We bring a great deal of plan consulting experience to the table. Sometimes new plan prospects focus on what is going on with their plan rather than focusing on investments. We can address concerns about dissatisfaction with the way the plan operates while you focus on the quality of investment services you will deliver.
What does it cost to have a TPA involved?
The cost of TPA services varies depending on the number of participants with balances in the plan. We do not focus on assets; however, some of our preferred providers pay us fees “offsets” that reflect asset size. Most of these fee offsets have no impact on the cost of the specific plan for which we are paid, but do help us to reduce our fees for that plan. For instance, a plan with $1MM in assets will generate between $500 and $1,000 a year in offsets depending on the provider involved. Swerdlin & Company will offset your quarterly fees dollar-for-dollar. It is important to note that fee offsets are not commissions or advisory fees as we do not provide any investment services and do not get paid for such.
What is meant by a “preferred provider”?
While we have worked with many different investment recordkeepers, preferred providers are those with which we have the most experience, and can recommend to a plan due to their ability to deliver superior plan sponsor services as well as effectively interface with us. While winning new business is exciting, retaining it is where we both achieve profitability.
What is your preferred profile for a plan advisor?
We work with all types of advisors, from those that have over 10 plans with us, to those that may come across one plan in their career. The most successful plan advisors seem to be those that put together a proactive service model and can demonstrate their effectiveness. For instance, we have advisors that commit to 2 employee meetings per year and an annual review with the plan sponsor. In addition, they will prepare an investment policy statement, a due diligence file, and send the employer articles and bulletins about legal or regulatory matters that may affect their plan. Advisors that build strong relationships with the officers of the company typically find the plan much more profitable than just the fees/commissions earned from the plan’s investments.
How do you distinguish between all of the advisors you work with and a “key” advisor?
Key advisors not only have a profile that brings success, but also work with us as business partners. We typically make service calls together and assist with tools and information to make each of our roles more effective. Also, we keep each other informed on any activity, positive or negative, that may impact each other’s interest in the business. If we hear from a plan sponsor that a key advisor is not meeting their expectations, we contact the advisor to let them know this, and suggest ways to repair any damage in the relationship before it is too late. Key advisors truly become business partners and have a say in the manner and level by which we deliver our services.
How can you make it easier for me to obtain the right proposal for my prospective client?
Besides assisting you with sales presentations, we can brainstorm ideas on presenting the most attractive proposal to your prospective client. Some advisors want to present different options and let the prospect decide. Others review different options with the prospect and then recommend their solution. We can discuss your particular strategy in this regard and then use our knowledge of the many different recordkeeping platforms we have worked with over the years to obtain a proposal that meets your specific criteria. While we have our recommendations in the form of preferred providers, we do not require the use of those and will help you to obtain proposals from the platform of your choice. Swerdlin & Company also offers a “true” open investment architecture platform and full fee disclosure.
What other sales tools or sales support does Swerdlin & Company offer to plan advisors?
In terms of tools, we offer the following:
- Prospect Questionnaire/ Fact Finder Form
- Investment Policy Statement Template
- Written Service Commitment Template
- Fiduciary Checklist
In terms of support, we offer the following:
- Proposal Ordering
- Plan Design Analysis
- Optimum Contribution Analysis – Cross Testing Profit Sharing/ Cash Balance / Defined Benefit / Combo Plans
- Plan Cost / Feature Comparison Spreadsheet
- Total Plan Performance Benchmarking (versus peers)
- Prospect Seminars
Plan advisors contact us frequently to ask questions and obtain documentation on such topics as comparing advantages of 401(k) safe harbor to SIMPLE IRA plans, traditional pre-tax 401(k) contributions versus Roth 401(k) contributions, what is meant by top heavy, how to design a plan to cover only certain classes of employees, controlled group or affiliated service group situations, filing late returns or correcting compliance errors, and how to avoid the requirement for an annual independent audit. Additionally, advisors contact us to help them with plans in which the participants (typically owners) want to invest in non-traditional investments or self-directed brokerage accounts which must be administered separately from the core investment platform. These “outside investments” must be accounted for manually and aggregated with the rest of the plan’s assets for reporting purposes.
What do you offer to plan advisors to improve prospecting and sales efforts?
We continue to provide education and training for plan advisors through one-on-one meetings and various seminars/workshops. Our training includes such things as data mining Form 5500’s for prospecting opportunities, using 4 easy plan design methods to attract new clients, effective sales strategies, 401(k) boot camp, and more.
How many advisors do you work with, and how far will you travel for a new plan opportunity?
We know over 500 advisors that have “touched” the retirement plan business in one way or another. However, we are in contact with about 35-65 advisors on a regular basis. Most of our advisors are local, but we do work with advisors nationwide. We always keep our opportunities open, and travel to other states as needs arise to help you propose and close business to support our advisor client relationship. We love talking about the business of retirement.
What size company can start a 401(k) plan?
Do you service clients outside of the Georgia and the Southeast?
How do you approach pricing?
We offer very competitive, fully disclosed fee arrangements. We do not cut corners or lower our standards of service. We invite you to talk to us and learn more about our approach.