Jim E. Keenehan, AIF®, CPFA
Senior Consultant, Retirement Plans
- (301) 951-2642
Jim E. Keenehan, AIF®, CPFA
Senior Consultant, Retirement Plans
Why I get up in the morning:
We would all like to make it to a point where, financially, work is optional. What many call “retirement” can and should be an exciting part of our lives. I know I intend to retire someday with dignity and on my own terms. I hope to make that a possibility for every single employee that I meet. But, for most of us, there is a lot that will happen between now and retirement. The path to financial success does not begin with a deferral rate and investment election (purposeful use of ridiculous industry lingo). Too often, people skip the critical steps necessary for a strong financial foundation. Without that, a 401(k) account is just one hardship or loan away from trouble.
That is where we come in. We make sure employees are on solid financial ground and protected if and when life gets in the way. For better or for worse, our financial standing impacts our enjoyment of life. I am honored to be in a position to help people make smart financial decisions that just might make their day a little bit better.
How I got here:
I owe much of my desire to connect with others to my diverse background. I grew up in Lima, a small, lower-middle-class town in West Central Ohio. Throughout my younger years, I became friends with people from a wide variety of cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds. Those bonds and experiences will forever stay with me and help me understand the challenges that face employees every single day.
I learned about the importance of saving at a very young age. Growing up, my family took annual Thanksgiving road trips to visit my grandparents in Rochester, NY. I’ll never forget my grandfather showing me his Kodak stock certificates and teaching me about how he had been able to lead a more enjoyable life because of the different investments he had made (luckily, he also understood the concept of diversification). Those fond memories have had a great impact on my views of the financial industry and, ultimately, my life.
I’ve been working with retirement plans ever since I graduated from the University of Notre Dame. I spent significant time on the investment side of the business working with consultants, financial advisors, and plan providers. Back then, the goal was to help organizations build more effective 401(k) plan investment menus which their employees could clearly understand and use to best maximize their savings.
I also spent some years working for retirement plan providers, known in the industry as recordkeepers. This gave me hands-on experience with the back-end systems that are the platforms for retirement plans. This experience helped me gain an understanding of and appreciation for all the moving pieces that must work in sync to make a retirement plan function seamlessly.
I'm an Investment Advisor Representative (IAR) through Global Retirement Partners (GRP). I have also earned the Accredited Investment Fiduciary® (AIF®) professional designation, awarded by the Center for Fiduciary Studies, which is associated with the University of Pittsburgh, and am a Certified Plan Fiduciary Advisor (CPFA).
What I do really well:
I pride myself on my ability to connect with people and help them feel more at ease about their financial situation. Throughout my career, I have had the pleasure of working with financial consultants and advisors, investment managers, third-party administrators (TPAs), plan sponsors, retirement committees, and employees. Of those, helping employees is my true passion.
I am also a retirement plan geek. Being a student in the retirement plan industry helps me better serve my clients. While the 401(k) industry can seem somewhat slow-moving, we at AFS want to make sure that we are educating our plan sponsors on changes and trends and arming their employees with the tools they need to be successful.
What I’m most interested in for the retirement industry today:
In two words: Financial Wellness. But not in the generic way that phrase is so loosely tossed around these days. I mean using innovation, technology, and, most importantly, the human touch, to help people make the right financial decisions.
I would argue that most of the retirement plan industry has been putting the cart before the horse since the inception of the 401(k). For years the industry was focused on the wrong things, like adding additional investment options to the lineup, presumably to satisfy a small number of people proficient enough with investing and how retirement plans work. In 2006, the Pension Protection Act (PPA) helped the cause, and we began paying attention to things like participation and deferral rates. In more recent years, the focus has been on nudging employees to save more and ensure they won’t outlive their nest egg (this is sometimes referred to as retirement readiness).
There is just one small problem: we were promulgating increased savings rates when there are so many workers with other, more pressing financial issues. Now the industry is finally realizing that financial wellness is the foundation we need to lay before our employees worry about retirement. At AFS, we have been aware of and focusing on financial wellness for years (at the beginning, we didn’t know it would be called financial wellness; it was simply helping people and the right thing to do). We have developed and continue to invest in industry-leading services and technologies that help employees with crucial, foundational things like paying off credit cards, growing emergency savings, building a household budget, and handling student loans, to name a few.
Who I am really:
I live in Rockville, MD with my beautiful wife, Ashley, and our two daughters, Clover and Scout. We are fans of trying out new restaurants and have probably been to every brewery within a 50-mile radius of our home. When we are not out and about, we are likely to be relaxing at home listening to music or catching up on movies/shows/documentaries.
I try to stay as active as my schedule allows; on the weekends I am always game for a jog, hike, tennis match, or boot camp-style workout. Depending on when you read this, I am either WAY into golf or “permanently” retired (if you find my clubs in your local lake please return them). My professional sports teams are the Washington Nationals and San Francisco 49ers.
Last, but not least, I am a Notre Dame alumnus and a die-hard fan of any and all of their sports teams. Go Irish!