Retirement Readiness with TRAK
For Matt Monroe, Partner at Independent Retirement Partners, TRAK is integral to his process of engaging 401(k) plan participants. Hear more about his process and how TRAK has helped him work more closely with participants, engaging and educating them in retirement readiness planning.
Matthew C. Monroe, AIF, AAMS, CRPS
Partner, Independent Retirement Partners
Well, I’m Matt Monroe. I’m a retirement plan advisor my broker dealer is LPL Financial and I also have an RIA through IFP and I’m based out of Upstate New York in Syracuse, New York.
TELL ME ABOUT YOUR BUSINESS.
80-85% of my business is working with 401(k) plan sponsors and their participants. I do a little bit of wealth management on the side but most of the work I do is for my participants.
WHAT SIZE PLANS TO DO YOU WORK WITH?
I work in the micro and the small markets so what I do is I’ll work from plans from about $500,000 up to about $20 million.
TELL ME HOW YOU USE TRAK WITH YOUR PROCESS.
Well, TRAK’s become a real integral part of what I do now. I was slow on the up-start but now I really start to use it for all of my plans. What I’ll do is I’ll get the census information from my plan sponsor or from my TPA plan provider and of course I’ll get the balance from them and I integrate the two spreadsheets and then download it into the TRAK software. And TRAK’s become extremely vital for my business because I’m now able to answer that age old question “How much do I need?”
So every year, all my participants get a TRAK report and I’ll either mail it home to them or I’ll bring it to their workplace. And what I love about doing it is I can do these printouts of the Gap Analysis, mail them home and now I’ve got a dialog, I’ve created a dialog with the participant and possibly their spouse as well. And one of the greatest reactions I’ve ever had, when I knew that it was really starting to take an impact on my business, is when I had employees come to my one-on-one meetings who I’d never met before, open up their envelope, take out the Gap Analysis and say “OK, I guess I need to do something.” And for me, that was the lightening that struck and I realized that TRAK is definitely a part of my business now.
HOW DO YOU CONDUCT THE FOLLOW UP MEETINGS?
It’s great because what I do is I also have a letter attached when I mail these home letting them know the basics, that I know their age, I know their date of birth, I know their balance, their income, their deferral rate. I say, “But all I know is what you have here in this plan. Let me help you out. Let me do some retirement planning for you.” So what it does is it encourages them to let me know what their spouse has, maybe what they have at other old employers and I’m able to incorporate that and bring that all together and then do one-on-one meetings where I’ve put that into the software and then be able to spit out a whole retirement plan for those people.
WHY DO YOU USE TRAK’S GAP ANALYSIS?
Well, the Gap Analysis is great because it serves me two purposes: number 1, it creates the dialog, it creates the conversation for the participants to understand what he or she needs in order to retire but also it provides that extra layer of fiduciary protection to the plan sponsor, because the plan sponsor has the responsibility to educate their employees. Well, if someday down the road the employee says, “You never told me. I never knew.” Well, now they have this piece of paper “Twelve years ago I gave you this. Eleven years ago I gave you that. Ten years ago I gave you this.” It provides some extra protection for the plan sponsor as well to help them manage their fiduciary responsibilities.
It’s a great tool also to look at the plan as a whole, to see ok, where’s the plan failing? I look at all my participants and I’m able to see based upon age, based upon income how much their saving and if their falling short or if their meeting their retirement income needs. So I get a really great picture and one of the best parts for me is: I own the data. A lot of plan providers out there they say “We do the Gap Analysis for you as well. We put it all into our system.” Well, that’s great for about 3 or 4 years but when you have to take the plan out to bid and somebody else wins the plan, all that data is gone. So now I own the data. I control the data. I manage the data. And now I can have that continuity with the plan sponsor and more importantly with the plan participants, and helping them meet their retirement goals no matter which plan provider I’m using.
WHAT’S THE SUPPORT LIKE WITH TRAK?
Support’s been great. Whenever I’ve needed something, the one nice about working with TRAK is that it’s not a multi-billion dollar business. I can call up the owner of the company and tell the owner of the company “I need these features. I’d like to see these features.” And the great thing is it’s soon incorporated into the software. And then whenever I need help with a day-to-day function or I can’t do this or I can’t do that, it’s great to have somebody jump onto the computer, take a look at what I’m doing and be able to say “this is what’s wrong and that’s what’s wrong.” So, I don’t have to be that expert in software programming to understand exactly what’s going on because somebody from TRAK is always calling me back, giving me very good service, making sure that I understand what’s going on and how to fix the problem and quickly get through it.
WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO ADVISORS WHO ARE CONSIDERING TRAK?
You definitely want to add it to your practice. It’s a way to be able to control the information, make sure that you become more value-add to the plan sponsor and to the participants. Not having TRAK I think is a mistake. Depending upon somebody else to do the Gap Analysis work for you, I think it’s a mistake. It’s a very easy program to use. It’s very easy to download and enter the information into the system. It’s a great tool for any practice.
HOW HAS TRAK CHANGED THE WAY YOU DO BUSINESS?
TRAK has given me the ability to work more closely with the participants. Where somebody can call me up and say “I just got my Gap Analysis. What does it mean?” And I can quickly pull up their Gap Analysis and help explain to them and talk to them about their options. How much do they need to save and how can they get there? You know, when somebody starts out a little bit later and says “I have to put away 25%, I can’t do that.” Well, now I’m able to give them other retirement solutions. Whether that means retiring just a little bit later, or maybe finding part-time work after they have officially retired from their first career, if you will. So the Gap Analysis has given me a lot of ways in which I can present retirement solutions to my participants.
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