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NIPA is committed to celebrating our members. We recently visited with Joe Burt, President, Pension Plan Specialists:

How did you get involved in the retirement plan industry?
After college I was recruited by a pension consulting firm. The main focus of the practice was municipals with a fairly large private corporation book as well. Having studied medicine in school, this was a whole new world for me. It didn’t take me long to figure out this was a fun and exciting career.

Please provide a little detail on your company:
Pension Plan Specialists, PC, is a full service third party administration firm based in Vancouver, Washington. Our firm enjoys a growing and diverse client base. Our staff members are experienced in annual administration, annual pension tax filings, plan design, gaining favorable IRS determination letters, audits of pension plans, and all other areas of ERISA, DOL and IRS compliance and testing. We currently administer over 1,800 plans. These plans include 401(k), cross-tested, age-weighted, profit sharing, ESOP, Davis-Bacon, 403(b), money purchase and other types of plans. 

What trends/developments are you noticing in the industry?
I have seen over the past year a significant trend toward the AIF (Accredited Investment Fiduciary) in the investment community. It seems with the DOL’s ever changing position on who is and is not a fiduciary has created a fair amount of uncertainty. For years I have witnessed investment professionals that have used scare tactics to emphasize the importance of a good fiduciary policy. It is nice to see that there is now a trend to use facts and precedence to substantiate the importance of fiduciary vigilance. The role of the TPA has also increased in assisting a plan trustee with their fiduciary obligations. We have found that helping the client navigate through all of the rules and regulations has added an additional layer of trust and loyalty. 

What are some issues facing pension administrators in the future? How do you think NIPA can help?
 I think that it is clear that our industry is subject to significant change if we don’t take action on two major fronts. First, personally I feel that the tax structure of our country is broken. However, some of the "fixes” that are currently being offered up could potentially take away the advantage of having a tax sheltered retirement account. Specifically, the dissolution of dividends and capital gains tax could be devastating. When one first hears of the proposal, the idea sounds great. However, after careful consideration you may come to the conclusion that if passed it could have devastating consequences for our industry. The second issue is participation. As an industry, we need to do all we can to promote participation under today’s current system. If we don’t, we stand to have a new system introduced. One that could be significantly different and possibly harmful to our industry. If we can stimulate participation and demonstrate the current structure can work, we will be all the better for it.  

How and when did you get involved with NIPA?
 I was introduced to NIPA by past President Lynn Banziruk. Shortly after joining NIPA I attended the BMC conference in Scottsdale, Arizona. This was one of the best meetings I attended in my career. I found the content to be superb, the company fantastic and willing to mentor me and the location was beautiful. What can I say, I’m a NIPA-ite now.

How has NIPA helped you personally and helped your business grow and be more competitive?
The information I receive from the meetings I attend, NIPA's members and the monthly conference calls that are held have been instrumental in helping me to develop not only professionally, but personally. NIPA has been a great influence on my firm and our staff in making us far better at what we do.

What value does NIPA provide to the retirement plan community?
NIPA has the feel of a large organization, and yet treats you as if you are in a small community. The content is always relevant to its members, and they strive to make sure they are providing up-to-date information that will assist its members in making the most of their career. I would encourage anyone who is serious about reaching their full potential as an administrator to become a member of this great organization.

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