The Willhite Institutional Consulting Group of UBS

The Woodlands, Texas

FROM LEFT, BACK ROW: Michael O’Laughlin, Jon Willhite, Robert Vaughan FRONT ROW: Taylor Willhite, Brenda PaulsonFROM LEFT, BACK ROW: Michael O’Laughlin, Jon Willhite, Robert Vaughan FRONT ROW: Taylor Willhite, Brenda Paulson

PA: What is your mission statement?

The Willhite Institutional Consulting Group of UBS: To provide a holistic approach in creating a world-class, participant-centric retirement program that enhances the sponsor’s ability to recruit and retain the best and brightest employees.

PA: How is your team/process/structure unique?

WICG: With more than three decades in the retirement industry, the combined experience of our team greatly differentiates us from others. Our team has been built out with people who are very qualified specifically in the retirement sector, as well as team players who can add value in various ways to each individual client. Being a part of UBS also allows us to access some of the best intellectual capital and analytics platforms in the market, as well as heightens the sense of security our clients feel when working with us.

Many advisers have a list of services that may be similar to one another; however, a differentiator for us is the way we provide services. We take a hands-on approach to all that we do and are very open with our clients, showing our dedication to people who we directly and indirectly support.

PA: How have you been able to lower fees for clients?

WICG: One of the first things our team does when hired on by a new client is perform a fee review of the client’s retirement platform. Many times, we see that the client’s fee structure with its recordkeeper is outdated, and we assist the client in requesting an immediate fee reduction for its participants. When a client requires a formal request for proposals (RFP) issuance for a new vendor, we work with the investment committee, procurement department and the human resources (HR) department to fully understand each stakeholder’s needs for a new vendor or vendors.

Often, our team can bring creative solutions to the table during the request for proposals process that help our clients enhance the services their employees receive while reducing the cost of their overall benefits platform.

One of the most important elements we look at when assisting investment committees in the selection of a new vendor is how our client will fit in with the new vendor’s organization and the level of service and attention it will receive. Our goal is to help our clients find a solution where they are getting the best deal and the vendor feels it is gaining a valued relationship.

PA: Describe a difficult client relationship issue and how it was resolved.

WICG: The Willhite Institutional Consulting Group wants the partnership we have with each of our clients to be a success story. One of the more common issues our corporate clients struggle with is time. More often than not, the investment committee members we work with are pressed for time and are geographically diverse. To make the most of time with our investment committees, our team has developed a customized and consistent relationship-management approach—customized in that we work with our committees to learn what’s important to them and to design executive summaries, agendas and action items that are quick and easy to understand and act on. We customize items down to electronic file name formats for our clients, to increase the efficiency of our relationships.

Our approach is consistent in that we provide our clients with a service schedule unique to them, so that the client knows what to expect and when to expect it. We have found that consistent and predictable service has enhanced the level of trust between our clients and our team, increasing the productivity of our relationships.

PA: As a retirement plan adviser, what do you take the most pride in?

WICG: Success is not measured in dollars and cents or number of accounts our team closes. On a daily basis, we work to help provide a retirement plan that enables more people to participate and ultimately retire with dignity, while still living a full life on their way to retirement. Having a direct, positive impact on people’s present and future is truly an incredible feeling and the best part of our job.


Total plan assets under advisement: $1 billion

Median plan size (in assets): $37 million

Total plans under advisement: 34

Total participants in plans served: 14,377