MetLife Focusing RK on Small, Mid-Sized Clients

November 2, 2001 ( - Fresh from having recently announced their pullout from the large-plan recordkeeping market, MetLife officials say they're turning their attention to small and mid-size plans, leaving at least one frustrated large plan sponsor in its wake.

Judy Weiss, executive vice president of Metlife Retirement and Savings, told that MetLife will heavily rely on the services of its two recent acquisitions, General American and New England Retirement Services.

In servicing its new target market, Weiss said MetLife can work through financial advisors and brokers who already help sponsors of small and mid-size plans. MetLife also can now more easily offer standardized products.

“In the small and mid-sized plan markets, we believe we have leveragable capabilities,” she said. “We see our reputation in these markets as better perceived as well.”
Plan Sponsor Piqued

At least one MetLife client wasn’t surprised on hearing of the change. In fact, Charles Ball, supervisor of savings plans at the Philadelphia-based oil company Sunoco said Metlife’s competitors had alerted him to the rumors.

“Given the structure of the service agreement (with large plans) and that there were no investments with Metlife, we knew they couldn’t have been making any money from that deal,” Ball said.

Ball added that while his participants seemed satisfied with MetLife, he was not appeased as easily.

“I had some frustration with the service I received, they [MetLife] weren’t really proactive in a lot of things [such as] communication and legislation [for example],” he said. “They weren’t proactive in coming to me and letting me know that something was available that I would be interested, if I wanted to make changes, I’d have to go to them. Their timing with some things wasn’t the quickest either.”

Finding A New Recordkeeper

Meanwhile, Ball said Sunoco is embarking on a search for a new vendor. He began his search before the MetLife sale was announced. He has no intentions on informing his participants about the change in vendors because their service will not be interrupted. “Nothing is changing until next year,” he said.

Transition to Hewitt is optional for MetLife’s clients and Ball says he will give the firm a fair shake though he is continuing his search with a consultant on board.

“In our next recordkeeper I am looking for a combination of value from a fee perspective, good service and a commitment to the business, I never felt that MetLife had the necessary commitment to this business to succeed.”

MetLife had not grown its business organically; it purchased Bankers Trust’s recordkeeping business. Bankers Trust is now a part of Deutsche Bank.

However, MetLife left the assets of the 26 plan sponsor clients it picked up with Banker’s Trust – a move that the firm came to regret as profits tied to recordkeeping are in reality largely based on managing plan assets.

-Nicole Halsey

Read more at MetLife Exits Large Plan RK; Sheds Jobs