Gratitude, A Subload of Faith, The Flimflam, outSOURCEd, TrikTok, MRG + PWMA FTW, Constancely Improving, On-Demand Webinars, New Hire

Thank You for Choosing RetireOne

These advisors began working with us in the second quarter of 2023: Ryne Vickery, Mike Watson, Debbie Wise, Andrew Holte, Richard Todd Davis, Dylan Barr, Nickolas Oldhan, Sean Castle, William McColl, Fred Liebau Jr, Philip Ho, Rakesh Khilnani, Jesus Pinedo, Logan Eckhardt, Cheree Burnette, Trey Isgrig, Christopher Lewis, Nicole Roberts, Dana Anspach, Arielle Bittoni, and Teresa Friess.

Welcome to the platform!


Science is boring. We crave magic. Our curiosity, caprice, and willingness to take risks is what makes us humans so interesting. But that seeking of novelty, and sometimes obsessive desire to believe in things that aren’t true—or to ignore the truth—make us vulnerable to toxic egotists, hucksters, and fraudsters…And our own BS. See: Stockton Rush of the tragic Titan submersible tour. It’s important to have someone in our corner to question our working assumptions. To test our ideas and even call us on our BS. Buckle up and grab a cup of the best coffee you can find. This quarter’s news and notes is in your hands…

A Subload of Faith

The folks who boarded the OceanGate Titan submarine to tour the wreckage of the Titanic (mostly) believed the submarine would be able to dive safely more than 2 miles under the sea. They believed they would witness the abandoned remains of the world’s most famous ocean liner, maybe solve a Rubik’s cube and be topside for dinner. They were cool with the Sony Playstation 3 controller used to pilot the craft, and that Stockton Rush (the Svengali billionaire behind OceanGate) was growing more cavalier about safety issues. There were warnings that went unheeded. Loud warnings. A whistleblower. All of this, and the finance director who was tapped to navigate the vehicle. She quit, btw.

“It freaked me out that he would want me to be head pilot, since my background is in accounting.” This is not a quote you want to read from the person asked to captain your perilous submarine tour. And when you lay all the risks out like this it sounds absurd. Because it is.

The fellow travelers who took the tragic dive in the Titan sub on Father’s Day wanted to believe in some sort of magic. They wanted to believe in something that defied the laws of physics. They wanted to touch a mystery and believe in something that was too good to be true.

The Flimflam

Like a lot of flimflam men Rush was reportedly “very convincing,” “charismatic,” “smart,” and someone you “want to trust.” The finance world is certainly no stranger to charismatic operators claiming to have some sort of disruptive shortcut to success. All they need is a willing audience.

High-profile examples of the last couple of years include players in the awful crypto and pump-and-dump stonk schemes. The flavor of this year’s swindle? Would-be TikTok gurus who peddle the “secret” of retiring young by borrowing against the cash value of indexed universal life insurance plans (IULs). These three-minute, fast-moving clips fill the bingo card of digital bs: confident bluster, portrait (not landscape) orientation, big numbers jibbled on whiteboards, little substance, and rows of picket-white teeth.

IULs aren’t a scam, nor is borrowing against them. Our own Tom McNeela appeared on Cheddar News in May to explain how loans against cash-value life insurance policies work.… in the right circumstances, for a person in the right economic situation.

But that’s not what “influencers” are selling on TikTok. They post videos to millions of followers touting their IUL strategies. The clips oversimplify a complex IUL strategy to make it sound like a no-brainer. There doesn’t appear to be any disclosure of fees, a discussion of the risks, or how lapsing could lead to ruinous scenarios. Some of these folks simply characterize financial advisors who say their fees are high as “liars,”—a hallmark of the ruse. Their audience? Who subscribes to TikTok? Probably not your clients. Probably your clients’ kids and your kids.

And what do some of them advise these young, likely inexperienced workers about retirement investing? Some actually advise AGAINST taking the employer match in their 401(k) plans, and make misleading statements about Roth IRAs, and William Bengen’s 4% rule—contrarian takes that likely earn more attention and views.

There’s a lot of this kind of confusing personal finance noise out there and there likely always will be. You and I know better, but your clients? Even your clients’ children? They rely on you for expertise. Many of the the TikTok influencers spewing this nonsense—without explaining the risks and costs—aren’t financial advisors.

As is becoming more and more the case these days, skepticism is a good defense, and seeking out expertise is the safest course of action. This is where you provide alpha. And when you need a dedicated desk of insurance experts to support you, this is where RetireOne comes in.


