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AZ Tech Roundtable 2.0

AZ Tech Roundtable 2.0 with Matt Battaglia

The show where EntrepreneursTop Executives, Founders, and Investors come to share insights about the future of business


AZ TRT 2.0 looks at the new trends in business, & how classic industries are evolving

Common Topics Discussed: Startups, Founders, Funds & Venture Capital, Business, Entrepreneurship, Biotech, Blockchain / Crypto, Executive Comp, Investing, Stocks, Real Estate + Alternative Investments, and more… 


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Wealth for Life: HERE


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Mar 15, 2022

401K – Turns Spenders into Savers w/ Jean Smart of Penelope & Ted Benna ‘Father of the 401K’

- BRT S03 EP11 (110) 3-13-2022



Things We Learned This Week

  • 401K turns Spenders into Savers
  • 401K provides Tax Deferral now, lowers Taxable Income
  • Penelope serves Microbiz, business of 5 – 50 employees who are underserved by major financial institutions
  • Simplify choices, and streamline the 401K process, reduce fees so all size business can participate
  • Ted Benna – Father of the 401K, 401K may not be appropriate to all people or business, choose 401K or IRA based on needs & size of business





Guests: Jean Smart, Founder of Penelope

Jean Smart is the Founder/CEO. She has overseen the building of a cloud based recordkeeping system from scratch and they have begun to take on clients. I have helped them shape what they are offering using what I have learned working with small businesses. Their goal is to help micro female and minority owned businesses pick the right plan - not just a plan.  



Background – Jean worked in financial industry in benefits department with small & big businesses.

Jean is an Immigrant of Korean descent. Worked in family business – had no 401K, could have saved money, maybe $1-5K/yr.

401K plans - complicated, but great opps. , the larger companies 401K plans are robust

Plan design, types of investments,  loans, investments, eligibility (F/T vs P/T)

60K funds to choose, complicated – rules and investments

Small business defined as under 500 employees, 32 million small businesses.

Micro plans – 5- 50 employees


Penelope – give less choice, 10 funds Vanguard – Target Date Funds with management make it simple

Conservative setup vs. age of employee – example: 45 yr old employee has 20 year target date funds

Target Date Retirement Funds 2020-2065

Automate – or can have blended average

401K – put in $20,500/yr or over 50, additional $6500 up to $27,000

Employee match 3% to 5% and up.


SEP IRA – self employed retirement plan for businesses of 5-10 people. Plan is a little different – put 50K+, also solo 401K – put up to $60K


401K for 10+ employees. Size of business affects what retirement plan business should use.

Savings, Penelope story, benefit of saving, Most Americans can’t save $20K or $50K

Some IRA options – good for smaller plans

Smaller plans – 401K, Safe Harbor 401K, IRA, SEP, Simple

Good to have options – 10+ employees 401K, less than 10, SEP or IRA

$45K income, put $15K in 401K, taxable income of $60K. Also employee match, take the free money $.100 employees and less, less regulations. Use match to lower fees.

Tax deferred – pay taxes when they take money out. Required minimum distribution (RMD) age is 72 to take money out and pay taxes. Penalties 10% at 59, if money taken out before 59.

Employer pays cost of plan, Fees – employee costs, AUM fee

Subscription based with low fee - $8 per month, $100 per employee (is her 10 yr old daughter’s name) is a micro business with a staff of 10 in multiple locations.  Remote environment (NY, CA, Europe). Started in covid, new business 2021.

Outline platform – simple choices w/ 10 options, Vanguard Target Date

SaaS Platform – B to B, enterprise type setup w/ Education  videos

Capital Raise – Safe Harbor 401K – target fund is core plan


VC backed , has investors – 3 institutional investors with Seed 1, then seed 2 later in 2022

Respect the Founders, business owners – it’s hard. Modern day tech has more advantages and tools to help a small business.

Guts – get numbers. TAM,CAC, product market fit super rewarding, small company, create business.

No sleep, frenetic – but normalizes like solving puzzles.


Have to prove model works and add options (example: IRA), then Out of Stealth Mode to active

PR and Press release, partnership event

Women led businesses and immigrant businesses

Demos and proving market fit

401K is for savers.




Guests: Ted Benna, Benna 401K



Ted Benna, Father of the 401K, has worked in pension and retirement benefits industry for 60 years, and literally wrote the book on the 401K. He was a pioneer in the early 80s in designing the early 401K Plans, and then getting them approved by the IRS to be the model still used today.



401K Forty Years Later (2018) – history of the 401K

401K & IRA for Dummies Updated Version (2021)



Pandemic, Inflation, Market is down

Think long term with 401K, 15-20 years to retirement

If closer to retirement, less risk exposure, less equity investment

Ted Benna history with 401K, should not be sole plan for retirement, Diversify portfolio with life insurance, and real estate.

Biggest benefit of 401K – turn spenders into savers

People have other expenses, kids, house, bills, etc., hard to save $ money 

Companies can help employees save more for retirement.

401K is tax deferred – lower taxable income today and pay taxes at retirement.

Help lower taxes and speed up savings.

401K changes Ted would recommend –

50% workplace has no retirement plan, states like CA & OR are working to mandate this.

401K was hijacked by financial institutions. Fees are too high, need less expensive plans for small business employers with 2.75% fees.

401K is not always best solution for all business, may need IRA, alternative investments, depends on size


Jean Smart of Penelope created a transparent 401K plan with low fees and all disclosed.

Ted Benna worked with Jean Smart at Penelope to design good plans w/ low fees.

Get right plan for small business employers  - 401K may not be the best plan.

4 different types of 401K plans


Financial Advisors and services just sell 401K. Market for small businesses is not lucrative.

People who work hard, but can’t fund retirement.

Micro businesses need help, business with  5-20 employees, minority and female owned businesses. 

Employers pay setup and maintenance fees. Employee pays .5% fee just for investment part.



Ted Benna 1st appearance on BRT Podcast in 8/2021

Topic: Ted Benna, the Father of the 401k Covers It All, History, pensions, Fees & More

Full Show: HERE



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More 'Best of Investing': Here


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Business Roundtable with Matt Battaglia

The show where EntrepreneursHigh Level Executives, Business Owners, and Investors come to share insight and ideas about the future of businessBRT 2.0 looks at the new trends in business, and how classic industries are evolving

Common Topics Discussed: Business, Entrepreneurship, Investing, Stocks, Cannabis, Tech, Blockchain / Crypto, Real Estate, Legal, Sales, Charity, and more… 

BRT Podcast Home Page:

‘Best Of’ BRT Podcast: Click Here

BRT Podcast on Google: Click Here

BRT Podcast on Spotify: Click Here                   

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Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this program are those of the Hosts, Guests and Speakers, and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of any entities they represent (or affiliates, members, managers, employees or partners), or any Station, Podcast Platform, Website or Social Media that this show may air on. All information provided is for educational and entertainment purposes. Nothing said on this program should be considered advice or recommendations in: business, legal, real estate, crypto, tax accounting, investment, etc. Always seek the advice of a professional in all business ventures, including but not limited to: investments, tax, loans, legal, accounting, real estate, crypto, contracts, sales, marketing, other business arrangements, etc.