In the world of retirement plan consulting, there exists a technical term used to describe brokers/advisors that are dabbling in the space but for whom, consulting on retirement plans is not a core competency.  These brokers/advisors are non-affectionately known in the industry as “two-plan Tonys,” and they should be avoided in most cases.  A “Tony’s” primary client is usually not the employee sponsored plan. Because Tony works with very few clients in the retirement plan space, it may be difficult for him to appropriately benchmark a plan or to educate its plan sponsors and/or participants about many relevant issues.  He may not have the resources to create and review Investment Policy Statements or to regularly research/review/recommend the investments that make up the fund line-up. Tonys are notorious for over-promising and under-delivering on retirement plan services because it’s not really what they do.  It is important as a business owner or the decision maker for a company on the employer-sponsored plan to be able to identify a two-plan Tony when you see one. Asking the appropriate questions during an interview is a great start but be careful as one of these individuals may be prone to slight deception.  When you ask how many plans Tony works with, please make sure that you get the number of HIS clients and not just the total number for the firm.  A two-plan Tony may advise to a total of four plans and head up a small, internal team that is part of a larger company.  Recognizing this weakness, Tony, when pressed about his client base will quote firm numbers instead of his own client base.  Make sure you get to the truth! Engaging a two-plan Tony poses a serious risk for a small or mid-sized company in the retirement space.  With a little effort, this can be avoided.  At Duncan Williams Asset Management, advising retirement plans is truly a core competency.  We advise nearly 50 local companies on their employer-sponsored plans, and each of our advisors specializes in this space working with over a dozen plans each.  If you are looking for advice on your company retirement plan, come talk to us at Duncan Williams!  We can assure you, there is no risk of the two-plan Tony here.

By David Scully, CFA®, CFP®

President & Chief Investment Officer

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