By accessing our website and associated services, you agree to be bound by the terms of this Agreement.
1. Use of the Services.
2. Description of the Services.
Income Strategy™ is a self-guided online service that provides automated investment advice using retirement planning projections and portfolio management algorithms. The Income Strategy™ service uses software developed, maintained, and owned by Retiree Inc. Retirement Benchmark, LLC utilizes the Income Strategy™ platform in helping individual investors select a retirement income plan and implement the plan through the website and a series of tools to manage cash flow, savings and investments.
Income Strategy™ will use the information that you provide to generate recommendations for withdrawing the assets that you’ve entered using proprietary, automated, computer-based algorithms using objectives, income and other financial information, investments, personal circumstances, and all other information you enter into our application. In addition, the Services will make a retirement income planning expert available to you by telephone and email. These services will be provided by Retirement Benchmark, LLC.
3. Associated Risks
Before using our Services, you should consider the following risks:
A. Investing in securities carries risk, and it’s possible that your investments may lose money.
B. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.
C. While our software is designed to meet the objectives outlined in this document, there is no certainty or warranty that such will occur through implementation of recommendations.
D. If you provide us with inaccurate information, the quality and applicability of our recommendations and guidance could be materially impacted.
E. Our recommendations are highly reliant on the accurate performance of the algorithms used by our software. While it is not anticipated, a failure or malfunction of the software may cause you to experience losses.
F. The algorithms in our software use a number of assumptions based on sets of complex variables. All of these assumptions, whether or not supported by past experience, may be proved over time to be incorrect, which could cause you to experience losses.
G. We do not have custody of your assets. If you choose for us to manage your assets, you will provide us with the appropriate permissions to manage your assets on your behalf, but we do not have direct access to your funds.
H. While the content that we provide seeks to achieve tax efficiency, the Services are only one of many components that comprise an individual’s comprehensive tax management plan. Supplementary tax advice from a professional outside of our scope of Services may be necessary to minimize the impact of tax liabilities you may incur.
I. We may rely on third parties for the provision of fund details, performance, and related information. While we believe these third party service providers are generally reliable, there could be errors that are beyond our control in the information and/or services they provide. Such errors could compromise the results of our Services.
4. Scope of the Services
Our Services are meant as an aid to assist you in creating and/or evaluating strategies to draw down your assets during retirement. Our Services are not intended to provide legal, tax or financial planning advice. You agree that you are responsible for your own financial research and decisions, that our Services are one of many tools you may use as part of a comprehensive planning and analytical process. You agree that the Services will not serve as the, primary basis of your decisions, and, except as provided for herein, we will not be liable for decisions or actions you take or authorize third parties to take on your behalf based on information you receive from our Services.
Fees for access to our Services vary according to the level of Services that your desire. We reserve the right to change the fees at any time with no notice to you.
Fees for the Financial Advice Package are outlined on our website and within the ADV-Part II brochure included in this Agreement.
All fees, including subscription Services only, are paid in advance. You may cancel your subscription to the Services at any time by calling us at 866-762-7526. No refunds of prepaid services will be provided.
6. Your Information
The information you provide us is the “Client Information,” and you agree to provide us with your valid e-mail address. You understand and agree that you are responsible for monitoring and updating your Client Information in the event of material changes. You understand and agree that we rely on the completeness and accuracy of your Client Information in providing recommendations to you in connection with the Services.
7. Your Account Information from Your Third-Party Sites
Through the use of our Services, you may authorize us to access read-only information for the accounts you have with third party financial institutions, such as your brokerage firm (“Account Information”). You understand and agree that to enable this feature you must enter in our application the User ID, Password and other login information and credentials (“Access Information”) necessary to access your Account Information. By enabling this feature you grant to us express permission to use the Access Information to access your Account Information in connection with the Services we provide you. You represent and warrant that you are not violating any agreement or terms of services that you are subject to in providing us with your Access Information and Account Information.
We have engaged Quovo, Inc., a third-party service provider, to serve as a conduit between the financial institutions that maintain your Account Information and us. While we believe we have exercised reasonable care in our selection of Quovo, you understand and agree that, with respect to the services provided by Quovo, we make no representation or warranty of any kind, express or implied that the services provided by Quovo will operate uninterrupted or will be error-free. By authorizing us to access your Account Information you are agreeing to the Quovo, Inc. End User Terms incorporated herein by reference and available at:
8. Your General Representations and Warranties
You represent and warrant to us that:
A. You have reported full and accurate Client Information, or, as applicable, in any other communications you have with us. You understand and agree that you are solely responsible for providing true and accurate Client Information to us, whether reported directly or through a third party who you authorize to do so.
B. You have made an independent assessment of the Services and have determined that the services are appropriate for you based on your particular situation.
Further, you acknowledge and agree that if you provide us with false or materially inaccurate information then the recommendations we provide may not meet your needs. You further represent and warrant that your use of the Services does not violate any applicable law or regulation. You agree that:
A. You will not use the Services for any purpose that is prohibited by this Agreement.
B. You will not directly or indirectly sublicense, resell, rent, lease, transfer, assign, time share or otherwise make the services available to any third party in violation of this Agreement.
C. You will notify us promptly regarding any changes in your Client Information that could affect the recommendations we provide to you or our ability to communicate with you.
D. You are a natural person who is at least 18 years old and that your use of the Services does not violate any applicable law or regulation.
