John Oliver on Retirement Planning

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Jun 16, 2016
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Investing, Index Funds, Mutual Funds, Current Events, Video Resource

Hat tip to my colleague, Jessica, for tipping me off to this recent John Oliver video about investment management companies (see an earlier post about his take on the credit reporting and scoring business). This time he turns his sights on the retirement planning industry. For those of you not familiar with John Oliver, well let’s just say, you will want to preview the video before deciding whether or not to use in your classroom. You will be the best judge of what portions might be most appropriate for your students.  

Here are some questions for your students to ponder:

  • How much have people saved for retirement?
  • Can you expect financial advisors to act in your best interest? Why or why not?
  • What is an annuity?
    • Might have students to do a brief webquest to answer this question as little detail is provided
  • What does it mean to be a fiduciary?
  • What are examples of fees that you might find in a retirement plan?
  • Why do fees matter with retirement plans? Include compound interest in your answer.
  • What insect does John Oliver compare fees to? Why?
  • Do more expensive actively managed funds typically “beat the market?”
  • What does his company’s experience with their 401(k) plan indicate?
  • What is the new regulation coming next year that should help consumers when it comes to retirement planning?
  • What are the five pieces of investing advice that are provided at the end of the video?
  • In thinking about the financial service commercials presented in the video, what emotions are these companies appealing to?

I tried to tag the more inappropriate portions of the video which came at the following timestamps: 3:25, 6:10, 7:43, 16:10, although there are multiple “bleeps” throughout.

Regardless of whether you use this in the classroom or not, you will likely have a better understanding of investing for retirement and what questions you should be asking about your plan!

About the Author

Tim Ranzetta

Tim's saving habits started at seven when a neighbor with a broken hip gave him a dog walking job. Her recovery, which took almost a year, resulted in Tim getting to know the bank tellers quite well (and accumulating a savings account balance of over $300!). His recent entrepreneurial adventures have included driving a shredding truck, analyzing executive compensation packages for Fortune 500 companies and helping families make better college financing decisions. After volunteering in 2010 to create and teach a personal finance program at Eastside College Prep in East Palo Alto, Tim saw firsthand the impact of an engaging and activity-based curriculum, which inspired him to start a new non-profit, Next Gen Personal Finance.