Chad Larsen, retirement practice leader at Inter-Mountain Retirement Partners Inc. (MRP), a division of HUB International Investment Services, was named PLANSPONSOR Retirement Plan Adviser of the Year in 2007.
That year, the Denver-based financial services professional worked with only one other adviser. Since then, he says, “we have had very consistent growth over the years, all organic.”
“Our high water mark was 22 employees,” Larsen says. “We added an office in Salt Lake City, Utah, with eight employees. We have been very fortunate. The past 13 years, it has been great to be in this business.”
Larsen says he remained independent until last September, when HUB International Investment Services acquired his firm. Since then, he says, “we are seeing the fruits of that collaboration.”
“Our core principles haven’t changed, but how we deliver them has,” Larsen says. “For example, in 2007, we didn’t have a team to go out and meet with individual employees. Today we now have five people. That has been one significant change that our clients love. Another is no longer relying on stacks of paper at committee meetings. Today, all of that is electronic with iPads.”
Reflecting on ways the industry at large has changed in the past 13 years, Larsen has a lot to say.
“Investment lineups look quite a bit different,” he says. “There has been a pretty significant evolution in trying to simplify the investment lineups, as well as the onset of target-date funds [TDFs] and collective investment trusts [CITs]. Additionally, plan committees today take their roles as fiduciaries more seriously than in 2007. Unfortunately, some of that is driven by litigation, but I love working with engaged committees that are really interested in improving their plans.”
Larsen also points to an increased focus on fee transparency, which he says is “wonderful.”
“We are light-years ahead of where we were,” he says.
Asked if he is optimistic about the future of the retirement planning industry, Larsen is quick to answer that he is so optimistic that he has brought his son, a certified public accountant, into the business.
“With our expertise in being able to help employers and employees, I am very optimistic about the future,” he says. “We are heading in the right direction.”
Larsen says he believes that holistic financial wellness should be an integral part of a retirement plan practice because it helps employers keep employees engaged by addressing financial challenges they have other than retirement planning.
“If we are not addressing those concerns, we are missing the mark,” he says.
While the pandemic has been a financial challenge for many, Larsen says it gives retirement plan advisers “an incredible opportunity to demonstrate their value.”
As to what kinds of new conversations Larsen is having with clients today that he did not in 2007, one is on “the importance of protecting data and cybersecurity.” He says he’s also offering 3(38) fiduciary services and retirement income options for people as they leave employment.
Finally, as to how advisers can improve plans, Larsen encourages them to “stop making it more complicated than it needs to be. Most people think there is value in adding complication.”