E. You will not, directly or indirectly: (i) decipher, decompile, disassemble, reverse engineer or otherwise attempt to derive any source code or underlying ideas or algorithms of any part of the Services, except to the limited extent applicable laws specifically prohibit such restriction, (ii) modify, translate, or otherwise create derivative works of any part of the Services or any other aspect of our website, (iii) copy, distribute, or otherwise transfer any or all of the rights that you receive under this Agreement, or (iv) use or access the Services or our website in order to build a competitive product or service. You represent and warrant that you will abide by all applicable local, state, national and international laws and regulations when using the services and our website.
9. Protection of Your Account
You understand and agree that you are solely responsible for the activity that occurs in the account you create for purposes of using the Services, and you are responsible for maintaining the confidentiality of the password that you select for your account. You further agree to promptly notify us of any unauthorized use of your account or any other security breach related to your use of the Services of which you are aware.
10. Termination and Refusal
You may terminate your access to our Services at any time simply by sending us an e-mail specifying that you wish to terminate your access. The termination will take effect as soon as practical after our receipt of your email. No refunds for the Services will be given after termination of your access for any reason. We may, in our sole discretion, for any reason or no reason at all(i) refuse your application to subscribe to the Services; or (ii) terminate your access to the Services.
Except with respect to the termination provisions described in Section 10 above, and as otherwise provided for in this Agreement, we may, in our sole discretion, take any of the following actions: (i) modify or replace any terms of this Agreement; (ii) change, suspend or discontinue the Services (including without limitation, the availability of any feature, database, or content); and, (iii) impose limits on certain features or restrict your access to parts of the Services. We may also, in our sole discretion and for any reason or no reason at all, remove “Content,” which, for purposes of this Agreement, includes but is not limited to recommendations, suggestions, comments, links, information, data, text, photographs, software, scripts, graphics, and interactive features generated, provided or otherwise made accessible by us or by others who are outside our control.
12. Intellectual Property Protection
You agree that the services contain Content provided by us or by others and that such Content is or may be protected by copyrights, trademarks, service marks, patents, trade secrets or other proprietary rights and laws. You agree to abide by all copyright notices, information, and restrictions contained in any Content accessed through our website. You agree not to, directly or indirectly sell, license, rent, modify, distribute, copy, reproduce, transmit, publicly display, publicly perform, publish, adapt, edit, create derivative works from, or otherwise exploit any Content or any other submissions or other proprietary rights not owned by you (i) without the consent of the respective owners or other valid right, and (ii) in any way that violates any third party right. B. You may, to the extent our website or a website of a third party (where applicable) expressly authorizes you to do so, download or copy Content, and other items displayed on the applicable website for download, for personal use only, provided that you maintain all copyright and other notices contained in such Content. You agree not to store any significant portion of any Content in any form. Copying or storing of any Content for other than personal, noncommercial use is expressly prohibited without prior written permission from the copyright holder identified in such Content’s copyright notice.
We make no representations concerning any Content contained in or accessed through our website, and we will not be responsible or liable for the reliability, timeliness, quality, suitability, availability, accuracy, completeness, copyright compliance, legality or decency of any Content. You should independently verify all Content and other information that you access through our website. You agree that we shall not be responsible for (1) any Content, (2) any person’s reliance on any such Content, whether or not correct, current and complete, or (3) the consequences of any action that you or any other person takes or fails to take based on any Content. Your use of or reliance on any Content is at your own risk.
The Content is provided “As Is” and “As Available” and is without warranty of any kind, express or implied, including, but not limited to, the implied warranties of title, non-infringement, merchantability and fitness for a particular purpose, and any warranties implied by any course of performance or usage of trade, all of which are expressly disclaimed.
We and our directors, employees, agents, suppliers, partners and content providers do not represent and/or warrant that: (i) the Services will be secure or available at any particular time or location; (ii) the use of the Services will be secure, timely, uninterrupted or error-free, or operate in a combination with any other hardware, software, system or data; (iii) any defects or errors will be corrected; (iv) any Content or software available is free of viruses or other harmful components; or (v) the results of using the services will meet your requirements or expectations. Your use of the Services is solely at your own risk. The Services may be subject to limitations, delays, and other problems inherent in the use of the Internet and electronic communications, and we are not responsible for any delays, delivery failures, or other damage resulting from such problems.
14. Risk Acknowledgement, Limitation of Liability and Indemnification
We will exercise good faith and diligence in the execution of our duties to you under this Agreement and will give you the benefit of our best judgment and efforts in making recommendations to you with respect to the Services. However, we make no guarantees regarding performance of your portfolios. There may be loss or depreciation of the value of any investment due to the fluctuation of market values or numerous other factors. In addition, we make no guarantee or representation that your investment or retirement income objectives will be achieved and you agree we are not responsible and/or liable for any failure to achieve such objectives.
We shall not be responsible or liable for any loss or damages incurred due to any act or omission of any custodian, broker-dealer, or other investment advisor whether appointed by you or chosen in good faith by us.
We are also not responsible or liable to you if you modify our recommendations when implementing any Strategy provided to you or if you fail to implement our recommendations on a timely basis.
