PA: What is your mission statement?
Bruce Lanser: Our mission is to serve our clients with passion and with purpose. We guide successful companies that are looking for fiduciary protection to help their participants become more retirement-ready and to responsibly manage their costs. Our commitment to our clients states:
- We will provide decisive leadership;
- We will deliver superior quality of analysis and advice;
- We have high expectations of ourselves and our colleagues; and
- Lastly, let’s have fun together.
PA: How is your team/process/structure unique?
BL: Our process is unique in that I combine my extensive knowledge and expertise with innovative solutions that provide clients with maximum fiduciary protection while optimizing the retirement outcomes for plan participants. I believe in going well beyond the typical investment performance discussion with clients and am dedicated to providing the appropriate solutions that effectively address the challenges they and plan participants face on the road to retirement. I am constantly seeking to further my education and understanding of the financial complexities and solutions that plans and participants face, communicate with clients to ensure their understanding of the challenges ahead, and find the best ways to achieve successful outcomes.
PA: What have you done in the past year to improve participants’ retirement readiness?
BL: The single most important thing we can do to improve participant readiness is to get them to save more. This was accomplished through a number of techniques following extensive analysis and educational communications and events. To summarize results:
- Clients have implemented automatic enrollment. Clients that had previously added an automatic enrollment feature expanded the coverage to include existing employees who had been overlooked. Several clients automatically enroll every employee every three years;
- Default rates were raised to 6%;
- Automatic contribution escalation programs have been implemented or enhanced. The annual percentage increase has gone from 1% to 2%; and
- I studied participant investment returns to confirm that their results were consistent and in line with published research showing that participants who invested in professionally managed options experience better returns than participants who invest on their own.
Upon presenting these critical findings to clients, I offered a two-prong strategy that would encourage participants to select appropriate target-date funds (TDFs). Prong one launched with an educational thrust through group sessions, print and email campaigns. Prong two encompassed working closely with the recordkeeper to implement a re-enrollment campaign in which all participants would be redirected and “defaulted” to an age-appropriate fund. Approximately 90% of participants remained in the age-appropriate target-date fund.
In addition to increased long-term returns resulting in improved retirement outcomes for plan participants, fiduciaries also benefit from this approach through the safe-harbor provision of the Pension Protection Act (PPA) for assets defaulted into the qualified default investment alternative (QDIA).
PA: How have you been able to lower fees for clients?
BL: We have been successful in lowering fees by diligently monitoring costs for clients, benchmarking the retirement plan marketplace and being their advocate.
PA: Describe any particularly noteworthy investment initiatives you have led with your customer base in the past 12 months.
BL: I am a longtime proponent of and advocate for in-plan retirement income options: Several clients have adopted in-plan retirement income options; thus far, more than 20% of eligible assets are invested in that option. This clearly validates the need I had identified and the successful implementation of the appropriate solution.
BUSINESS AT A GLANCE
Plan assets under advisement: $345 million
Median plan size (in assets): $35 million
Total plans under advisement: 10
Total participants in plans served: 5,000