Like most baseball players, Mike Sweeney knows statistics – and as a five-time MLB All-Star, the former Kansas City Royal has seen some pretty impressive stats in his career. But calculating a batting average is one thing and projecting investment growth is another. So when Sweeney started investing his earnings, he knew he needed expert advice.
Earlier this summer, he filed suit against the financial firm and the broker who invested his money, claiming they lost $4.9 million in risky investments, after he’d told them to invest his money conservatively. According to the suit: “Because of his lack of experience and sophistication, [Sweeney] relied upon and trusted defendants completely to solicit and purchase investments and create investment strategies that were suitable for him. The defendants had discretion to trade [his] accounts which elevates the fiduciary duty they owed [him].”
Now, the lawsuit was only recently filed, and the court still needs to determine the facts. But regardless of the suit’s outcome, stories like this serve as a reminder to all of us – whether you’re a professional athlete or an armchair quarterback. At the Labor Department’s Employee Benefits Security Administration, we believe America’s workers should be able to rely on the experts they hire for investment advice, and never discover that they’ve been misled or that their trust has been misplaced. The official term for this is “breach of fiduciary duty,” but most people simply recognize it as a raw deal.
Unless you work until the day you die, you’ll need to save for retirement. So how can you protect yourself? There are two things you can do to get on the right track: educate yourself and start saving – and we can help you with both. No matter what kind of job you have, no matter where you are in your career, EBSA has resources that can help you understand what you can do now to secure your retirement.
- Looking for advice on how to save for the future? Our Savings Matters website has information for workers at every stage of their careers.
- Need practical guidance on a specific situation? Our consumer information website offers extensive information on retirement plans, and online toolkit offers general information and links to online resources with more support for a variety of financial circumstances.
- Want to calculate how much money you need to save for the future? Our online calculators can help you determine if your retirement savings are on track, or estimate your monthly income based on your current savings and projected account balance at retirement.
- Struggling to stay on top of the latest retirement news? Our biweekly e-newsletter highlights important issues that could affect your retirement.
- Have question about your retirement plan? You can reach out to one of our trained benefits advisers, online at http://askebsa.dol.gov or over the phone at 866-444-3272. They can help to informally resolve any problems, or refer the issue to our investigators for enforcement.
And that’s not all we do. In addition to EBSA’s educational mission, we’re proposing regulations to increase protections for America’s workers, making sure they have access to crucial information and trusted – and trustworthy – advice.
The Department of Labor believes that it doesn’t matter how much education you’ve had, where you work or how much you earn; all of America’s workers have a right to feel secure in their retirement savings. Helping workers protect themselves is at the heart of EBSA’s mission, and it’s one that I’m proud to be a part of.
Phyllis C. Borzi is the assistant secretary of labor for employee benefits security.