PANC 2018: Practice Efficiencies

The importance of hiring the right people and managing their functions efficiently.

Speaking at the 2018 PLANADVISER National Conference panel on “Practice Efficiencies,” David Griffin, founder and owner of Atlanta Retirement Partners, LLC, said that hiring the right people is the first step in achieving practice efficiencies. “When I started, I was doing everything myself,” Griffin said. “I realized I needed to supplement my weaknesses with someone who has those strengths in order to make me more efficient.”

Griffin found a candidate from a recordkeeper who was making six figures. He negotiated with them to pay them $65,000 and allow them to work from their house. The following year, he hired another person from Principal. This allowed him to focus on sales, while his staff handled Excel spreadsheets and requests for proposals (RFPs).

“Getting people in the right role improves client service,” he said. It also enabled him to move his profit margin from 30% to 60%, which then allowed him to lower his fees. Griffin also said he uses a Colby screening process to figure out people’s strengths. “This can help organizations be more profitable,” he said.

Joseph DeNoyior, managing partner with Washington Financial Group, said he also uses Colby screens, not to hire people but to figure out how best to communicate with his staff. “It helps us to better manage human capital in order to best serve clients,” he said.

“Once every six months, we have every team inventory what they do every week,” DeNoyior said. “Our CFO then analyzes these functions to figure out what positions or services we need to fill.”

In addition to this, Washington Financial Group offers three different service tiers to clients. “This allows us to deliver consistent service,” he said.

Another way that the practice ensures that it can deliver consistent service should a team member be on vacation or out of the office is to have team members trade jobs for a day so that they can fulfill those functions. “It also gives them an opportunity to suggest how their peers could be doing their jobs more efficiently,” he said.

Another way to achieve efficiencies is to have multiple retirement plans operating off of the same platform, DeNoyior said. Likewise, Griffin said that “some recordkeeper providers allow us to cascade trades across all plans.”

Griffin also said that many retirement plan specialists are reluctant to use the resources available from recordkeepers. In his experience, these services, such as participant education, are very valuable.

In order to work more efficiently with its 15 recordkeeper partners, Washington Financial Group has created a catalog of the services they offer as well as a calendar of them should they roll them out, DeNoyior said. “We want to offer maximum touchpoints with minimum costs and turn the plan into an experience for participants,” he said.

Yet another way that Atlanta Retirement Partners, LLC and Washington Financial Group have found to be efficient is to outsource marketing. “It has been helpful for me to push that off of our desks,” Griffin said. “They have done a good job of keeping the pipeline filled with opportunities.”

Washington Financial Group’s marketing firm holds educational events, such as fiduciary training, to engage participants, DeNoyior said. The practice has also formed a speaker’s bureau and has been invited to events around the country to speak. This can lead to prospects, he said.