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Most Widely Read Stories in 2013 – Honorable Mention

December 24
00:03 2013

Tonight, one of the most sacred nights of Christendom, gives us a chance to pause and give thanks to all our many readers and subscribers for being so gracious, so kind and so generous. This year again showed how the interest for the subject 1426768_90835398_nativity_stock_xchng_royalty_free_300matter and style of writing found in continues to attract a greater audience.. In 2013 we surpassed 6,600 subscribers (that’s a 50% growth rate), including nearly 160,000 page views, (not quite a 50% growth rate, but at 33%, who’s complaining?). What’s more, sales of 401k Fiduciary Solutions, a book written by Chief Contributing Editor Christopher Carosa and published by our parent company, Pandamensional Solutions, Inc have surpassed the previous years’ sales by more than 10%. The upcoming week betwee Christmas and New Year’s gives us an excellent opportunity to showcase an extended rendition of our “Most Widely Read” end of the year series.

In many ways, we’ll remember 2013 not as “Yet Another Fiduciary Delay,” but as the year the market went bonkers. Now, we don’t really write too much about the market, except in the most general terms and, even then, within the narrow limits of relevance to fiduciary prudence. One cannot deny the ever present soaring market has had on the psyche of the nation, retirement investment and even those professionals advising retirement plans. Rising markets, unfortunately, have a tendency to hide – or encourage us to ignore – certain less than favorable realities. Including the reality that statisticians like to refer to as “the regression to the main.” Lay folk might recognize this reality better through the adage “what goes up must come down.”

Plan sponsors and other good fiduciaries understand the Siren-esque powers market tops can have on investors. They’ve astutely designed their 401k plans to push employees away from focusing on market performance and towards a greater focus on retirement readiness.

Of course, the cross-winds of “alternative investment classes” and other familiar twists to the tragic tale of Modern Portfolio Theory blew throughout the year (and even now). Fortunately, many sponsors of smaller 401k plans were too busy to pay attention. They’re (rightfully) more concerned about making sure their businesses continued to survive in the stalled economic recovery we’ve been in.

If you want your finger on the pulse of the industry, it is important to understand what other readers are reading. This gives professionals a sense of what questions their clients might not be asking (but want to ask) and it gives plan sponsors a way to get a second opinion on the latest and greatest the industry has to offer. Finally, for regulators, knowing the critical interests of those that they regulate reveals concerns, issues and, to some extent, even success stories.

In each of the three sections we’ll offer some blunt analysis regarding each of the articles highlighted. In addition, we’ll share some macro-discoveries that popped up in looking over the particular set of stories featured in the article. This gets easier (and more interested) year-after-year as our analytics grow more sophisticated. For example, we can confirm offers truly evergreen content, as two of our top stories appeared on appears on last year’s list and three of them were actually published in 2012. When a nearly two-year old article rises to the top, it tells you the points raised in the article are just as timely today as they were when the piece was originally written. Moreover, as different older articles rise to the top, it tells you the content offered by can sometimes reveal what people will be reading years from no.

Without further ado, we begin.

Honorable Mention #3:New Study Reveals Three 401k Strategies More Important than Asset Allocation” (August 14, 2012) This is the second year in a row this article just missed out on the top ten. It was Honorable Mention #1 last year. Then again, the fact that it was published more than a year ago makes its finish all the more impressive. took a bit of a gambit when it published this article soon after the study it highlights was made public. In doing so, it called into question many of the more popular 401k selling techniques. But, in reality, it was only the opening salvo in the retirement readiness movement. The fact that this year-and-a-half-old piece has staying power shows you the growing importance of stressing retirement readiness.

Honorable Mention #2:Exclusive Interview with Phyllis C. Borzi: Why Plan Sponsors Shouldn’t Treat Their 401k Plans Like Cheap T-Shirts,” (September 24, 2013) Sometimes a small publication can get so caught up in deadlines, punctuation and grammar offered by the busy non-stop life of mild-mannered reporting that it forgets it can things any little engine can do, as long as it puts its mind to it. When Ron Rhoades suggested we interview Phyllis Borzi, our response was a Charlie Brown-like “Who? Me?” (as in, when Lucy asks him to direct the Christmas play). When her office responded with enthusiasm, well, as they say, the rest is history. It was one of our proudest moments of the year and our readers seemed to like it, too.

Honorable Mention #1:Fact or Fiction? Slaying the Myth of the 401k Tax Advantage Myth,” (September 10, 2013) Talk was peaking late in the summer about some sort of tax reform legislation that would remove the tax-deferred advantage of popular retirement plans like 401k plans and IRA. It seems some Washington folks felt the money lost to all that tax deferring was keeping them from porking their districts. They posed this idea that a tax collected today was worth more than a tax collected tomorrow. This was an interesting question because, at the same time, some professionals were question the mathematical validity of tax-deferred saving vs. after-tax saving. Fortunately, as we said, this is a question of mathematical validity, meaning, it can be easily proven – or disproven – with simple math. The article did this and discovered what every lottery winner already knows, it doesn’t matter how much tax Uncle Sam ends up taking on “found” money, whatever is left over is money you wouldn’t have otherwise had.

There you have it. We’d love to see your comments on these articles. Feel free to write them below. Have a discussion. Let us know if you agree with our analysis.

Stay tune for the next article (to be published on Boxing Day) when we continue this dialogue with the “Most Widely Read Stories in 2013 – #6-#10.” In the meantime, have a very Merry Christmas.

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Christopher Carosa, CTFA

Christopher Carosa, CTFA


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