To the extent allowed by applicable law and except as otherwise provided for herein, neither we nor our affiliates and each of our, and our affiliates’ employees, contractors, directors, suppliers and representatives are liable: i. for any action performed as well as any error in judgment and/or for any investment losses you incur; or ii. under contract, tort, strict liability, negligence or any other legal or equitable theory with respect to the services: (A) for any lost profits, data loss, cost of procurement of substitute goods or services, or special, indirect, incidental, punitive, or consequential damages or any kind whatsoever (however arising); or (B) for any damages or losses of any kind whatsoever arising from or in connection with any bugs, viruses, Trojan horses, or the like (regardless of the source). E. You shall defend, indemnify, and hold harmless the Affiliated Parties from all liabilities, claims, and expenses, including, without limitation, judgments, fines, amounts paid or to be paid in settlements, and reasonable attorneys’ fees incurred or suffered by an Affiliated Party (i) in connection with the good faith performance of such Affiliated Party’s responsibilities to you under this Agreement; (ii) that arise from or relate to your use or misuse of, or access to, our website, services, or otherwise from any content that you post to our website; (iii) that arise from or relate to your violation of this Agreement; or (iv) that arise from or relate to infringement by you, or any third party using the your account, of any intellectual property or other right of any person or entity. Notwithstanding the foregoing, an Affiliated Party will not be indemnified for losses resulting from his, her, or its gross negligence or violation of applicable laws. We reserve the right to assume the exclusive defense and control of any matter otherwise subject to indemnification by you, in which event you will assist and cooperate with us in asserting any available defenses. If you are a California resident, you waive California Civil Code Section 1542, which says: “A general release does not extend to claims which the creditor does not know or suspect to exist in his favor at the time of executing the release, which if known by him must have materially affected his settlement with the debtor.” If you are a resident of another jurisdiction, you waive any comparable statute or doctrine.
15. International Use
We make no representation that the services are appropriate or available for use in locations outside of United States, or that accessing our website is legally permitted in countries or territories where the services may be illegal. If you access our website from other locations, you do so at your own risk and are responsible for compliance with local laws.
16. Dispute Resolution
A printed version of this Agreement and of any notice given in electronic form shall be admissible in judicial or administrative proceedings based upon or relating to this Agreement to the same extent and subject to the same conditions as other business documents and records originally generated and maintained in printed form. You and we agree that any cause of action arising out of or related to the services or your use of our website must commence within one (1) year after the cause of action arose; otherwise, such cause of action is permanently barred.
This Agreement shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of the State of Kansas, excluding its conflicts of law rules. Any dispute arising from or relating to the subject matter of this Agreement shall be finally settled by arbitration in Overland Park, KS, using the English language in accordance with the Arbitration Rules and Procedures of Judicial Arbitration and Mediation Services, Inc. (“JAMS”) then in effect, by one commercial arbitrator with substantial experience in resolving intellectual property and commercial contract disputes, who shall be selected from the appropriate list of JAMS arbitrators in accordance with the Arbitration Rules and Procedures of JAMS. You and we agree to require the arbitrator to complete the arbitration within nine (9) months from the date that the demand for arbitration is filed. The prevailing party in the arbitration shall be entitled to receive reimbursement of its reasonable expenses (including reasonable attorneys’ fees, expert witness fees and all other expenses) incurred in connection therewith. Judgment upon the award so rendered may be entered in a court having jurisdiction or application may be made to such court for judicial acceptance of any award and an order of enforcement, as the case may be. Notwithstanding the foregoing, each party shall have the right to institute an action in a court of proper jurisdiction for injunctive or other equitable relief pending a final decision by the arbitrator. For all purposes of this Agreement, the parties consent to exclusive jurisdiction and venue in the United States Federal Courts located in Kansas. Use of our website is not authorized in any jurisdiction that does not give effect to all provisions of this Agreement, including without limitation, this section. In any action or proceeding to enforce rights under this Agreement, the prevailing party will be entitled to seek to recover costs and attorneys’ fees.
Notwithstanding anything in this Agreement to the contrary, you acknowledge and agree that under no circumstances will we be obligated to remunerate or pay you for any liability and/or costs of any kind whatsoever beyond the amount of the fees you have paid to us during the 12 months preceding the date on which such determination is made. Our entire liability to you, whether in contract, tort, or otherwise, will be capped at said amount of fees.
17. Integration and Severability
This Agreement is the entire agreement between you and us with respect to the Services, and your use of our website, and supersedes all prior or contemporaneous communications and proposals (whether oral, written or electronic) between you and us. If any provision of this Agreement is found to be unenforceable or invalid, that provision will be limited or eliminated to the minimum extent necessary so that this Agreement will otherwise remain in full force and effect. The failure of either party to exercise in any respect any right provided for herein shall not be deemed a waiver of any further rights hereunder.
This Agreement is personal to you, and is not assignable, transferable or sub-licensable by you except with our prior written consent. We will not assign this Agreement, as the term “assign” has the meaning given the term “assignment” in Section 202(a)(1) of the Advisers Act and Rule 202(a)(1)-1 thereunder, without your consent. If, after 30 days of receiving notice of an assignment from us you do not terminate your use of the Services as provided for in this agreement, you will be deemed to have consented to our assignment of this Agreement.
We shall not be liable for any failure to perform our obligations under this Agreement where such failure results from any cause beyond our reasonable control, including, without limitation, mechanical, electronic or communications failure or degradation (including “line-noise” interference).
No agency, partnership, joint venture, or employment relationship is created as a result of this Agreement and neither party has any authority of any kind to bind the other in any respect.
All notices under this Agreement will be in writing and will be deemed to have been duly given when either posted on our website or sent to you via your e-mail address.
