Life journeys are full of surprises, some of them thrilling and some of them tough to navigate. It’s important to remain flexible, open-minded, and resilient so we can handle life’s unexpected twists and turns. For example, we may start off in one career, but our experiences might show us other areas we want to pursue or open doors to new opportunities. That’s my story at least. I started with the idea of having a career as a lawyer but became a financial advisor and retirement plan specialist when I realized how many people need the help I can offer—and I haven’t looked back since.
With my law degree in hand, I pursued that career for years…until I realized the tremendous need in the financial industry for a specialist who understood ERISA and the rules and regulations surrounding retirement plans—particularly a developing plan design called the 401(k) plan where participants would begin to have more control over how their money was invested, and share more of the cost in the process. It was clear to me that Plan Sponsors needed help navigating this emerging plan design, and the fiduciary governance issues growing along with it. Knowing I could fill that role, I saw this as an opportunity to take my legal background and bring it into the 401(k) and retirement world.
Before I moved to the financial advisor side of the street, I was helping a small, sleepy Canadian insurance company (Manulife Financial) create and distribute their 401(k) product, which was in the early days of the 401(k) evolution. I knew many brokers specializing in life and health insurance or employee benefits, who knew very little about the retirement plan industry, that were making significant sums of money on these plans, yet doing very little to support them. It motivated me to come up with a different solution.
In 2005, I joined forces with Dan and Lou Kravitz, along with Mark Davis, three prominent figures in the industry, to form an independent Advisor firm called Kravitz Davis Sansone. The firm later evolved to Kravitz Investment Services and then kPlans Investment Services, which was then acquired by SageView Advisory Group in 2022. Our firm was one of the first, truly independent Advisor firms in Los Angeles, and perhaps across the nation, that focused on helping Plan Sponsors implement fiduciary governance protocols and independent investment consulting in the operation of their 401(k) Profit Sharing Plans.
Dan and Lou Kravitz ran a plan administration firm and introduced me to a new plan design called a Cash Balance Plan. Seeing the need for high-wage earners to shelter more of their income and accelerate their savings, I quickly realized the opportunity that existed and felt I could make a significant impact. In the early days, I felt like a voice crying in the wilderness telling people about Cash Balance Plans because no one knew about them at the time. I spent nearly 15 years criss-crossing the country educating Brokers, Advisors, CPAs, Consultants, and Centers of Influence of all kinds about the existence of this plan, how it worked, and how they could grow their respective practices through this innovative plan design, with a unique investment protocol.
In a noisy, crowded 401(k) world with thousands of voices speaking at Plan Sponsors, this was a separate part of the industry no one was talking about that held significant benefits for highwage-earning Owners looking for a tax deduction. The essence of my message was—and remains—“relevance is more important than excellence.” And the one person speaking about how a Cash Balance Plan could dramatically impact their tax liability while accelerating their savings was much more relevant to the Owners/Decision-Makers than choosing among a thousand voices talking about the same thing: funds, features, and fees of the 401(k) plan.
My Career Today
From where I started in my career to where I am today has not been a straight line, but I have learned, grown, and adapted along the way. Throughout the years, however, my mission has stayed the same: fill a need in the industry for an independent, conflict-free retirement plan advisor that would serve in a fiduciary capacity to help employers build and maintain a worldclass retirement plan for their employees, and help employees achieve the retirement they imagined. Today I fulfill that mission in my role as Managing Director of the Valencia, CA, office for SageView Advisory Group. In addition, I am working with a very talented SageView team of people to grow SageView's prominence in the Cash Balance space. Whether I am writing, speaking, presenting, or working directly with clients, I continue to use my knowledge and expertise to better serve those in the retirement plan and wealth advising industry.
The Best Part
One of the best parts of my job is helping individual participants not only understand the full range of benefits available through their Company or Firm’s retirement plan, but also helping them develop a strategic plan for their retirement and putting that plan into effect. I have been working in this industry for decades, but I still get excited about going to work every day because I am passionate about helping my clients retire on time, sufficiently prepared to write the next and best chapter of their life. This is more than just a job for me; it’s a mission that motivates me to work hard at my profession to help as many people as possible experience financial freedom.
Want to Know More?
Now that you know a little about my story and background, I would love to hear from you and see how I can help your business create a more strategic and efficient retirement plan for your participants. As a business owner, you have a lot on your plate. At SageView Advisory Group, we work with you to develop a customized and comprehensive retirement benefits package that meets the needs of both you and your employees.
If you are looking to learn more about Cash Balance Plans and see if they would be a good fit for your business, or if you want to discuss any of the other services we offer, I would love to speak with you. Schedule an introductory meeting by contacting me at (818) 262-3458 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Steve Sansone has over 30 years of experience in the retirement plan industry and is the Managing Director of the Valencia office at SageView Advisory Group, one of the largest Registered Investment Advisor firms specializing in retirement plans. As an Accredited Investment Fiduciary® and Certified Plan Fiduciary Advisor practitioner, Steve works with professional service groups and companies of all sizes seeking to create a world-class retirement plan experience for their plan participants. He serves as an ERISA 3(21) or 3(38) Advisor, bringing independent, conflict-free services to both Plan Sponsor Committees and retirement plan participants. Steve’s expertise in Cash Balance Plans spans nearly 20 years and is one of the few Advisors in the industry that understands both sides of the Cash Balance
equation: Actuarial and Investments. He considers his work to be the greatest financial rescue mission of this time, helping people retire on time, sufficiently prepared to write the next best chapter of their life. To learn more about Steve, connect with him on LinkedIn.
SageView Advisory Group, LLC is a Registered Investment Adviser. Advisory services are only offered to clients or prospective clients where SageView Advisory Group, LLC, and its representatives are properly licensed or exempt from licensure. No advice may be rendered by SageView Advisory Group, LLC unless a client service agreement is in place.