The Standard

Nicholas Lenzi and Dara Duane handled a plan conversion from a previous recordkeeper to The Standard during a simultaneous payroll conversion for Guardian Credit Union.
The Standard, Dara Duane and Nicholas Lenzi.
The Standard, Dara Duane and Nicholas Lenzi.
  • Client
    Guardian Credit Union
  • Industry
    Financial Services
  • Client Headquarters
    Montgomery, Alabama
  • Plan Assets/Plan Participants

BIOS: Nicholas Lenzi has been an implementation manager with The Standard for 27 years, having joined in April 1994. He has held several different roles in that time. Dara Duane, relationship manager with The Standard, was previously with Charles Schwab for 12 years, and another recordkeeper for 10 years in a similar role.

New plans, such as the one The Standard put in place for Guardian Credit Union, are oftentimes difficult because everything is new to the plan sponsor. At the same time, the credit union’s plan implemented automatic enrollment. Its former 401(k) plan used auto-enrollment, so the two-person team at The Standard needed to carefully map that information over to the new defined contribution (DC) plan. This required coordination with Guardian, its payroll vendor, its adviser and The Standard’s data specialist, who manages the payroll upload process, says Nicholas Lenzi, implementation manager at The Standard.

Nikita McClain, chief culture officer of Guardian Credit Union, says Lenzi and Dara Duane, a relationship manager at The Standard, delivered superior service for the credit union’s DC plan conversion—in the midst of a simultaneous payroll system conversion. “With over 20 years in this field, this was far and above any experience I have had with a retirement plan service provider,” McClain wrote in her nomination form.

Under the watchful eyes of Lenzi and Duane, the DC conversion and payroll provider switch was, the client says, completely seamless. McClain credits this to Lenzi and Duane’s “partnership with us [Guardian Credit Union] and our investment advisers to address every area of concern in drafting a new 401(k) plan, patiently providing guidance and options. They created a workable plan from day one, which made a daunting project much less so.”

The new DC plan was viable from the moment it went live, and what could have been a “daunting project” was hardly that, McClain says. “I know we were not their only client, [but] their responsiveness and accessibility certainly made me feel like it. Being on-site for the initial employee rollout and being available for one-on-one meetings is a level of service we had not experienced before.”

Depending on the region where a sale to a retirement plan sponsor has been made, and the service model that has been contracted for, Lenzi and Duane frequently find themselves paired up, Lenzi explains. Lenzi does one-on-ones and group meetings with plan participants, while Duane’s primary role is to manage the initial enrollment meetings for the plan participants “and work with the client to establish a local presence,” Lenzi says.

Duane notes that this required him to do a good amount of travel to client headquarters and satellite offices to meet with not just the retirement benefits team, but also the retirement plan adviser consultants and other key players. Typically, Duane finds himself on the road at least once a week. Duane also schedules one-on-one meetings with every single employee. “I am more the face of The Standard,” he says.

“In the end,” Lenzi says, “we got there, and it worked out.”

Lee Barney

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