This Agreement may be executed in any number of counterparts, each of which shall be deemed an original but all of which together shall constitute the same instrument. This Agreement may be signed electronically, including through secure means that do not include a manual signature.
21. Communications and Notices
If we have a notice or communication that is specific to you, we will e-mail you at the e-mail address you provided us (and have agreed to keep current) under the terms of this Agreement.
If we have a notice or communication that is not specific to you we will post this notice or communication on the website at which you access your account. You agree that you are responsible for checking for any notices we may post on our website.
If you have a notification for us or need to contact us for any other reason, you agree to contact us at 866-762-7526.
Effective Date: June 26, 2018
Retirement Benchmark, LLC
This brochure provides information about the qualifications and business practices of Retirement Benchmark, LLC. If you have any questions about the contents of this brochure, please contact us at (866) 762-PLAN. The information in this brochure has not been approved or verified by the United States Securities and Exchange Commission of by any state securities authority.
Additional information about Retirement Benchmark, LLC also is available on the SEC’s website at www.adviserinfo.sec.gov.
Retirement Benchmark, LLC
7015 College Blvd., Suite 725
Overland Park, KS 66211
Date of Brochure : November 12, 2018
This Disclosure Brochure was prepared by Retirement Benchmark, LLC in response to a rule that was promulgated by the United States Securities and Exchange Commission that is applicable to registered investment advisers like Retirement Benchmark, LLC. This section of our Disclosure Brochure will be updated annually when material changes occur. This brochure reflects information about our firm as of November 12, 2018.
Currently, our Brochure may be requested by contacting Chris Lanfranca, Chief Compliance Officer, at 866-762-7526, extension 107, or email@example.com.
Additional information about Retirement Benchmark, LLC is also available via the SEC’s web site www.adviserinfo.sec.gov. The SEC’s web site also provides information about any persons affiliated with Retirement Benchmark, LLC who are registered, or are required to be registered, as investment adviser representatives of Retirement Benchmark, LLC.
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Retirement Benchmark, LLC, a Registered Investment Advisor, is focused on the retirement income planning needs of individuals aged 50 and over. While those in or approaching retirement are the core of our business, our services are available for and provide benefit to people at all life stages.
Retirement Benchmark, LLC is a Registered Investment Advisor; however, registration does not imply a certain level of skill or training. Retirement Benchmark, LLC has been in business since December 5, 2008, and is an affiliate of Retiree Inc. Retiree Inc. is an umbrella company that brings together related organizations that provide services to Baby Boomers and retirees. Retirement Benchmark, LLC is the only subsidiary that provides advisory services and advice about financial planning and investment management. Retirement Benchmark, LLC is principally owned by MOC2, Inc.
At Retirement Benchmark, LLC, we offer these core services to clients: retirement Income Strategy services, financial planning services, investment management services, and investment monitoring services. While all of our core services are related and function cohesively to better manage retirement savings and income, clients may select one or more of our services. The bottom line is that we deliver online advice that helps clients create, execute and manage retirement income strategies that are suitable for their specific retirement needs and spending goals.
Income Strategy is a self-guided online service that provides automated investment advice using retirement planning projections and portfolio management algorithms. The Income Strategy service uses software developed, maintained, and owned by Retiree Inc. Retirement Benchmark, LLC utilizes the Income Strategy platform in helping individual investors select a retirement income plan and implement the plan through the website and a series of tools to manage cash flow, savings and investments.
Income Strategy assists users in developing a personalized portfolio withdrawal strategy designed to meet their unique income objectives in retirement. Based on the information input by the user, Income Strategy will recommend an appropriate withdrawal strategy which is guidance on how to “tap” or drawdown on savings. Recommendations and ongoing management are based on user inputs such as the desired retirement age, expected spending, asset location and allocation, and the risk tolerance selected.
Income Strategy includes the following educational features:
• A recommended withdrawal strategy to create income from the portfolio;
• Comparisons of the projected performance of multiple strategies;
• A forecast of the potential future account value;
• A forecast of the likelihood that a client will achieve their retirement income or account value goals, taking into consideration the total household investment portfolio and spending plans;
• A forecast of taxes to be paid over the course of retirement;
• Access to model portfolios to manage money and a rebalancing option;
• Suggestions for liquidating assets for income;
• Access to registered financial advisors by telephone;
• Access to ongoing account monitoring and alerts.
Retirement Benchmark, LLC typically offers the following service levels with Income Strategy:
• Basic and Premier: Self-directed subscription services to the Income Strategy platform found at www.IncomeStrategy.com that provide retirement income strategies and suggestions for managing assets and income in retirement. Retirement Benchmark, LLC acts as an investment advisor providing non-discretionary advisory services where clients access the Income Strategy platform to plan and manage assets in a self-directed manner. Retirement Benchmark, LLC does not control what users do or change within the Income Strategy platform. Subscribers may make planning and investment decisions based on the Income Strategy platform without oversight or direction from Retirement Benchmark, LLC. However, Retirement Benchmark, LLC is available over the telephone to answer questions and help clients that subscribe to the internet service based on the information that they enter into the Income Strategy platform;
• Traditional Investment Management Services: A separate service provides discretionary portfolio management where Retirement Benchmark, LLC implements and manages the investment changes directed by the Income Strategy platform. Clients have access to the internet-based subscription service that Retirement Benchmark, LLC manages and monitors over time.
Advice implementation. The Client is responsible for determining whether and when to implement the recommendations they receive from Income Strategy. Additionally, users have the option to change or establish their own parameters and investment management settings rather than follow the Income Strategy default settings created by Retirement Benchmark, LLC.
