Advice for the future


I spent a lot of hours on airplanes in the last few weeks.

The coffee plantation is doing well and the Dordogne area of southern France is superb. Read a thought provoking book entitled: 2030: The Real Story of What Happens to America. Albert Brooks projects a challenging world, a scary world, in the not too distant future. Under his assumptions, the unintended results of curing cancer and unchecked borrowing by our government, changes our world. It is changed primarily because our country’s financial alternatives and decision making options become limited. We become victim to our own lack of foresight. The unintended consequences of sequentially bad decisions scared me about our earthly future.

It also made me think of issues even closer to today: The unintended consequences of not establishing a Future Funded Ministry Plan (both by an organization for it’s staff, and for each plan participant). Scary too. Scary because when each person gets to the point of changing their life style—because of age or other circumstance—and support funds are not there, choice is lost. “Going where You (God) want me to go” is then, not an option. “The unintended consequences of sequentially bad decisions” is scary indeed.

Let’s follow the logic: When choice is lost, the lowest common denominator wins. 

In most cases the controlling factor is money ... or more pointedly, the lack of resources. So, at least part of the answer is to set money aside now for that point in time when the paycheck stops or income is dramatically reduced. Experientially, we here at Envoy know the amount is about 10% of income. So how are you doing? How is your organization doing?

The next point is to make sure your plan is running well ... a smooth running automobile is an analogy that comes to mind.

The most recent “action item” in the tune up menu is to be clear about plan expenses. As a Plan Sponsor you should have received the plan expenses fee disclosure document from either Envoy or your current vendor. If you haven’t received it—in either case—give us a call, we can help. Not knowing also leads to unintended consequences.

Here is the key message of the day:

  • The future is controlled by the decisions you make along the way.
  • Once those decisions are made, future choice is either limited or expanded.
  • Read the book.
  • Make your plans.
  • Get help (Trusted Advice) so the plans will be good ones.
  • Know that God’s plans for you are "for good, and not for evil." So, pay attention ... your future depends in it!

Always good to be home.

Living with Trusted Advice together


Unique insights and time-saving decisions


My grandfather once asked me, “Bruce, why is experience the best teacher?” When I look befuddled and said, “I have no idea," he responded, “Because it is the most expensive!”  Wow, what a clear insight into reality, how things really work.

If experience is the best teacher, and the most expensive, are there any shortcuts that can take us to “a better place” more efficiently and effectively? Let’s explore a sampling of the options.

Learning from others

The alternative to learning from our own painful and expensive experiences is learning from others.

Some of the ways we learn from others include:

  1. Professional journals
  2. Conferences and webinars
  3. Classes and courses of professional study
  4. The experience of others

One of the important ways we learn from others is digesting the aggregated information collected from peers about any given subject.

One useful way information is gathered and digested is through surveys.

Most of us are deluged with survey questions. It is important that we set some criteria for which survey we will answer, and which ones we won’t.

Here is a list of criteria for you to consider: 

  1. Is it timely?  We are all busy and sometimes we can prioritize, make the time available, the time, and sometimes we can’t. Simply acknowledging that reality is helpful.
  2. Is it relevant?  Does the topic and content of the survey fit into a subject category that ties in with either my responsibilities and/or my priorities?
  3. Are the results important?  Will the results of the survey inform me in a way that will be helpful either professionally or personally?

If the answers to all three questions are “yes," then participate. If not, “pass."

Applying the 3 criteria to the example

  1. Is it timely? If you are either a retirement plan administrator or have some oversight responsibility for your plan, or a member of an organization that thinks you need a plan, you will make time to answer a 12-minute survey on these topics. If not, you won’t.
  2. Is it relevant? Clearly, if your ministry responsibility includes benefits or the finances associated with them, you will answer yes. This includes the key members of an executive team, down to the pastor or administrator of a very small ministry. It is relevant. You will participate in the survey and look forward to learning the results.
  3. Are the results important? Knowing what others are doing provides a benchmark to evaluate and help define best practices as you consider implementin a new retirement plan. It also provides a gauge to measure what you are currently doing.

Keep in mind the three criteria the next time you are asked to take a survey:

Is it timely?

Is it relevant?

And are the results important?

You can get helpful, time-saving information from surveys. You can also waste time if they don’t fit the criteria. The unique insights are an important way to leapfrog the pain of your personal experience. Applying the criteria is a way to save time.

So, happy learning from the experiences of others.

- Bruce Bruinsma