Beginning in the HR Department of a major aerospace firm at age sixteen, Micael Smith had a distinguished career ameliorating waste and fiduciary conflicts in American retirement benefits. He now applies complementary processes to fix American healthcare benefits, one company at a time.
While cutting premiums is important, what drives us is returning medical justice to working families. That’s because high deductibles leave too many functionally uninsured. To fix this, our programs ideally eliminate out-of-pocket costs while, at the same time, improving health outcomes.
Smith runs The Benefits Department, Inc. and is Director of Florida Manufacturers Healthcare Consortium, an FCMA initiative to pivot health insurance overspending to fund jobs, growth, and EBITDA.
Mike is a graduate of UCLA, holds an MBA from the University of Notre Dame, and studied International Law at the London School of Economics. He has been involved in various community activities including the Big Brother program, mentoring in the Los Angeles and Chicago juvenile prison systems, and was a member of the Board of Boys & Girls Clubs of Chicago, the Irish Georgian Society, the Papua New Guinea Agency for Economic Aid, and the Notre Dame Club of Jacksonville.
After working for his father, the Global Director of HR at Northrop Corporation, and a stint in commercial banking at Wells Fargo, Smith focused on strategies to improve IRS qualified retirement plans. He began his work in the London offices of TCW Asset Management in 1992 and relocated to their Los Angeles headquarters to develop business with State and major corporate pension funds.
In the dot.com era, he joined TCW spin-off GuidedChoice in Silicon Valley. Led by the former head of HR at Apple Computer and 1992 Nobel Laureate Harry Markowitz, the firm monetized 2017 Nobel Laureate Dick Thaler’s autopilot 401(k) behavioral economic theories and TCW’s seminal Department of Labor Exemption allowing investment advice inside a 401(k) plan.
Smith re-joined TCW colleagues to expand and patent their autopilot 401(k) business model. The fully discretionary version was approved by the Department of Labor in 2001 for their client, SunAmerica – and was later codified as federal law under the 2006 Pension Protection Act. The group advised 401(k) providers on their patented processes, including JP Morgan, AIG, New York Life, Great West, and Wachovia/Wells Fargo.
Smith relocated to Chicago in 2005 to oversee 401(k) and index products for Zacks Investment Research. There, he partnered with Morgan Stanley on an equity trust and designed TD Ameritrade’s target date ETF, named the 2008 Most Innovative ETF for the Americas.
In 2008, he again joined TCW colleagues to purchase Avatar Investments, founded by legendary investor Marty Zweig. As the firm’s target-date fund manager, Smith was a vocal opponent of conflicts of interest in 401(k) allocation funds. He was a frequent 401(k) and market commentator on CNBC, New York Times, Wall St. Journal, and testified on Wall Street conflicts in front of Committees of the Department of Labor, SEC, and the United States Senate. The firm sold in 2011 after a fivefold growth in assets. Smith then relocated to Florida where he (1) managed investment and insurance programs for various companies and (2) raised four small children.
Today, Smith is beginning a new chapter in his benefits career and is excited to leverage the collective resources of Mitigate Partners.