15th Anniversary of RPAY: Steve Wilt

Steve Wilt, member of the PLANSPONSOR Retirement Plan Team of the Year in 2007, now works at CAPTRUST. He says he is as busy as ever, though he can now leverage the resources of a national firm.


Steve Wilt, above and below right. Wilt is currently with CAPTRUST, but was part of The STAR Group at Merrill Lynch in 2007.

When Steve Wilt won recognition as part of the PLANSPONSOR Retirement Plan Adviser Team of the Year in 2007, he was with The STAR Group at Merrill Lynch. In 2009, he left to join CAPTRUST Advisors as principal and vice president.

“The goal was to strictly become an institutional adviser and to no longer offer wealth management services,” Wilt says. “When I won the award, I was a hybrid adviser, serving wealth management, 401(k) plans, pensions and nonqualified accounts. My passion was always in the retirement business, though, and I began to realize you can’t be great at all things in this business.”

Wilt’s team, based in Akron, Ohio, is now comprised of six people, but his book of business is five times as large, which he attributes to the help of his team and CAPTRUST being a specialist firm with deep resources.

“I came to CAPTRUST with 12 clients, and we now have 70,” Wilt says. “Almost all of those have a 401(k). Roughly a third have a pension as well, and 10 have a nonqualified account. CAPTRUST is one of the leading retirement plan service firms. Our offering is so solid and undeniable that we are often one of the top firms in requests for proposals [RFPs]. We have a really good focus in working in northeast Ohio. The majority of our clients are within an hour’s drive.”

As to how the service model Wilt works with has changed since 2007, he says The STAR Group relied on external resources. “CAPTRUST has a centralized model,” he says. “All of the firm’s resources are available to me, so I can deliver better service to clients.”

Wilt also says two-thirds of CAPTRUST’s advisers are shareholders of the firm, which this has led to an “incredible culture.”

“We are all rowing in the same direction,” he says.

Wilt adds that CAPTRUST has great relationships with ERISA [Employee Retirement Income Security Act] attorneys and recordkeepers, as well as with other centers of influence.

“The network is critical to our growth,” Wilt says.

In terms of evolving client demands and expectations, Wilt says holistic financial wellness is more important than ever before.

“Plan sponsors are trying to find a way to take care of employees in a more holistic way and to reduce their financial stress,” he says. “All those pieces are top of mind for clients, especially as they look to hire new talent. I wouldn’t even call it a trend but a reality.”

As to how Wilt and CAPTRUST are managing during the coronavirus pandemic and lockdowns, Wilt says the effort has gone well.

“We quickly moved to virtual meetings with our plan sponsor clients, and this has allowed us to demonstrate our technological prowess and expand what we cover in our quarterly reviews,” he explains. “For participants, we have been offering virtual webinars and one-on-one meetings, either over the phone or via teleconference. Especially with the market having declined, we made sure to lean in and help participants. There is a lot to talk about in this environment.”

Wilt says the CAPTRUST Community Foundation (CCF) has raised $150,000 specifically to help organizations struggling because of the virus. “Our foundation is doing more than it has ever done, and it is entirely employee funded,” he says.

When it comes to improving retirement outcomes, Wilt says he believes it has a lot to do with “plan design, education and advice, driving down fees, offering solid investment choices and pairing with the right recordkeeper to ensure that participants are utilizing the plan appropriately.”