A Single Source Solution for The Participant’s Benefit

If you know what the strategies are, you will be well served for the rest of your life.

For Sean Ruehl, the president of North Carolina-based RJ20 Inc., politics led him indirectly to the financial industry. As a kid, at the end of the Carter administration, he heard economic complaints from his family. Then Ronald Reagan came into office and economic changes began – he wondered what caused that difference.

Post-college, Ruehl worked in banking, making his way up to the trust department. In 2000, the banking industry created wealth management, the merger of private banking and trusts. Now he was responsible for guiding clients through every service, including insurance, investing and banking.

When Ruehl and co-founder Chip Jurgensen started RJ20 in 2009, they focused on making what they did in the wealth management world available to the everyday employee. They charge a minimum flat fee for their services, starting at $3,000 annually per plan and based upon plan assets. “We lock in the fee for the first three years, so it is budgetable,” Ruehl said. RJ20 markets to 401(k) plan advisors, who can in turn help participants.

Computer Model Rendering Advice

RJ20 uses computer model rendering advice to participants so it’s a repeatable, documented process. Using 5,000 simulations for goal assessment, they look at the highest probability from their number-crunching to reach the goal with the least amount of risk. They then examine the best mix of funds in various asset classes and select them to create a portfolio. “We are not biased one way or another towards passive or active funds, as we look at the net results, fees and risk. So we’re truly recommending the best fund per our analysis and not having a bias get in the way of our advice,” says Ruehl. Every participant gets access to that analysis, and the technology is available via an online portal.

Well-Analyzed Retirement Reports

Before RJ20 sends out retirement advice reports to plan participants, they’ve done significant analysis, asking, “Is it simple enough so that people can understand and take action on it?” Ruehl adds that reports must be sophisticated enough so they don’t seem like simple calculation. “We found the balance between simplicity and complication, so it’s credible. We’ve seen people with sophisticated backgrounds and those who never had a checking account read the report and ‘get’ it.”

No Conflicts of Interest

“We’re a third party,” says Ruehl. “We don’t have anything to do with funds in a plan or recordkeeping. It’s impossible for us to have a conflict of interest – we don’t sell products.” He notes that by explaining what his firm can’t do, people immediately grasp that they can give the best advice possible.

RJ20 has their advice reports provided to all participants. “If we’re not involved, the advisor has to sit down with the client and start from scratch,” says Ruehl. “If we’re engaged, we have reports for each participant and the advisors have them. We’ve created the foundation and they can immediately engage in digging into points rather than waste time doing basic analysis. We allow financial advisors to do more.”

Finding Success by Initially Failing

RJ20’s greatest success came about inadvertently, by listening to clients about why they didn’t hire them. “When we were convinced we were going to get business and didn’t, we’d ask what would it have taken for you to say ‘yes’ to us? It’s a powerful question and we’d take the feedback and tweak our model to accommodate it,” Ruehl recalls. “The idea for our great service was basically a lot of no’s.”

To learn more about more about RJ20 Inc. visit:

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