To improve participants’ retirement readiness, Bukaty Companies Financial Services, in Overland Park, Kansas, launched its own financial wellness program last year.
“What makes our program unique is not our interactive participant advice platform or even our automatic investing option through a new cash-back on spending solution,” says Vince Morris, founder of the Financial Services team. “What makes our program completely transformative and poised to greatly affect participants’ retirement readiness is the proactive human outreach from a licensed financial mentor at our call center. By walking the participant through simple conversations and easy-to-achieve objectives, we can really impact [his] ability to improve a range of financial stressors—such as debt, including student loan debt—as well as counsel on asset allocation, savings rate, tax optimization, investments, etcetera.”
To better help participants, the call center has Spanish- and English-speaking financial advisers.
This human element “is key to helping more people become financially secure and to producing behavior modification,” because it allows the team to go beyond education—to monitor participant progress and provide encouragement as the program advances. Bukaty wants to be a single-source solution for clients and recently introduced personalized portfolios, which give participants access to professional investment management via a 3(38) advice arrangement.
Personalized portfolios are currently integrated with three recordkeepers, and more are in the pipeline. “Through this offering, we can help provide advice on savings rates, tax treatment, allocations, actively managed Social Security optimization and, ultimately, draw-down strategies,” Morris says. There is also a cash-back program tied in to participants’ credit card spending, with thousands of merchants participating. As participants charge purchases at these merchants, a percentage of the total is diverted back to their retirement plan.
“Many of the personalized portfolio participants wouldn’t have access to professional wealth management services due to the size of their accounts, but through our program, they can benefit from the same asset management and advice given to wealthy individuals,” Morris notes. “There’s a convergence in the industry of retirement plan adviser services and wealth management services. We believe everyone should have financial freedom and be financially successful at any income level.”
The participant-level services are at the core of what Bukaty offers to plan sponsor clients.
Each member of Bukaty’s 30-person team is tasked with performing a specific function in support of the client experience and enjoys autonomy in that role, Morris says. The diversity and specialization of the team—which includes retirement plan advisers, wealth advisers, client relationship managers, employees focused on portfolio management, employees focused on ensuring compliance with the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) and tax and financial planning specialists—provides clients with service efficiency, as well as expanded programs and services.
“We employ our team members to make decisions,” Morris says. “Team members are encouraged to become problem solvers, not just problem identifiers, which really shapes our culture.”
For plan sponsors, the breadth of support personnel allows the team to offer whatever the client needs so as to manage its fiduciary responsibilities. This includes fiduciary training for the plan committee, because, Morris says, many plan sponsors “recognize they have duties but they still lack the tools and resources to comprehend the legal landscape, the industry trends, and to work through the decisions they face as plan fiduciaries.”
As to what the Bukaty team takes the most pride in, Morris says it is lifting up its clients’ participants: “We take the most pride in helping as many people as possible become more financially sound. Our retirement plan clients include almost 100,000 employees. We have a retirement crisis in the U.S., and we want to achieve the highest amount of coverage and participation. We proudly believe that everyone deserves advice, and we recognize that simple, personalized advice will have a great impact.”
The Bukaty team benchmarks client plans each year, using a variety of sources and tools, including those from PLANSPONSOR magazine and Fiduciary Benchmarks. Evaluating a plan against its prior year’s statistics ensures that it continues to make progress toward its readiness goals.
“Not all plans can implement a generous match right away,” Morris concedes. “However, with our assistance, we help them bridge the gap of what they can do today versus where they want to be in the future. We continue to review and benchmark each plan’s progress toward its goals.”
Bukaty Companies Financial Services gets most of its new clients through referrals from current clients or the broader Bukaty Companies entity. “We’re fortunate,” he says. “Due to our service model, many of our clients have become raving fans, and so most of our new business comes to us by way of referrals. We also have a great relationship with the health and insurance arms of Bukaty Companies and often engage with clients of those divisions, as well.
“Our advisers are always looking for new opportunities to reach new plan sponsors in need of our services and have built relationships from cold calling, from providing a range of educational events such as fiduciary training or cybersecurity workshops, and from joining professional associations such as the Society of Human Resource Management,” Morris says. —Lee Barney