Carl Richards is the creator of the weekly “sketch column” in the New York Times and is a columnist for Morningstar Advisor. Carl has also been featured on Marketplace Money, Oprah.com and Forbes.com. Through his simple sketches, Carl makes complex concepts easy to understand. I recently caught up with Carl for a little Q & A. Enjoy:
1) Before we get down to business, would you please share a bit about your personal background? Where you were raised, your family etc?
I was born and raised in Utah, which is where I currently live with my wife, my four kids and our dog Zeke. We consider ourselves an outdoor family and love spending time doing everything from skiing in the winter to mountain biking in the summer.
2) You are well known for your “sketches” – how did that begin?
To be honest, it was an act of desperation. One day, while I was trying to explain a very important concept to some clients, all I got in return was blank stares. So I stood up, walked to the whiteboard, and said, “No, like this….,” as I drew the concept. They understood it, and the rest, as they say, is history.
3) What is your most important advice for a plan sponsor (employer) who is establishing or maintaining a 401k or 403b plan for their employees?
Keep it simple. I suggest sponsors and/or employers make it a priority to create high quality, well-designed education materials that are simple and focused on helping employees make smart financial decisions.
4) What is your most important advice for a participant in a 401k or 403b plan in the context of selecting deferral amounts and investments?
Sign-up, defer as much as you can, then leave it alone.
5) What are your views on the future of “Robo-advisors” and how that may affect traditional financial advisors?
Traditional financial advisors understand that they offer a unique value. They can provide empathy and establish trust, emotions an algorithm doesn’t understand. Advisors who recognize the value of empathy and trust have nothing to fear. In fact, the robo industry will make advisors more efficient on the technical side, giving them more time and energy to focus on client relationships and needs.
6) Can you share your thoughts on the Fiduciary vs. Suitability topic – and what it all means – or doesn’t mean – for retail investors and advisors.
A picture is worth a thousand words:
7) Where can folks learn more about your work and buy your book?
is the best place, and I always encourage people to sign up for the newsletter to hear the latest news. Of course you can buy the book at any local bookstore, but Amazon is open 24 hours a day, too.