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401(k)athryn

Firm Organization - Separate roles for client communciation vs. administration or does the plan administrator do it all?

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We have always been a TPA firm where each plan administrator handles everything and is expected to be fairly knowledgeable about most aspects of retirement plan administration, plan design, etc.  At some point, we created a role for someone to handle all distributions and loans, which has now become two people due to sheer volume.  We have continued to grow and hire administrators, some with TPA experience and some trained from scratch, both types of hires having various degrees of success and problems. 

We are now considering a reorganization where 2-3 of the most senior administrators lead a team, which would include junior administrators (we would have a different name for the position).  Not sure if this would be a situation where the team leader handles all client communication and the jr. admins do the calculations, testing, valuations, Forms 5500, etc. OR if the jr. admins would handle a book of business separately with the team lead reviewing all work and also getting involved when there are larger issues, such as acquisitions, controlled group determinations, significant plan errors, etc.

This is stemming from a few administrators simply not being able to organize and prioritize, while others may be very good at the technical aspects of calculations and testing, but simply are not great communicators.

Do any of you lovely people have experience with both types of set-up, i.e. administrators each handle their own work or they "report" to a manager who is client facing, while they do the back-up annual administration work?  If any of you has experienced both models, I would love to hear your pros and cons of each and struggles making a switch.

Thanks!

 

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In my office, we have an administrative support team that handles the sending out of census, the loading of the census and assets into Relius, distributions, loans and things like that. We have team leaders, but they have their own plans and really only function as a point of contact for questions.   We also have a sales department and compliance department. As an administrator I do testing, employer contribution calculations, address client problems and questions, research when called for,  and do the valuation and the Form 5500. Plan design is left up to the sales team, and any doc restatements, required notices, late deposits are handled by our compliance department.  Our average case load as administrators is 45.  Hope that helps. I've also worked in an office where I was considered a junior administrator and much prefer the set up I have now.

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I have worked in both environments.  I prefer the departmentalized set up where one team focuses on client service and another team focuses on operations/compliance.  As long as the teams are cohesive it results in a higher quality work product for the client since both sides of the office can specialize in their area.  It is not helpful when your complex compliance project is constantly being interrupted by client phone calls.  However, it is hard to find employees who understand both the client relations and compliance aspects of the business and are good communicators, but ideally I want a departmentalized arrangement where employees understand both/multiple sides of the business.

The downside is that if you work on the compliance end you miss the client contact and if you work on the client service side you miss doing the complex calculations and research.

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