Tuesday, September 01, 2009

ZUK-ING...Uh, Maybe Not So Objective and Independent

Recently ZUK financial, a 403(b) product sales company sent a letter to districts that misrepresented the CalSTRS 403bComply program. ZUK attempted to paint themselves as objective and without conflicts, while stating that CalSTRS has conflicts of interest. ZUK greatly misrepresents the CalSTRS programs and fails to mention how CalSTRS manages conflicts (of which there are few). DISCLOSURE: I do consulting work for CalSTRS.

Of course ZUK wasn't so quick to point out their own conflicts (the fact that they represent many 403(b) vendors and sell products from TPA's/Remitters that they recommend to school districts). On their own website they state:

"Zuk Solutions is not a one size fits all program, but a customized, comprehensive, unbiased and objective partner ensuring total transparency and the latest and best business practices."


Hmmm, unbiased and objective might be traits of a company that did not accept commissions from companies that will be in the compliance programs they recommend (or the products of TPA's they recommend), of course that is not the ZUK offering. What are the chances that ZUK offers up the CalSTRS 403bComply program? Zero. Instead they will offer ING, Great American and their newest employee's company Envoy - entities they have some degree of control over so that they can come in and provide "education." Education from ZUK will not be "objective or unbiased," as the people providing it are sales representatives of 403(b) products.

Don't believe me, you need to look no further than ZUK's own website. It states clearly "ZUK financial group, a representative of ING." If they are representing ING, how can they be representing YOU? This isn't an attempt to demean or even pass judgement on ING (whose product I have not reviewed), simply to point out that ZUK is NOT unbiased and objective using reasonable definitions of the terms.

I don't have a problem with ZUK wanting to sell 403(b) products (other than the fact that my clients were sold a bunch of terrible annuities from Great American when they were with ZUK), but I do have a problem when they send out letters lying or misrepresenting other programs and then put themselves forward as the objective and unbiased solution when nothing could be further from the truth.

If you want further proof of where ZUK's loyalties are, simply pull up their website and copy the names of the representatives and then goto the California Insurance website and look them up, you'll see who they really represent - Insurance companies.



Scott Dauenhauer
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