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NIPA is committed to celebrating our members. We recently visited with Bob Blair, APR, AIF, CEO, Retirement Alliance, Inc.

How and when did you get involved with NIPA?
I first got involved with NIPA in the early 90s when I was working for a local TPA. I wanted to increase my knowledge in the TPA field, and I started taking the APA exams. The APR designation came out while I was in the process, and I decided that the APR designation suited my role as a consultant better then the APA, so I switched. I was the first advisor with a Series 65 to be accepted as an APR since the program was originally thought to be for brokers and required a Series 6.

What are some issues facing pension administrators in the future? How do you think NIPA can help?
Regardless of what issues pension administrators face either now or in the future, knowledge will always lessen the challenge. NIPA has always had a strong education program, and I am sure it will continue to enhance the program even further. My company has put over 25 individuals through either the APA or APR program. NIPA has been our main source of employee education for almost 20 years.

How has NIPA helped you personally and helped your business grow and be more competitive?

The NIPA BMC has given me ideas to help our TPA/recordkeeping business grow into a national presence.  We are more competitive today because we went paperless about six years ago. We are also more productive because shortly after going paperless, we started what is now our offshore night shift. Both of these ideas came from the BMC.

What trends/developments are you noticing in the industry?
Consolidation continues to be a big trend in the industry. There are fewer and fewer mutual fund houses in the qualified plan business today. The "super market type” investment houses have taken over much of the business. Disclosure and fiduciary definitions will also have an impact on the industry. Bundled providers will have a more difficult time with disclosure then the independents who have been fee transparent by definition. Brokers will have a more difficult time with fiduciary definitions then advisors who have been fiduciaries for a long time and know the advantages and the pitfalls.

Why are you attending the 2012BMC? What is your favorite part about the event?
The BMC has taken on the form of a retreat for me. It is an opportunity to meet with other recordkeepers and TPAs and discuss our business together and share ideas. It is also an opportunity for my two associates and I to hear the same discussions and provide us with things to consider together in the coming year.

What value does NIPA provide to the retirement plan community?
NIPA’s Annual Forum & Expo (NAFE) provides a lot of value to the retirement community. Every one of our employees who completes the APA program attends NIPA’s Annual Forum & Expo. There the employees get a further understanding of the industry by meeting their peers and by participating in events and discussions and learning about new products and services.

How did you get involved in the retirement plan industry?
My wife is an attorney and a Justice of the Peace. She officiated at the wedding of one of her best friends who was marrying a gentleman who owned a TPA firm.  It was a destination wedding and I got to know the groom pretty well over a long weekend.  He said he needed a business person to meet with his clients on an ongoing basis. I decided it was the change I was looking for and took him up on his offer.  I started Retirement Alliance as a daily recordkeeping shop two years later in July of 1994.  

Please provide a little detail on your company:
Retirement Alliance is a retirement services provider with a proven history of success working with intermediary partners to deliver true open investment architecture, full fee transparency and a validated "white glove” service model that combines 50 experienced staff members with leading-edge technology to the small to mid-sized retirement plan market.

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