Business at a Glance as of 12/31/21
- Plan assets under advisement: $315 million
- Median plan size (in assets): $11 million
- Plans under administration: 29
- Total participants served: 7,200
PLANADVISER: Tell us about your practice and how you got into advising retirement plans.
Scherzer: Early in my career I worked as a junior partner in a wire house for a top trader whose specialty was working with locally publicly traded companies. It was an exciting and stressful time but gave me exposure at a young age to IPO’s, block trading, employee stock plans, and 401(k) plans.
After a few years, it became evident that I had to make a career change to reach my personal and financial goals. I looked at everything that I had learned and experienced up to that point in time and felt that the 401(k) market was one that I could make an impact in employee’s financial lives. I’d seen other advisors use 401k to get wealth clients out of the top executives, but they provided little assistance or education to those who truly needed it. I found an independent brokerage firm, set up my office and aligned myself with a local TPA and benefits producer to start my practice specializing in 401(k) plans. That was over 20 years ago.
PLANADVISER: As a retirement plan adviser, what do you take the most pride in?
Scherzer: As a retirement plan advisor, I am most proud of the community that I have become a part of with industry peers/friends where we continue to work together, discuss resources and share ideas so we can all make bigger impacts with our clients and their employees. We don’t look at one another as competitors but rather as valued partners with the same goal—to provide all our client’s employees secure a solid financially future. It’s been invaluable to me to have this network that has made me a better advisor for my clients.
PLANADVISER: How do you grow your business? What changes to your practice or service model are you planning for 2022 or 2023?
Scherzer: I have been very fortunate to have long-term relationships with both my vendors and my clients. My growth has primarily come from the success of my clients’ organizations and the movement of client team members to new companies. My firm was small by design, having started it over 20 years ago and being a single mom in the early years. Over the years, I worked hard to meter the growth by being selective in the clients I took on which allowed me the ability to maintain a high level of service and client retention.
With 2022 and 2023, we are stepping on the gas in a more aggressive way by expanding our in-house employee benefits practice and developing our newly formed human resources company. Between retirement, benefits and HR, our office has grown to a team of approximately 14 hard-working individuals with a focus on growth and retention. We have opportunities to discuss prospects, clients and referral sources as a team rather than working individually on those efforts.
PLANADVISER: Please tell us about an important experience you have had while getting involved in your local, regional or global community.
Scherzer: Very early in my career at a prospect meeting, the HR director shared that her daughter who was a single mom with 4 young kids had just lost everything in a fire. I was not in financial position to make a big impact myself, but I did lean into my network for help. I was able to learn what each child had lost in the fire that was most important to them—clothing, toys and shoes, etc. I had a very good idea what it would take to put back together a new apartment starting from the clothes on their backs.
Within seven to 10 days, my family, friends, and clients had a caravan of three trucks bringing furniture, housewares, televisions, clothing, toys, books and so many other things. People gave generously, and I scraped together all the additional funds I personally could that were needed to ensure that the kids “wish” items were all met.
What this experience taught me was how significant of an impact I could make in someone’s life by asking for the community around me to help such a great cause. Sometimes people want to help, they just don’t always know how. If you can lead them to the cause, people will give generously.
PLANADVISER: What advice can you give to your industry peers about developing a successful philanthropic or charitable vision for a firm?
Scherzer: I would suggest organizations identify a cause (or causes) that their team has a connection with. A firm may want to consider what their own values are as an organization and find charities that align with those values. For larger organizations, this may require a committee. Once a cause or causes are identified, I would encourage them to reach out to these charities directly to ask how they can help. If a firm wants to make a bigger impact, they may want to look at a smaller, local organization where their time and money will go farther than a big national charity.
There are so many great small non-profits that need help. These organizations would allow firms to get creative in their philanthropic activities. For example, minutes from our office is a Title 1 school, a nursing home, a food bank and an organization helping single parents with cancer. It truly is eye opening how many charities are in your backyard, you just need to seek them out.
Whether the mission becomes about raising financial contributions or providing nonfinancial resources, I would suggest that they have consistency in the ongoing engagement. It’s the consistency where the philanthropic activity becomes a charitable vision and a part of the organizations culture.