PLANADVISER: Tell us about your practice and how you and your team members got into advising retirement plans.
Cammack Retirement Group: Charlie Cammack, our firm’s founder, began working in the non-profit retirement space with the establishment of the 403(b) regulations in the late 1950s, sowing the seeds to allow Cammack Retirement Group to become one of the largest retirement plan advisors to healthcare providers, educational and research institutions, social service organizations, and cultural and religious institutions.
The members of our senior management team have complementary skillsets and backgrounds that help shape our client service culture. Managing Partner Jeff Levy has an actuarial background; Senior Partner Mike Volo’s background is in retirement and investment services; Partner Earle Allen has spent his entire career at the firm, focused on investment advisory and consulting services; and Principal Mike Sanders worked with retirement plan service providers early in his career.
PA: What is your mission statement?
CRG: At Cammack Retirement Group, we are solely focused on serving retirement plan sponsors. Our goal is to help plan sponsors successfully manage fiduciary risk and achieve their objectives in the most efficient, cost-effective manner. We are dedicated to consistently providing our clients with unmatched expertise, objectivity, and creativity in developing pragmatic, customized solutions. We take the time to listen to their needs and work with them in a direct and straightforward manner, so they can be assured that they are making intelligent, fact-based decisions.
We believe in the importance of what we do, and remain steadfast in our mission to ensure that our clients’ plans and their participants obtain the best possible retirement outcomes.
PA: What do you need to be successful? From your team? From your clients?
CRG: Simply put, being successful requires teamwork and dedication.
In terms of our own employees, we have found that a good team dynamic starts with dedicated, well-trained employees with high integrity and strong ethics. While Cammack Retirement has evolved to serve a variety of industries over the years, our company is rooted in non-profit, mission-driven organizations. Our corporate DNA matches this concept; and we employ dedicated and experienced individuals who always keep our clients’ interests top of mind.
From our clients, we need open communication in order to fully understand their organizational needs and priorities to develop a true partnership. By playing on the same team, we can work together to overcome obstacles and achieve the best possible value for their retirement plan participants.
PA: What do you consider the most significant challenge facing retirement plan participants? Facing retirement plan sponsors? Facing retirement plan advisers?
CRG: Participants are overwhelmed with information and decisions, which makes it challenging to optimize their financial wellness. In a vacuum, making retirement planning decisions is difficult enough for participants. Add in decisions related to healthcare spend, student loan debt, and other financial decisions and it’s not hard to understand why many participants are not saving and investing properly for retirement.
With a bevy of fiduciary breach lawsuits against plan sponsors, many plan sponsors are focused on fees and garnering the most value for their plan participants. The challenge for plan sponsors is understanding plan fees and the various fee methodologies so that they can make prudent decisions in fulfilling their fiduciary responsibility.
For plan advisers, the challenge is providing distinct value to plan sponsors in order to differentiate themselves, while continually looking for opportunities to more efficiently deliver services.
PA: Describe any particularly initiatives you have led with your customer base in the past 12 months (investment or education or plan design or communication).
CRG: With fees at the nexus of many of the fiduciary breach lawsuits Cammack Retirement Group has spent significant time with retirement plan investment committees to ensure they have a strong understanding of both investment expenses and recordkeeping and administrative fees. This also includes understanding fee methodologies and benchmarking their fees.
Our consultants have worked with many plan sponsor committees to begin implementing a level fee structure for plan administration and recordkeeping costs. Although the more typical model, where plan recordkeeping costs are paid through revenue sharing in the plan investment options with any excess going into a revenue credit account, enables the plan to take advantage of any excess revenue generated by the revenue sharing that exceeds the plan’s recordkeeping fee, the allocation of these administrative fees is not necessarily equitable. Participants using investments with high levels of revenue sharing available are shouldering more of the recordkeeping expense than those using investment with less revenue sharing.
We have led discussions with our plan investment committees to explore and implement mechanisms whereby each participant pays their equitable portion of recordkeeping fees for the plan, and thus an equal proportionate share of the plan costs.
PA: As a retirement plan adviser, what do you take the most pride in?
CRG: Everything we do is focused on earning our clients’ trust and exceeding their expectations; therefore we are most proud of our industry-leading client satisfaction scores and retention rates. Annually, we conduct a satisfaction and loyalty study to ensure we are delivering on the commitment we make to our clients.
The survey helps us understand what our clients’ value most and identifies opportunities for improvement. The item on which we focus most closely is our clients’ willingness to recommend Cammack Retirement Group to a peer. This is a leading indicator of customer loyalty, as well as growth, because strong relationships and referenceable clients are the lifeblood of our business.
Beyond the work we do for our clients, we understand the significance of our industry and the importance of successful retirement planning. Cammack Retirement strives to serve as a resource for all plan sponsors by providing timely and relevant thought leadership.
With the goal of helping plan sponsors manage fiduciary risk, maximize their retirement plan benefit, and improve participants’ outcomes, our extensive catalog of thought leadership tackles a broad range of topics, in a variety of formats. In the past year, we take pride in the fact that we have helped thousands of plan sponsors through our Staying Ahead of the Curve and Cammack Retirement Brief video series, our Top of Mind blog and newsletter articles.
PA: How do you grow your business? What changes to your practice or service model are you planning for 2017 and beyond?
CRG: With the opening our third office in Lexington, Kentucky, in 2016 (in addition to our offices in New York and Wellesley, Massachusetts), we are excited to continue to build our presence in the Southeast and expand our national footprint.
While Cammack Retirement Group was originally established to serve the non-profit marketplace, including the higher education and healthcare segments, in the past several years, our firm has experienced significant growth in the public sector and corporate retirement segments, including working with several state programs and industry-leading companies. We anticipate continued growth in both our well established markets, as well as developing segments.
BUSINESS AT A GLANCE:
Plan assets under advisement: $64 billion
Median plan size (in assets): $92 million
Total plans under administration: 350
Total participants served: 900,000