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Susan S.

One Person Office

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I have worked for a small TPA firm for 15 years. Until last year we had 2 administrators, including me. The owner of the company passed away and someone from out of state bought the firm. He is an agent for an investment company and has never been involved with TPA work. He doesn't appreciate the complexity and says it is a commodity that many investment companies are doing for free. My co-worker left and now I am by myself and feel like I'm working in a bubble. Due to the change in ownership, we lost quite a few cases. I have been given the option of continuing administration, and he will add some new cases, or quit doing TPA work all together. He needs me here in the satellite office so I will have a job either way. My worry is the liability and trying to keep up with the law changes, etc. by myself. I use Relius software, and do get emails from Sungard, but that's about it. One one hand, I could quit and be free of stress and deadlines, which sounds great. On the other hand, I like what I do and prefer to keep on instead of wasting 15 years of knowldege and being bored and having nothing to do. But is the liability too great? Anyone else out there operating alone? How do you keep up with everything by yourself?

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You could also quit, and take as many cases as you can to a new firm that appreciates what you do and is concerned with quality work.

If the new owner doesn't appreciate the service, it won't get any better for you.

There are lots of ways to get CE credits and training, webcasts and conferences just to name a few. Also, don't be afraid to tap into other firms. Befriend someone in another firm so that you are comfortable bouncing things off them when you aren't sure.

Good luck

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Interesting situation; it could be an opportunity or a sinkhole. In the long run, I wouldn't be very comfortable working for a business that is owned by a non-administrator/actuary type. Especially a broker or agent, sorry.

As far as education, I used to get weekly updates from a company called RIA (Research Institute of America?); not sure if they are still in business under that name. I found that to be too expensive for what I was getting and dropped it. I had the Erisa Outline Book online version for a while but decided to drop that this year as I found I rarely if ever used it. (In large part because of the info and knowledge available right here.) I get by on ASPPA asaps and other ASPPA communications, conferences, Sungard updates (which to be honest I don't find that helpful as a rule), online Code and Regs - and BenefitsLink.

If you're not an ASPPA or NIPA member you need to look into that if you are serious, IMO.

Feel free to PM me if you want to discuss further.

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First, I want to extend a huge thanks to all of you who spend your time helping total strangers for free. You are wonderful people and I hope you know how much you are appreciated. I always receive such intelligent, insightful, and knowledgeable responses.

Effen -- Due to family circumstances, I am only able to work part-time. I have a great situation here with flexible hours, and am not looking to change jobs. My boss is a good guy and does appreciate me personally. He is doing what he can to make sure I'm happy and keep me here. That is the only reason he is giving me the option of keeping the cases in the first place. He really would like to get rid of the TPA work, but he knows it is what I enjoy doing. Granted, he may never understand or fully appreciate the work that I do. I would love to find a buddy in another firm and will work on that.

Bird -- You have given me hope that *maybe* I can do this on my own. The previous owner was also an agent, so I'm used to that. Most of our revenue comes from commissions on the assets. The admin side of the business isn't all that profitable, but that's ok. The two parts are intertwined and the pairing works well. You are right about ASPPA. I looked at their website and found it interesting that the affiliated membership costs less than the credentialed membership. It seems like it should be the other way around. I have passed the exams for the QKA, but never sent them in to be officially recognized for a couple of reasons. I intended to take the last 2 exams to get the QPA, but honestly, I don't have an incentive to do so. I am doing the same work either way, and save $2,000/yr. in CE costs. Anyway, thanks very much for your input. I may take you up on that private chat another time.

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Susan, don't look at CE as a cost, but rather than an investment in keeping up to date with things.

As you know, this industry changes often, and things you were doing 2 years ago might have changed. It's almost a full-time job just trying to keep up.

just in thee past year or so we got new, complicated fee disclosure rules, and a new EPCRS. Both very important things to know.

Sure, these boards are great resources if you have a specific question, but learning and expanding your knowledge helps create a framework so you can understand the answers given to your questions here.

Do you plan on bring in new business? (Well, not you per se, but your company) Being credentialed can be a feather in your cap, especially when many of your competitors will have them, too.

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There are plenty of opportunities for CE for less than $2,000 per year. If that is your only reason for not joining, you ought to reconsider.

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There are plenty of opportunities for CE for less than $2,000 per year. If that is your only reason for not joining, you ought to reconsider.

Where are you finding CE on retirement plan topics? I have found these courses very difficult to find. The only one on the west coast that I found was sungard this year and the courses are super expensive.

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The IRS and DOL regularly offer free web casts. Some record keepers do as well. The law school in our city holds a very inexpensive half day conference on employee benefits each year.

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