IMHO: Thanks Giving

November 23, 2010 ( - Thanksgiving has been called a “uniquely American” holiday, and one on which, IMHO, it is fitting to reflect on all for which we have to be thankful.

Here’s my list for 2010:    

I’m thankful that the vast majority of plan sponsors continued to support their workplace retirement programs with the same match and options as they had in previous years – and that so many of those who had to cut back in 2009 made the commitment to restore some or all of it in 2010. 

I’m thankful that participants, by and large, hung in there with their commitment to retirement savings, despite the lingering economic uncertainty.  I’m especially thankful that many who saw their balances reduced by market volatility and, in some cases, a reduction in their employer match, were willing and able to fill those gaps, in most cases by increasing their personal deferrals. 

I’m thankful that most workers defaulted into retirement savings programs tend to remain there – and that there are mechanisms in place to help them save and invest better than they might otherwise. 

I’m thankful for the time, cost, and effort employers expend each year on health care coverage for their workforce – never more so than this year with the absorption and assimilation of requirements under the new health care law. 

I’m thankful that those who regulate our industry continue to seek the input of those in the industry –and that that input continues to be shared broadly in open forums.  I’m thankful that so many in our industry take the time to provide that input.   

I’m thankful that so many employers have remained committed to their defined benefit plans and—often despite media reporting to the contrary—continue to make serious, consistent efforts to meet funding requirements that are quite different than when most initially decided to offer these programs.    

I’m thankful that plan sponsors will soon have better access to more information about the expenses paid by their plans—and optimistic that it won’t be as bad as some fear.  I’m thankful that we’re no longer talking about whether fees should be disclosed to participants, and are now trying to figure out how to do it.   

 I’m thankful that a growing number of advisers – and the firms that employ them – are willing to accept responsibility as an ERISA fiduciary. 

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

I’m thankful that we might – finally – be ready to have a national, adult conversation about retirement income and entitlement programs. 

I’m thankful to be part of a growing company in an important industry at a critical time.  I’m thankful to be able, in some small way, to make a difference on a daily basis.     

I’m thankful for the warmth with which readers, both old and new, have embraced me, and the work we do here.  I’m thankful for all of you who have supported—and I hope benefited from—our various conferences, designation program, and communications throughout the year.  I’m thankful for the constant—and enthusiastic—support of our advertisers.      

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

Thank you!