically have fine print disclosures about Proxy Votes on Governance Issues

Understanding Proxy Voting and Broker Dealer Held Mutual Funds

  1. Retirement investors that invest directly will receive requests directly from the Fund company on governance issues.
  2. Retirement investors that invest through a broker dealer will have to request the right to vote their Funds shares.
How to Evaluate Robo Advisors for your IRA or Small Business Plan

Module Description

The goals of this Module are to understand Robo Advisors and evaluate their role for managing your retirement nest egg. New vocabulary includes:

  • ETFs Compared to Mutual Funds
  • Passive Investing
  • Robo Advisor
  • Algorithms based on Modern Portfolio Theory

Learn how to compare pros and cons for retirement investor of ETF’s (a portfolio) compare to mutual funds.

Learn how robo advisors have less stringent regulation than SEC registered investment companies (mutual funds)

Robo Advisors

  • They are “SEC Registered Investment Investment Advisors”, which means they have filed an ADV with the SEC and certain disclosures under the Investment Advisors Act of 1940
  • They use computer algorithms as their basis for their investment advice
  • They are online, with minimal human interaction

What Robo Advisors are Not

  1. They are not SEC registered investment companies, registered under the Investment Company Act of 1940
  2. They are not required to file regular audited performance with the SEC, including portfolio turnover and brokerage costs.
  3. How valid is the computer algorithm used to formulate their portfolio strategies
  4. Retirement investors should review all disclosures at the SEC: SEC Investor Advisor Public Disclosure (IAPD)

Larger Businesses and Non-Profit Modules

✓ theTicker is the perfect complement for every corporate wellness program, the independently designed and independently delivered eLearning curriculum that engages and empowers your employees for a lifetime in taking charge of their retirement and HSA investing future.

Please contact us to review pricing for customized modules based on your 401k/403B Defined Contribution Plan.

Using ✓ theTicker Tools to evaluate your 401k investment options and HSA Options

Module Description

Prepare your employee for within or outside the workplace with ✓ theTicker module designed to engage your employee with understanding the costs and benefits of engagement in their investment selection process in your workplace.

✓ theTicker 6-Point Criteria provides employees for the very first time a factual, step-by-step framework for selecting their core retirement money manager(s), offered by the 401(k) or 403(b). Provide your employees access to an active and engaging eLearning process, where their time invested in education delivers significant savings and improved performance, year after year for their retirement future.

  • Using ✓ theTicker Tools to enhance the performance and reduce the costs of your current 401k investment options
  • Understanding ✓ theTicker 6-Point Criteria selection process and the savings it provides.
QDIAs and the Pros and Cons of Managed Accounts, Collective Investment Trusts, Balanced Funds and Target Date Funds

Module Description

An introduction to the different options in a 401(k) or 403(b) plan, from Managed Account to Target Date fund, this Module takes your employee through each of these different structures, dependent on what is available in their plan, so they understand the Pros and Cons of each option. The concept of Qualified Default Investment Alternative (QDIA), the pros and cons of automatic retirement investing and the basics of their retirement plan are reviewed. The employee then has the confidence to make an informed choice on which option, offered by their Employer, is their best alternative.

  • Mandatory contributions and escalation clauses, and the benefits of long-term investing
  • Exploration of the pros and cons of Target Date Funds, in lieu of a Balanced Fund and Growth Fund option
  • The impact of saving more today using the SEC compounding calculator
  • How to use ✓ theTicker Tools to make informed investment selection decisions, with a roadmap that delivers confidence through transparency
Rollovers and Separation from Service

Module Description

When an employee is separated from service or retiring, they now have a targeted module that provides them access and understanding on how to use ✓ theTicker Tools to make an informed choice on the pros and cons of retaining their retirement funds in their employer-sponsored 401(k), rollover to an IRA or rollover to their new employer’s 401(k). With SEC warnings of many frauds and abusive selling practices for the first generation retiring with 401(k) plans, this module is designed to empower the soon-to-be retiree on how to make a critical, informed choice for their retirement nest egg for the present and the future.

