PA: What is your mission statement?
Retirement & Benefit Partners, Inc.: We provide client-centric, authentic and industry-leading retirement plan solutions, engineered to meet the highest standards of fiduciary responsibility. We help our clients achieve greater financial freedom and success by putting their needs first and treating their assets as we would our own. By providing unbiased advice and straight answers, we seek to become our clients’ most trusted fiduciary adviser.
PA: What have you done in the past year to improve participants’ retirement readiness?
RBP: We have never been satisfied with making client visits once or twice a year just to enroll a few new participants in the retirement plan. The way we see it, a successful retirement plan provides retiring participants with options for life after their first career ends. And employee education is a big part of how participants get there—but not the only part.
We have found that the key to successful participant retirement readiness is to provide a multifaceted solution. We continually explore new ways to communicate with employees through newsletters, group educational meetings, one-on-one plan meetings and retirement planning sessions to help employees meet their retirement goals.
In the last year, we began sending out personalized gap analysis reports to our participants. Typically, these reports, which are generated within our offices, are mailed to the participants’ homes. Each individualized report illustrates a participant’s projected retirement income and how he can ultimately meet his retirement income needs. Issuing these reports has created a tremendous amount of participant engagement in the plan.
Not only are we seeing participation rates and deferral rates increase, but we also see more employees on track to meet their retirement goals. These reports also give us a way to show our plan sponsors whether their plan is meeting or failing its primary objective of helping participants do that.
PA: How have you been able to lower fees for clients?
RBP: We start by putting all fees into context. In the initial stage of each client engagement, we conduct a thorough plan review to discover all of the fees associated with the plan. We isolate each fee component—e.g., recordkeeping, administration, investment expense and advisory fees—and benchmark them in the marketplace. This exercise often provides us with substantiated data that gives us negotiating leverage with the respective incumbent provider.
Specific to the investment expense component, we are proponents of index investing. Utilizing index funds within our investment lineups has enabled us to significantly lower overall plan costs for our participants, while delivering optimal long-term investment strategies.
PA: As a retirement plan adviser, what do you take the most pride in?
RBP: We take pride in being client-centric, authentic and industry-leading, with our sole purpose being to create a retirement plan that benefits the employees, not the financial services companies. We feel that the average plan participant hasn’t always understood how to maximize the benefits of a 401(k) plan. When the average participant has only $50,000 in his 401(k) plan after working a lifetime, something needs to change. The reason we do what we do is because we want to make a difference in the lives of employees, and we are trying to facilitate the change that is needed. We take pride in helping plan sponsors create a retirement plan that works for the company and its employees. We take pride in helping plan participants maximize the benefit that their employer provides and helping them understand how they can retire with confidence and dignity.
BUSINESS AT A GLANCE
Plan assets under advisement: $1.5 billion
Median plan size (in assets): $25 million
Total plans under advisement: 140
Total participants in plans served: 28,000