PA: What is your mission statement?
White Oak Advisors: Our mission is to:
- Help our clients build and maintain a retirement plan structure that attracts, retains and most favorably positions their co-workers for a financially dignified retirement;
- Help clients meet and manage their fiduciary responsibilities and mitigate fiduciary risk; and
- Provide services and solutions to help all client employee constituencies to more successfully prepare for their retirement.
PA: Please describe any special education or communication initiatives you’ve undertaken with plan sponsors or participants.
WOA: As retirement plan specialists, we are well-versed in the various retirement plan design options available and the impact they have on plan results. We keep our clients up to date on legislative news and fully informed about industry trends and plan design features that can help maximize the efficiency and effectiveness of their retirement plans. We provide our retirement plan committees with an ongoing comparative analysis—via a dashboard report—of certain plan metrics each quarter, to help measure the overall competitiveness of the plan and how effectively it is operating and moving toward the goals established. White Oak has consulted with clients exploring a number of items, including automatic enrollment, auto-escalation features, streamlined investment menus, lifetime income solutions, Roth provisions and in-plan conversions, expense budgets, fund revenue equalization, asset-allocation solutions, outsourcing administrative duties and better overall fiduciary governance protocols.
PA: As a retirement plan adviser, what do you take the most pride in?
WOA: Successfully shepherding and leading our clients, and their plan participants, to the fulfillment of their retirement plan goals within the context of the complexities of operating a business enterprise.
PA: What benchmarks do you use to measure plan and client success? How do you react to clients or prospects who don’t share your goals for their retirement plan?
WOA: Our overall benchmark for a successful retirement program is one where the 90–10–90 philosophy is applied. These numbers are indicative of an average participation rate of 90% or higher, an average deferral rate of 10%, and investment in professionally managed asset-allocation choices at 90% or higher.
Additionally, we recommend automatic enrollment for all participants at an initial contribution rate of 6%. For plan sponsors that provide matching contributions, we often recommend stretching the match to lead participants to increase their savings amounts. Where there is a high concentration of assets in single or non-diversified investment alternatives, we will discuss the benefits of targeted communications and re-enrollment.
When or if a client is unwilling or unable to follow our recommendations, we work with it to establish credible and measurable plan-specific benchmarks. We take a highly consultative approach and work to understand the various drivers, concerns and questions our clients face.
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?
WOA: Plan sponsors are faced with significant benefits/budget pressures across all employee constituencies, with little enterprise-wide integration of health and financial analysis.
Health care spending continues to increase while, for many plan sponsors, an aging work force may contribute to lesser productivity, higher absenteeism and higher “presentee-ism.” Delayed retirement within their work force brings with it many costs that need to be identified and analyzed, all within the context of ultimately positioning employees for retirement with sufficient income replacement to live life well and independently post-retirement.
BUSINESS AT A GLANCE
PLAN ASSETS UNDER ADVISEMENT: $2.45 billion
MEDIAN PLAN SIZE (IN ASSETS): $60 million
TOTAL PLANS UNDER ADVISEMENT: Not available
TOTAL PARTICIPANTS IN PLANS SERVED: 87,500
TOTAL NUMBER OF OFFICES: 2