The D’Aiutolo Malcolm & Associates Investment Consulting Group, in Rochester, New York, has a motto in the office: “Family first.” Not only does the internal team feel like family, but it also thinks of its plan sponsor clients, their participants and the participants’ family members as family.
“We manage $3 billion of assets, but we always look at those assets as being made up [of] individuals and their families,” says Paul D’Aiutolo, senior vice president, investments, at the firm, a financial services team of UBS.
According to the team, D’Aiutolo Malcolm & Associates took a “major turn for the better” seven years ago when it hired Alicia Malcolm to help D’Aiutolo—who had launched the company as a sole practitioner—enhance client deliverables and the overall business. Both D’Aiutolo and Malcolm began attending all prospective client calls and meeting with existing client committees. The team also added Kaitlyn Stagnitta, Marc Brondon, Amanda Marshall and Donna George.
“The [‘family first’] mindset has allowed our clients to feel they truly have a team supporting them, with each person on the team providing a different, yet valuable touchpoint,” D’Aiutolo says.
As plan committees continue to grow, the team felt its changes also provided a “unique way to compete,” leading to significant growth since that time. During the team expansion, D’Aiutolo Malcolm & Associates also made a point to hire a diverse, multigenerational group. On the 401(k) side of the business, the average employee age is 35, and there are an equal number of men and women.
“We wanted to build a team that mirrored what we were seeing [on] our committees,” D’Aiutolo says. “It’s more and more common to see younger professionals and more diverse committees, and we wanted to build a team that could mesh culturally with the people we were doing business with.”
Additionally, with the hiring of younger professionals, clients feel secure knowing they could count on the same service team for decades, D’Aiutolo explains.
As a “family first” culture, the team wants to make sure its 40,000 participants are taken care of. Accordingly, it places a focus on education and pays particular attention to participants who lack confidence in their retirement planning. It also makes sure plan design gives participants the chance to have the best possible outcomes.
The team believes there are a few basics that all clients should have, or consider having, such as automatic enrollment that meets the match level; automatic increase to a number that, by combining employer and employee contributions, adds up to 15%; re-enrollment annually to the auto-enrollment rate; fee levelization; and the utilization of Fiduciary Benchmarks Inc. to ensure fees are reasonable.
“We actually lose sleep when our clients choose to not go down the path of auto-enrollment, automatic increase and re-enrollment,” D’Aiutolo says. “We know these techniques work, and that leads to not just better outcomes but actual wealth creation.”
The consulting group adheres to a four-step process in which participant engagement is paramount. First, it helps participants enroll and understand the difference between Roth and traditional contributions. Next, it helps them decide on an age-appropriate asset allocation. Third, it checks whether they are on track to replace their income in retirement. And fourth, it provides guidance on overall financial planning and wellness.
After Alicia Malcolm joined the group, the team increased its participant engagement even more by adding personalized financial planning. The individualized attention allows participants to see their whole financial picture clearly and “address their retirement plans confidently,” D’Aiutolo says.
For however long participants are under the team’s advisement, it wants them to be in a better place when they leave than when they started, having gained the knowledge to achieve their retirement goals. —Corie Hengst