Hi LAUSD Colleagues!

Dan and I certainly hope you were as satisfied after attending last week’s investment workshops as our contented 13-year-old Korean Jindo mix, Sammy. The evaluation results showed you were!

Thanks for coming! This was our fourth workshop as presenters. We were happy to see colleagues that I have worked with years ago looking so good. We had 73 participants out of 120 that officially registered. The weather might have had something to do with the 47 registered no-shows.

UTLA/LAUSD 403b/457b Investing Workshop

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Your feedback is important.  It will be used to guide future workshops.

The Workshops Agenda and Presentations:

  1. Barbara Healy, our financial consultant to the putting together a portfolio from the district’s Award Winning 457(b) plan.
  2. Rick Rodger’s Presentation about how the stock market works and avoiding predatory financial advisers.
  3. Crystal Mendez inspiring story getting colleagues aware of this powerful benefit plan.
  4. Larry Shoham, about putting pressure on the district to offer the 457(b) Roth.
  5. Steve and Dan (Financial Journey, mistakes and success for finally getting it together later in life.

Bio is at the bottom of this blog post.

Sixty Workshop Participants (out of 73 who attended) Returned An Evaluation and Answered the Following Questions:

1. Did this workshop meet your expectations? Why or why not?

All but a few said “YES!” and “Absolutely!”

Examples of comments:

  1. “Yes, it met my expectations, although its the 4th or 5th time. I always learn something new.”
  2. “Yes. No other source of information had an impact on choosing to diversify via a 457b. Until now, I’ve almost exclusively invested in real estate, figuring that along with my defined benefit (CalSTRS) pension, would be sufficient.”
  3. “Yes, as it was a straight-forward, objective discussion/experience”
  4. “For me, Barbara [Healy] as it simplified and explained by the 457b is such a superior option.”
  5. “I thought there’d be more 403b info, but I liked the focus on the 457b and financial planning.”
  6. “Yes, very informative. It was my second time attending this workshop and I still learned something new.”
  7. “Yes, because the content of the workshops was clear.”
  8. “Yes-learned a wealth of valuable information from ALL presenters.”

2. What was the MOST important activity or information provided?

These concepts were written down almost by everybody, “diversify” asset “allocation” “fees” “costs” “SAVE NOW” “Budget-pay, yourself first.” Others mentioned Rick Roger’s Presentation about how the stock market works, Barbara Healy’s presentation with explaining the district’s 457(b) plan, Larry’s 457(b) Roth presentation and Steve and Dan’s story were “inspiring.” A few wanted to hear more details about LAUSD’s elementary teacher Crystal Mendez’s inspiring story of starting early and saving a bundle at the young age of 33.

3. What was the LEAST important activity or information provided?

“All was important. Some of it was too technical.” Almost all of the participants left this blank. Two complained about too many personal questions.

4. What material and topics should be covered in future investment workshops:

  1. “If the Roth 457b becomes an option, I’d like a workshop on that.” [editor’s response: District might offer the Roth 457b option in January, 2016]
  2. “More information about real estate investments.”
  3. “It would be very good to study reallocation of current holdings in a workshop.” [editor’s response: the process of transferring annuities into low-cost investments such as those offered in the district’s 457b]. 
  4. “Many topics were covered and it would require an individual to attend this workshop several times to retain about half of what is covered. A lot of info.” [editor’s response:  [editor’s note: More frequent 3 hour Saturday morning workshops are being discussed].
  5. “457(b) plan be disseminated further to others.” [Editor’s response: the vast majority of LAUSD’s employees are still unaware of the 457(b) plan and that it won an award].
  6. “Asset allocation and probably more fee-based planners to speak to.” (Editor’s response: fee-only planners were recommended. Fee-only planners charge by the hour. Fee-based planners might charge commissions).
  7. “How important it is to begin saving.” [editor’s comment: FYI, 72% of LAUSD employees are not saving!!! A major problem]
  8. “Understanding 457(b) plan investment options.” [editor’s comment: A handful of people also wrote this].
  9. “A topic like beyond retirement how to invest or rollover.”
  10. “Maybe have a follow-up for persons who already have attended this.”*
  11. “What should a 20,30,40,50 or 60-year-old specifically. Sandy’s suggestion of a          beginner, intermediate and advanced levels is a good idea!”*
  12. “Breakups, targeting the level of retiree sophistication.”*
  13. “We need small group discussion.”*

*[Editor’s comment: feedback on 10-13 will help guide us to modify our next workshop agenda]. 

