15th Anniversary of RPAY: Cammack Retirement Group

The firm has seen its assets nearly double in only a few years, which senior partner Mike Volo says is a testament to the group’s quality team.

From left: Jeff Levy, Earle Allen, Mike Sanders and Mike Volo.

Even though it’s only been a few years since Cammack Retirement Group was named the 2017 PLANSPONSOR Retirement Plan Adviser Mega Team of the Year, the firm’s assets have soared by 74%, from $70 billion in 2017 to $122 billion at the end of last year.

Mike Volo, senior partner, attributes this success to the quality of the people who work for the firm.

“Part of the reason why we have received such great accolades and seen assets grow at such a significant pace—and continue to grow our business—is because we have an incredibly talented, knowledgeable team and are able to retain those folks,” he says.

Cammack, which has offices in New York; Wellesley, Massachusetts; and Lexington, Kentucky, continues to primarily focus its efforts on colleges, universities, not-for-profits and public entities. And its service model remains one focused on participant outcomes, where clients are attended to by a team headed by a lead consultant who has the support of investment specialists, Volo says.

“The value proposition we provide out clients is a holistic approach,” Volo says. “We cover investments, governance, plan design and employee engagement. We find this approach to be very effective.”

As to what Volo thinks has changed in the industry in the past three years, he says the focus on fees has only become more pronounced, primarily due to the rash of lawsuits that retirement plans have been facing.

As a result, he says, Cammack has stepped up to the plate to act as a true fiduciary partner to its clients. “We do all we can to protect clients and plan participants,” Volo says. “While we have always focused on the participants we serve, the conversation has moved from educating them to providing well-balanced, holistic financial wellness and advice—particularly with respect to the successful retirement readiness of participants.”

Volo also says he believes more plan sponsors will look to provide financial wellness programs and advice to participants.

“We are only in the beginning stages,” he says. “I don’t think the adoption of financial wellness programs, by either sponsors or participants, is where it needs to be at this juncture.”

Volo says he is very optimistic about the future of the retirement planning industry, particularly because “technology has allowed us to provide advice to more participants in a scalable fashion,” including through managed accounts and model portfolios. In fact, Cammack is increasingly discussing custom target-date funds (TDFs) with its clients, Volo says.

A silver lining from the lockdowns and social distancing requirements implemented as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Volo says, is that Cammack has been able to consult with more participants virtually.

Volo says there are several things plan advisers can do to improve defined contribution (DC) plans and the retirement outlook for participants.

“At the center of it is ensuring adequate time is being spent educating fiduciaries, so they can make the best decisions on behalf of plan participants,” he says. “Too often, we see committees given short shrift. It is vitally important that they take their fiduciary responsibilities seriously and spend time learning the nuances of their duties in order to make better decisions. Here at Cammack, over the past two to three years, we have been spending more time with committees talking about trends, insights and legislative issues. Before, it was primarily investments that had dominated the conversation.”