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NIPA is committed to celebrating our members. We recently visited with Business Owner members Cherie A. Beirau and Dave Barrer at Advanced Pension Solutions, Inc.:

How and when did you get involved with NIPA? Why do you continue to remain a business owner member?
We were encouraged to join NIPA and attend the BMC by friends who were already members and felt we would benefit from joining. We remain NIPA members because we experience a closer focused relationship with BMC attendees than we do at other industry events.

How has NIPA helped you personally and helped your business grow and be more competitive?
While the peer interaction during BMC is important, it has been the ability to interact with new and old friends after BMC, during the year, that has helped us grow as individuals and as an organization. We remain in touch throughout the year with other NIPA members to share ideas and ask advice.

Why are you attending the 2012BMC? What is your favorite part about the event?
It is definitely due to the peer group interaction during breakout sessions. More than any other TPA owner event we have attended, the people at BMC are willing to honestly share their personal experiences and offer help and suggestions. BMC has the right mix of focused speaker sessions and peer interaction breakout sessions.

What value does NIPA provide to the retirement plan community?          
While other industry organizations we belong to provide large vast resources, NIPA to us almost seems like a smaller, specialized resource organization. Our perception and the way we use NIPA is as an organization that feels like it is designed specifically for us the TPA business owner. When we need advice about our business, how we run it or how our systems are organized, we turn to our friends we have met through NIPA.

What trends/developments are you noticing in the industry?            
We are seeing greater polarity in the industry related to plan design and pricing. What I mean is, the larger the plan the greater the emphasis is on pricing and, service quality seems to be considered a commodity. This may seem as though I am stating the obvious but more and more those features that make the unbundled service we as an independent TPA deliver special seem to be viewed as less relevant  as plan size increases. We have had to modify our sales presentations to help larger plans continue to understand that using a bundled provider with call centers is not the way to go.

On the other end of the spectrum, smaller, complicated plans are more than ever all about service with a concierge level being expected. While cost always comes up in any conversation with a plan sponsor, it isn’t an issue so long as you deliver what is expected – Park Avenue Service          

What are some issues facing pension administrators in the future? How do you think NIPA can help?          
Fee disclosure seems to be the conversation everyone wants to have. While we have always disclosed what we receive, we are now finding that by outlining specifically what we do with each dollar of revenue received we experience less "push back” from clients and potential clients. When the question "Do you offset?” started coming out of plan sponsor’s and financial advisors mouths in the first 60 seconds into a meeting we knew the times they were a changing. And yet while we are answering the most immediate questions clients have, we have to be planning for how tax reform might change our industry, our very livelihood. I don’t know how much influence our members can have on these issues but through NIPA and the BMC, we build relationships that allow us to interact with each other, share ideas and become prepared.

Please provide a little detail on your company: its name/how many employees work within the company?             Advanced Pension Solutions was founded in Columbus, Ohio in 1997. Cherie and I already had more than a decade of retirement plan experience working for other firms. We immediately concentrated on plan design and our ability to relate to small business owners and their desire for unique solutions to their retirement planning needs. Over the years we have acquired four additional firms but our headquarters remains in Columbus. We have a sales office in Louisville, Kentucky. We have three partners and twenty employees. We provide service to more than 600 for-profit businesses and 350+ public school systems and non-profit organizations.
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