- The advisor: John Carl
- The firm: Retirement Learning Center LLC, and the PlanSponsor Institute
- The Web site: www.retirementlc.com
- The approach: Providing content on retirement planning for advisors and the firms that serve them.
In a retirement planning world where information is king, John Carl is the master synthesizer. Carl, 41, is the founder of Retirement Learning Center (RLC), LLC, and executive director of the PlanSponsor Institute, where he oversees programs to keep advisors abreast of legislative, regulatory, and business arena expectations.
RLC also works with firms to help them create strategies and programs for their retirement business branded with the client’s name but powered by RLC’s content. “It’s their brand, our stuff,” Carl notes. For example, the Retirement Income Industry Association (RIIA) has an education and training effort and “we are the vendor,” he says.
At its Brainerd, Minnesota office, Carl says RLC gets 400 calls a week from advisors who are working with plan sponsors or individuals looking for advice and guidance. “We are the Intel chip inside of great organizations like Dalbar and Columbia,” he says of RLC, which has been in business for five years.
One of the big areas of focus now for Carl and his team is the anticipated Department of Labor (DOL) rules on acknowledgement of fiduciary status. The DOL is now using an IRS rule to try and force broker/dealer firms to address the fact they may be giving advice, not just guidance, Carl says.
DOL’s August 21 investment advice proposal on the fiduciary advice provisions that come under the 2006 Pension Protection Act is expected to be issued before year-end and perhaps sooner. While it’s still just a proposal, Carl says that “everything that we are hearing is that they intend to turn it into formal guidance in a matter very similar to what the proposal originally looked like. If the original intent and the heart of that proposal is formalized…it will have a profound impact in the industry,” he says.
How will things change? “First, it will make it easier to provide advice to participants in plans and give exemptive relief to the plan sponsor,” he says, through allowing off-model advice in-person without a level-fee requirement if accompanied by a computer model or educational asset allocation information, as Dalbar’s analysis spells out.