Account monitoring through Income Strategy. Income Strategy may be used as frequently as users choose to monitor progress toward their retirement goals, receive forecasts and investment recommendations, and access educational content. Income Strategy utilizes technology services that aggregate assets at the asset class or holding levels; we call this “syncing.” Income Strategy updates the values of synced asset accounts daily. For users who’ve elected to manually enter account information, automatic updates will not occur and must be made manually by the user. All users are responsible for periodically revisiting Income Strategy to:
• Update account information to reflect changes in investments, including purchases and sales of investments;
• Update personal information, including retirement goals, to reflect changes in personal or financial circumstances; and/or
• Review any updates regarding changes to the participant’s account value or forecast.
INVESTMENT MANAGEMENT SERVICES
Retirement Benchmark, LLC offers ongoing investment management services utilizing the Income Strategy platform. Advisory services are based on the individual goals, objective, time horizon, and risk tolerance of each client. The Income Strategy platform is used with clients to create suitable withdrawal strategies and manage investment plans. Investment Management Services include, but are not limited to, the following:
· Investment strategy
· Statement of investment selection
· Asset allocation and rebalancing
· Asset location
· Investment selection
· Asset allocation and rebalancing
· Income and cash management
· Regular and/or continuous portfolio monitoring using Income Strategy
We founded Retirement Benchmark, LLC on the philosophy that a tax-efficient withdrawal strategy combined with wealth management best practices is superior to a withdrawal strategy that does not incorporate tax planning. To such end, we use Income Strategy to implement a disciplined investment management process based on:
MONITORING AND REVIEW SERVICES
Through the Income Strategy platform, Retirement Benchmark, LLC provides monitoring and tracking of portfolio performance. Income Strategy allows clients to continually monitor how their portfolio distribution strategy is affecting other assets, allowing the client to easily evaluate changes to their income plan. In addition, Income Strategy notifies clients immediately should their investments or spending move outside a range they pre-determined.
COMPANY SPONSORED RETIREMENT PLAN CONSULATION
We provide retirement plan consulting services to employer plan sponsors. Generally, such retirement plan consulting services consist of making Income Strategy and other related services available to plan participants. Plan participants are offered access to a limited feature, self-directed subscription services. Non-discretionary advisory services are available over the telephone from Retirement Benchmark, LLC.
In making Income Strategy available to plan participants, Retirement Benchmark, LLC will configure Income Strategy to include the specific holdings within the plan. Plan participants’ access to Income Strategy features may include the following educational features:
• A recommended withdrawal strategy to create income from the portfolio;
• A forecast of the potential future account value;
• A forecast of the likelihood that a client will achieve their retirement income or account value goals, taking into consideration the investment portfolio and spending plans.
Additionally, plan participants can manually enter assets held outside of the plan to be included in the education provided by Income Strategy.
Beyond this initial base offer provided by the plan provider or plan sponsor for plan participants, additional features of Income Strategy may be selected and paid for by the plan participant including account aggregation to the holding level, additional withdrawal strategy options, dynamic tracking and monitoring, alerts, and Social Security strategy recommendations.
Advice implementation. The plan participant who uses Income Strategy is responsible for determining whether and when to implement the recommendations they receive from Income Strategy.
Account monitoring through Income Strategy. Income Strategy may be used as frequently as users choose to monitor progress toward their retirement goals, receive forecasts and investment recommendations, and access educational content. Income Strategy will update the values of plan holdings daily. For users who’ve elected to manually enter account information, automatic updates will not occur and must be made manually by the user. All users are responsible for periodically revisiting Income Strategy to:
• Update account information to reflect changes in investments, including purchases and sales of investments;
• Update personal information, including retirement goals, to reflect changes in personal or financial circumstances; and/or
• Review any updates regarding changes to the participant’s account value or forecast.
As the needs of the plan sponsor dictate, areas of advising could include investment options and plan structure. All retirement plan consulting services will be in compliance with the applicable state law(s) regulating retirement plan consulting services. This applies to client accounts that are retirement plan or other employee benefit plans (“Plan”) governed by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, as amended (“ERISA”). If the client accounts are part of a Plan, and we accept appointments to provide our Services to such accounts, we acknowledge that we are a fiduciary within the meaning of Section 3(21) of ERISA (but only with respect to the provision of services described in section 1 of the Retirement Plan Consulting Agreement).
Retirement Benchmark, LLC also provides educational support designed for the Plan participants when the Plan sponsor engages our firm to do so. Any topics to be covered will be under the guidelines established under applicable Department of Labor regulations. The educational support workshops will not provide Plan participants with individualized, tailored investment advice or individualized, tailored asset allocation recommendations.
In providing Services for retirement plan consulting, Retirement Benchmark, LLC generally does not provide any Services with respect to the following types of assets: employer securities, real estate (excluding real estate funds and publicly traded REITS), participant loans, non-publicly traded securities or assets, other illiquid investments, or brokerage window programs.
OTHER FINANCIAL PLANNING SERVICES
We offer financial planning at life stages other than retirement. Initial plans, financial plans and financial planning may include, but are not limited to: tax concerns; investment planning; college planning; and debt/credit planning.
SUPERVISION OF INVESTMENT ADVICE
All investment advice offered through Retirement Benchmark, LLC is supervised. We utilize the Income Strategy service that delivers a prescriptive advice process aligned with our investment policy and supervisory practices.
