Friday, April 11, 2014

NTSA Attacks 403(b) Bill In Ohio In Bizarre E-Mail Missive

I'm not sure what to make of the latest attack by the NTSA (formerly the NTSAA) on good people attempting to control their 403(b) programs.

It's such a bizarre e-mail that I'm starting to wonder if they are in full implosion mode. Not only is it desperate, factually inaccurate and hostile, it's an outright threat against legislators that might normally be in their corner.

What I know for sure is that the NTSA continues to be a smaller, focused organization hell bent on keeping the status quo - expensive, retail, non-fiduciary services in k-14 and higher ed 403(b).

The following is the recent NTSA Attack Missive (e-mail), see my analysis below it:

To: Undisclosed recipients:;
Subject: Immediate Action Needed for All Ohio Members! - AmendedURGENT ACTION REQUIRED! Send this message to all of your Ohio representatives, immediately. Advisors have the power and responsibility to make this stand to protect their business and clients!
NTSA has just been informed that the TIAA Cref money grab amendment will be introduced into the Ohio MBR (House Bill 483). The action will take place this afternoon in the House Finance and Appropriations Committee.

We need all Ohio members to call the all of the following state representatives offices now.

Amstutz  (614) 466-1474
Ryan Smith (614) 466-1366
Dovilla (614) 466-4895
Duffey (614) 644-6030
Sprague (614) 466-3819
Stautberg (614) 644-6886

Amendment Summary
  • This bill is a terrible piece of legislation that exempts public entities from any purchasing requirements for 403(b) plans
  • 403(b) providers will be picked at the sole and absolute discretion of public institutions, rife with conflicts and inherent abuse
  • This legislation will take away your business with absolutely no process or recourse

Message you need to send
  • Republicans should not be complicit in legislation that kills Ohio businesses
  • You are outraged that Republicans would participate in back room deals that resulted in the TIAA Cref money grab amendment in the budget
  • You will tell all of your clients and business partners that you can no longer work with them because of this Republican party give away to TIAA Cref
  • You will share the vote of every Republican that votes in favor of the TIAA Cref money grab legislation with all of your contacts and support Republicans in the primary that will stand with Ohio small business
  • You support the Hackett Proposal HB 512 as it protects Ohio businesses. And is not a money grabbing big business back room budget amendment.
This is the worst of back-room politics and we need to kill this effort to make it clear that this tactic will elicit an immediate painful response. Otherwise, we’ll just see this all over again in other states.

Chris DeGrassi
Executive Director, NTSA
cdegrassi@ntsa-net.orgw 703.516.9300
m 571.366.0975

This is certainly one of the more bizarre e-mails, but that is to be expected from the NTSA lately.

The first mistake is referring to the representatives who populate this organization as "Advisors," they are not (for the most part). This is not a slap in the face, they just aren't advisors, they are salespeople (this is not a judgement, only a statement of fact - this doesn't mean they couldn't become adivosrs).

You'll also notice that the NTSA is purposely disrespecting the financial services organization TIAA-CREF by not capitalizing CREF (which they know is capitalized).

Almost every claim by Degrassi and the NTSA is false.

The bill does not exempt public entities from "any purchasing requirements" and why shouldn't a public institution be able to manage who their 403(b) providers are?

This bill doesn't actually allow such "sole and absolute discretion" even though it should (when coupled by a strong procurement process and fiduciary responsibility).

The only true statement is that the "legislation will take away your business," but even that is false. I'm unaware of any "advisor" who would lose their business if a public employer acted in a responsible and fiduciary manner. A real advisor has a strong relationship with his clients, one that is NOT dependent on the ability to sell a high-cost, high-commission product.

The attack on the Republicans is even more bizarre as they are usually the strongest defenders of the NTSA and pissing them off could lose any goodwill the NTSA might have had. The only back-room politics going on is with the NTSA attempting to disparage, denigrate, demonize and defame people who have worked hard for years to bring a compromise bill up for debate.

The last dying breaths of the NTSA are gasping and this e-mail is proof. Unfortunately, the high-commission annuity providers who back the organization are alive and well, see here and here.

Scott Dauenhauer, CFP, MPAS, AIF