FAQs

Of the approximate 10,000 mutual funds, over 80% are high fee and poorly performing, according to Morningstar. How have so many poorly performing mutual funds continued to exist in a free market society?

Retirement investors have been misled that salesmen are “advisors” acting in their interest. The salesmen (called “advisors”) are paid to sell the mutual fund and receive a sales commission and an ongoing annual fee of .25% (12(b)-1 fee) by the fund company if they sell that fund. Thus, 8000 high fee and poorly performing funds thrive since a conflicted sales force places retirement assets in these funds, despite many better performing funds, with less costs.

The distribution process for retirement investment products is flawed. ✓ theTicker is the first e-Learning platform to provide a new distribution process for investment product. ✓ theTicker believes in technology to deliver a stream-lined distribution process, that eliminates redundant costs and provides greater transparency as to performance and all fees.

✓ theTicker introduces the direct distribution process for retirement investors, through e-Learning modules designed specifically for today’s retirement investor, wanting superior performance at low cost.

✓ theTicker e-Learning Direct for Small Businesses and IRA investors is the most cost effective method to access retirement products, eliminating all redundant costs and ensuring every retirement investor has the transparency and tools to know which SEC registered investment company, for core retirement products, has the best performance, after all fees.

All investor education in the workplace has been delivered by a conflicted sales force designed to increase participation in the investment products that benefit the financial services firms, not the retirement investor.

Capitalism can only thrive if there is transparency. This arrangement between employers and financial services firms has created a de facto monopoly for the Wall Street firms, allowing over $17 billion5 in redundant fees to be stripped from the paychecks of the average American, annually, not to mention the losses in investment performance from better suited available alternatives.

5 “The Effects of Conflicted Investment Advice on Retirement Savings”, FEBRUARY 23, 2015 at 9:45 AM ET BY JASON FURMAN AND BETSEY STEVENSON

Are there particular risks to Baby Boomers, the first generation to manage their own retirement savings, now making investing decisions as they leave their firms?

As baby boomers retire, the SEC is warning about schemes to defraud retirement investors by placing 401k accounts into rollover IRA’s that are high fee and poor performing.

Protecting the Financial Future of Seniors and Retirees” by Former SEC Commissioner Luis A. Aguilar

“Given this inherent conflict of interest, the SEC plans to review the practices and incentives of investment advisers and broker-dealers in making recommendations on these rollover IRAs. In particular, the SEC will examine the sales practices of investment advisers that are targeting retirement-age workers to rollover their employer-sponsored 401(k) plans into higher cost investments. The SEC will also examine broker-dealers and investment advisers for possible improper or misleading marketing and advertising, conflicts, suitability, churning, and the use of potentially misleading professional designations when making recommendations on rollover IRAs.”

Additionally, studies show that workplace advisors have not trained plan participants how to evaluate their investment options and make informed choices. Yet employees and IRA investors have paid and must still pay these “education fees” in the workplace, or often when they purchase a mutual fund for their IRA, that add no value.

New Department of Labor Rule Does Not Apply to Retirees’ Mandatory Distributions from IRA’s Placed in Non-Retirement Brokerage Accounts

The Department of Labor new fiduciary rule, now delayed with an uncertain date for implementation, may also present a confusing process for the millions of retiring baby boomers. When these baby boomers turn 70 1/2 and withdraw their mandatory distributions (RMD’S) from their IRA’s, they will place these funds in non-qualified accounts (not retirement accounts.) most likely in an IRA brokerage account. The Department of Labor delayed “fiduciary rule” does not have jurisdiction on these non-qualified accounts and those held in an IRA at a brokerage account are not subject to a fiduciary standard for “advice.”

✓ theTicker offers the first practical solution for the retiring “baby boomers”.  It is immediately available through ✓ theTicker eLearning curriculum. The DIRECT alternative to SEC registered investment companies, that eliminate the non-fiduciary intermediary that poses great risks to retirement savings and society overall may be eliminated, resulting in less costs and better performance.

✓ theTicker Direct for Required Minimum Distributions Provides Fiduciary Protection

Thus, ✓ theTicker direct to a SEC performance audited money manager, that avoids the broker-dealer platform, is by far the safest route for most required minimum distributions (RMD’s) to avoid “advice” delivered in the best interests of the brokerage firm, not the retirement investor.

