THOUGHT LEADERSHIP

Plan Engineering

How a recordkeeper can help plan sponsors be successful.

PS316-TL-Portrait-Article-One-America-William-Yoerger.jpgWilliam F. Yoerger, President,
Retirement Services Division at OneAmerica
Although some in the industry may argue that recordkeeping has become a commoditized function, there is no doubt from many plan sponsors—especially those that take part in the PLANSPONSOR Plan Sponsor of the Year awards—that their recordkeeper is an integral part of their plan’s success. William F. Yoerger, President, Retirement Services Division at OneAmerica, spoke recently to PLANSPONSOR about the importance of the recordkeeper and plan sponsor relationship.

PS: When we evaluate plan sponsors for the Plan Sponsor of the Year program, one of the things we notice is those that rise to the top have a goal for their plan in terms of participant outcomes. How do the companies of OneAmerica help clients define goals or success metrics for their plans?

Yoerger: Most importantly, we listen. We start with an open mind and a blank page. We find out what problems they’re trying to solve and present potential solutions for the plan. A lot of providers talk about the funds, the fiduciary, the fees, and about themselves. It’s not about us – it’s about them, both in terms of determining their needs, and more importantly, in making the plan work for them. We also tailor the plan to them through customized communication.

PS: Why do you think plan sponsors want to work with you?

Yoerger: I would say first and foremost, our commitment to the business. People deal with who they like and trust. Plan sponsors know that we’re committed for the long-term in this business. We bring a unique value proposition with our local sales and service field offices. We make it more about personalization and relationships than 800 numbers and the website. We focus on programs that help employees achieve retirement security, looking at the tail end as opposed to the accumulation end.

PS: Are there particular initiatives or plan design strategies to help plan participants be successful?

Yoerger: You have to be responsible and flexible. The “auto all the time” model is almost a path of least resistance. There are many plan sponsors that don’t want to adopt the full array of auto enrollment/auto escalate for any number of reasons. It comes down to the boots on the ground of building a relationship with the plan sponsor and then effectively communicating to the participant as to why they should want to invest or prepare for retirement. Our approach is so much different than the past. We’ve shifted to a more holistic approach of saying, “what does retirement look like on the tail end,” as opposed to the effort of just accumulating and deferring taxes for the next 10, 20, 30 years.

We’re seeing traction and take rate on comprehensive financial wellness. We’re making efforts through education and using USA Today columnist and financial commentator Peter Dunn to present a more approachable—and down-to-earth— perspective to thinking about retirement. For example, he provides actionable tips for improving your overall financial life so that you can retire successfully, and how to practice retirement before you retire—mock retirement—so that people can feel what it’s like to live on a post-retirement income. We’ve had tremendous success with turning the conversation to focus more on overall financial wellness and how it affects retirement, versus pure decumulation.

PS: OneAmerica serves a swath of corporate plans as well as public and non-profits, and 403(b)s, as we could even just see in this year’s Plan Sponsor of the Year finalists. Do you see differences in plan type as far as initiatives?

Yoerger: We’re seeing some differences because, traditionally, in the non-profit sector, the benefits package was as important to the employee as their compensation. In the corporate sector, we’ve always thought initially, “How do we attract and retain employees as far as the overall benefit package?”

The replacement percentages might differ, but the similarity is that we want to work with both for-profits and not-for-profits to help plan sponsors define, in their view, what it means for an employee to retire with dignity. We start with that as the foundation, and then create a program using our tools, i.e. plan design, customized communication and education, to help the plan sponsors achieve their goals.

PS: What plan sponsors are the ideal clients for OneAmerica?

Yoerger: Mindset matters more than demographics, and those that value a service culture are a great fit. Our clients want a provider to be viewed as an outsourced resource of the HR department—that is where we shine. If plan sponsors want the least expensive with full automation in a box solution, we probably are not nearly as successful with those types of clients. We’ve been pretty consistent in our philosophy and approach, and that’s why our average client retention exceeds north of 15 years. So, when we have like-minded organizations and individuals, we’ve proven we can deliver on our services and on our promises, and we build long-term, long-standing relationships. We’re committed to the business of retirement services, and we’re going to do what it takes to win in this endeavor.