PA: What is your mission statement?
Dan Peluse: We work to improve the lives of our clients and their participants through the implementation and use of thoughtful retirement benefit programs. While helping them navigate the ever-changing retirement landscape, we hope to achieve effective and efficient plan management to support our clients with their duties as plan sponsors and fiduciaries. Through this process, we strive to create a path to help plan participants achieve the ultimate goal of a sustainable and comfortable retirement.
PA: How is your team/process/structure unique?
DP: I believe our team is unique in that we have found a way to marry the resources of a large broker/dealer (B/D) with the independence, flexibility and objectivity of an independent advisory firm. We have been able to build our service model to be client-centric and provide our plan sponsors with the most innovative and useful client solutions. Our ability to provide complete transparency, to be free of conflicts of interest and our “preferred provider” arrangements ensure that the best interests of our clients and participants are always paramount.
Our client service associates are specialists who understand the market and the needs of plan sponsors. We continue to be leaders in this industry and will continue to enhance our service offering to best assist our plan sponsor clients.
PA: What have you done in the past year to improve participants’ retirement readiness?
DP: We start by helping our clients and participants project what a comfortable retirement will look like for them personally. Do they want to travel, continue to work part-time, play lots of golf, spend time with their grandchildren, etc.? Based on their answers and important factors that could impact retirement savings, we provide a picture of what being “retirement ready” means to them. We use this as our road map and modify it as goals are achieved and life events occur.
Once we understand what being retirement ready means, how do we get there? We firmly believe that thoughtful and appropriate plan design is one of the most impactful ways to improve the retirement plan experience for all employees. While we are always cognizant of the potential impact to the employer’s plan cost, we strongly promote the use of “auto” features—i.e., automatic enrollment, re-enrollment, automatic escalation—when appropriate. We take a more progressive approach with respect to automatic enrollment and work closely with our clients to understand the benefits of establishing automatic enrollment or re-enrollment features at 6% or 7% as opposed to 3%, which has typically been utilized.
In addition, we also evaluate implementation of automatic escalation at 2% per year, compared with 1% per year traditionally. We adopt the 90/10/90 rule as a benchmark for our clients. We strive to attain 90% participation, 10% average deferral/savings rate and 90% utilization of asset-allocation investment options. We believe that reaching these goals greatly increases the chances of creating successful retirement plans, and we work tirelessly to obtain these goals through our approach to education, communication and appropriate plan design.
PA: As a retirement plan adviser, what do you take the most pride in?
DP: At its core, our job is to provide participants with peace of mind. Retirement saving without fully understanding its impact on a participant’s life now and in the future cannot be successful. That being said, I take the most pride in creating a comfort level for our plan sponsors and, most importantly, their participants. As an industry, we continue to overcomplicate the process and products, causing more anxiety and confusion at both the plan sponsor and participant levels. While I see great value in the enhancements and innovations to plan design, investments and online tools, I believe that in order to be most effective, we need to first help our clients better understand their features and benefits. I truly believe in simplifying the process to develop, implement and manage successful retirement programs. My goal is always to create confident plan participants with a clear path to a sustainable and comfortable retirement.
BUSINESS AT A GLANCE
Plan assets under advisement: $685 million
Median plan size (in assets): $7 million
Total plans under advisement: 130
Total participants in plans served: 12,500