Thursday, November 13, 2014

Executives Need Retirement Education, Too

It's been a long time since I blogged. I needed a break. I needed some fresh ideas. I didn't feel like writing on anything technical. I didn't feel like offering my opinions. I just needed to stop writing for a little while.

This morning, however, I saw an article in the News Dash put out by Plan Sponsor. It stressed that plan sponsors feel that perhaps the biggest issue in nonqualified plans is participant education. Citing from the article, one in five said that education was a top challenge while 18% cited participation and appreciation. I think that they are essentially the same thing, so that makes 40% (rounded) and that's enough for me to conclude that this is a major issue.

Why is this? Executives generally make a lot of money (whatever a lot is). They are generally used to dealing with financial matters. They already have their qualified plans. What makes these plans so different?

There's a lot. Taxation is different. They usually don't have a real pool of assets that they can play with. They don't get the same level of disclosures. They don't understand Code Section 409A. And, they generally don't know if what they are getting is good compared to what their peers at other companies are getting or not.

What's the answer?

I suggest rewards education for executives. In my experience, it is rare that this can be done internally. Internal people are often considered to have a bias or an agenda. It comes better from the outside.

Who or what should that outsider be? It should be an independent person, one who has no horse in the race, so to speak. It should be a person who can speak to all facets of executive rewards -- cash compensation, deferred compensation, equity compensation, retirement compensation, change-in-control agreements, and the like. Unfortunately, there are not too many of them around.

Oh, wait, I can do all that!

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