PLANADVISER: What is your mission statement?
Dan Peluse: While helping our plan sponsors navigate the ever-changing retirement landscape, we set our sights on effective and efficient plan management, assist our clients with fulfilling fiduciary obligations, and help plan participants achieve the ultimate goal of a sustainable and comfortable retirement.
PA: What have you done in the past year to improve participants’ retirement readiness?
DP: “Retirement ready” plan participants, from my perspective, are those who are comfortably ontrack to replace 80% of their income. When looking to attain this goal, we incorporate their existing retirement savings including current plan assets, outside assets, Social Security, their current savings rate and asset allocation. Along with our plan sponsor clients, we work to identify those individuals who are on track and those who may not be on target to meet their monthly retirement income needs. Annually, we review this data at a plan and participant level to help guide our plan design, communication and education initiatives.
In order to improve the likelihood that all plan participants are retirement ready, we have continued to promote and utilize:
• Automatic plan features (automatic enrollment, automatic escalation and reenrollment).
• Individual meetings with participants to assist in establishing appropriate retirement savings rates and investment asset allocation.
• Analysis of individual participant retirement income projections to better identify retirement spending needs, including health care costs.
• The use targeted participant communication materials.
In addition to these plan level initiatives, we continue to work with our clients and participants to increase overall financial wellness. Understanding that one’s retirement plan is just a portion of a solid financial foundation, we work to promote financial proficiency. Through the implementation of financial wellness programs that integrate budgeting, 529 college savings, Social Security planning, insurance planning and estate planning we have been able to empower plan participants to achieve financial freedom.
PA: As a retirement plan adviser, what do you take the most pride in?
DP: I take the most pride in creating a sense of comfort and achievement for clients. We set attainable goals and work tirelessly to secure them. Whether that is at the plan sponsor or participant level, my goal is to ensure that clients understand the options available to them and how to best utilize those options to produce financial flexibility.
Retirement and financial goals are moving targets, which means my role is to provide new ideas and flexible guidance. Our industry and regulations have forced plan sponsors and their employees to be experts in an area that is overwhelmed by acronyms, terms and strategies. I work proactively to provide clarity, insight and impactful solutions to accomplish a level of comfort and a path towards achieving financial milestones.
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?
DP: We adopt the 90-10-90 rule as a benchmark along with our clients. We strive to attain 90% participation, 10% average deferral/savings rates and 90% utilization of asset allocation investment options. We believe that reaching each of these goals greatly increases the chances of replacing 80% of a participant’s current income (which is also our income replacement ratio goal/benchmark) and, in turn, creates a successful retirement plan that our clients can use as a benefit that is valuable in retaining and attracting talented employees.
Understanding that these goals may not be attainable for all companies or organizations, we work with them to set more appropriate goals that best meet the needs of their organization and employees. While some of our most successful client relationships are those that possess the same goals and objectives, our definition of success can be modified in order to produce measurable results for all clients and potential clients.
PA: What are the most important issues that your plan sponsors face with their company retirement plan, and what specific actions do you take to assist them in overcoming those issues?
DP: While no two clients are alike, our plan sponsors are generally faced with many of the same challenges as they strive to offer, promote and maintain successful retirement benefit plans. Whether it’s additional compliance and regulatory requirements, changing participant behaviors, increased risk of litigation, or understanding provider cost and service arrangements, our goal is to fulfill the role of our client’s “Chief Retirement Officer”. Through this partnership, we help our clients navigate the dynamic retirement plan environment to provide the most impactful and meaningful retirement benefit plan possible.
BUSINESS AT A GLANCE
LOCATION: Chicago, Illinois
TOTAL PLAN ASSETS UNDER ADVISEMENT: $1.1 billion
MEDIAN PLAN SIZE (IN ASSETS): $10 million
TOTAL PLANS UNDER ADMINISTRATION: 125