PA: How is your team/process/structure unique?
Heffernan Retirement Services: We are unique because each of our clients is unique. We take each plan’s demographics, needs, concerns and learning style into consideration when we design a program. We wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for our clients, and our working environment is filled with diverse, smart, entrepreneurial folks whom we all consider our family. Most employees on our team have been with Heffernan for over 10 years, and our combined knowledge of the financial services industry adds up to over 100 years. Our motto is: “Answer the phone and have fun.” This creates a fun office environment that allows us to service our clients at the highest level.
Our process and structure are unique because our focus is increasingly on improving participant outcomes while maintaining a high level of fiduciary support for the plan sponsor. We utilize the “Save More -Tomorrow” program, which is the first comprehensive application of behavioral finance designed to improve retirement outcomes.
Our focus on the participant has helped us redefine what employee education means. Our goal is now to meet employees via the medium and at the time that is right for them, instead of trying to solve the retirement puzzle for them in one annual meeting. We have created a suite of recorded presentations, both client-specific and general in content, which are available online to allow participants to learn at their own pace and on their own schedule.
PA: Please describe any special education or communication initiatives you’ve undertaken with plan sponsors or participants.
HRS: We believe that in order to help participants save efficiently, we have to cater to their different stages in life and keep it simple. We use a combination of behavioral finance and technology. At Heffernan Retirement Services, we use LPL Financial’s Worksite Financial Solutions as part of our technology, in conjunction with Shlomo Benartzi’s “Save More Tomorrow” behavioral finance tools.
Worksite Financial Solutions is a beginning-to-end retirement solution that helps create confidence for employees in their whole financial life—retirement, income planning, budgeting and day-to-day money management. It can be applied to each stage of the employees’ careers, whether they are just starting out, hitting their peak earning years or getting close to retirement.
The Financial Finesse leg of Worksite Financial Solutions allows us to assess the employees’ biggest hurdle or concerns of their financial life. The participants take a companywide assessment, and we are provided with metrics to determine what we should focus on. We come back to the plan sponsor and provide our education and communication strategy, whether it is individual consultations, education meetings, webinars, Brainsharks, email communications, flyers, you name it. We use whatever it takes to relate to the demographics of the company and the participant base.
PA: What are the most important issues your plan sponsors face with their company retirement plan, and what specific actions do you take to assist them in overcoming those issues?
HRS: Many of our clients have become acutely aware that stressed employees are a financial drain on the company. A stressed employee usually has lower productivity, high health care costs and high absenteeism, all of which can hurt not only a company’s bottom line but the success of the organization as well.
Similar to how health care companies have been rolling out health and wellness programs, we believe adding a financial wellness program—such as the Financial Finesse program we offer to our clients—can help employees get a better understanding of their financial situation and where they can make improvements.
A simple five-minute assessment can help them begin thinking about the financial stress in their lives and what we can do to help relieve that stress. The topics cover saving for retirement but also reach more broadly into the employees’ lives, looking at debt management, setting up a rainy-day fund, taking care of loved ones after an accident or death, educational expenses and tax management.
BUSINESS AT A GLANCE
PLAN ASSETS UNDER ADVISEMENT: $1.65 billion
MEDIAN PLAN SIZE (IN ASSETS): $15 million
TOTAL PLANS UNDER ADVISEMENT: 123
TOTAL PARTICIPANTS IN PLANS SERVED: 31,000