For clients that select our Investment Management Service, we evaluate the current investments of each client with respect to their risk tolerance levels and time horizon. We may be provided discretionary authority from clients in order to select securities and execute transactions without permission from the client prior to each transaction. However, we also provide nondiscretionary investment advisory services. We will document risk tolerance levels in the Investment Policy Statement, which will be given to each client.
After an interviewing process, a proposal and investment policy statement are generated. We give each client a thorough breakdown of the type of portfolio being recommended and the fees, including a breakdown of who gets what portion of those fees, prior to signing a contract. Our recommendations are based on portfolios that were created in-house. These portfolios are created, allocated and rebalanced based on the specific allocation limits set by Retirement Benchmark, LLC.
On occasion, clients may choose to restrict investing in certain securities or types of securities. When feasible, we will abide by such restrictions. If a client’s desired restrictions are not feasible, we will notify the client.
Retirement Benchmark, LLC manages client assets. As of December 31, 2016, we had 39 accounts with assets under discretionary management totaling $10,864,718.
A client that chooses a monthly subscription, either $20 or $50, wants to be self-directed leveraging the Income Strategy platform to plan and manage their own affairs. They are not assessed any other planning or investment management fees.
Clients that have questions or want an advice session from Retirement Benchmark, LLC can purchase a planning session for $125 per hour where guidance is provided based on the information and analysis within the Income Strategy platform.
For clients that want Retirement Benchmark, LLC to manage, monitor and implement their plan, the fee charged for Investment Management Services is based on the following fee schedule:
ASSETS UNDER MANAGEMENT ANNUAL FEE
Up to $1,000,000 0.80%
Next $1,000,000 - $3,000,000 0.70 %
Over $3,000,000 0.50%
No other fees or charges will be made unless specifically documented and agreed to by the client. All fees will be included in the final fee schedule executed and agreed to by the client and Retirement Benchmark, LLC in a Statement of Investment Services Agreement.
Fees are paid quarterly in advance, and clients may terminate their account with thirty days written notice. Refunds will be given on a prorated basis, based on the number of days remaining in a quarter at the point of termination. Clients may terminate their accounts without penalty, for full refund, within 5 business days of signing the advisory contract. Client fees will be debited quarterly by Envestnet, at the custodian, and then split among Envestnet, the custodian, and Retirement Benchmark, LLC. There is no account minimum. Lower fees for comparable services may be available from other sources.
DEFINED CONTRIBUTION PLAN CONSULTATION
Fees are negotiated with Plan providers and Plan sponsors. The Services provided and the associated fees are outlined in the agreement between Retirement Benchmark, LLC and the client. Fees vary depending upon the elected Services and are typically a flat annual fee. The flat fee is paid in advance. For other Services provided to Plan providers and Plan sponsors, the payment schedule, method, termination, and refund procedures are outlined in the agreement between Retirement Benchmark, LLC and the client.
INITIAL PLANS AND FINANCIAL PLANS
For financial planning services not related to the Income Strategy™ planning process, our fees will be based on fixed or hourly rates. The final fee structure will be documented in Exhibit II of the Financial Planning Agreement. Fees are paid in arrears upon completion. Because fees are charged in arrears, no refund is necessary. Clients may terminate their accounts without penalty, for full refund, within 5 business days of signing the advisory contract.
We charge hourly fees of $200 for additions and updates to financial plans. The fees are negotiable and we will attach the final fee schedule to the Investment Advisory Contract. Fees are paid in arrears upon completion. Because fees are charged in arrears, no refund is necessary. Clients may terminate their accounts without penalty, for full refund, within 5 business days of signing the advisory contract.
We have a relationship with Envestnet who provides back-office support, technology services, and presentation materials for us. Client fees will be debited quarterly by Envestnet, at the custodian, and then split among Envestnet, the custodian, and Retirement Benchmark, LLC.
Envestnet will keep a portion of the management fees described above based on the level of service it is providing on that specific account. The fees shared with Envestnet range between 0.03% and 0.35% depending on the balance of assets under management. The specific amounts of all fees will be disclosed to the client prior to signing an Investment Advisory Agreement.
We offer our clients the convenience of choosing Pershing, Schwab or Fidelity as the custodian of their assets. Clients may incur fees for services by these firms, in addition to the fees we charge as outlined above. The fees charged by these firms vary with the type of investment, transaction or firm selected. Fees may include custody fees, fund expenses, brokerage fees, transaction fees, and administrative fees. Fee schedules vary and are published with the disclosure documents of those firms, including their respective ADV- Part II. Custodial fees will be disclosed to you prior to signing our Investment Advisory Agreement.
Retirement Benchmark, LLC does not charge any performance-based fees (fees based on a share of capital gains on or capital appreciation of the assets of a client).
We provide investment advice to individuals and defined contribution plans. While our core services are focused on individuals in or approaching retirement, we are able to provide advice and services to individuals at any life stage. At the time of this brochure printing, Retirement Benchmark, LLC does not require a minimum account size.
Investing in securities involves risk of loss that clients should be prepared to bear. For every level of risk, there is an optimal way to structure a portfolio to maximize the expected return. We use our Income Strategy platform to craft an optimized retirement portfolio for each of our clients. We manage portfolios to accommodate market volatility, changing market prospects, and changes in client goals, risk tolerance and planning horizon.