  • How to use ✓ theTicker Tools and The Ticker Checker-Practicum to evaluate the costs and performance factors of rolling over a 401(k) to an IRA or another 401(k).
  • Understand the potential risks or benefits of leaving a 401(k) with your employer or using the 401(k) broker dealer for a rollover IRA when broker dealer platforms often violate ERISA black-out rules that pose significant risks to both IRA and 401(k).
  • Understand potential risks to the IRA investor who has no regulatory protections when a broker dealer blocks trading, withdrawals and viewing, to their retirement savings, at their whim. Learn how ✓ theTicker direct model eliminates these significant risks.
  • Cyber security risks in new robo-advice models and move of industry from brokerage to RIA platforms
  • Cyber security risks in new RIA financial technology and how to protect your employees who may use an RIA associated with your 401(k) plan
  • Using ✓ theTicker to eliminate Ponzi schemes and senior abuse and fraud.
401k Brokerage Windows

Module Description

Brokerage Windows pose particular problems today from unanswered regulatory questions when an employee uses a brokerage window in their 401(k), losing ERISA protections for their retirement savings, yet bound by the Plan Sponsor’s investment selections in these “windows”.

  • Positives of using a brokerage window in a 401(k) plan with poor investment options.
  • The regulatory “fiduciary” difference of selecting an investment through a brokerage window in a defined contribution plan
  • Pros and cons, and potential costs to you and your employees of ERISA protection in a 401(k) in lieu of a “brokerage” account that is subject to mandatory arbitration
401k, IRA and HSA Tax Benefits Compared to Employer High Deductible Plan with Long-Term HSA Account

Module Description

Pros and cons of online calculators to evaluate tax benefits of saving in a 401(k), IRA and HSA when an employer offers a high deductible plan with a long-term HSA account.

  • How to balance amounts saved in a 401(k) and an HSA, and the importance of an employer match
  • The tax advantages of long term HSA accounts at retirement compared to savings in a 401(k) plan
  • Understanding your tax brackets at retirement and using HSA accounts to pay Medicare premiums and ability to lower overall taxes.

Small Business Modules

Please contact us to review pricing for customized modules based on your small business plan.

Understanding Fiduciary and Regulatory Concerns for Small Business SEP and Simple Plans

Module Description

What are the significant cost advantages of a small business DIRECT SEP or SIMPLE plan over a small business 401(k)?

SEP (Simplified Employee Pension) and SIMPLE plans may not offer the same “fiduciary” protection for your employees as a 401(k) or 403(b) plan that is subject to Department of Labor ERISA standards. Learn how to provide your employees this equivalent protection through ✓ theTicker small business module, using SEP and SIMPLE Plans.

This module is a good basis for state governments that wish to provide education and ✓ theTicker DIRECT SEP retirement plan for the self-employed or those not covered by a retirement plan.

  • The direct alternative in a SEP or SIMPLE plan in offering additional fiduciary protections and elimination of mandatory arbitration.
  • Cost and performance analysis of a direct SEP/SIMPLE vs. an indirect plan with multiple financial intermediaries, based on ✓ theTicker 6-Point Selection Criteria.

How to use The Ticker Checker-Practicum to evaluate cost and performance alternatives in a small business retirement plan.

Small Business ✓ theTicker DIRECT SEP or SIMPLE Plans

Module Description

Small Businesses and self-employed individuals may use Simplified Employee Pensions (SEP) Plans for a tax-deferred retirement savings Plan or SIMPLE Plans. For the first time ✓ theTicker provides the education on how to set-up a Direct SEP or SIMPLE plan. Learn the cost savings, the fiduciary advantages and how to eliminate conflicted industry-sponsored mandatory arbitration mandates, which eliminate legal access to Federal courts for fiduciary breaches. Provide tools and training to educate your employees for life with a portable “pension” that minimizes administrative costs to the small business. It is a win-win for employers and their employees.

  • Learn how to use ✓ theTicker 6-Point Selection Criteria to evaluate options for your small business retirement plan.
  • Understand the risks, to both employers and employees, of not using SEC registered investment companies in your employer-sponsored retirement plan
  • Understand costs associated with a 401(k) Plan and a broker-dealer provided SEP or SIMPLE plan, that offers investments not subject to the Investment Company Act of 1940.
  • Understand how to eliminate cyber-security concerns with ✓ theTicker Direct SEP and SIMPLE Plans
  • Step-by-step process for setting up a SEP/SIMPLE direct plan for your employees
  • How to attract employees and increase employee retirement savings engagement through ✓ theTicker tools and curriculum modules.
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