By: Gary L. Simon Jr., QPFC

qualified plans

Most advisors in the Qualified Plans space have a “go-to” platform (American Funds, Fidelity, John Hancock, Empower, Principal for example). For nearly 25 years in this market, this is what I’ve seen to be the norm, and rightfully so. But the days of the bundled platform are nearly gone. These platforms mostly rely on TPAs for expert plan design and administration.  And since the pandemic, most regional TPA’s nationwide are struggling to maintain and attract new talent. The Qualified Plan Space has a high learning curve. Recruiting or maintaining an experienced Relationship Manager or 401(k) Administration Specialist is becoming increasingly difficult. Today, many of these TPA’s nationwide are selling their practice, consolidating, or outsourcing their administration. The value of a quality platform in partnership with a seasoned, consultative TPA has never been more important to new and established Advisors. Many mutual funds, banks, insurance companies, and brokerage firms provide retirement plan services as a byproduct of their core businesses. The TPA’s core business is Retirement Plan Administration.

New or established Advisors in this space, should consider these questions when reviewing their book of business or establishing a new plan:

  • Which Platform and TPA will help with plan design consultation?
  • Which TPA will provide consistent ongoing administrative service for my valued clients?
  • Which TPA has actuaries on-site for accurate and quick turnaround of Cash Balance illustrations?
  • Which TPA has systems in place to link directly to these platforms?
  • Which TPA can offer 3(16) Services to offset Administrative Fiduciary liability?
  • Which TPA is growing and has an experienced Sales/Consultative Staff and a seasoned Administrative Team?

The typical Value Proposition for a Retirement Plan Advisor includes selecting and monitoring the appropriate investments, enrollment, participation in the plan, and helping choose the right service providers (Platform and the TPA) for the plan sponsor.

  • A recent survey suggests that as sponsors become more aware of and concerned about their fiduciary responsibilities, they may lean on you even more.
  • This is a distraction from your primary role and may position you to advise in areas where you are not an expert.

Partnering with an established retirement TPA allows you to focus on your value proposition. This TPA should meet the responsibility of plan design, plan compliance, accuracy, and working day-to-day with the plan sponsor on plan administration. The TPA should be “platform neutral” and partner with the financial and any investment platform you and the plan sponsor choose.

TPAs should be valuable partners to your practice by closing the deal with prospects through creative plan design options and suggesting plan features that are attractive to the sponsor. You should partner with a TPA that can customize a solution.

After your TPA partner helps you close the deal, the value shouldn’t stop there. This TPA should also offer a solution to assist with implementation.  The TPA can assume responsibility for gathering information from the prior recordkeeper and administrator, reviewing the current plan to address plan design needs, restating the plan document, and coordinating with the new platform’s implementation team. This will get the new plan operational as quickly and smoothly as possible, increasing participant and plan sponsor satisfaction.

This high level of consultative experience and implementation support for the Plan offers the advisor, plan sponsor, and their participants greater protection from any potential problems or issues. Whether establishing a new plan or transferring an existing plan, a polished implementation team maintained by your TPA partner will certainly make this transition easier for all.

How can we partner together and why should you consider working with me at The Retirement Plan Company?

In 1999, I started in this industry as an administrator of qualified plans. For five years, I cut my teeth on the nuts and bolts of qualified plans and received a QPFC designation through ASPPA. I desired to take this knowledge to advisors on the street. Carrying the bag was what I wanted to do, and what I still do today. I’ve partnered with every type of distribution channel and have represented various platforms: annuities, banks, and investment companies. I have been blessed to work with some of the best Advisors in the country and welcome the opportunity to share these experiences as an extension of your firm.

The Retirement Plan Company, LLC (TRPC), founded in 1992, is a proud Partner Firm of U.S. Retirement & Benefits Partners®, an independent national financial services firm specializing in employee benefit plans and retirement savings programs for corporate, not-for-profit, public school, and governmental employers. TRPC was founded in 1992 and is one of the country’s leading independent providers of third-party administration and actuarial services for employer-sponsored retirement plans. Through our administration and actuarial services platform, we provide services to over 7,000 qualified retirement plans, including 401(k) Plans, Profit Sharing Plans, Money Purchase Plans, 403(b) Plans, 457 Plans, and Defined Benefit Plans. Our team of consultants and administrators averages over 15 years of industry experience, and many are accredited by the American Society of Pension Professionals and Actuaries (ASPPA).

Because the management of a company retirement plan involves a myriad of disciplines, your retirement planning team must know ERISA laws and IRS and DOL regulations. ASPPA-credentialed professionals are committed to providing optimal solutions that avoid unnecessary risks in this highly-regulated industry. When your retirement team includes ASPPA-credentialed experts, you also receive the benefits and the commitment of ASPPA. ASPPA is a nationally recognized authority on our nation’s employer-sponsored retirement plan system and is the only organization comprised exclusively of retirement plan professionals that actively advocate for legislative and regulatory changes to expand and improve the private pension system.

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