How did you get into 401(k) advising? Coming from personal financial planning, I was lucky enough to have a large administrator in town looking for consultants. After taking on the position that strictly focused on 401(k)s I was able to learn the ins and outs of 401(k) planning and how it works specifically with small businesses. I was also lucky enough to be the administrator when they were bringing in Corporate Payroll Services, who I moved over to shortly thereafter.
What advice do you have for those who are just starting out in this space? Get connected with a continual referral source. It is important to keep the leads coming in while you onboard new clients. The 401(k) space moves slower than any other benefit space or IRA rollovers as well, so you need to be prepared to put in several months of communication to move 1 client.
What is one change you made over the past year, personal or professional, that helped you be more successful? I enjoy being connected with administrators who take the heavy lifting off my shoulders. This allows me the freedom to both bring in new clients while continuing to provide excellent service to our existing ones. It is important to have an administrator that can help with the ancillary tasks like password resets and simple amendments that will allow me to focus on the investment side of the plans.
What’s the best advice you ever received? No client is too small to receive top of the line service.
What is one trend you foresee impacting plan advisors over the next few years? Over the past year we haven’t seen too many changes, but the addition of 3(16) administration at many providers has been a huge help. Nothing is more frustrating than late filings for sponsors and that service really helps alleviate that.
What's the hardest part of running your own practice? The hardest part of running your own practice is allocating time for every client. Each client is going to use up a minimum amount of time, so you want to make sure to space things out. Onboarding too many clients at once will clog up your pipeline both at the start and throughout the process. You want to make sure to space things out to keep a smooth practice.
Where do you find your leads? Most of my leads come from our payroll processing and sales reps. A lot of companies look to their payroll company for a 401(k) offering so I am able to benefit from that very well.
What advice do you have for those thinking of starting their own practice? Be sure to have the right processes in place for client onboarding, compliance and employee support. You will want to determine whether or not you will offer services to just the sponsor or the employee. Hint: If you want to separate yourself from a large firm 3(38), you need to offer more services like 1x1 appointments with employees and enrollment meetings.
What is one trend you foresee impacting plan advisors over the next few years? Potential legislation is going to require advisors to have plans that are covered not only from the investment side, but the processing and administrative side as well. Should automatic enrollment become a requirement, advisors will need to work with sponsors to see how that will be handled and the responsibilities of doing so. Having 360 degree payroll integration is going to be a key component to executing automatic enrollment properly.
What's the best celeb sighting you've had? Being in Green Bay for most of my life, it was not uncommon to see many Packer players over the years. I’ve seen Aaron Rodgers, Brett Favre but personally being able to meet Bart Starr many years ago was an amazing experience. I still have his signed card.