For retirement plans that are eyeing a year-end conversion or any transition in the near future, here are four tips to help make the conversion process go as smoothly as possible.
1. Make Sure Everyone is on Board
In my experience, many times the person that has the final say in deciding whether to hire or fire a service provider is not usually the same person in the company that works directly with the provider. Therefore, before making the decision to pull the plug on a provider you need to ensure that all members of your team are on board. Ask your team questions like, “What does ABC provider do that makes your life easier?” or “What is something that you wish ABC provider did better?” Once the decision has been made to make a change, make certain everyone is involved from day one.
2. Ask for Specifics
We all know that often times what we are sold and what we get don’t exactly match up. For this reason, it is important to ask your sales representative to give you specifics on what your plan conversion will look like and better yet, ask them to involve your service representative from the very beginning of the process. Get the details on payroll upload file feeds, distribution processing and timing, blackout periods, and service standards.
3. Tie Up the Loose Ends at Your Current Provider
The old saying “garbage in, garbage out” applies here. More than likely, you chose to convert your plan to a new provider because something at the old provider was broken; so, don’t bring that broken process or bad data to your new provider. Items that can be an issue in a conversion are outstanding loans, participant vesting information, automatic enrollment start dates, and more.
4. Control the Message to Your Participants
You may be excited to get a fresh start at a new provider, but keep in mind that change is hard, especially on your participants. They will have to learn a website and memorize a new call center number and they probably had absolutely no say in whether or not to make the change. The blackout period can also cause uneasiness among participants since there will be a time that they will not be able to access or even see their account balances. Therefore, make sure to get ahead of any unrest by controlling the messages they receive from you and the new provider.
There is so much that goes in to a successful plan conversion. If you would like to discuss these tips and many more, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 205-970-9088.