Heestand Company

Portland, Oregon


: PA TOP 100 - 2014: Teams and Individuals With 20% or More in: Defined Benefit Plans

With over a quarter of a century of performance in helping you create highly customized retirement, health and welfare benefits plans for your employees, you get uncommon financial results. We have a compelling drive to find unique strategies for our clients. That’s what sets Heestand Company apart. We know business principles remain constant but each business is very different. It's that uniquely American tradition of entrepreneurial business, private or public, your mark is on your business. We can't help but wonder: what is a better way; what is more effective; how can we help this plan meet business and personal goals in a better way? Everyone on our team is trained to think this way. That's the difference that you'll experience when you work with us.

Bill Heestand has been president of Heestand Co. for 30 years. Mary Caballero has been director of retirement plans at Heestand Co. for 9 years.

What’s the hardest lesson you had to learn about working with retirement plans – and how did you learn it?

Other than the plan sponsor, no one cares as much about the overall health of the plan as we do. We are the hub around which the spokes of recordkeeping, investments, administration, legal, compliance and testing intersect. The sponsor is the axle. The participants, the wheel. Each party has their distinct and critical role but no one else has the role of making sure that everyone works as a team. We’ve learned this through taking over many broken plans which appear to have gotten that way by not being well supported by dedicated retirement plan advisers.

With regard to your practice, what would you spend more time doing if you could?

Building relationships with employees whenever possible. It is the most time consuming but important area of service. Since 1984 no one has been able to deliver the full promise of 401(k). It is care and investment advice that people want, but neither the regulators nor the industry has delivered well - yet. The PPA clarified how advice could be delivered and the technology is being developed to deliver personal advice. Participants truly want to be led by the expert adviser to a more personalized solution; “my 401(k) plan”. Today it is changing, in a big way, and we are thrilled to be part of it.

Describe your typical client.

There is no typical client. A manufacturer doesn’t think one way and a professional firm another. We have found that all our clients are driven by what’s best for their employees. We seek to fit well with each client’s executive team so that we are making their jobs just a little bit easier and managing knowable or potential risks is one of the ways we help. However, what is typical? They want our help getting their people engaged in the process. Finally, our typical client is one that is looking for a partner in executing a successful plan.

What is the biggest challenge facing plan sponsors today?

401(k) fees are unexplained or misunderstood and it seems they are taking advice from individuals who are not acting in a fiduciary capacity. Fiduciary worst practices are an iceberg and many plan sponsors sit on a Titanic sailing straight ahead. The 401(k) problem is, the band is playing a lovely song and the food and drink are superb. What’s to worry?! Confusion reigns as regulators waffle defining the uniform investment fiduciary standard. 401(k) and related fiduciary matters do not hurt immediately like sales slumps, product roll-out disasters and supply chain disruptions. When a plan sponsor receives advice under any context other than a clear fiduciary agreement, the trial bar awaits.

What is the key to a good team?

Valuing our team results over personal results. We collaborate about each client then apply our personal skill sets to solving the problems presented. There can be no “that’s not my job”. This is more like a basketball team where there are positions to be sure but everyone is looking for the open player, the open shot, and on defense as well; no one stands alone. We are different seeking to be excellent at all of these key roles: Investment management, employee education and participation, fiduciary risk management support and lowering costs through plan efficiency.

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any investor. Securities and advisory services offered through LPL Financial, member FINRA/SIPC and a registered investment adviser. Investment advice may also be offered through Financial Advocates Advisory Services, a registered investment adviser, DBA Heestand Company and a separate entity from LPL Financial. For a list of states in which we are registered to do business please visit www.heestand.com