Retirement Planning: “You’re the Rock That They Can Rely Upon”

Vince Morris of OneDigital, a firm finalist for Retirement Plan of the Year, says keeping clients on track in the current economic conditions can require tough love.



In the run-up to naming the winners of the inaugural RIA Intel Awards on September 14, 2022, RIA Intel will publish short features highlighting the accomplishments of this year’s nominees and Rising Stars.

OneDigital, a leading insurance, financial services, and HR consulting advisory firm which is used by more than 85,000 employers in the U.S., was selected as a finalist for Retirement Plan of the Year in the inaugural RIA Intel Awards. We spoke with Vince Morris, president of OneDigital’s retirement and wealth division (and its registered investment advisor, OneDigital Investment Advisors) about the biggest challenges facing his sector and how it’s important for firms like his to manage and prioritize both sponsors and investors. Responses have been edited for clarity and length.

What has been the biggest challenge for your sector this past year?

One of the biggest challenges has been the collapse of both fixed income and equities at the same time. That was definitely very challenging in ’08, when the credit markets froze up, but to see it again this year, and to watch fixed income have one of the worst quarters that it’s had in 40 years, has created a very challenging environment.

Employers are also struggling with how to track talent. How do I keep and retain talent in this age of a great resignation? At the same time, we’re seeing negative return rates, so it’s important for us to go in and help employees understand the value of long-term investing, compounding interest, and having the correct savings rates, all of which will reward them at the end of the day.

What lessons have you learned during your time in this business?

As an advisor, I’ve learned that I’m a professional who’s there to help individuals. And sometimes – because of behavioral and emotional attachments and other things like that – these individuals make decisions that aren’t in their best interest. So you’re there to be that guiding light, even when what you’re telling the client isn’t necessarily the thing that they want to hear or do.

That was very tough when I was a young advisor who was trying to make everybody happy. But as you mature, you understand that you’re there to protect them and to create a plan and an investment strategy that works for them. When you go through rough markets, like what we’ve been going through over the last six months, you’re the rock that they can rely upon.

What was a challenging moment for you that turned into an opportunity?

Early in my career, I was involved in a couple of ventures that I would say provided me with the equivalent of a master’s degree in how the real world worked. But as I did future deals, I was able to take what I learned from those mistakes and eventually apply it to our current enterprise, which is very successful. Since then, we’ve never really gotten too hung up on the things that don’t work out. We just focus on the things that do work out, and how we can do more of them. More often than not, we’ve been able to prevail.

The inaugural RIA Intel Awards are a celebration of financial advisors, wealth management firms, and industry leaders. Winners will be announced on on September 14, 2022 and will be honored in-person at upcoming RIA Institute Forums.

Caitlin Keating (@Caitkeating) is a freelancer at RIA Intel and is based in New York City.

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