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2018BMC Sessions
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General Sessions

 Peer Interaction Sessions 


General Sessions

Click on the names below to view speaker information.

The Science of Happiness

Catherine A. Sanderson, PhD, Manwell Family Professor in Life Sciences, Amherst College

The Science of Happiness session will present both surprising and not-so-surprising information on the science behind happiness. What role do money, marriage, friends, children, weather, age, and religion play in making us feel happier? Is happiness stable over time? How can happiness be increased? Professor Catherine Sanderson will describe cutting-edge research from the field of positive psychology on the factors that do (and do not) predict happiness, and provide participants with practical (and relatively easy!) ways to increase their own psychological well-being.

Critical Conversations and Feedback

Claudia St. John, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, President, Affinity HR Group, Inc.


Few people enjoy confrontation and conflict, and the thought of having a critical conversation or delivering corrective feedback can be truly terrifying for some. Yet some others deliver difficult conversations effortlessly (or at least seem to!). This session discusses the qualities of critical conversations, how to prepare for them, how to deliver them and how to give ongoing feedback in a way that minimizes the need for many challenging discussions. Participants will:

  • Learn to identify the characteristics of critical conversations
  • Develop tools to use when having critical conversations
  • Discover positive forms of feedback that make having challenging conversations less necessary

Grow by Making It Easy for Clients to Say “Yes”

Bruce La Fetra, Principal, La Fetra Consulting


Most popular approaches to growing your business demand new skills and behaviors. Even when the advice is sound, unless you enjoy selling, what you learn is often hard to put into practice.


Rather than teaching new skills to make you a better salesperson, Bruce La Fetra demonstrates how an outsider’s perspective makes it easier for your ideal clients to say Yes. Selling your services without focusing on persuasion is counter-intuitive, requiring you break with conventional wisdom. The key to getting everyone in your organization generating business is thinking differently rather than acting differently. 


The result is an edge that shortens your sales cycle, shifts the focus away from price, and makes it easier to attract more of your ideal clients.

How Important Are YOU to Your Clients?

Ilene H. Ferenczy, J.D., CPC, APA, Managing Partner, Ferenczy Benefits Law Center


There are so many things that can go wrong on a plan it is imperative that pension practitioners help clients understand their responsibilities and show them ways to keep things running smoothly. This session reviews "stories from the trenches" and discusses how audience members can be proactive as a resource for their clients, and identifies ways that they can assist their plan sponsors to keep clients' plans running smoothly and remain in compliance.

Art of the Sale

Risa M. Mish, Professor of Practice of Management, Cornell University’s S.C. Johnson Graduate School of Management


Nearly all significant individual, team, and organizational development goals are achieved because of an ability to influence the beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors of key stakeholders, including (of course) prospective customers. That ability hinges upon the degree to which you are:

  • Perceived as credible
  • Able to make a logically sound argument in support of your proposal
  • Able to create and maintain a genuine and positive emotional connection with the persons whom you are trying to influence and persuade

In this presentation, we will learn practical tools that are designed to improve you on all three of these dimensions so that, whether you are selling a product, an idea, or yourself as a leader, you will maximize your influence and effectiveness.

TPA Spotlight - How to Measure Success

Amanda Iverson, CPA, PHR, SHRM-CP, APM, Partner, Pinnacle Plan Design


What is your definition of success? How do you measure your success? No two individuals or firms define success in the same way. In this session, we’ll talk about determining success as it applies to you and your firm. We will evaluate the many ingredients of your company’s success such as financial metrics, customer satisfaction and growth, and employee retention and engagement. Additionally, we will discuss goal setting around your firm’s definition of success and will evaluate applicable measurement tools for TPA success. 


