Expert Insight

An adviser and recordkeeper confront challenges in the retirement plan industry.
PAND15-Article-Portrait-CEORT.jpgFrom left: Randy Long, Joe Ready

At the PLANADVISER National Conference, two retirement industry leading executives discussed advisory and retirement plan industry trends. During the CEO Roundtable session, Randy Long, Managing Principal at SageView Advisory Group, and Joe Ready, Executive Vice President of Wells Fargo Institutional Retirement and Trust, took part in a discussion with Alison Cooke Mintzer, editor-in-chief of PLANADVISER.

PA: When you look at the number of relationships that retirement plan advisers are managing, how can recordkeepers and advisers best work together?

Joe Ready: Communicate and coordinate. First, at a firm level, what are we trying to accomplish collectively when we’re working together with clients in terms of day-to-day services and value-added ideas? What are the strategies that each of us believe we can deliver and add to the relationships that we service?

Once you establish that baseline, then communicate at an adviser level around the client-specific priorities. What are the priorities and goals of that client, of that plan, and how can you work to optimize delivery on that?

When I say “coordinate,” it’s really about defined roles and responsibilities. How are you going to interact with that client? How are you going to prepare for meetings? What’s the agenda? How are we going to deliver data?

Continue to communicate around the changes that are going on in our industry, and understand each other’s perspectives so that you show up to the client as one team aligned around how you’re going to implement these changes, coordinate them, and deliver them.

PA: How do you manage points of contact at the client and integrating points of contact with the recordkeeper? Do you as an adviser always want to be the point person?

Randy Long: It needs to be a partnership. It’s important for advisers to know the recordkeeper’s communication style so they present a united front.

It’s very important to solidify your value proposition; outline the duties and responsibilities in terms of who’s going to be on the team, who’s going to run point on different activities.

At SageView, we have a three-person service team: a lead consultant, a relationship manager and oftentimes an investment specialist that’s a CFA. Our role as advisers is to be an advocate on behalf of the client and work closely with the recordkeeper in partnership.

PA: What is the role of technology in recordkeeping and the advisory business today, and what are current development needs and priorities?

Ready: We think about technology as a three-pronged approach. First, how do we protect our clients’ assets? With today’s world, protection of assets and protection of data is job one.

Job two is access—how can people access data and what’s the best way to do that. If you’re not focused on mobile today, you’re not in the game. Provide access to plan sponsors through mobile devices, access to advisers and how they want to interface with their clients at a meeting and access that information, and obviously access at a participant level.

The third leg after protection and access is about real-time modeling. This gets to a sponsor level and an adviser level. What if I make these plan changes? What if I add this feature? What does that do to my cost? What might that do to outcomes?

What would those best practices tend to yield in terms of better outcomes, in terms of participation, in terms of deferral rates? This “Know me” component is demonstrating to sponsors that you can benchmark plan innovation to see how it might affect outcomes.