James Lyday spent the first two decades of his retirement industry career working for several of the largest service providers. His varied roles across the provider spectrum showed him there was a significant disconnect between what plan sponsors and participants needed and what advisers and consultants delivered. Deciding to buck his traditional role and change the segment of the industry he worked in, he heeded the wisdom of Mahatma Gandhi: “The best way to effect the change you want is to be the change yourself,” Lyday paraphrases. “And I did. I became an adviser.”
From the start, Lyday, now managing director of Pensionmark in Nashville, has employed an advisory model focused on the concepts of process, prudence and participant outcomes. This means scoring and quantifying the process of investing and plan administration; surrounding each plan with prudent experts: adviser, recordkeeper, third-party administrator (TPA), plan auditor and investment managers; and guiding participants to financial, and physical, stability and wellness.
“The breadth and depth of my experience has uniquely shaped my philosophy, knowledge and abilities,” Lyday says. “As a result, I bring a level of innovation and provide solutions to plan sponsors and participants beyond what they’ve typically been provided or, in some cases, what they are even aware they need,” he says.
From meetings with existing and prospective plan sponsors clients, he has learned that they all generally agree on plan fiduciaries’ most important roles: complying with the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) by having maximum governance to avoid complaints, litigation and bad audits; increasing the efficiency of the plan’s administration; and getting better outcomes for employees in order to maximize productivity, improve the company’s balance sheet and decrease the overall health care spend.
Still, many plan sponsors are disconnected from their participants’ needs and wants and believe they’ll encounter more push-back to proper plan design changes than will likely be the case, so Lyday works to overcome such sponsor resistance to valuable plan changes he suggests.
In light of the increased focus on health savings accounts (HSAs) as a part of retirement income planning, Lyday recently received a Certified Health Savings Advisor (CHSA) designation and has incorporated HSA consulting into his practice. He will assist plan sponsors in selecting the most appropriate HSA provider to ensure that not only the administrative aspects are optimal but also the investment options and fees because he believes these accounts can help give participants a significant advantage to meeting their retirement readiness goals.