Methods of Analysis
We use both fundamental and technical methods for analyzing the suitability of an investment. Fundamental analysis involves studying all the factors that can affect the security's value, such as the overall economy and industry conditions, and company-specific factors like financial condition and management. Technical analysis involves evaluating securities by analyzing statistics such as past prices and volume. By analyzing patterns, technical analysis allows the prediction of future activity. Both methods are well-used and recognized within the industry and can be used together to make sound investment decisions for clients.
We base our investment strategy on the individual goals, risk tolerance and future need for capital of each client. Our overall strategies may include long-term purchases of securities held at least one year, short-term purchases of securities to be sold in less than one year, trading, margin transactions, and option writing. We will also use income laddering, indexing, core-satellite, and withdrawal sequencing as investment strategies.
Asset Allocation: We recommend that investors select one of six model portfolios: Low Risk, Conservative, Moderately Conservative, Moderate, Moderately Aggressive, and Aggressive. The model portfolios are based on the work of Nobel Laureate Harry Markowitz, where each portfolio is designed to provide maximum expected returns for a given level of risk. Each model portfolio contains a diversified portfolio of US equities, international equities, US fixed-income assets, and Real Estate Investment Trusts. The more aggressive portfolios may provide a small allocation to commodities. In addition, we recommend that clients calculate their funds using after-tax values. This after-tax asset allocation approach recognizes that pretax dollars in, for example, a 401(k) are smaller than after-tax values in a Roth IRA. This after-tax asset allocation approach also recognizes that taxes exist and strives to compare after-tax funds in one account to after-tax funds in other accounts.
Ranges of Asset Allocations and Tactical Asset Allocation by Asset Class: At any point in time, the actual asset allocation to any one broad asset class—e.g., equities, fixed-income, alternative assets—are allowed to vary in a narrow range around its strategic allocation. For example, the Moderate model portfolio recommends a normal or strategic equity allocation of 50%. But the actual allocation may vary from 40% to 60%. This variation may be due to market movements or tactical asset allocation decisions. For example, if we consider equity prospects to be below or above average, then we may allow the actual equity allocation to be slightly below or above the strategic allocation. However, at each review we make sure the allocations by asset class are within acceptable ranges.
Investment Expenses: We select low-cost investment products and minimize transactions costs whenever possible. By minimizing transaction costs and internal product expenses, we can extend the longevity of a client’s investment portfolio.
Tax-efficient Investments: We recommend tax-efficient investments for our clients. For example, when holding equities in taxable accounts we will generally recommend that the individual stocks or equity funds should be tax efficient, which means that they tend to allow capital gains to grow unharvested or unrealized. Our advice is based, in part, on two decades of research on tax-based investment strategies.
Having a diversified mix of equities and bonds is a critical element of managing a portfolio’s risk. However, this doesn’t mean a client should have both equities and bonds in each account—i.e., 401(k), Roth IRA, and taxable accounts. To the contrary, it is better to “locate” each asset in the account that will enhance the portfolio’s risk-adjusted returns and thus lengthen its longevity. We still maintain the client’s portfolio target risk level and appropriate asset allocation, but we carefully move or re-locate assets into the appropriate account.
For clients in the distribution phase of their life, simple guidelines such as withdrawing only 4% of assets are not specific enough to determine which account—e.g., 401(k), taxable account—or asset to tap first to generate income. Similarly, the strategy of withdrawing funds from a 401(k), taxable accounts, etc., will materially affect the longevity of a portfolio. The Income Strategy platform crafts a personal withdrawal strategy that reflects a client’s unique needs and circumstances, while being tax efficient.
The best withdrawal sequence typically requires distributions from multiple accounts each year, where the recommended amount each year depends upon intricacies of the tax code and each individual’s particular circumstances. For example, the amount that should be withdrawn from a 401(k) in a given year may depend upon that year’s taxable income and, therefore, all the factors that affect that year’s income. In addition, client goals may change, the tax code may change, or the market may cause unexpected changes in the value of a portfolio. Income Strategy dynamically adjusts recommendations to reflect these changes.
At Retirement Benchmark, LLC, we focus on the importance of coordinating how and when a retiree begins their Social Security retirement benefits with how and when other assets in the portfolio are tapped for income. Based on leading research published in esteemed financial journals, the process of coordinating Social Security benefits with a tax-efficient withdrawal strategy can extend the spend-down of the portfolio or increase the final portfolio value. Income Strategy creates an optimal Social Security benefit claiming strategy based on all of the household factors provided and dynamically determines the withdrawal strategy that will provide the greatest portfolio value.
Social Security and Medicare
Social Security benefits are the largest financial asset for many Americans. At Retirement Benchmark, LLC, we provide expert consultation on strategies for optimizing Social Security benefits. Additionally, we are able to assist clients in avoiding or reducing Medicare surcharges and penalties with appropriate withdrawal strategies.
Risk of Loss
Although all investments involve risk, including the potential loss of principal, some securities, such as equities, involve more risks than other securities. Higher-risk investments may have the potential for higher returns, but also for greater losses. Past performance of any security does not guarantee future performance. Clients investing in securities should be prepared to bear the risk of loss. We endeavor to assess client risk in the context to the individual’s investment needs and objectives, including risk tolerance, investment goals and time horizon.
While we utilize nuances of the tax code to recommend investment and withdrawal strategies, we are not certified public accountants nor are we tax experts. However, our advice is based, in part, on two decades of research on tax-based investment strategies. We strive to provide guidance that is tax efficient. But we are not able to predict future changes to the tax code. Similarly, judgment between the ways to minimize taxes can be subjective. Our investment philosophy leverages academic research, tax rules, and strategies related to tax management that are available in the public domain.
