Is This Guy Your Friend or Foe?

That depends on who you are and your point of view.  If you are one of the millions of employees in employer based retirement plans then I think he is your friend.  If you are fiduciary that has done a bad job of managing your company retirement plan, he might be your foe.

His name is Jerry Schlichter of the law firm Schlichter Bogard & Denton.  He has become known for pursuing lawsuits on behalf of participants in employer based retirement plans – and winning.  I don’t think it is controversial at all to acknowledge that the work of his firm has raised awareness to the generally awful nature of defined contribution plans.

His work appears to focus on the retirement plans of large corporations. But I believe that the pressure his lawsuits have put on fees and conflicts of interests in the retirement plans of larger employers will slowly trickle down to smaller employers as well.   

It’s easy to flippantly blame lawyers for unnecessary and excessive litigation. (And I am certain that his practice is doing very well.  BTW, so what?)  However, too many plan sponsors have simply been irresponsible in managing 401k style plans.  The costs to their employees, the plan participants, is real in terms of personal sacrifices they will have to make later in life due to accumulating less dollars in their retirement plans.  Instead of going to their retirement, the money they are earning and saving unnecessarily funds the careers and lifestyles of those in the financial services industry.

I like what he is doing and how it is helping plan participants – the regular people trying to save for their future.   Whether you know it or not, if you are a rank and file employee saving money in a lame employer based retirement plan, I think he is your friend.   His efforts might result in a better workplace retirement plan and more money at retirement.  But if you’re a fiduciary that hasn’t cleaned up your plan….

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