PA NC: Be Prepared: Acing Your Finals

A panel of experts at PLANADVISER’s National Conference in Orlando, Florida, offered insights on how to win a finals presentation.

“Preparation is the key” to a winning finals presentation, according to Steff Chalk, President of CHALK 401(k) Advisory Board, Inc. Chalk suggests advisers understand what the decision-making process will be when sponsors are searching for an adviser, and that they understand a sponsor’s hot buttons – three points that are working well for their plan and three points that are not. He also suggested appointing an adviser “quarterback” ahead of time to field difficult questions from a sponsor or committee attending the finals presentation.

Panel member Wade Walker, Global Private Client Group, Merrill Lynch, added that advisers should know where the plan stands, the previous experiences of the decision-makers, and what is important to the sponsor.

An adviser should know why a company is searching for a new solution and the sponsor’s desire for employees, according to panel member Brian Dillon, Regional VP, Investment-Only Specialist of John Hancock Retirement Plan Services. He suggests a visit to the company before even responding to a Request for Proposal (RFP).

In addition to preparation, an adviser should think, “How can my firm be the most attractive decision?,” offered panel member Peggy Whitmore, Managing Director of 401(k) Advisors. She suggested advisers think of why their firm would not get the business and answer any rationales they come up with ahead of time. She pointed out the finals presentation should convey that an adviser will be the one who will make the sponsor’s job easier – seamlessly and behind the scenes.

Chalk agreed that advisers stand apart that can explain the process they will use to keep a sponsor on track with its goals and how they will address the current solution’s shortfalls. In the finals presentation, an adviser should tell what he is going to do for participants and what he is going to do for the sponsor.