Business at a Glance as of 12/31/22
- Plan assets under advisement: $1billion
- Median plan size (in assets): $5.5 million
- Plans under administration: 78
- Total participants served: 19,000
PLANADVISER: Tell us about your practice and how you got into advising retirement plans.
Fay: Our practice focuses on being an additional fiduciary for our clients and their participants. I started in the industry in 2002. I was handed a company credit card and a cell phone and asked to go figure out how to raise money in a new concept for 401(k) plans called managed accounts. The technology was brand new and allowed outside money managers to access the individual accounts of participants while managing their accounts based on their risk profiles. The work was very manual, as it required each participant to fill out a paper application with a risk-based questionnaire to [help us] understand their situation. This was the first attempt to help participants make better investment decisions and the start of the realization that it is very difficult to try and teach individuals to invest on their own and that, given the choice, most people will happily hand the chore over to a professional.
Fast forward seven years, and the importance of working with a fiduciary adviser became evident. All this change caused plan sponsors to reevaluate their priorities, and I took the initiative to focus our practice on educating plan sponsors to encourage participants to focus on financial wellness and overall successful retirement outcomes.
PLANADVISER: How do you grow your business? What changes to your practice or service model are you planning for 2023 or 2024?
Fay: We continue to grow our business through the relationships we have built with centers of influence. One of our key COIs is the employee benefit team here at HUB. We have found that HR teams continue to look at benefits from a more holistic approach. This is especially true when it comes to features like saving for retirement or saving in an HSA account. We also continue to be a source of support as retirement plans grow in complexity. As we look back at the types of questions we receive from our clients, we noticed that the vast majority were focused on plan administration and service issues. For this reason, we recently hired a person with their QKA to be the lead account manager for many of our plans. It is our opinion that fee compression and the continued merger of service providers will result in more needs from the retirement plan advisory community to step in and fill gaps.
PLANADVISER: What challenges do you think the retirement plan industry faces and what role do you have in addressing and confronting those challenges?
Fay: I believe the industry faces two main challenges. The first is retirement readiness. Despite all our efforts today, the majority of employees still do not save enough for retirement. I believe the auto features and other steps to make participating in a retirement plan will continue to help. Unfortunately, for many, it will be too little, too late. The second major challenge is income in retirement. This is an area that has largely gone unaddressed. Yes, people are working on it, but we still find ourselves in a position where we will be having millions of people retiring with sizeable balances and no great way to help them spend it appropriately. This will continue to be a challenge, especially as the cost of both living and health care continues to rise. I fear we will see a large segment of our population spend too fast and be in a position where they quickly run out of money.
Our role is to continue to have these conversations with all that will listen, whether it is legislators, plan sponsors or plan participants. We must all understand what the risks are and work together to address them. Education is key, and we need to always be talking.
PLANADVISER: Please tell us about an important experience you have had while getting involved in your local, regional, or global community.
Fay: My most important experience was my early introduction to philanthropy. I was a young professional just entering the world of financial services and investment advising. I was fortunate enough to be invited to participate in an organization called Omaha Venture Group. The group was founded by a local family that wanted to provide a giving circle environment to young professionals to help them learn about the process of giving money. There were 40 of us, each contributing $400, plus a grant by three local families that allowed us to give up to $45,000 per year. Our mission was to identify local not-for-profits with operating budgets less than $100,000. We would interview them and identify up to nine per year that could receive a grant of up to $5,000. We would then make our case to the greater group as to why the organization we selected should receive a grant, and the group would vote on how much to give. This opened my eyes to how hard it is to give money away and all the different factors that come into that decision.
When I first started, I did not have a strong passion for any one organization or mission, unlike many who had experience with cancer, animals, kids or many other causes. As a result, I often found myself focused on the impact the grant would make. As I learned more about the not-for-profit world, I realized how difficult it is for many organizations to have to go back and ask for the same dollars repeatedly. This led to me focusing on groups that could be self-sufficient and created a passion for impact investing. It is this passion that led me to establish my own giving circle and work with like-minded people who share a similar passion. To date, we have reviewed more than 100 applications and given more than $130,000 to 10 different organizations. Our next steps include taking our success to the giving community with the hopes of raising more money and increasing the overall impact in our community.
PLANADVISER:What advice can you give to your industry peers about developing a successful philanthropic or charitable vision for a firm?
Fay: My advice is simple when it comes to developing a vision, whether it is personal or firm-wide, and that is: find your passion. Giving is personal, and like many things that are personal, it can be accomplished via many different avenues. My advice is to find the passion that fits you or your organization. Like many things, when you are working on something you are passionate about, it never feels like work. It’s the same with giving, whether it’s financial, time or a combination of the two. When you find what you love, you will love what you do.