Research reveals that workplace offerings are often performing poorly and include high fees that can take over one-third of retirement dollars invested as reported by PBS in 2013 in their special, “The Retirement Gamble.”

What costs does ✓ theTicker® eliminate?

✓ theTicker eliminates these fees immediately:

  1. Upfront sales commission (sales Load) that averages 5.19%.1
  2. Annual sales incentive to broker (advisor) of .25%, 12(b)-1 fee.
  3. Annual assets under management fee to a broker or advisor of 1%-3%.
  4. Double accounting fees by purchasing a mutual fund from a broker or broker dealer (like a Schwab or TD Ameritrade platform).
  5. Transaction fees by purchasing a mutual fund from a broker or broker dealer platform.

✓ theTicker eLearning Modules demonstrate to the retirement investor how they can access the exact same mutual fund, offered to them by their broker, while eliminating redundant costs of approximately 3% annually.

1 Source: Morningstar

How does ✓ theTicker independent eLearning platform differ from what is offered in the workplace or provided by major broker dealer platforms?

✓ theTicker E-Learning modules present content not currently offered by any university personal finance courses, secondary schools or other online education sites.

Independently designed and independently delivered retirement investment selection curriculum and eLearning Modules are currently only available at ✓ theTicker, offering retirement investors the tools to access retirement product on a direct basis, eliminating the costs and conflicts of “intermediaries” that typically add costs, but not value, to the growth of retirement investments. There exist some excellent intermediaries with sound advice; however the distribution system for investment product is costly and has not kept pace with today’s technology. Consumers should avoid such obsolete processes that do not add value.

All curriculum offered in the workplace is designed and delivered by financial services firms and their representatives, with a three decade history of severe conflicts of interest that have resulted in substantial taking of retirement investor’s savings, as defined in the 2015 White House Report, referenced above, costing the average American losses of over $17 billion annually.

Does ✓ theTicker educate subscribers on evaluating new “robo advisors” and low cost computer-based algorithm passive investing?

✓ theTicker believes it is very important for retirement investors to understand the role of the recent introduction of so-called “robo advisors” that use computer-based algorithms to select a passive portfolio of Exchange Traded Funds based on Modern Portfolio Theory.

✓ theTicker eLearning modules provide you the tools to make an informed choice on these questions:

  • The investment management fees are less for a “robo-advisor,” but is my all-in performance, after all fees, increased and in my best interest compared to other available alternatives?
  • Are passive investments better for my long-term savings than active investments?
  • What are the pros and cons of selecting a portfolio based on Modern Portfolio Theory and are there other available alternatives that present less risk?
  • What are the cyber security risks presented by financial intermediaries, such as robo advisors?
  • The SEC7 is investigating instability created by a preponderance of ETFs in the marketplace, flash crashes and High Frequency Trading. Should I be concerned? Are there other better performing alternatives that eliminate the risks posed by the rapid growth of ETF’s in the financial markets?
  • What are the regulatory concerns and my access to a right to a fair hearing in the court system if a robo advisor harms my retirement accounts and how does it differ from holding a traditional mutual fund, directly?

1 “SEC Setting its Sights on ETFs in 2016”

Will ✓ theticker work together with my current financial advisor?

Yes. “Advisors” that work on an hourly basis to set up a financial plan to encourage savings for retirement, college education, disability insurance and life insurance perform a useful service for those that do not choose to research the options on their own.

However, most “financial advisors”, CFP’s, or “financial planners” are not specialists in investment management and an added layer of cost typically does not benefit the average retirement investor. Further the current sales distribution system presents significant conflicts of interest that mandate retirement investors take the time to learn how to compare recommended options.

✓ theTicker can be a very useful tool for anyone that chooses to use an intermediary to select investments: A step-by-step evaluation process, based on well-defined criteria, to evaluate any investment recommendation would be a very welcome step by a fiduciary adviser. Check the Ticker promotes transparency and straightforward dialogue between you and your fiduciary adviser that is a win-win for both parties.

Why aren’t more companies providing services like ✓ theTicker?

Most financial services firms have focused on “assets under management” (your investment dollars), for which they charge a fee of 0.25% to more than 2.50%… whether you made or lost money over the year. (Note: a portfolio of $100,000 could be charged as little as $250 to as much as $2,500 annually under this arrangement.) “Assets under management” is too lucrative a model for financial services firms to discard. All these “tech” start-ups present the same predatory business model that does not benefit the retirement investor.

