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NWPS COVID-19 Update

First and foremost, our thoughts and prayers are with the individuals and families most affected by the COVID-19 outbreak, and our profound gratitude goes out to the medical first responders and the every-day, hard-working Americans who are delivering our food, stocking the shelves and manning the gas stations. At NWPS, we take our responsibilities to our clients, plan participants, and staff very seriously. During this COVID-19 pandemic, our top priority is keeping everyone on our team healthy so they can continue to perform their jobs while doing our civic duty to help slow the pace of infection. With that in mind, we have implemented a plan that ensures, from your perspective and the perspective of your plan participants, it will be business as usual, and we are committed to keeping the quality of our services and our responsiveness at the level you expect from us. Rest assured that contributions are being processed, phones are being answered and distribution checks are being sent. Because of our careful planning, we are confident we have the infrastructure and processes in place to be successful. We will keep you posted as new events develop, but in the meantime, don’t hesitate to reach out to us if

A $375MM Illinois Plan Selects Northwest Plan Services

Northwest Plan Services is thrilled to report the successful sale, conversion and go-live status of the Church of the Brethren Benefit Trust 403(b) plan.  NWPS will oversee some $375 million in retirement assets, covering nearly 4,500 participants.  The conversion was particularly demanding as the plan is a Multiple Employer Plan, yet was record kept by Empower as individual plans, limiting needed reporting.  During the conversion, NWPS consolidated the plans into a true, singular defined contribution plan.  The size and scope of the work has piqued the interest of the industry media, including 401kwire.com who reports on the story here.

Wiz Bang Participant Websites Not a Panacea

We couldn’t agree more! Judy Ward’s terrific article in the May/June edition of PLANADVISOR Magazine hits the nail on the head. Entitled “High Tech Meets High Touch,” the article illustrates how thoughtful advisors blend technology and coaching to successfully engage plan participants. Bemoaning the fact that many service providers spend millions on their retirement calculators and participant websites, only to find that less than 20% of participants even log on to their site once a year, Ms. Ward interviewed a number of successful retirement plan advisors to find the balance between technology and touch. James Lyday, managing director of Pensionmark Nashville is representative of the others interviewed for the article. Everyone thinks participants need snazzy feature such as gamification to get motivated to engage. “A customized retirement income illustration is by far the home run to engage people,” says Lyday, a 2019 PLANSPONSOR Retirement Plan Advisor of the year finalist. Indeed, most participants need real help from a trusted advisor in translating their retirement outlook data into an action plan to improve their situation. Based on her interviews, Ms. Ward puts forth four simple ideas for how to blend technology and touch to build participant engagement: demystify the website calculator, narrow the financial

BIG DATA Comes to 401k Plans

It’s no secret that the use of proprietary funds has been on a steady decline for years. As a result, the largest providers (mutual fund and insurance companies) are scrambling for new sources of revenue, including demanding shelf space (or the vaguely worded ‘infrastructure’) payments from fund companies and additional fees to plan sponsors and participants. Enter Big Data. The dominant providers in the 401(k) business (mutual fund and insurance companies) are mining participant data to reveal opportunities for cross-selling other financial products and services. While not a concern to Northwest Plan Services (NWPS), as we are not an asset gatherer and have nothing to sell to participants, this last effort (cross selling) is being examined in a new and significant light. Enter tort terror Jerome Schlichter, the notable protector of participant costs and now apparently, participant data. In the recent Vanderbilt University case, Schlichter and his clients, the participants of the University’s 403(b) plan, claim the University allowed excessive fees to permeate their plan. Plaintiffs then filed an amended complaint accusing the University of failing to protect plan data by allowing their service providers (at the time Fidelity, TIAA and 2 others) to market products and services to plan participants. Vanderbilt recently settled the

Nashville 401k Race for Financial Fitness

At the recent NAPA industry conference, NWPS helped sponsor the Nashville 4.01k Race for Financial Fitness™.  This race was locally sponsored by Avondale Partners, a perennial PLANADVISER Top 100 Retirement Plan Adviser (and NWPS partner) and proceeds benefited Junior Achievement of Middle Tennessee. The concept of the 4.01k Race for Financial Fitness™ was launched by Jason Chepnik and his Smarter Tomorrow Foundation™ in 2015.  The Smarter Tomorrow Foundation™ is on a mission to give every kid from every community a fair shot at a strong financial future.  By spearheading the 4.01K Race for Financial Fitness™ and other initiatives that promote financial education for the next generation, the foundation will empower kids across the nation to take charge of their finances and their life.  Since 2015 more than $250,000 has been donated to financial literacy programs for children. We were delighted to participate in this worthy cause, even to the point of running through a deluge of rain.  Pictured above (left to right) Jordan Sibler, Avondale Partners; Steve Glasgow, Avondale Partners, Tom O’Brien; NWPS and Erich von Bereghy; NWPS. Thanks to Jason Chepnik for founding this worthy cause and Avondale Partners for hosting and sponsoring in Nashville.