The Board updated its website today and we would like to take this chance to interpret what they had to say.
Yes, the Company will continue to contribute a portion of its profits to the Plan. In 2013, the Board voted unanimously to make a contribution to the profit sharing plan at a level consistent with the preceding years. Additionally, in an effort to further reward associates and to improve the performance of the Plan, the Investment Committee of the Board began a process to select a nationally recognized investment advisor which could improve investment performance and professionally manage the funds.
When they state that a portion of profits will be contributed, they are laying the groundwork for a much reduced amount and they will be ready to blame Arthur T. Demoulas for it. Profits will, in all likelihood, be down this year as a result of the 4% sale and the Board will no doubt be happy to pin their lessened contribution on that.
They also changed the wording to “could” improve from the near guarantee of better performance that had previously been on this question. They state to “improve” the performance of the plan. We say that 6.7% average annual return is a pretty damn good return, slow and steady wins the race. We are not in Las Vegas, this is our future so we can retire in comfort after years of hard work and we would rather not gamble with our future.
The Investment Committee of the Board, including Eric Gebaide, Ron Weiner and Bill Shea, (former Chairman of the Board), unanimously decided to select one financial advisor on behalf of the Company’s Profit Sharing Plan, with the objective of selecting a professional investment advisory firm to better manage the Company’s Profit Share Plan for the benefit of the Associates. As part of that process, several members of management (Don Mulligan and Sue Dufresne) were invited to meet the firm and learn of their approach, ask questions, and help the committee engage them. The Investment Committee’s guiding principles, as agreed by all of its members and shared with Mr. Mulligan and Ms. Dufresne, are to move carefully, but deliberately towards a state of the art profit sharing plan where professionals are responsible for protecting and investing the funds, and employees are able to learn how their funds can best be invested. Unfortunately, both Mr. Mulligan and Ms. Dufresne refused the invitation.
Immediately they place Bill Shea in the mix to portray him as being a part of this scheme. We can be sure that Mr. Shea did in fact vote for the best firm to manage the money, but only after it was voted by the majority to alter the plan by firing the trustees and putting it in the hands of Wall Street. They go on to state that Don Mulligan and Sue Dufresne were invited to be a part of the process but ultimately they refused the invitation. This is a well crafted paragraph by the highly paid Kekst people…they had Don and Sue no matter what they did in this matter. Had they accepted the invitation, they would be a party to the dismantling of our Plan; by refusing it they were being difficult obstructionists who could have constructively helped the future of the plan. In short, the Board is saying Don and Sue betrayed us. Never mind the fact that we have worked with these individuals for decades and that we know full well that they have our backs in this battle, they are trying to create division among us by painting them as villains. They also show very clever language when they talk about a “state of the art” plan where “professionals are responsible for protecting” the funds. Imagine how good it will feel to have a hot-shot Wall Street player “protecting” your retirement! Why would you want Mr. Marsden and ATD protecting you when you could have a person you’ve never met doing it? Lastly they mention that you will be able to learn how your funds can be invested. Ask any of your friends who has a retirement plan with different funds to choose from just how great it is. You get to read tons of prospectuses and you get to divide which funds your cash goes to…20% to Small Cap, 15% to Emerging Markets, 20% Large Cap, 20% Large Cap Value….etc, etc. After a career where your money is taken care of and your retirement nest egg is assured, it will now be on you to figure out how to ride the market. Don’t worry about the fact that your coworker might return 25% on her plan next year while you will lose 4% because you will forget to move your money out of the fund which has too much exposure to BP when they have a catastrophe. You will enjoy the liberty afforded you by being able to spend countless hours after work or on your weekends figuring out how to allot your money. Thank you Board for this State of the Art plan! This is another example of the Board trying to fix something that isn’t broken so they can shift liability from themselves to you.
Oh, one other thing: when you complain to whoever it is that you get to call and complain to about how your plan tanked they will empathize with you and then tell you that it was your own decision which led you to those investments.
In our opinion this is the first step to what will inevitably be changing our plan from a profit sharing plan where the company contributes 15-20% of your gross earnings into a 401k plan where you have to contribute funds yourself out of your net earnings and the company “may or may not” match some of those funds. Our plan is a true benefit, an extension of our compensation that we don’t have to worry about and we know will be there when we retire. Hardship withdrawals will become loans that must be paid back, is this what we want done with OUR money?
If you haven’t received a copy of ATD’s letter ask your manager for one and read it carefully. One thing in this company is certain, ATD does not lie to us and he has OUR best interests at heart, the A/B Directors have only their own and the A shareholders interests at heart.