Our own Jeff Cusack, an industry veteran and authority, published a report last month detailing exactly how an outsourced insurance desk (OID) can help firms grow. It turns out that many of our partner firms benefit from the partnership in some unsurprising ways. But there are others that may surprise you. In the end, many of the IARs we support don’t have insurance licenses and aren’t FINRA registered. When a client walks in with an annuity or insurance need/question, they can tap us to step in, evaluate and educate.

We haven’t gotten any calls yet from advisors whose clients (or children) have fallen prey to the TikTok IUL hucksters, but that’s what we’re here for, among many other things.


Scammers, hucksters, and fake gurus rely on psychological tricks like creating a false sense of urgency, an illusion of scarcity, and juxtaposing that with their own apparent wealth and status. That all gets much, much easier in an environment of uncertainty that creates the threat of actual scarcity.

Like right now: Are we headed for a recession? Who knows? Experts seem divided on that point, and with good reason; much of what we’ve been experiencing lately has created a perfect storm of volatility and instability.

It’s the kind of environment where fake TikTok gurus thrive, and here’s the big problem: they aren’t accountable to anyone. They can say what they like, and other people will usually suffer the consequences. Experts, on the other hand, are held to a higher standard. Real experts are licensed, credentialed, regulated, and accountable. They can be vetted.


When we want to quantify the value of our offerings, we collaborate with experts like the recently-wed Michelle Richter-Gordon (congrats!) to test and vet them. Rather than overwhelming you with white board cacography in a 30-second ‘splainer, Michelle’s extensive research lays out “The Net Economic Benefit of Wrapping Risk with a Contingent Deferred Annuity.”

When we want to be sure that what should work in theory works in practice, we interview and develop case studies with our RIA partner experts. Our most recent features George Webb of Pension & Wealth Management Advisors (PWMA). We announced the launch of our Portfolio Income Insurance program with PWMA in April, and in June published a case study detailing how a contingent deferred annuity helps PWMA advisors inspire client confidence to keep them invested and on plan.

Constancely Improving

The Constance contingent deferred annuity powers the Portfolio Income Insurance program for PWMA. And as the needs of firms like PWMA have evolved, we’ve taken their feedback and applied their recommendations. Because here’s the thing about expertise: You gotta seek it out if you want to improve. Creating things in an echo chamber ensures stale, static thinking. It’s our job to deliver on the promise of progress and improvement, and that’s why we worked with our partners at Midland National to lower the fees by an average of 25%, remove the deferral period, and simplify the coverage options.

For many Americans, insurance protections provided by contingent deferred annuities may enable them to live the retirements of their dreams. Our own research from the joint 2022 RIA Protected Accumulation and Retirement Income Survey proves the utility of annuities for income. RIAs whose clients own annuities overwhelmingly agree that protected lifetime income gives them peace of mind and the confidence to spend the money they accumulated throughout their working lives.

Maybe protected income solutions sound boring in comparison to the generous returns and tax-free passive income promised by the folks on TikTok, but here’s a hot take for you: retirement income should be boring. Knowing you’ll be able to cover your expenses isn’t exciting.

As the philosopher Chris Rock once said, “The only exciting relationships, are bad ones.” That might be true of income strategies, too…

On-Demand Webinars from Q1

  1. Webinar: A Tax Playbook for RIAs
    RetireOne’s Mark Forman hosts Jeffrey Clark from Jackson who quantifies the impact effective tax planning can have on the efficient growth of client portfolios, trust, and estate plans, and ultimately their legacies. He identifies the holes in clients’ “leaky buckets,” explaining how RIAs can effectively fill them, and discussing how and when annuities may play a key role.
  2. Webinar: Solving for Longevity Risk – A Tool for Clients
    RetireOne Chief Distribution Officer Jeff Cusack and CMO Mark Forman explain how contingent deferred annuities protect client income streams which allows RIAs like you to help your clients act in their own best interest, even when they’re reluctant to.
  3. Webinar: Avoiding Common Annuity Mistakes
    Mark Forman hosts Nationwide’s SME Steve Hamilton who explains how to navigate the nuances of annuity contracts to help you avoid costly mistakes and bring more value to your clients.

New Hire

Sales Associate Mike Cote joined RetireOne in Q2. Welcome to the team, Mike!

As always, if you like this content, be sure to follow RetireOne on LinkedIn, and Twitter for more.

Best Wishes,

Stone Signature
David Stone
Founder and CEO