ABA Retirement Funds, Peter Villani, Regional Vice President
How and why did you come to work with law firms? I had been selling retirement plan services to large plan sponsors for CitiStreet when the firm was acquired by ING. My role changed with ING so I decided to explore an internal opening with the ABA Retirement Program. ING handles the recordkeeping and client service for the Program. I was very impressed with the comprehensive services and unique approach offered by the Program. Unlike larger plans where you often present to a committee but do not really get to know the committee members, I enjoy sitting around a table and getting to know the Administrator and Partners and helping them determine if the Program is an appropriate fit for their needs.
Why is your service/product important to law firms? The Program, and retirement plans in general, help law firms attract and retain employees, and defer taxation of income. We can help design a plan for a firm that will reward all employees equally, or be structured to reward certain employee groups more than others. We also take on many administrative tasks and Fiduciary decisions to reduce the time that must be spent overseeing the plan.
What makes your service/product unique? The Program is designed exclusively for law firms and firms that serve the legal community. The Program retains Northern Trust to serve as an Investment Fiduciary under 3(38) of ERISA and as a Discretionary Trustee. As a result, the Program takes on all Fiduciary liability involved with a retirement plan and all decisions considered to be Fiduciary decisions with the exception of the decision select the Program as your plan provider.
Share how your company solves problems. When problems arise, we listen to our clients and try to work closely with our clients to resolve problems as quickly as possible. The Program has 23 contractual service standards with financial penalties at risk for failure to meet those standards. Working toward these standards help minimize major problems. We are also able to leverage the expertise and technology solutions offered through our ING Large Market Retirement Plan group located in our same Braintree location.
Share a success story your company has experienced working with a law firm. Last year we helped streamline the administration of three plans offered by a DC law firm. We started by evaluating whether the three plan structure was still an appropriate approach to accomplish their goals. We also evaluated various profit sharing formula scenarios to determine which was the best approach to reward those employees the firm wanted to reward the most. We then consolidated their brokerage accounts from multiple brokerage providers to TD Ameritrade (TDA), the brokerage solution for the Program. Finally, we converted the plan from a quarterly valued to a daily valuation recordkeeping environment. This saved the firm thousands of dollars in fees and expenses, numerous hours previously spend working on the plan by the staff and Retirement Committee, reduced their Fiduciary liability, all while offering a better overall solution.
Share your "WOW" factor. The unique structure of the Program. The Program charges no out of pocket costs to firms or participants. Revenue to run the Program is generated from the core fund expense ratios. We offer a core fund line-up of 23 funds made up of best in class institutional money managers, all overseen by Northern Trust. In addition, a participant can invest 100% of their balance in a discount brokerage account with TDA. As a matter of fact, 100% of the plan assets can be invested in the brokerage account, which essentially allows firms of all sizes to take advantage of recordkeeping and administration at no cost, and with complete investment flexibility.