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jphillips

Why Won't Joel Say Who He Is?

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Joel(Redwoods) posts quite a bit to this site. He is very quick to point a finger at those who disagree with as being agents or reps. There are others who have posted here, freely admitting that they are agents or cfps or financial planners and have incurred the wrath of Joel. He likes to quote Bob Grant. Yet when I have requested a number of times for Joel to freely and openly identify his background, credentials, and work experience he has ignored those requests. So here they are in their own thread.

 

Joel, please anwer these questions.

 

1. What is your background to give out so much investment advice?

2. Who do you work for?

2a. Are you employed by TIAA-CREF?

2b. Are you licensed in some fashion by any State or Federal regulatory agency?

3. How much do you have in TIAA? How much do contribute per month? Which funds do you put it in?

4. What were YOUR actual returns like during the bear market?

5. Why do you sometimes post as Redwoods & sometimes as Joel_guest?

 

I really don't want to be accusatory Joel but I really do believe that you have some sort of relationship with TIAA-CREF that goes beyond merely being a client of theirs. And it is extremely suspicious that you refuse to answer these questions. You put yourself out there as an expert, where exactly did you gain this expertise?

 

Jim

 

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jphillips,

 

Instead of sniping with Joel which is becoming very stale and boring I encourage you to consider the below information especially in light of your comment: "Personally I find it dismaying that they would choose to curtail my choices. Are they afraid to compete?"

 

A strong case can be made that a sole provider best serves the interests of employees. How can this be you might ask? The caveat is that the correct sole provider must be chosen. And before you jump up and down with another TIAA conspiracy rant, this doesn't mean that only one company out there has the capabililty to be the correct sole provider. Let me explain... If a district or employer does its due dillegence during the Request for Proposal (RFP) process (that is the vendor search process), the district has the power to request and get all of the following: low-cost options and hands-on-reps and information seminars (and yes TIAA can and does provide such services). Such an RFP process shifts the sales process away from the classrooms, staff lounges and union halls where I have witnessed it first hand to where it belongs: supervised by the employer and ideally an unbiased consultant during the RFP process. All vendors have an equal chance. An RFP is a lot like getting work done on your house or car. You request a bid and arrive at a decision based on some combination of price and service. You don't always choose the lowest-cost contractor/mechanic and you don't always choose the most full-service contractor/mechanic. The point is that during the bid process you have the most power to get what you want.

 

It sounds like you really enjoy working with your rep and that you do not mind paying more in fees. That's great. However, for every investor like you who doesn't mind paying more for the undercoating my guess would be that there are thousands who do mind. I think most would be best served with low-fee options and then when in need of advice they could turn to a fee-only financial planner.

 

I encourage you to read the following:

http://www.403bwise.com/features/rfp.html'>http://www.403bwise.com/features/rfp.html'>http://www.403bwise.com/features/rfp.html'>http://www.403bwise.com/features/rfp.html

http://www.shrm.org/hrmagazine/articles/1203/1203taylor.asp

http://www.403bwise.com/features/rfp.html

 

Dan Otter

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JP is asking reasonable questions here. The credibility and inherent bias of anyone (even Joel) posting on this board is an appropriate area of exploration. I would be curious to hear the rationale for why such questions are out of bounds.

 

Daniel Clark

 

 

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jphillips,

 

Instead of sniping with Joel which is becoming very stale and boring...

Why is asking Joel to substantiate his credentials and confirm his credibility sniping?

 

Jim

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jphillips,

I know Joel can defend himself. But you have gone too far, IMHO. Your comments went from a legitimate concern to personal questions about Joel. Qualifications are irrelevant. It is what people say. You disagree with Joel. So what. Let it go. All of us can respect that. While I disagree with you, it is based on what you say, not who you are or what qualifications you have to say what you say. I can respect your opinion on the information at hand. I hope you can respect mine. Turning your legitimate concern about the culture and biases of this website into a very narrow personal issue with another poster is one big distraction and you will lose all credibility on anything else you say.

Dan,

You question is justifiable. I may have answered your question above. My take on this issue is based on experience reading thousands of posts on several websites for the past five years and this issue comes up every once in awhile. People generally agree that this is about basic forum etiquette. We all have biases and it is up to the readers to use the information from several sources to their best interest and formulate their own retirement plan, as long as the discussion stays focused on retirement, investments and other financial matters. Information about a poster's qualifications is useless and a complete waste of time in this environment. It is just not possible to clear up all of our biases, background information and then talk about the topic.

Best wishes,

Steve

 

 

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jphillips,

I know Joel can defend himself. But you have gone too far, IMHO. Your comments went from a legitimate concern to personal questions about Joel. Qualifications are irrelevant.

Of course my questions about Joel are legitimate. Qualifications are important if you are going to giving advice? I believe that he is an agent/rep/ employee of one of the companies he supports and his silence on the subject speaks volumes. He presents himself as an expert and I agree that his knowledge is vast, so what is his background?

 

When scottyd posts you know he is an RIA and his experience and knowledge "colors" his comments and allows us to evaluate his comments based on knowing who he is. There have been others who are reps and have stated as such in their posts. There are also others who have been accused of being salesman and are not.

 

I think that if you are on a board like this and give out "advice" you need to produce your credentials.

 

Jim

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jphillips,

 

While you are waiting on Joel... In a post on the 457 thread you said "I find it dismaying that they would choose to curtail my choices." I posted the below information there and I have reposted here. I would be curious to get your feedback. Perhaps if you addressed these points it may spur Joel to answer your questions.

