Business at a Glance as of 12/31/22
- Plan assets under advisement: $16.597 billion
- Median plan size (in assets): $74.4 million
- Plans under administration: 223
- Total participants served: 278,000
PLANADVISER: How is your team/process/structure unique? How has it evolved? Where will you be in five years?
Compass Financial Partners: Very simply: We love what we do. As our motto goes: “WE PAVE A PATH TO THE FUTURE.” A nationally recognized firm, Compass Financial Partners combines a talented, experienced team, scale and leverage with our partners and unmatched passion for retirement plan consulting. We know we’re not the only team offering retirement plan consulting to plan sponsors across the U.S. But while other firms may offer a similar list of services, we believe that who we are and how we operate sets us apart. As highly credentialed professionals with a seasoned history in helping plan sponsors maximize their retirement plan benefit, we have earned the trust and respect of our clients and have established ourselves as recognized thought leaders nationally in the retirement plan industry. As the cornerstone of our service model, we feel our proactive approach and responsiveness to client needs is an area that sets us apart from other consultants. The goal is to do for our clients what we would love for someone to do for us: to anticipate their needs, to surprise them with our attention to detail … and our attention to them. And, ultimately to give them the confidence that they are fulfilling their role, not only as fiduciaries, but as stewards of their employee’s retirement savings. We recognize that we have an awesome responsibility and an equally awesome opportunity to make a difference in the lives of employees that may never know we exist—and we take that very seriously.
In 2021, Compass Financial Partners joined Marsh & McLennan Agency LLC , a subsidiary of Marsh LLC and Marsh McLennan Companies, the leading global professional services firm in the areas of risk, strategy and people. Our alignment with MMA allows us the unique opportunity to maintain our culture and our high-touch service model while providing access to resources that will take our firm, our clients and our colleagues to the next level. As our clients have begun to experience, over the next five years we will continue to expand the offerings, services and specialty expertise we deliver while augmenting our capabilities to address the growing convergence of health, wealth, retirement and overall well-being.
PLANADVISER: As a retirement plan adviser, what do you take the most pride in?
Compass Financial Partners: As we built our business, we knew we had to establish a differentiator, and for us, it was—and still is—our passion. We have a passion for what we do and a passion for results. We are very success-oriented. In fact, we felt so strongly about it that we trademarked our mantra: process + passion = extraordinary. Our fundamental belief in providing retirement plan consulting is guided by developing a process for everything we do and executing it with passion in order to yield an extraordinary experience—and that is what we continue to focus on, day in and day out.
That passion is also a conviction in delivering an ROI to our clients. We’re not yes-people. We’re hired to help clients, to move the needle. We are honest. It is an engaged, collaborative process.
PLANADVISER: How do you grow your business? What changes to your practice or service model are you planning for 2023 or 2024?
Compass Financial Partners: As we continue to grow, our future strategic plans and objectives are always focused on two things: our people and our clients. Our people are our first priority, as it is our collective thought leadership and intellectual capital that get us, and keep us, hired. We don’t sell widgets or something tangible where hiring us elicits a sense of immediate gratification. We are hired for our intellectual capital: because a client believes in us and our abilities to improve their situation, ultimately resulting in improved retirement readiness for their employees. It is an experience that we are creating, and we want our clients to feel special. It’s not our investment scorecard or our fiduciary lockbox that gets us hired. It’s our people. It’s an energy and excitement from our team that they can’t get anywhere else.
As previously stated, our alignment with MMA has allowed us to take our firm to the next level by leveraging the size and scale of MMC. Across Marsh McLennan, our firm does important work, helping clients find opportunity and navigate uncertainty in the areas of risk, strategy and people. We have introduced a number of resources to our clients through this affiliation in the past year alone, and this coordinated collaboration with our partners across all MMA business lines will was further strengthened when we moved our broker/dealer relationship to MMA Securities, effective April 3, allowing for more fully integrated messaging across all of our deliverables.
Of note, in a traditionally male-dominated field, lead adviser Kathleen Kelly is one of six individuals nationally to serve on the MMA Retirement Services National Strategy Team (and the only female). Kathleen has direct input into how capital is deployed within MMA Retirement Services and contributes to setting the strategic direction and investments that are most beneficial to our clients and colleagues.
PLANADVISER: How do you go about moving from words and ideas to action when it comes to addressing the lack of diversity in the financial advisory industry?
Compass Financial Partners: Compass Financial Partners has always been a proponent of addressing the diversity in the financial advisory industry. In a male-dominated space, prior to merging with MMA in 2021, Compass was recognized as a woman majority-owned business enterprise.
When selecting an acquisition partner for Compass, Managing Partners Kathleen Kelly and George Hoyle identified with MMA’s embracement of a culture that celebrates and promotes the many backgrounds, heritages and perspectives of colleagues and clients. As part of these acquisition discussions, it was an important decider that Kathleen would not only continue to provide leadership to the Compass team, but she would also be elected as the first female to serve on MMA’s National Retirement Strategy Team. The Compass team has also retained their commitment to addressing diversity in the financial advisory industry, with a composition of 58% women.
We are proud that MMA was named in 2022 by Fairygodboss as one of the best companies for women, based 100% on employee feedback, and by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation as one of the 2022 Best Places to Work for LGBTQ+ Equality.
Finally, Kathleen was recently appointed as the chairman of the Board of Trustees at Winston-Salem State University (one of the nation’s leading HBCUs). In that role, using her industry connections, she has already introduced senior DEI Leaders from several DCIOs and recordkeepers to WSSU in order to explore internship and career opportunities for WSSU students, as well as opportunities for financial support to benefit the institution.
PLANADVISER: What are some of the benefits that an equitable and inclusive culture bring to a firm and its people?
Compass Financial Partners: We know financial wellness is not one-size-fits-all, and Compass Financial Partners is committed to engaging and educating the whole employee. This commitment has led us to be intentional in expanding our curriculum to include topics that address wealth gaps and other competing challenges that may impact employees’ financial goals. We partner with our clients to create customized education strategies to help maximize their retirement plan programs and overall well-being initiatives, including our team’s focus on engaging their employee resource groups.
As just one example, we worked with a $200M global logistics client, which has a 78% diverse employee base, to roll out an education strategy providing financial wellness expertise to several of their “Belonging Resource Groups” (BRGs). We presented data supporting the need for targeted financial wellness education for women, BIPOC, LGBTQ+, people with disabilities and veterans. Our client successfully implemented our strategy by hosting two days of meetings, promoted through their BRGs, focused on building a strong financial future. They later turned that initiative into a larger Be INclusive virtual conference that included their international team members. As a result, the client has made this an annual event leveraged for all of their BRGs.
Our efforts are aiding our clients in retaining and attracting employees while helping their participants feel connected and empowered to take action in their financial futures, with the end goal to put every employee in the best position to retire with dignity.