2014 Retirement Plan Adviser of the Year

At the end of last year, we announced some of the nation’s most successful retirement plan advisers in our list of the 2013 PLANADVISER Top 100 Advisers. In this issue, we profile the finalists for PLANSPONSOR’s Retirement Plan Adviser of the Year awards.

This is the ninth year that PLANSPONSOR has recognized the efforts of the nation’s best retirement plan advisers and the fifth that we have acknowledged the efforts of retirement plan adviser teams. This year, we have added a new category: multioffice team.

For the 2013 list, we clarified the definition of all three categories: An individual adviser is a single adviser with one group of clients; a team is a group of two or more advisers in one office location who collectively serve one group of clients, share relationships and sales, and use the same client support team; a multioffice team is a group of two or more advisers across multiple office locations who share support staff and follow the same guidelines and procedures to serve clients.

Selecting the advisers that will represent each of these three categories is a painstaking effort, beginning when the nomination process opens, traditionally the day after Labor Day. Nominations are solicited online from retirement plan advisers (self-nominations are, however, not permitted), from their employers and/or broker/dealers, and plan sponsors, as well as from working partners of these advisers, including investment vendors, accountants, attorneys and pension administrators.

Once advisers are nominated, they are invited to fill out an online form to enter the judging process. If they meet certain criteria, they can be considered for the PLANADVISER Top 100. However, to be judged for the Retirement Plan Adviser of the Year awards, they are asked to complete a second form, providing various details about their practice and answering essay questions. While it is an honor to be nominated, advisers can only be part of the PLANADVISER Top 100 or eligible for the PLANSPONSOR Retirement Plan Adviser of the Year awards if they take the time to supply the information online. From that group, judges select finalists from each category to compete for that respective award. Those finalists are asked to provide references from clients and peers, and, after background checks and interviews with the judges are completed, a winner is selected.

This year, with the additional category, the selection of the winner has become much more cumbersome. Therefore, as the field has grown increasingly competitive and as the information gathering from advisers takes longer, we are transitioning the announcement of the winners of the PLANSPONSOR Retirement Plan Adviser of the Year in these three categories to the annual PLANADVISER National Conference.

We are honored to play a role in highlighting this year’s finalists and hope you enjoy getting to know them.

The focus of the award has remained relatively consistent over the years—to identify the nation’s best advisers who help make retirement security a reality for workers across the nation. On the pages that follow, we will introduce you briefly to the men and women who were chosen this year who demonstrated the qualities of leadership and commitment to excellence that have been hallmarks of these awards. That commitment is evidenced by the impact these advisers have had on participation rates, deferrals, asset allocation and participants’ better understanding of and appreciation for these programs. It is striking how dedicated they are, as a group, to creative application of the tools embedded in the Pension Protection Act (PPA)—automatic enrollment, accelerated deferrals and asset-allocated funds—and how equally committed they are to helping plan sponsors and participants make thoughtful, prudent choices, sometimes with one-on-one counsel.

—Alison Cooke Mintzer

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