Q2 2020 RetireOne News and Notes

#SayHerName, Profound Uncertainty, Hedging a Second (First) Wave, Fund Fees Drop, Envestnet/FIDx, Halo, Retire Racism

2020 has been a year we’ll likely mark as the beginning of a great deal of change in this country. And we’re only half-way through. As leaders across the nation began to consider ways to safely reopen our COVID-smothered economy, news of killings of black Americans in Georgia, Kentucky and Minnesota sparked global protests calling for justice and equality. It seems a hard rain is gonna fall.


Folks in New York, LA, Paris, Berlin and other large cities around the globe marched in solidarity after watching horrific cellphone video of black men killed in the streets this past winter and spring in Georgia and Minnesota. Even people in smaller, traditionally conservative, rural cities were inspired to march. Indeed, research from PEW shows a swell of support among Americans of every stripe for the black lives matter movement.

In Louisville, where RetireOne houses its operations, protestors continue their vigil and protests, chanting a now-familiar call and response: “Say her name!” “Breonna Taylor!” Taylor, a young black woman, was shot and killed by police issuing a “no-knock warrant” in an early-morning raid this past winter.

In the wake of this unspeakable brutality and abuses of power, many see the opportunity to inspire real and necessary change. In the financial sector a chorus of companies including Betterment, Citi, Edward Jones, Goldman Sachs, Hightower, and TD Ameritrade expressed their sympathy.

While behemoth Nationwide added investments to fight racism, writers like Bob Huebscher of Advisor Perspectives raised their voices in support of racial justice, and an important dialogue opened up about the black experience in America, and in the financial sector.

But are we doing enough? Financial Planning reports that even the independent RIA channel, which is “arguably the business model least encumbered by legacy institutions and most open to change” is also the least diverse. Only 3.8% of CFP holders are black.

Profound Uncertainty

Amid protests and deepening concerns about the coronavirus’ impact on the global economy, folks were wondering what to do. Markets dropped over 30% in Q1. Volatility became an everyday phenomenon and with uncertainty around reopening the American economy (and tremendous unemployment), markets, as everyone predicted (I’m kidding)…staged the greatest 50-day rally in the history of the S&P 500.


Maybe folks were betting on some kind of summer vacation for the virus, anticipating that reopening the economy would boost markets right away. Or could it be that bored gamblers-cum-day-traders are moving markets as we reopen?

As some Americans are indulging their appetites for higher risk, others may be signaling a need for some certainty, even if their financial advisors don’t agree on the vehicle.

Hedging a Second (First) Wave

A second (first) wave of infections hit popular tourist destinations as states eased restrictions in June. Since then, Florida, Texas, California and others have instituted measures to stem the tide which will surely have economic implications.

Experts like Ric Edelman are warning that everyone needs to deal with the reality we’re facing and understand that big changes are coming. In an interview with Financial Advisor magazine, he says, “life will never be the same after Covid-19. In many respects, life will be better. But for many Americans, because of their lack of preparation or unwillingness to adapt to life in a post-Covid world, it will be worse.”

Black Swan author Nassim Taleb is in the same camp. He recommends that investors get out of the market unless they have a tail hedge. Indeed, as more uncertainty visits markets, we’re seeing a swell of interest in products that embed the same kinds of derivatives folks use to craft these hedges: structured notes, and index-linked annuities (also called “buffer annuities”).

Both structured notes and index-linked annuities offer downside protection with some upside potential. For investors in the “fragile decade” protected investments like index-linked annuities can help bridge that period from the last five working years through the first five years in retirement when portfolio losses can be difficult to make up. See also: sequence-of-returns risk.

We opened the hood up on index-linked annuities with Allianz in April. I recommend folks watch it. I also recommend watching this recording of a webinar about the Halo structured notes platform from May.

More from the DOL

Proposed regulation from the DOL aims to limit ESG investments in retirement plans, among other things. These announced proposals come on the heels of a May report by Bloomberg that U.S. renewables outstripped coal for first time since the 19th century. You remember the 19th century? When the hills of every riverbank were stripped bald of trees to power the wood-burning engines of steamboats? The good news is that today’s renewables are more…renewable.

Fund Fees Drop

Here’s some good news: American investors’ appetite for low-cost investments has driven fund fees down 50% in 20 years. How significant is that? The decline from 2018 to 2019 was 3 basis points: from 0.48% to 0.45%. That represents $5.8 billion in savings for American fund investors. Every little bit helps.

Envestnet/FIDx Partnership

In March we introduced a partnership with FIDX as OID on the Envestnet Insurance Exchange. For our partner firms who are Envestnet users, this partnership tightly integrates annuity research, application and ongoing management into their user experience. The alliance supports a unified approach to connect insurance carriers, RIAs, and their existing wealth platforms.


In April we announced a partnership with the Halo structured notes platform. The folks at Halo are democratizing these portfolio protections and offering them to an audience (RIAs) who have not traditionally had access. Their platform and auction functionality offers unprecedented flexibility, control, and pricing transparency. Check them out. Also, take a look at this pretty tidy little infographic that explains how structured notes work.

Thank You for Choosing RetireOne

In the second quarter of 2020 these advisors began working with us: Alicia Lewis; Will Wang; Aaron Cherry; Andrew Pool; Trenton Lay; Amy Greiner; Tom Haug; Brandon Kippel; Greer Smith; Tim Flanigan; Jennifer Jost; Bryan Dewhurst; Joan Greenspon; Blake Paro; Jon Green; Beverly Whitman; Don O’Neal; Teresa Brokaw; Trent O’Neil; Tim McNeely; Pablo Oliva; Lotay Yang; Jay Pearson; Nick Capobianco; and Jeff Barnett.

Thank you for choosing RetireOne and welcome to the platform!

View On-Demand Webinars from Q2

  1. Staying Healthy as the Economy Recovers from the Pandemic
    Transamerica’s Health Director Bill Lloyd, MD discusses the current state of the pandemic amid plans to reopen the American economy.
  2. Protecting Client Portfolios with Structured Notes
    Halo’s Patrick Dillon explains how structured notes can be used within a portfolio even when market volatility hits. He also showcases Halo’s powerful digital tool that allows advisors to find, purchase and manage structured notes.
  3. Help Clients Buffer Against Market Shocks
    Allianz’s Greg Goin showcases a relatively new solution, the registered index-linked annuity, which can be effective for managing portfolio volatility, and client behaviors (or expectations).
  4. What RIAs Can do with Old Client Annuities
    RetireOne’s Kevin Hissong explains how we help RIAs bring old client annuities under management with RetireOne as Agent of Record.

Retire Racism

We are all responsible—especially as people of privilege—to speak up and speak out. To black people I say: we see you, we hear you and we need to do more than witness. We need to make our voices heard in the demand for policy changes that promote equality and racial justice. Just as people have worked to retire the emblems of our racist past, we must work to retire racism itself.

Stone Signature
David Stone
Founder and CEO