PLANADVISER: Tell us about your practice and how you and your team members got into advising retirement plans.
Handler Investment Consulting Group of Raymond James: The Handler Investment Consulting Group has evolved from a sole practitioner in 1990 to a world-class team of 17 professionals today. Although we began by working with high-net-worth individuals, our team quickly evolved to specializing on the nuances of the world of Defined Contribution, Defined Benefit, 403(b) and Non-Qualified plans. The primary focus has been and always will be to bring the most comprehensive consulting practice and advice to each of our retirement plan clients.
PA: What is your mission statement?
HIC: We understand the importance of our clients meeting their investment stewardship obligations. To this end, we help you achieve these goals by taking an objective, unbiased approach, and tailor our guidance and services to your specific needs.
Our team works to provide our clients with all aspects of investment consulting – from strategy development and plan design to reporting and periodic reviews. Our proactive advice includes the creation and implementation of a well-defined process for making informed investment decisions based on prudent investment practices. Each investment strategy is developed in consideration of well-established fiduciary standards and is backed by our philosophy of conservative management.
PA: How is your team/process/structure unique? How has it evolved?
HIC: Our team has the bandwidth to handle all aspects of retirement consulting for our existing clients and those that we may be engaged to work with in the future. The approach that we take for all is customized based on the individual needs of our plan sponsors.
The key differentiator that the Handler Investment Consulting Group brings to our clients is the value of engaging with a true consultative practice.
Incorporating the skills of our team of 17 dedicated Retirement and Wealth Management professionals enables us to bring to our plan sponsors, as a core competency, the expertise and knowledge they demand including our total plan support, investment expertise, behavioral finance applications, and education for their employees. This has resulted in us having an average plan retention rate of 16 years.
PA: What do you need to be successful? From your team? From your clients?
HIC: When it is all said and done, our success is judged by the success of both plan sponsors and plan participants. Success for our plan sponsors will be measured by the percentage of their employees who retire by age 65, meaning that we have educated, advised, and helped design the optimal plan solution for all parties. Success as measured by our plan participants will be determined by their ability to achieve a savings goal of 75%-80% of their pre-retirement income in their accounts the day they retire from the workforce. If this goal is achieved, our participants will be able to live a comfortable lifestyle in retirement.
PA: Describe any particular initiatives you have led with your customer base in the past 12 months (investment or education or plan design or communication).
HIC: One of our recent major initiatives has been conducting weekly webinars on various topics related to investing and saving for the future. We have also begun conducting enrollment webinars for those of our clients who offer monthly entry dates. The use of electronic media has enabled us to reach a larger population of our plan sponsors in the hope of increasing their employee deferrals and the desire of employees participating in their plans for the very first time.
PA: As a retirement plan adviser, what do you take the most pride in?
HIC: The answer to this is two-fold:
1) When we have achieved our behavioral finance goals for our plan sponsors of 90% employee participation, an average deferral rate of 10%, and of those who participate, we would like to see 90% use some form of a managed product or a target date fund;
2) Enabling participants to reach retirement readiness by age 65, and allowing hard working employees to enjoy their “golden years” with financial security.
PA: What is your most significant area of needed improvement?
HIC: We strive as a team to continually look to improve on how we can educate our plan participants. Every plan has different challenges, and the way we educate needs to change with the ever-changing workforce and workplace.
We need to continue to improve how we deliver information and how it is retained by our plan participants.
We also need to do a better job in increasing the awareness of what participants can expect to spend of their retirement savings in areas such as healthcare in their retirement years, as this can become a financial disaster if not properly planned for.
BUSINESS AT A GLANCE:
Plan assets under advisement: $1.9 billion
Median plan size (in assets): $36 million
Total plans under administration: 53
Total participants served: 30,000
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