Are You Getting the Most Out of Your Retirement Plan Consultant?
By: Scott Fischer, Senior Investment Consultant
Every so often, the retirement plan industry starts sounding like a broken record. Advisors and consultants alike all saying the same thing. We are experiencing this trend again today with most advisors focusing on the three “F”s. Funds, Fees and Fiduciary. While these are important factors of a plan, they are no longer differentiators in the retirement plan space. It wasn’t that long ago that we were coming in with open architecture while most plans were still using group annuity sub accounts. This was changing the industry at the time, but now the industry has pretty much caught up. There are still areas we see consistent opportunity to be differentiators when working with retirement plans and some of these will never change. Let’s explore some areas I believe will always allow us to differentiate from our competition.
Enza has over 100 years of combined retirement plan experience within its team. Members of our team have worked in national consulting practices, third party administration, recordkeeping platforms, and national broker/dealers. Experience matters and especially in an industry as complicated as retirement plans that operate under ERISA. Experience can provide knowledge of how plan design can improve retirement readiness outcomes for your participants as well as improving retirement readiness for the owner/executive. Experience can also provide insight into what practices can provide protection to the fiduciaries of the plan while avoiding costly gimmicks that the non-experienced advisor may bring to the table.
Though most advisors will tout their service, most service standards in our industry are lacking. One of Enza’s values is zealous service. Good service is not enough in our company culture. We strive for zealous service. We liken this to the Ritz Carlton approach to go out of our way to serve our clients. We consider ourselves an extension of our clients HR department and try to position ourselves as the go to person for all initial client questions and issues that arise. Some examples of our standard zealous service include:
1) Detailed meeting minutes – our clients receive detailed meeting minutes for each of our clients meetings which they can review at any time.
2) Signature ready forms – we will not allow vendors to send forms to the client without being reviewed and completed by Enza and signature ready.
3) Cloud based fiduciary vault – Since Enza is a co-fiduciary and must maintain a fiduciary file for each of our clients, it is only reasonable that we provide the file to our clients so they don’t have to maintain their own retirement plan files.
4) Value adds – Enza continues to stay current on all regulations and new opportunities in the industry and provide updates to clients on pending news that is important in our industry.
5) Participant advice – While most advisors will provide group communication meetings and possibly even one on one individual meetings to participants, Enza provides full service financial advice to participants as part of our service agreement with the plan sponsor. There are no additional fees unless a participant engages Enza through a separate service agreement.
These are just a few ways we push the envelope on service standards in the retirement plan industry.
Another of Enza’s values is never ending solutions. This somewhat correlates with expertise, however, finding a consultant or advisor that will always try to find a solution or a better way is also rare. It is Enza’s culture to never take a vendor’s answer at face value. We will always question a provided response and look for a solution that meets a client’s needs. This also helps with conflict resolution, between a client and a vendor and especially between a participant and a plan sponsor.
These are a few examples of what I would consider ongoing differentiators of consultants and advisors. There will always be new trends in the industry to stay ahead of, but the consistent differentiators will remain a constant. Are you getting the most out of your retirement plan consultant?