The Annual RTD New Year's Update
This is our annual report to our stakeholders, those we serve and those within our professional community who serve us. We want to share the highlights of the past year and our plans for 2010. We value our relationships and hope that this communication reinforces the trust that you have placed in us.
State of the Firm
While 2009 was a challenging year for everyone, we are pleased to report that RTD held up quite strong. In a time when many companies were forced to lay off employees, we not only retained all of our staff, but we hired an Associate Financial Planner, Richard Durso and made an offer, at the end of the year, to a second Associate Planner, Chris Vassallo who will begin, after his graduation from Temple University, in May 2010. We are now a team of 20 individuals entering our 27thyear in business with offices in Philadelphia, PA; West Chester, PA; Atlanta, GA; and Ft. Myers, FL.
These positive results were achieved as a result of client loyalty and retention, the addition of new clients, the commitment of our dedicated staff, and our disciplined approach to the management of our firm and of our clients’ portfolios. Of the new clients joining the firm in 2009, 80% were referred to us by clients and allied professionals. For this we offer our deepest gratitude.
For 2010, we plan to relocate and expand our Philadelphia western suburban office (currently in West Chester, PA). In addition, we are looking forward to implementing some meaningful technological and reporting enhancements that we will be rolling out over the course of 2010. We will also be upgrading our website, both the appearance and content, so that it offers more value and is easier to browse.
The human capital at RTD is the key to our value to you and to the success of the firm. To make the most of that expertise we have formed several committees that are charged with research and development in their particular area. This is how we stay on the leading edge of our profession and a valuable partner and resource for you. Here follows a summary of the various committees’ efforts and initiatives:
Financial Life Planning Committee Summary
2009 was a very productive year for the Financial Planning Committee. The most significant change we made was investing in new financial planning software that offers many improvements including better reports and in-meeting/on line scenario modeling capability which will enable us to do real time, dynamic “what if” scenario planning with clients.
We are developing new best practices in our initial and ongoing planning process. We have created a set of financial planning policies and assumptions to apply to all financial plans, based on sound research and analysis, to improve the reliability and accuracy of the planning outcomes.
We continue to focus our planning process on addressing what is important to you: your quality of life, goals, priorities and vision for the future. Toward that end we developed a new client information update form and a financial planning checklist to help us thoroughly prepare for your annual meeting and deliver proactive ongoing planning advice.
Timely communication of financial planning topics has been on our minds. Last year we sent two financial planning related e-newsletters. In 2010, we will continue to send out e-newsletters on pertinent financial planning topics.
In 2010 we have several other initiatives:
· Defining and enhancing our family office services.
· Holding monthly internal study groups for all RTD advisors to share case studies, address policy issues that have financial planning relevance, and share knowledge and expertise.
· Adding a private client web page that contains a ‘vault’ for online storage of your personal documents and important financial papers, such as quarterly investment reports, your wills and other legal documents and financial planning updates.
· Hosting client gatherings both in the offices and virtually online for conversations and presentations on special topics such as Roth Conversion in 2010 and Beyond; Planning for the Second Half of Life; Retirement Income Planning and more.
· Continuing with our “Green” initiative. Document management and scanning has helped increase efficiencies and save some trees. Dawn Webb has been instrumental in quarterbacking this project.
Investment Committee Summary
2009 at RTD can be summed up in one word – TEAM. It is said, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going”, and such was the case in 2009. The emotionally taxing start to the year brought us even closer together and more focused than ever to help our clients through this difficult and challenging time.
Some of the highlights of 2009 were as follows:
- We increased our client communications and created and delivered investment education workshops and presentations.
- We made adjustments to our portfolio allocations in an effort to further stabilize our fixed income performance.
- We continued to search for rebalancing opportunities. We reviewed over 700 allocations 225 times resulting in, on average, three rebalancing opportunities for 2009.
- Early in 2009, we increased (doubled) our upside threshold for equities which allowed us to capture more of the recovery.
- We continued to aggressively harvest tax losses, when available, which is a tangible benefit come tax time.
- We reviewed and analyzed fund distributions to avoid unnecessary tax consequences.
- We established a Roth Conversion Task Force to study and analyze the potential investment benefits and the potential financial planning impact on a client-by-client basis. These efforts will continue well into 2010 (and beyond). Clients will receive individual notification once our analysis is complete, with our recommendations as to whether or not action should be considered.
In 2010 we are looking forward to:
- Providing timely and informative client communications.
- Continuing to look for ways to reduce portfolio expenses.
- Increasing time allocated toward research and risk management strategies.
- Continuing to fine-tune our liquidity/cash needs strategy.
- Researching and testing the merits and benefits of account aggregation.
- Enhancing our investment reporting.
- Looking for ways to be more efficient and environmentally friendly in the secure delivery of information and reports.
This is just a sampling of some of our initiatives designed to provide you with a sound and rewarding investment experience that is aligned with your individual goals. We can’t remove the uncertainty of life or the markets, but we continue to find ways to reduce costs, increase opportunities and limit the risk and volatility of your investments for better outcomes.
Qualified Retirement Plan Committee Summary
There have been some exciting developments in RTD’s Qualified Retirement Plan department. Some of the highlights are:
- Our overall retirement plan business has grown significantly. We now manage more than 40 qualified plans with over 2,500 participants. This growth is due to the quality of the RTD Managed Portfolios, our concierge level of client service, and our extremely competitive pricing.
