Stephen Campbell, Kelly Lueders and Mike Minutolo create a modern 403(b) plan while retaining all 100 investments

TEAM MEMBERS: Stephen Campbell, Kelly Lueders, Mike Minutolo
TENURE WITH COMPANY: A combined 62 years
BIOs: Stephen Campbell, senior relationship manager, has worked for TIAA for 28 years, having a total of 35 years in the financial services industry. Kelly Lueders, vice president, individual engagement marketing, joined TIAA in 2011, coming from ACS, a Xerox company. Mike Minutolo, transition manager, also has served TIAA for 28 years; over the last 11, he has focused on the institutional market.
CLIENT INDUSTRY: Higher learning

Since regulations revolutionized the traditional 403(b) market, many sponsors of such plans have made changes to restructure and upgrade them.

A recent example involved an institute of higher learning. Whereas many organizations drastically cut the number of investments offered through their plan, the school wanted to retain them all. “Participants have long relationships and histories with the investments they’ve chosen,” the plan sponsor explained.

TIAA, the plan’s recordkeeper, needed to move all of the school’s 20,000 accounts to one platform. It also was tasked with creating branding—building a perception of the school’s new “retirement plan for all,” whereas, until now, each participant had thought in terms of his own personal account with TIAA.

Both undertakings were daunting in scope, yet perhaps the greatest challenge to the TIAA team was complexity. It needed to complete the changeover on schedule, to make way for the school to replace its payroll system two months after.

Project Transition Manager Mike Minutolo concurs about the complexity. “Normally, a client isn’t going through a payroll conversion at the time it’s outsourcing administrative recordkeeping service. So there was just that much more coordination that needed to happen.”

TIAA successfully made the changeover, which involved, in part, adapting its platform to handle the school’s new requirements. It also assumed some of the plan administration previously done by the school. To keep the project on schedule, Minutolo, who also oversaw the information technology (IT) dimension for TIAA, created several contingency plans; this let the team reorder the go-live dates if pieces of the project began to fall behind. “We had a seamless launch of all the various deliverables because of this approach,” he says.

To ease the change for participants, TIAA reached out to them through town hall meetings, individual meetings with advisers and outbound calls, says team member Stephen Campbell, relationship manager for the client. Especially important, the school thought, was that communications be easy to understand. TIAA’s team Communications Manager Kelley Lueders “did a fabulous job,” the school wrote, referring to the array of educational materials she produced, customized for several distinct participant groups—and all clearly expressed. Throughout, the project, Lueders handled the branding.

The final result was a project completed on time with minimal participant disruption: A mere few participants sought further clarification. Today, all participants can now benefit from improved plan services such as a redesigned and mobile-ready website, dedicated telephone support team, and expanded financial advice, as well as reduced fees. “[TIAA’s] planning, design and execution were extraordinary,” the plan sponsor says. “I’ve been involved with many large, complex implementations in my career, and this was as good as they get.” —Karen Wittwer
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