The mutual fund industry and broker dealers have grown dependent on an obsolete distribution model and have chosen to ignore advances in technology, since it will lower their revenues. This distribution, given current technology is costly, ineffective and riddle with conflicts that a simple “best interest” standard or “fiduciary” advisor will not begin to correct.

There are other organizations, such as Association of Individual Investors, that teach DIY investing, but most retirement savers don’t have the time or inclination to devote to learning the many complicated nuances of investing.

✓ theTicker recognizes that more and more retirement investors are willing to engage and learn how to go direct to the top U.S. retirement money managers, since they must. To have the funds available at retirement, given the unprecedented low interest rate environment, stagnant middle class wages, disappearance of defined benefit pensions and meaningful 401k matches, an investor needs every penny to be invested wisely.

Defined benefit pensions are in the past. Every retirement investor has a right to the straight-forward costs through independent education that promotes transparency to ensure every American can have access to the top US money managers for their core retirement savings.

How much money do I save working with ✓ theTicker versus going with another financial services provider?

While investment results will always vary, you will save the annual financial intermediary fees (from .25% to 3.6%). You will have the tools to see how much you save each year in management fees in your selected mutual fund and the impact it has on your retirement nest egg’s performance.

✓ theTicker believes it is less risky for retirement savers, particularly when they’re young and have the power of compounding on their side, to take the proven option. Select a portfolio manager with the best historical performance and low fees. If you eliminate the middleman your money will go directly into your retirement nest egg.
You will learn when an active manager is in your best interest and when choosing a passive manager may be a better alternative. The tools and data give you the insight to make an informed choice.

By going direct to your money manager you save double accounting fees, broker dealer platform fees, and eliminate significant cyber security risks.

By going direct, you eliminate the “mandatory arbitration” clauses required by broker dealers and most brokers/advisors.

What’s the difference between what you offer and what’s already out there?

The content. The tools. The transparency. The independence.

✓ theTicker is the first service to offer retirement investors an alternative to the broker dealer model of sales distribution of retirement product.

✓ theTicker is the first service to provide hands-on interactive tools to provide the confidence to go direct and eliminate obsolete and redundant distribution costs.

✓ theTicker believes in empowerment, education and an end to the “learned helplessness”, that benefits an industry, not the retirement saver.

This is the first and only service that is 100% independent education, with no conflicts of interest. The retirement investor selection of the top money managers is based on a 6-point selection criteria, providing optimal transparency for an informed decision. For a minimal investment in time, the retirement saver can learn how to directly access the best long-term active management performance, combined with the lowest fees. If passive options are more appropriate, the retirement investor has the tools to make that choice.

No financial advisor would provide a retirement investor “independent education” on how to “go direct” to a SEC audited money manager, since that would eliminate their intermediary role and all revenues.

How much money should I save toward retirement to have enough retirement savings to support me when I retire?

How much an individual needs depends on a multitude of factors including how much you want to spend in retirement and when you want to retire.

To help guide you to your number, financial firms have devised income and actuarial models that come up with a target multiple of your final year’s salary. Benefits consultant Aon Hewitt says that “by age 65, an average full-career worker needs to have banked 11 times annual pay. That means a household earning $75,000 a year would need to have saved $825,000. Work to age 67 and the multiple drops to 9.4 ($705,000); retire at age 62 and the multiple rises to 13.5 ($1 million)”.

Are you affiliated with any portfolio managers or do you get any financial compensation or incentives?

Absolutely not. Never. ✓ theTicker is 100% independent. We may invest nominal amounts of our personal retirement savings with portfolio managers that may arise in our eLearning modules, based on the 6-point criteria, but ✓ theTicker receives no incentive payments of any kind from portfolio managers or any financial services firm.

Check the Ticker is a specific benefit corporation. What is a Benefit Corporation?

“In the United States, directors of for-profit companies are required to act solely for the ultimate purpose of maximizing the financial returns to shareholders. While corporations generally have the ability to engage in any legal activities, including those that are socially responsible, corporate decision-making must be justified in terms of creating shareholder value. Mission driven and other socially conscious businesses impact investors and social entrepreneurs are constrained by this inflexible legal framework that does not accommodate for-profit entities whose mission and impact is central to their business model.

