PLANADVISER: What is your mission statement?
Daniel Peluse: My mission is to improve the well-being of clients and their participants through the use of thoughtful retirement benefit programs. While helping plan sponsors navigate the ever-changing retirement landscape, I set my sights on effective and efficient plan management, assist clients with fulfilling their fiduciary obligations, and help their plan participants achieve the ultimate goal of a sustainable and comfortable retirement.
PA: What do you need to be successful? From your team? From your clients?
DP: Constant communication. Whether among my team or clients, we are continuously striving to improve the participant and client experience. We need to continue to evolve our service model to keep up with the evolution of our client’s lives and financial needs. By soliciting constant communication and client feedback, we are able to better understand the challenges our clients face to ensure we develop effective strategies and solutions.
PA: What do you consider the most significant challenge facing retirement plan participants? Facing retirement plan sponsors? Facing retirement plan advisers?
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 be additional compliance and regulatory requirements, changing participant behaviors, increased risk of litigation, or better understanding provider cost and service arrangements, our goal is to fulfill the role of our client’s “Chief Retirement Officer”. Through this partnership with our clients, we help them navigate the dynamic retirement plan environment to provide the most impactful and meaningful retirement benefit plan possible.
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 achieve them. Whether it is at the Plan Sponsor or Participant level, my goal is to ensure that my 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 is your most significant area of needed improvement?
DP: Identifying the most effective technology and resources is an area we are constantly looking to improve. With all of the tremendous technology and resources being made available to advisers, plan sponsors and their plan participants, we are working to identify the most impactful solutions and to develop the most efficient method of delivery to create meaningful outcomes and tangible results among our clients.
PA: What benchmarks do you use to measure plan and client success?
DP: “Retirement ready” plan participants, from my perspective, are those who are comfortably on track to replace 80% of their income and can achieve financial flexibility as they near retirement age. When looking to attain this goal, we incorporate their existing retirement savings, including current plan assets, outside assets and 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, re-enrollment)
• 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 have continued to work with our clients and participants to increase overall financial wellness, too. 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.
BUSINESS AT A GLANCE
Plan assets under management: $1.3 billion
Median plan size (in assets): $10 million
Total plans under administration: 130
Total participants served: 35,000