2019 Plan Sponsor of the Year
Corporate 401(k) Plan >$100MM-$500MM

West Bend Mutual Insurance Company

FINALIST

Total Plan Assets: $255 million
Participants: 1,867
Participation Rate:  93.4%
Average Deferral Rate:  7.3%
Default Deferral Rate: 6%
Default Investment: Principal LifeTime Hybrid Funds
Automatic Enrollment: Yes
Automatic Escalation: Yes
Employer Contribution: Two-thirds on 6% + annual noncontributory deposit of 5%-9% of gross pay

West Bend Mutual Insurance Co. aims to offer a retirement plan that enables long-term capital accumulation—and a comfortable standard of living in retirement. With main offices in West Bend, Wisconsin, the Midwestern personal insurance company, with close to 1,900 participants, has a 93.4% participation rate, a 7.3% average deferral rate, and 100% immediate vesting on all employer contributions.

The company recently rolled out a new 401(k) match—which increased the total company contribution by 1.5%—at two-thirds of 6%. The match is a minimum total employer contribution of 9% and a maximum of 13% at the end of each year, based on years of employment. West Bend also adds an annual noncontributory deposit of 5% to 9% of gross pay.

“It was the right thing to do,” explains Michael Faley, senior vice president of human resources at West Bend, when speaking of the decision to increase the match. “As an organization, we believe in taking care of our associates, and financially we were able to do it to be more competitive in the marketplace.”

In 2018, the company hired CAPTRUST as its 3(21) adviser. Aside from ensuring each target-date fund (TDF) glide path is appropriate for the fund’s goals, the advisory firm confirms any communications West Bend offers to participants regarding funds available to them.

Along with bringing in a 3(21) adviser, three fiduciary members now sit on the board, along with CAPTRUST and five other committee members, and the company allows associates across the organization to join the committee.

“It’s not just about concentrating on a small group of people; we have the larger group [to give us a broader sense of] what our associates would want,” he says.

This year, West Bend introduced a health savings account (HSA) option for the company’s associates. Managed through its recordkeeper, Fidelity, the company does not contribute to the HSA, but allows participants to use pre-tax dollars to save for medical expenses through retirement. As with the 401(k), its administration fees are covered by West Bend.

“It’s another way to ensure the associates are taken care of, for them to save for retirement and have a larger nest egg for medical purposes,” adds Faley.

West Bend’s employees have an average tenure of 11 years and average account balance of $182,626. The company’s primary retirement goal is to offer its employees the best, whether that is attainable through surpassing industry benchmarks or applying all best practices. Its financial wellness education gives associates a greater appreciation of their overall benefits package, which can improve productivity— it holds on-site, monthly individual education sessions with a financial adviser, yearly four-hour retirement seminars, and one-on-one meetings for associates and their spouses.

“Our goal is to maintain ourselves as best in class,” Faley says. “For an entire benefit category, we try to be in the upper quartile of benefits; we believe that’s a great retention tool. So, all of the things we do concerning the 401(k)—the education, the match and the selling of it—are designed to meet the needs of our associates.” —Amanda Umpierrez

 

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