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A Thankful Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving has been called a “uniquely American” holiday, and though that is perhaps something of an overstatement, it is unquestionably a special holiday, and one on which it seems appropriate to reflect on all for which we should be thankful.

Here’s my list for 2017:

I am thankful that — for the moment, anyway — it looks as though retirement savings will be largely spared tax reform’s ravages (though I’m not convinced that we’re out of the woods – yet).
I’m thankful that participants, by and large, continue to hang in there with their commitment to retirement savings, despite lingering economic uncertainty and competing financial priorities, such as rising health care costs and college debt.

I’m thankful for the strong savings and investment behaviors emerging among younger workers — and for the innovations in plan design and employer support that foster them. I’m thankful that, as powerful as those mechanisms are in encouraging positive savings behavior, we continue to look for ways to improve and enhance their influence(s).

I’m thankful for qualified default investment alternatives that make it easy for participants to create well-diversified and regularly rebalanced investment portfolios – and for the thoughtful and ongoing review of those options by prudent plan fiduciaries.

I’m thankful that those reviews are guided, in a growing number of situations, by the thoughtful input of advisors who are ERISA fiduciaries.

I’m thankful that so many employers voluntarily choose to offer a workplace retirement plan – and that so many workers, given an opportunity to participate, do.

I’m thankful that the vast majority of workers defaulted into retirement savings programs tend to remain there — and that there are mechanisms (automatic enrollment, contribution acceleration and qualified default investment alternatives) in place to help them save and invest better than they might otherwise.

I’m thankful that figuring out ways to expand access to workplace retirement plans remains, even now, a bipartisan focus — even if the ways to address it aren’t always.

I’m thankful that so many employers choose to match contributions or to make profit-sharing contributions (or both), for without those matching dollars, many workers would likely not participate or contribute at their current levels — and they would surely have far less set aside for retirement.

I’m thankful that the ongoing “plot” to kill the 401(k)… still hasn’t. Yet.

I’m thankful to be part of a team that champions retirement savings — and to be a part of helping improve and enhance that system.

I’m thankful that those who regulate our industry continue to seek the input of those in the industry – — and that so many, particularly those among our membership, take the time and energy to provide that input.

I’m thankful for all of you who have supported — and I hope benefited from — our various conferences, education programs and communications throughout the year.

I’m thankful for the constant — and enthusiastic — support of our Firm Partners and advertisers.

I’m thankful for the warmth with which readers and members, both old and new, continue to embrace the work we do here.

I’m thankful for the opportunity to acknowledge so many outstanding professionals in our industry through our Top Women Advisor, Top Young Advisor (Young Guns) and Top DC Wholesaler (Wingmen) lists. And thankful to have had such a tremendous response to the newest addition here — our Top DC Advisor Team list.

I am thankful for the blue-ribbon panels of judges that bring so much expertise and insight to those evaluations.

I’m thankful for the prospect of expanding the reach and impact of our work here to plan sponsors via the contemplated combination with the Plan Sponsor Council of America.

I’m thankful for the team here at NAPA (and the American Retirement Association, generally, as well as all the sister associations), and for the strength, commitment and diversity of the membership. I’m thankful to be part of a growing organization in an important industry at a critical time. I’m thankful to be able, in some small way, to make a difference.

But most of all, I’m once again thankful for the unconditional love and patience of my family, the camaraderie of an expanding circle of dear friends and colleagues, the opportunity to write and share these thoughts — and for the ongoing support and appreciation of readers… like you.

Thanks for all you do to help make our nation’s retirements better.

Have a very happy Thanksgiving!