Benefit corporations expand the obligations of boards, requiring them to consider environmental and social factors, as well as the financial interests of shareholders. This gives directors and officers the legal protection to pursue a mission and consider the impact their business has on society and the environment.3

✓ theTicker, as a specific benefit corporation is not a non-profit. It is a for profit corporation, however, in addition to maximizing shareholder value, Check the Ticker has a mission to increase the value of retirement accounts for all Americans through transparency as to all fees and independently designed and delivered education on the most cost effective means to access the top US money managers for core retirement savings.

3 Source:  Benefitnet.corp

Why did Check the Ticker decide to incorporate as a Specific Benefit Corporation?

What is the Societal Problem that our eLearning Digital Retirement Solution addresses?

The population of the United States is not prepared to participate in the management of their retirement savings. Hence, Americans are investing in inappropriate and poorly performing investments and are receiving poor and unnecessarily expensive investment advice.

Cumulatively, this reduces the populations’ retirement savings – and subsequent spending by the retired population – increasing the burden on their children and on society as a whole. This problem has been the result; and is increasing for two reasons: 1) The shift from defined benefit pensions to defined contribution plans. 2) Regulatory oversight of financial intermediaries has not kept pace with the large and expanding volumes of qualified plan investments.

How Does Check the Ticker SBC address this societal issue?

Check the Ticker provides investor education that is designed to train recipients on how to evaluate financial instruments in a flexible, efficient and cost effective manner. Check the Ticker provides employers with a new and better option to fulfill their education requirements when they offer a 401(k) and 403(b) savings plan. With no funding conflicts, Check the Ticker SBC addresses this pressing societal benefit.

✓ theTicker research supports the fact that with the proper tools and transparency, every retirement plan participant and IRA investor is capable of making an informed choice, saving the selling and distribution costs that enrich financial services firms and detract from retirement investor returns.

Over the past three decades there has been a massive advertising assault, subliminal messaging and conflicted “financial education” provided by Wall Street, principally in the workplace, that has created a behavioral state of “learned helplessness” where individuals become less engaged and more and more dependent on others to control their financial future.

Inappropriate Department of Labor policies pushed by Wall Street, false advertising4 and a lax regulatory enforcement have created a de facto monopolistic 401k environment overwhelming retirement investors.

High fee, poorly performing asset management schemes have been allowed to thrive, in concert with a “captured” Department of Labor and Securities and Exchange Commission. Security law breaches and recidivism is rampant due to mandatory arbitration in every brokerage account agreement where Wall Street writes the rules and chooses to not enforce the rules Congress has written. Behind a cloak of secrecy overseen by FINRA, the financial services industry self-regulator, rampant breaches of security breaches against retirement investors thrive.

IRA accounts, that now hold over $7.5 billion, due to IRS and Department of Labor rules, do not permit a “private right of action”, meaning IRA investors who have been harmed, cannot go to the State and Federal courts for relief. FINRA is immune to the Freedom of Information Act, so the unconscionable “takings” of American’s retirement savings remains unknown to most Americans. Further, when securities laws are broken, IRA and SEP IRA investors have no legal avenue to recoup their losses.

The most expedient cost-effective solution is to provide another alternative to retirement investors.

  • ✓ theTicker provides the first service to empower retirement savers to save without the conflicts and without mandatory arbitration.
  • ✓ theTicker provides the e-Learning modules to empower every retirement investor to go direct. Eliminate the clog in the wheel. Eliminate the onerous taxpayer costs to regulate the Ponzi schemes, the rogue “advisors”.
  • Go direct to the top US retirement professional money managers, SEC registered Investment Companies, who have earned the right to call themselves fiduciaries, under the Investment Company Act of 1940 and the Investment Advisers Act of 1940.
  •  Unlike today’s intermediaries, including the evolving “robo advisor”, who are not SEC registered investment companies, the top US retirement money managers provide measurable data, including audited performance, against an accepted benchmark, portfolio turnover data, including actual annual costs, dividend yields in a manner approved by the SEC, written objectives and a mandatory filing of holdings.
  • Brokers, “advisors”, CFP’s, “robo advisors” do not file this data that is mandatory for any retirement investor to make an informed choice.  This permits the rampant conflicts of interest, Ponzi schemes, and senior fraud that deliver associated excessive taxpayer costs to fund regulatory attempts to reign in this ongoing fraud, conflicts of interest and breach of securities laws.

4 “Federal Action Needed to Stop U.S. Brokerage Firms Misleading Investors…”