How many of you would hire a full-time employee and expect them to come to work once a year or maybe never again? I am sure that number is a big fat ZERO. However, many retirement plans hire a broker or financial adviser that does a lot of work initially and then only shows up once a year, if that – all while compensating that adviser like you would a full-time employee. While I am not advocating that your adviser should be in your office every month, she should be adding value to you, your plan, and your participants throughout the year.
One of the most important ways an adviser can contribute throughout the year is to offer education to your participants. Our team offers semi-annual education to the plans we work with along with on demand access to adviser advice when a participant has a question. It is all too common for advisers to skip this step because it can be a time and revenue drain, but it is far too important to the success of your participants’ retirement futures to neglect it. A full-time adviser will recognize this and offer solutions on to help educate your participants.
Your adviser should also be a thought leader who brings new ideas and solutions to the plan without being prompted. I recently drafted a letter for all of our plan sponsors to use to remain in contact with terminated participants. I did this because of the focus on terminated participant communication and orphaned account balances from the Employee Benefit Security Administration. There is always something new in the world of qualified plan management and your full-time adviser should be aware of how changes impact your plan.
Finally, your adviser should be able to identify trends, successes, and needs for your plan. This can be anything from overall plan cost to asset allocation. We keep track of asset growth, participation numbers, deferral percentages, and total plan cost as a way to analyze our impact on the plan over time. Trends can be important indicators of plan health and a full-time adviser should be able recognize them and their affect on your plan.
Chances are you are paying your adviser like a full-time employee and you should be getting the same value out of her that you would expect out of your top team members. If you would like to review your plan, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at 205-970-9088.