Retirement Plan Expert Insight: Biggest Opportunities, Misconceptions, and Myths – OH MY!

If you’re located on the east or west coast, you might be familiar with the retirement plan experts we interview in this blog post. Meet Tali Vaughn and Laura Grassi, some of our amazing Regional Vice Presidents on our Sales Team. In our conversation below, these ladies talk about common mistakes and misconceptions they see in the field, the biggest opportunities in the retirement industry today, their favorite bingeable TV shows, and more.

Q: What is your role at EGPS and what does that entail?

Tali: My official title is “Regional Vice President, Sales & Consulting.” On a day-to-day basis, I develop relationships with advisors, CPAs, and business owners. My goal is to bring consultative and educational value to these relationships and be a trusted resource. The hope is that my knowledge and helpful nature results in new business for EGPS and enables me to help business owners with customized retirement plan solutions.

Laura: Like Tali, I’m also a Regional Vice President of Sales & Consulting for EGPS, focusing on New York and the Northeast part of the country. I work with financial advisors, RIAs, CPAs, and small business owners to create customized retirement plan solutions for corporate and not-for-profit clients. 

Q: What are the top mistakes and/or misconceptions you see in the industry?

Tali: The top misconceptions I hear all the time are:

Laura:

  • Not saving early – It is always best to start saving early than trying to play catch-up later.  That is the magic of compound interest. 
  • Believing that ALL retirement plans must be complicated – Our team of experts are able to design everything from the simplest to the most complex retirement plans based upon the goals of the plan sponsor.
  • Bundled is best – Bundled service models typically provide a “one size fits all” plan design with little flexibility. Alternatively, using a TPA like EGPS allows you to design the plan to meet the employer’s goals. This includes attracting top talent, retaining existing associates, rewarding key employees, maximizing contributions, minimizing tax burdens, or any combination of these benefits. 

Q: What are the top opportunities you see for advisors and employers in the industry?

Tali: For advisors, retirement plans can help greatly with client retention and help insulate their existing book of business. Retirement plans can also expand referral opportunities without advisors needing to look too far.

For employers, I think their biggest opportunities are satisfying state mandates, realizing the large tax deduction opportunities they have with qualified retirement plans, the opportunity to provide benefits to attract and retain employees/top talent, and the ability to tailor their plan design to be the best possible option for them with a quality TPA (like EGPS, of course).

Laura:

  • State-mandated retirement programsMany states have begun mandating retirement plans to address the retirement savings gap in the country.  These programs state that employers who meet the minimum requirements must enroll in the state’s program or look to establish a new retirement plan for their employees.  This is a great opportunity for advisors and business owners to evaluate their own needs. Talk to a TPA (ahem…EGPS) to see if a customized plan might be the right fit. 
  • Cash balance plans – While traditional defined benefit plans aren’t as prevalent as they used to be, cash balance plans are growing in popularity. In a cash balance plan, the employer and their key employees can typically contribute more (often much more) to the plan. 
  • 3(16) outsourcing of fiduciary functions – Since most employers aren’t familiar with all the rules and regulations of running a retirement plan, they can be left open to risk of noncompliance. In addition, the tedious tasks associated with retirement plan administrative can also be a burden to busy business owners. That’s why 3(16) fiduciary services are a great option and a hot topic right now.  Plan sponsors can outsource their administrative workload and reduce the risk associated with their retirement plans to EGPS.  We can act as the 3(16) fiduciary, saving business owners valuable time and ensuring plan compliance. 

Q: Is there anything else you want financial advisors to know that aren’t covered in your previous two answers?

Tali: Your TPA is your biggest ally. Leave the plan design and technical retirement consulting to us! We’re here to support you and your clients with the nitty gritty compliance details. We don’t expect you to be a plan design expert.

Also, retirement plans can open the door to other opportunities inside a company for you. Think about the employees you have access to help educate that may not have an advisor. Perhaps there is an insurance need you can help fill or a personal financial plan that is needed. Additionally, there might be employees with generational wealth who don’t know what to do with it or who to turn to for advice. These opportunities are presented by educating plan participants through their retirement plan.

Laura: EGPS has a wealth of resources available for advisors – from our compliance team of ERISA experts, to our in-house enrolled actuaries, to plan design experts and dedicated plan consultants – we are here to help.  We want to become an extension of your team and help you accomplish your goals.

Q: What is the most challenging aspect of your job?

Tali: I’d say the hardest aspect of my job is probably all the things I want to do within a limited timeframe – following up on opportunities, trying to catch up on email and voicemails after being out of the office/traveling to meetings, etc. I want to treat every advisor and client like they’re the only one I have.

Laura: Managing advisor and client expectations. Retirement plans take time to establish, from the initial plan design analysis, to adopting the written plan document, to picking a recordkeeper, to sending out plan information to participants, to funding the plan. All these steps take time – often slightly longer than the client expects, given all the moving parts.  Our job is to educate and make sure that the onboarding process is smooth and seamless. 

Q: What is the most rewarding aspect of your job?

Tali: The most rewarding part of my job is explaining difficult plan concepts simply, so employers are able to understand and feel confident in their retirement plans. Business owners know their business like the back of their hand, but typically are less passionate about retirement plans. If I can make them smile and hear “you explained that really well, I understand,” I had a good day.

I also love using my 20 years of retirement plan knowledge to design plans that help clients and solve their problems without requiring the client to dig for data and know what they need. It is hard to know what you want when you don’t know the options.

Laura: I LOVE helping plan sponsors put a solution in place that satisfies the needs of both the plan sponsor/owners and provides a wonderful opportunity for plan participants to reach their retirement goals.

Q: What is your favorite bingeable TV show?

Tali: I recently discovered Ted Lasso and love it! I’m also hooked on Married at First Sight and Real Housewives of all the counties, because everyone needs a brainless little trash TV after plan design calls all day.😉

Laura: Homeland

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