PA: As a retirement plan adviser, what do you take the most pride in?
PearlStreet Investment Management: We are proud about the level of trust and confidence our plan sponsor clients place in our delivery of recommendations and advice. It is an honor to be entrusted with the investment consulting responsibilities of so many dollars and so many plan participants.
Our team structure is also a point of pride, as we provide advisory services at the participant level where we put “boots on the ground” for plan sponsor clients looking to offer their employees on-site, in person, one-on-one advice meetings. There is a need and desire from plan participants to interact with an experienced investment professional who can deliver personalized advice in attempts to improve participants’ probability of retiring successfully.
PA: Describe any particularly noteworthy investment initiatives you have led with your customer base in the past 12 months.
PSIM: Beyond our “core focus” deliverables at each fiduciary review—i.e., investment monitoring—in 2014 we implemented a quarterly calendar of “added focus” items that expanded our scope of consulting in efforts to help our clients address the matter of “plan health” in a more thorough manner.
Noteworthy investment initiatives within this added focus effort include: 1) analysis of investment menu design and recommending a simplification of investment menu offerings where appropriate; 2) creating investment menus that appeal to proponents of both active and passive management; 3) significantly diversifying the fixed-income portion of the plans’ investment menus; 4) analyzing our clients’ capital preservation funds to ensure our clients are comfortable with the terms and conditions of their fund’s contract, portfolio composition and credit ratings, funds’ sensitivity to interest rates, and the influences interest rates may have on the funds’ fair market value; and 5) revisiting clients’ qualified default investment alternative (QDIA) selections, confirming with them their preferences as to the selection and monitoring of either “off-the-shelf” target-date or asset-allocation funds versus “customized” solutions that may be composed of the plan’s core investment menu.
PA: How is your team/process/structure unique?
PSIM: Twenty-three years ago, we were “pioneers” of the team-based service model. We instinctively knew that in order to properly deliver consistent, high-level and widespread retirement plan services, we needed multiple professionals knowledgeable in multiple areas.
We deliver exceptional service and advice. One aspect of this is reflected in our unique ability to transform the genuine interest we have in our clients’ retirement plan success into an identifiable and measurable plan of action, based on plan-related variables most important to our clients. We do not have an overwhelming number of different clients, so we are able to actually deliver customized solutions to meet the needs and expectations of our plan sponsor clients. An example is our ability to take on the logistical responsibilities of coordinating in-person, one-on-one meetings at multiple facilities with multiple shifts in multiple states.
Each of our team members working on behalf of plan sponsors and/or plan participants is a licensed investment adviser, with an average tenure of almost 15 years. We have a commitment to each other, and our three primary financial advisers work daily in conjunction with our team’s retirement consultants to actively field all of the moving parts associated with helping maintain our clients’ retirement plans.
PA: What is your mission statement?
PSIM: Our strategic fiduciary management strategies are engineered to enable our plan sponsor clients to provide employees with a sound and robust retirement system, while together we fully embrace our fiduciary roles and responsibilities. The purpose of our service is to equip plan sponsors to achieve fiduciary excellence, and to guide individuals and plan participants toward financial independence that will last a lifetime.
BUSINESS AT A GLANCE
PLAN ASSETS UNDER ADVISEMENT: $3.8 billion
MEDIAN PLAN SIZE (IN ASSETS): $28 million
TOTAL PLANS UNDER ADVISEMENT: 39
TOTAL PARTICIPANTS IN PLANS SERVED: 76,374