During this interactive session we will discuss:

  • How to define success
  • How to develop goals around your firm’s definition of success
  • How to set priorities to ensure you are successful
  • How to measure success

Collaboration: The Key to Successful Business Relationships

Megan Davis Lightman, Chief Executive Officer, Davis Consulting Group


How can something so simple like working together be so complex? Many professional service businesses focus on meeting the needs of their clients…But HOW they go about meeting those needs is the difference between short term transactional exchanges and long term collaborative relationships. The relationships that are sustained over time typically use similar core principles. This interactive session will explore the opportunities that surface as a result of intentional purpose and collaborative planning and opportunities that result due to rushed, unplanned miscommunication, assumptions and other reactions to unintended consequences. NIPA members will walk away from this session understanding:

  • Why collaborative relationships set the stage for long, substantial and sustainable client relationships and what that might look like for each participant.
  • How to establish authentic rapport and trust (without holding hands and practicing trust falls) and which strategies might work best for each participant.
  • What specific do’s and don’ts are for building mutually beneficial partnerships with clients.
  • The 5 Most Common Conditions that Lead to Conflict
  • The Rules of Engagement to successfully resolve conflict, should it arise…spoiler alert** Plan for it! 
Deep Dive Sessions

Deep Dive Sessions - Continue the Conversation
BMC attendees will have the chance to dig further into several of the General Session topics and interact directly with BMC speakers during small group deep dive sessions. You will have to the option to attend two 40-minute sessions.

  • Grow by Making It Easy for Clients to Say “Yes” – Bruce La Fetra, Principal, La Fetra Consulting
  • How Important Are YOU to Your Clients? – Ilene H. Ferenczy, J.D., CPC, APA, Managing Partner, Ferenczy Benefits Law Center
  • Art of the Sale – Risa M. Mish, Professor of Practice of Management, Cornell University’s S.C. Johnson Graduate School of Management
Peer Interaction Sessions

Best Practices for TPA (Client Related)

This session will be a great opportunity to work with peers on some of the most critical aspects of your client management processes. Discuss what to include in your service agreements, how to prepare a fully documented business plan and how to track key performance indicators. Share best practices for charging client administration fees and how often you increase the TPA administration fees. Additionally, discuss how you keep your employees motivated and hear suggestions on how to maintain a superior level of service with a client. 


Marketing & Sales

This session is a BMC classic! Discuss your organization’s marketing and sales strategies, including tips for growing your company's revenue with simple, powerful, low and no-cost marketing techniques. Share how you receive sales support from strategic partners, sales employees’ experiences, sales compensation plans and how you generate leads. Find out what is working for other TPAs and how you can increase your sales.


New Ways of Working with Brokers, Platforms and Other Service Providers

Discuss ways the advisor landscape is moving from commission based to fee based and the impact of that shift to your business and the intermediaries you work with. Differentiate yourself by learning best ways to work with advisors of different broker dealers. Understand how this change is impacting the DC record keepers.   


Practice Management (Non-Client Related)

We all know the challenges of working ON our business versus working IN our business. How much time are you devoting to this important role, and how much time should you be devoting to this important leadership role?  Are you reviewing your internal financial statements monthly, and are you sharing the results with your team? How you determine your marketing budget? Because different tasks are heavily weighted at various times of the year, like Form 1099-R production in January, or year-end census requests and engagement letter packages in December, how do you strategize to move employees around in various roles to cover these busy season items? Have you identified and empowered the team members who show strengths in this vital area? Let's spend some focused time ON your business, and collaborate on best practices. Find out what other TPAS are doing that brings value and efficiency to their practice, and come away with tips that you can put to use immediately.


Set Yourself Apart

Why are you different and how do you show it? In a world of bundled, Costco, kitchen table, and e-whatever administration, how do you set yourself and your company apart? Whether it is through marketing, sales, delivery, or superior consultation, how do you show and reinforce your value to your clients. Share your tips, learn new skills, “show and tell” with friends who can help.


A Strategy for the Unexpected

This session will focus on strategies for times you or other key members of your firm may be out of the office for an extended period of time. It could be because of a possible acquisition, merger, RFP, illness, system conversion, or any other unexpected time away from leading and managing your employees. Knowing what you can do now to prepare will be valuable for your peace of mind and also may be required as you are completing RFPs for some plans. Learn how other firms are cross training and documenting procedures for continuing success!

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