Any financial advisor who has had a teacher for a client knows that in the subject of personal finance, educators need help.
You can't blame them for being bad students, though. Too many have bought expensive products from salespeople who are more concerned about making quotas than showing educators the best way to save for their futures.
These salespeople are giving them suitable products, according to the fiduciary standard, and taking advantage of them.
I have heard the same story, repeatedly: “He snuck into my classroom during a plan period! These are the sacred 50 minutes of my day that I get to eat, grade and talk to other teachers. He then approached my desk to talk about my 403(b), so I humored him. Then I come to your office only to find out he has me in one of the most expensive products I can be in. Why did he do that to me?”
Insurance firms count tens of thousands of teachers as subscribers to these products. AXA Equitable bills itself on its website as “the #1 provider of retirement plans for employees of K-12 schools, [serving] more than 739,000 participants in over 17,000 retirement plans.”
Once teachers are locked into these plans, the costs can add up.
One of my younger clients, for instance, had been diligently saving and wanted to move to another 403(b) company. On her $14,000 account, it cost her just under $1,000 to break the contract and move to another vendor.
For having a change of heart, it cost her 6% of her retirement savings to move her account. All this on top of the expensive fees she was already paying.
After four years of focusing on working with teachers, I want to give educators another option. The launch of the Finance for Teachers Network aims to start making this situation right.
The Finance for Teachers Network is for advisors who are focused on providing the best fiduciary financial advice to educators. This group of independent advisors will have such zeal for helping those who teach our children that it will become a force with which to be reckoned should any product salespeople cross our paths.
Many advisors want to work with educators but need some guidance and help in doing so.
The network has six coaches that are available to do just this. They range from a freelance writer to help shape website content, blogs and marketing material; marketing coaches; and online lead generation and website designers.
The network offers three tiers of membership, with monthly fees from $50 to $1,000 a month.
The advisors who will benefit from the highest level of membership are working with educators that are well-compensated, maybe married to a private-sector worker or have a long tenure in teaching, which often results in a larger income. The advisors who are part of the network are frequently working with educators who make more than $75,000 and have excess income to save.
As the network gets established and fellow advisors join this quest, we want to help educate the educators, plan for their future and give them the best financial advice that they can receive. In the future, the network will show educators where to find these advisors and advisors can continue working with those they feel so passionately about.
No longer will our finest educators lack financial education, nor will they have an advisor ill-versed in their problems. No longer will those seeking a quick sale prey upon our teachers.
Those shaping the next generation deserve better.
Dave Grant, a Financial Planning columnist, is founder of Finance for Teachers, a planning firm, and Fee Only Consulting, in Cary, Ill. He is also the founder of NAPFA Genesis, a networking group for young, fee-only planners. Follow him on Twitter at @davegrant82.
This story is part of a 30-day series on how to prosper as an advisor. It was originally published on Sept. 9, 2015.