We are required to disclose any and all details regarding legal or disciplinary events material to a client’s or prospective client’s evaluation of our advisory business or the integrity of our management. Neither Retirement Benchmark, LLC nor any affiliated management person has any legal or disciplinary event to be disclosed, including:
We have an arrangement with Envestnet (a registered investment adviser at the SEC level) to provide back-office support, technology services, and presentation materials. Envestnet will aid Retirement Benchmark, LLC in reporting, material preparation, trade execution, and modeling of portfolios. Envestnet receives a fee directly from Retirement Benchmark, LLC, as a percentage of the total amount we collect from clients. Total fees charged to clients are those shown in the section titled “Fees and Compensation” in this brochure and in Exhibit II of the Investment Advisory Contract between Retirement Benchmark, LLC and the client.
CODE OF ETHICS
We have a written Code of Ethics that covers the following areas:
Prohibited Purchases and Sales, Insider Trading, Personal Securities Transactions, Exempted Transactions, Prohibited Activities, Conflicts of Interest, Gifts and Entertainment, Confidentiality, Service on a Board of Directors, Compliance Procedures, Compliance with Laws and Regulations, Procedures and Reporting, Certification of Compliance, Reporting Violations, Compliance Officer Duties, Training and Education, Recordkeeping, Annual Review, and Sanctions.
All prospective and current clients have a right to see our code of ethics. For a copy of the code of ethics, please ask your financial advisor at any time.
PARTICIPATION OR INTEREST IN CLIENT TRANSACTIONS AND PERSONAL TRADING
From time to time, representatives of Retirement Benchmark, LLC may buy or sell securities for themselves that they also recommend to clients. Our representatives will always document any transactions that could be construed as conflicts of interest and will always transact client business before their own when similar securities are being bought or sold. In any event, we do not allow the practice of front-running and strives to avoid any potential conflict of interest.
We strive to operate in a manner that avoids all conflicts of interest. We do not maintain any broker-dealer relationships for client transactions. We do not charge, nor do we accept, any fees in the form of commissions for compensation. We receive no research or other soft dollar benefits from any broker-dealer. Our investment advisor representatives have no incentives to recommend any products or services from any broker-dealer affiliation, and are solely interested in obtaining the most favorable execution for our clients. In addition, we do not require or direct clients to execute transactions through a specific broker-dealer.
For those client accounts where Retirement Benchmark, LLC provides ongoing money management or investment advice with ongoing supervision, we will maintain limited power of attorney over client accounts with respect to securities to be bought and sold and amount of securities to be bought and sold. All buying and selling of securities will be explained to clients in detail before an advisory relationship is begun. We will never charge a premium or commission on transactions beyond the actual cost imposed by a custodian. We will make every attempt to obtain group discounts on transactions when possible and to execute client orders at the best price available whenever possible.
The securities in every client’s account will be under continuous review. Client accounts will typically be reviewed quarterly by the Managing Principal of the firm. Reviews may be triggered by material market, economic or political events, or by changes in a client’s financial situation.
Each investment advisory client will receive a monthly report from the custodian of their account. In addition, they will receive a quarterly report from Retirement Benchmark, LLC and Envestnet detailing the client’s account performance. For our monitoring service, clients will receive a monthly monitoring report from the custodian, from Retirement Benchmark, LLC, and from Envestnet showing progress to goal and related qualitative content.
Retirement Benchmark, LLC may compensate individuals who are not employees of our firm for client referrals. On such occasions, the terms of the arrangement will be fully disclosed to the referred client in order to avoid conflicts of interest. In such situations, we will be compliant with Rule 206(4)-3 under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 regarding solicitation arrangements.
We do not receive compensation or other economic benefit from any other entity for the advice or advisory services we provide to our clients.
Retirement Benchmark, LLC does not maintain custody of client funds. Income Strategy users of the monthly subscription service are not required to custody assets with a firm selected by Retirement Benchmark, LLC. Instead, their assets can be securely synced and updated daily by Income Strategy, or their holding can be entered manually into Income Solver. For convenience, we offer our Investment Management clients the ability to custody with Pershing, Schwab or Fidelity, via Envestnet’s relationship with those firms. Clients will receive monthly statements from the applicable custodian and should carefully review each statement received. In addition, clients will receive a monthly statement from Envestnet and should carefully compare this statement of account with the statement of account from the applicable custodian.
For those client accounts where we provide ongoing money management or investment advice with ongoing supervision, we will maintain limited power of attorney over client accounts with respect to securities to be bought and sold and the amount of securities to be bought and sold. We will explain the details of all buying and selling of securities to clients before an advisory relationship is begun.
We create our own models for client investment portfolios and maintain sole investment discretion on each account. We are constantly monitoring client accounts to ensure the best possible investment strategy for each client given their financial situation.
Clients of Retirement Benchmark, LLC vote via proxy, and we do not maintain the authority to vote client securities. Clients will receive their proxies and other solicitations directly from their custodian or a transfer agent. Clients should contact the custodian or transfer agent directly with questions about a particular solicitation.
Retirement Benchmark, LLC has not experienced any financial condition that is reasonably likely to impair our ability to meet contractual commitments to clients. While we do operate with discretionary authority over client funds, we do not require or solicit prepayment of fees for investment management.