 

A strong case can be made that a sole provider best serves the interests of employees. How can this be you might ask? The caveat is that the correct sole provider must be chosen. And before you jump up and down with another TIAA conspiracy rant, this doesn't mean that only one company out there has the capabililty to be the correct sole provider. Let me explain... If a district or employer does its due dillegence during the Request for Proposal (RFP) process (that is the vendor search process), the district has the power to request and get all of the following: low-cost options and hands-on-reps and information seminars (and yes TIAA can and does provide such services). Such an RFP process shifts the sales process away from the classrooms, staff lounges and union halls where I have witnessed it first hand to where it belongs: supervised by the employer and ideally an unbiased consultant during the RFP process. All vendors have an equal chance. An RFP is a lot like getting work done on your house or car. You request a bid and arrive at a decision based on some combination of price and service. You don't always choose the lowest-cost contractor/mechanic and you don't always choose the most full-service contractor/mechanic. The point is that during the bid process you have the most power to get what you want.

 

It sounds like you really enjoy working with your commission-based rep and that you do not mind paying more in fees. That's great. However, for every investor like you who doesn't mind paying more for the undercoating my guess would be that there are thousands who do mind. I think many would be best served with low-fee options and then when in need of advice they could turn to a fee-only financial planner.

 

I encourage you to read the following:

http://www.403bwise.com/features/rfp.html'>http://www.403bwise.com/features/rfp.html'>http://www.403bwise.com/features/rfp.html'>http://www.403bwise.com/features/rfp.html

http://www.shrm.org/hrmagazine/articles/1203/1203taylor.asp

http://www.403bwise.com/features/rfp.html

 

Dan Otter

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I agree that we must stick to the issues. With that being said, I also believe that it is incumbent upon anyone who gives official or unofficial advice to state whether or not they have a financial interest in that advice. Who could possibly disagree with this?

 

It is also OK to believe in a product, to market it and to make a profit. I don't have any problem with someone, for example, believing strongly in TIAA-CREFF, being part of this site and making some money off of it. The issue, of course, has to do with disclosure.

 

Personally, I don't like the way we jump on the reps who post on this board. I learn from them and most are here to learn from us. They provide a counterpoint that is healthy in any forum such as this.

 

In my opinion, when a groups start limiting debate (either implicitly or explicitly), they run the danger of suffering from what we might call intellectual inbreeding as the circle of discourse becomes ever smaller.

 

DISCLOSURE: I am not a rep. I make no money other than what I receive as a teacher, just want to help teachers get a better deal.

 

 

Gadfly

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Gadfly,

 

Great post. We at 403(b)wise welcome all comments and do not want a site that only attracts one viewpoint. We work very hard to provide content for this site. We are very appreciative of the support provided by all the visitors, posters and sponsors.

 

Dan Otter

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Hi Gadfly,

I too think your post was very good. Of course, the full disclosure issue is important. We see it all the time on the stock market related news stories, analysts forecasts and predictions, financial reporters etc, are all being asked routinely if they own the stock or mutual fund they are recommending.

 

For this site, however, full disclosure is slightly different. By definition, if people recommend a commissioned based or high fee product, there is the strong possibility that the person recommending that product could be the beneficiary. Since we don't know, it is my responsibility (if nobody says it first) as a regular contributor to this board (others can speak for themselves) to show that this product is expensive and inappropriate 403b product. Sure, sometimes we can get , but it is our way of getting what you want, full disclosure only in a slightly different approach—FULL DISCLOSURE OF THE 403b PRODUCT.

 

On the other hand, we do know from studies that 85% of the educators who are contributing to a 403b, contribute to an expense annuity. Most educators are simply not aware that lower cost options exist and that is what this site is for, to discourage people from throwing their money away and learning a little more about finances and that costs matter. I would regret it if this site just became another TSA way of selling its message, the VERY SAME message that 85% of all educators get every day in their school cafeterias and union halls.

 

This site is a refuge for what educators are not getting--information about low cost 403b options.

 

In comes TIAA CREF and Vanguard: We also know for a fact is that TIAA CREF and Vanguard do not pay commissions and their annual expense ratios are the lowest in the industry. If an employee of TIAA CREF is recommending TIAA CREF on this site, they would be fired promptly. TIAA CREF has never operated in the normal rip-off wall street secret dealings (Read Arthur Levitt's or Larry Swedroe books on how wall street works, its pretty scary for little folks like us), probably the reason why most retail financial advisers and agents literally hate TIAA CREF. TC and Vanguard are not in bed with the analysts, stock brokers, bankers, insurance agents, wall street traders and CEOs, etc that permeate the investment world where people make money from trades, commissions, fees whether the market goes up or down. Investors take all the risks while all of the wall street pros and TSA agents rake it in on fees, commissions, high expense ratios year after year.

Hope this helps,

Steve

 

 

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Everyone, Isn't it ironic that Mr. Joel has been absent throughout this discussion? Like Jphillips stated, his absence speaks volumes! I would imagine he has been busy with his TC's legal trying to come up with a way to combat these "allegations". Joel, all we are asking you to do is come clean...the more you stay away, the more you say. Like everyone else who is new that posts in here against TC or VG, we will first assume you are guilty of being a company poster. Then, even after you indulge us with your "real" occupation, we will still smell a "company man". Sorry, everyone. That's just the way it is. So, Joel, again, who are you and what are your credentials/occupation, etc. We ARE ALL WONDERING WHO YOU ARE.

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All,

 

The one thing I know is that Joel is not a TIAA-CREF employee. He has been posting for quite a while and is quite an asset to this board. I know a lot of TIAA employees and none of them know of a Joel Frank that works for them. Joel has written articles for certain union pubilcations, it is doubtful they would allow a TIAA employee to do this. From the history I have seen from Joel, he is not an agent or even an advisor, simply an informed individual. I will let him fend for himself, but he is not a TIAA employee.

 

ScottyD

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