PA: What is your mission statement?
Corby Dall: We are a family business. So, we treat our clients like family, and, by extension, we consider their employees family, too. The highest form of recognition an employer can offer valued employees is a way for them to retire comfortably. We help employers deliver on this. We have a clear passion to help as many people as possible to retire with dignity, and it is manifest in everything we do.
PA: What have you done in the past year to improve participants’ retirement readiness?
CD: I am passionate about using whatever method is most successful in getting more Americans on track to retire on their own terms. Plan design remains the most powerful way to do this. We employ a plan design optimization study process, which we consulted on building. It assists the client in evaluating the current retirement readiness ratios of its entire population, individually. We factor in account balances, Social Security, savings rates, investment returns, wage growth and retirement ages. This individualized analysis on every employee creates insightful work force data that the client has never seen or likely even considered before.
The outcome is a report that allows the employer to examine gaps in its employees’ retirement savings. The report also allows us to show the impact of various plan design options and the effect they have on each employee’s retirement readiness. The plan-design levers that this report illustrates are: automatic enrollment and annual re-enrollment, automatic increase, and re-enrollment to some type of asset-allocation vehicle to create better, more consistent investment diversification. We plug in various scenarios for each lever, and this helps the client assess the expected outcomes in real dollars and cents for the company and the employees. This leads to far more willingness to adopt these beneficial initiatives, and allows the committee to have more meaningful data to share internally to get executive/decisionmaker buy-in. We also run this report in subsequent years to measure its effectiveness.
I have also found it most successful to connect the committee with other clients of ours who have already been down this road. This has doubled our uptake on automatic plan features in recent years and has given the client much more confidence, while promoting camaraderie inside our family of clients.
A great example of the success of this design initiative, paired with our robust participant education process, is our client the O.C. Tanner company. It was recognized as a PLANSPONSOR Plan Sponsor of the Year in 2014. It has achieved over 97% participation and high retirement readiness with a very diverse work force.
PA: Describe a difficult client situation and how it was resolved.
CD: What was a new client of ours with a very complex, large organization and a severely neglected plan just credited us with helping it sail through an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) audit.
When we took over as the adviser, we went to work reorganizing the structure of the committee and helped it put the right players in place in order to get things done in a timelier manner. We also took the plan through our fiduciary and operational audit process, which mimics an audit or investigation by the IRS or Department of Labor (DOL). We were able to find or reconstruct many missing pieces and create a fiduciary vault housing all required documents, minutes and processes that make up a well-documented and well-run plan.
The process took almost one year to complete but gave the client peace of mind, knowing it was in good shape going forward. A few years later, it was “blessed” with an IRS plan audit. I am happy to report that the audit just ended and the client came through with a clean bill of health.
PA: As a retirement plan adviser, what do you take the most pride in?
CD: I feel like my service team and I really make a difference in so many participants’ lives and give great peace of mind to their employers. This is my original mission, and I am very blessed to have it coming to fruition.
BUSINESS AT A GLANCE
PLAN ASSETS UNDER ADVISEMENT: $1.6 billion
MEDIAN PLAN SIZE (IN ASSETS): $8 million
TOTAL PLANS UNDER ADVISEMENT: 134
TOTAL PARTICIPANTS IN PLANS SERVED: 53,000