5. How did you hear about this workshop? Circle all that apply:

  1. Friend:
  2. UTLA or LAUSD Staff Meeting announcement: 15
  3. Social Media: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, other: 1
  4. United Teacher newspaper ad: 23
  5. Email message: 15
  6. Other (please elaborate): “Area meeting flyer,” having been coming several years I look for it!,” UTLA Retirement Seminar,” “Steve Schullo -Facebook,” “Sandy Keaton, flyer sent in mail,” “UTLA.net,” “LAUSD Benefits website,” “Larry Shoham,” “thank you for sending the e-mail message from UTLA,” “UTLA website,” “my husband,” “I called concerning my 403-b plan and was referred.”

Bios of Presenters:

Barbara Healy bio: She is the primary financial consultant to our advisory committee.

Stephen A. Schullo, Ph.D. (UCLA ’96) taught in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) for 24 years and UCLA Extension teaching educational technology to student teachers. Steve wrote investment articles for the UTLA newspaper for 13 years. Thrice featured retirement plan advocate in the Los Angeles Times and U.S. News and World Report. He co-founded an investor self-help group (403bAware with Sandy Keaton) for teacher colleagues and wrote 5,000 posts in three investment forums since 1997. Frequently quoted by the media, testified at California State legislative hearings and honored with the “Unsung Hero” award by UTLA for his retirement planning advocacy. He currently serves on LAUSD’s Investment Advisory Committee as a “Member-at-Large” and former co-chair. The committee monitors the 457b/403b/PARS of 55,000 former and current LAUSD employees, worth $2 billion in total assets.

Dan Robertson, Ph.D. (UCLA,’78), Director of the Employment and Training Center for Persons with Disabilities at California State University, Los Angeles, taught Sp. Ed for twenty-eight years: elementary and graduate students. He managed job training programs by writing $3.5M worth of grants, created budgets and maintained financial oversight. With Steve, he was featured in the Los Angeles Times Money Makeover feature in 1996. Dan has twenty-five years of reflection, study and investing experience. Implemented a low-cost 403b plan at a GLBT recovery center.

Dan and Steve are married and have been together for 40 years. They are the authors of their self-published book, “Late Bloomer Millionaires: A Financial Story and Investment Guide for Late Starters.”

Steve is the author of an additional new book, just released, “Fighting Powerful Interests: Educators Challenge Tax-sheltered Annuities and WIN!” A story of how a few LAUSD educators knowing very little about retirement planning ended up with an awarding winning 457(b) plan. It’s a free download: http://latebloomerwealth.com/publications/fighting-powerful-interests/

Crystal Mendez is a National Board Certified elementary teacher working in the Los Angeles Unified School District for 13 years. As an advocate for better retirement investment options, she has been featured in the Los Angeles Times, was interviewed for Frontline’s The Retirement Gamble, and has testified on behalf of teachers before the California State legislature. She enjoys educating any and all teachers about our wonderful investment options and the importance of investing for our own futures.

Larry Shoham is a High School Teacher at Hamilton High School.

Rick Roger’s bio was not available at this time.

Have a great Weekend,

Steve and Dan

P.S. You are free to write additional comments or suggestions for improving the workshops. You are free to ask questions about your particular investing and saving situations. Ask away!

1 Comment

  1. Thank you so much for developing these workshops and being an invaluable resource. I would be very interested in item# 9. I am really concerned about next steps since I’m less than 5 years away from retiring. I would also like to know more about how to manage/invest if I work after retiring.


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