Delivering a Better Retirement Plan Experience

Most agree that today’s plan sponsors at the smaller end of the market expect products and services once delivered to the macro market exclusively. How do TPAs and plan advisors stay ahead of this demand curve? In this workshop, we will explore each of the key plan sponsor decision makers and what their unique individual “wish list” likely is. Most importantly, we will discuss how you can meet or exceed these expanding expectations to increase retention and win new business!

  • Chris Graves, Director, Strategic Accounts, Total Retirement Solutions, CUNA Mutual Group
  • Randy Fuss, Practice Management Consultant, CUNA Mutual Group

In this session, Chris Graves introduces Randy by first telling us a little bit about who CUNA Mutual is as an organization. According to Chris, they are a mission-based financial services company that is here to help hardworking Americans achieve financial security. 

Randy begins with explaining how perfection in sports is constantly changing. It is ever evolving and improving, and retirement planning is the same. There are always improvements you can make to your strategy to deliver better plan experiences to your clients. In Fidelity's recent study, an astounding 47% of plan sponsors were actively looking to replace their advisors, which means you need to be stepping up your game to retain those clients. It really does beg a two-fold question of what is your offense and what is your defense?

First, it depends on who you are catering to and who are the decision makers when it comes to an organizations' plans. If you talk to an HR executive, you'll generally hear that they want to prioritize the well-being of participants and making sure that they are taken care of and supported. Randy states the CEO can be "a little bit of a wild card in terms of what they're looking for out of the plan, but a CEO is going to primarily tell you that 'I'm focused on productivity and growth. I want to make sure that this plan kind of fits into that productivity... [and that] it's not a disruption in any way, shape, or form.'" Moving on to the CFO, their focus is on the money, which means it's all about fees, funds, and fiduciaries.

Even if you're just checking all of those boxes, in order to go that extra mile, you need to know what they really want out of these plans. The top three things are going to be higher engagement, retention, and customization of plans. 

For the higher engagement, you have to start with financial wellness tools on your website. Either building out a knowledge base on your website by yourself or with the help of an outside company that participants can pull from and get information whenever they need it is going to help improve those engagement metrics. Hopefully you're working with a provider that can give your participants more than just a snapshot of their current balance. Something that has been coming up more and more that participants are requesting is advice on their retirement plans. If you are not willing to step over that line and give participants the advice yourself, it might be wise to outsource that through some type of manage money solution. 

Since the cost of replacing an employee drastically increased the more highly compensated they are, it's better to focus on the retention aspect of current employees. In regards to the higher compensated employees (meaning upwards of $200k), there is a massive retirement income shortfall where the only solution is the 401(k) plan combined with Social Security. This coupling is actually a savings disadvantage. One of the best ways to resolve that gap is by offering some combination of non-qualified deferred compensation or a cash balance defined benefit plans. 

When appeasing the CFO needs, you have to have some fiduciary flexibility. For your fees, having structure options, transparency, and revenue sharing will be important. With funds, you should consider open architecture, non-conflicted selection, and revenue sharing investments.

CUNA Mutual's Retirement Consultant Institute offers a variety of educational content, including workshops, Client Management strategies, and best practices from the industry's top retirement plan professionals.


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