- The RTD Managed Portfolios available to plan participants are now being rebalanced on an opportunistic basis similar to our individually managed portfolios.
- Amira Adams received the Chartered Retirement Plan Specialist (CRPS) Designation awarded by the College for Financial Planning.
- Alan Brecher received the Professional Plan Consultant (PPC) designation awarded by the Financial Service Standards Board.
- In addition to his continued growth in the financial planning area, Steve McDade has taken on the responsibility of Project Manager for qualified plan conversions.
- We updated our website to include a 401k section outlining the services that RTD provides to retirement plan sponsors and participants.
- We strengthened our partnerships with our affiliated Third Party Administrators and Recordkeepers providing a more cohesive and seamless experience for our plan sponsors and participants.
- Our team philosophy has helped to grow and strengthen our department. We look forward to continuously enhancing our clients’ experience by providing exceptional service and solutions that meet their needs.
The advisors at RTD feel it is an obligation and a joy to support and impact our profession and to serve those who cannot afford but still need financial planning education and advice. Roy Diliberto and Elizabeth Jetton are past presidents of the Financial Planning Association (FPA). Currently, Michael J. Smith is serving a 3-year term on the national FPA board of directors. John Hochschwender serves as President of the Philadelphia Tri State chapter of FPA and Paul LaViola is a board member of the Philadelphia Tri State chapter of FPA. Richard Busillo was the chair of FPA’s 2009 Annual Conference held in Anaheim, CA that attracted nearly 3000 financial professionals. In addition, Elizabeth Jetton and Roy Diliberto were featured speakers at the conference.
Nearly all of our advisors offered their time and expertise during Financial Planning Week in October, giving educational presentations to community and educational organizations. Richard Busillo presented his workshop “Building Endurance for the Long Run” and Roberta Goldbaugh chaired a pro bono program, organizing advisors to deliver basic financial planning presentations to local high schools. She also teaches a financial planning course as part of her ongoing pro bono commitment.
Our firm hosted the “Be Our Guest” program to help raise money for the Foundation for Financial Planning which gives grants to community projects that teach financial literacy and offers pro bono financial planning to the underserved, including military personnel, the families of the victims of 9/11, and those impacted by Hurricane Katrina. The 'Be Our Guest' Program reveals the inner workings of successful financial planning firms to young, up and coming financial planners, allowing them to spend a day at RTD, learning about our service model and financial life planning process in exchange for making a significant donation to the Foundation. We also make direct donations to the Foundation.
Roy Diliberto continues to write a bi-monthly feature, offering his thoughts and leadership in Financial Advisor magazine. Once again he was selected (representing the firm) as one of the “Best 150 Financial Advisors for Doctors” in Medical Economics magazine. Roy Diliberto, Richard Busillo, and Paul LaViola, were selected by a survey of readers to be among the best financial planners in the Philadelphia area by Philadelphia Magazine. Michael Smith was selected by a survey of readers as one of the best financial planners in Atlanta by Atlanta Magazine. Elizabeth Jetton writes periodically for the Journal of Financial Planning and Solutions magazines. She has become a professor at California Lutheran University, teaching an online capstone course on Financial Planning as part of the MBA program. Michelle King earned her Certified Administrative Professional (CAP) certification through the International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP). The IAAP is a not-for-profit professional association for office professionals with approximately 40,000 members and affiliates and nearly 600 chapters worldwide. Marc Labadie, Director of Investments became a shareholder of the firm in 2009.
Living the Dream
Jane Rose appeared with Peter Nero and the Philly Pops® in December's Holiday Chorus at the Kimmel Center. Jeff Weiand is happy to report that the student he has mentored since high school, as part of his role in an amazing organization called Philadelphia Futures, was accepted to college and is now flourishing as a pre-law major. Philadelphia Futures is an organization that provides promising, urban high school students the tools they need to achieve the dream of a college education. Jeff happened to discover Philadelphia Futures through a dear client who was sharing her goals and dreams with him and who is mentoring a student of her own. Paul LaViola ran and finished his first Triathlon. RTD Atlanta formed a team to run in 5k and 10k charity races inviting clients to join in and get their RTD “Free Yourself” tee shirt. The Atlanta office is challenging the Philadelphia office to get with it in 2010!
As we move into the year we want to truly wish you a year filled with good health, happiness and prosperity. We also want to remind you to make the most of your relationships with RTD. Call us if you are approaching any new transitions, are considering making a decision that has financial implications, if you have questions or just want to talk. Several clients have told us they simply enjoy calling just to hear our wonderful Executive Receptionist’s welcoming and calming voice. We cannot thank Pearl Jakes enough for not only the great work that she does, but also for her amazing attitude and always positive outlook.
Please accept again our appreciation for referring your colleagues, family and friends to us. We promise to take exceptional care of those you send to us. It is an honor and a responsibility that we take very seriously. Remember that your confidentiality is always maintained.
Finally, this year we did a survey of our staff, asking them to share what is working and where improvements could be made within RTD. What was truly amazing is that no one asked for anything personal, like more time off, a bigger bonus or nicer office, etc. All of the feedback was client-centered. We received ideas from every individual on ways to add more value to our clients’ experiences. Many of the ideas are now initiatives for 2010. Together, as a team, we will continue our relentless pursuit of helping you and your family thrive and enjoy a wonderful quality of life.
All the best,
The Entire RTD Team