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Interview: Jeff Atwell, Meeder Investment Management

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Q: How did you start in the retirement plan business?

A: A client had an income tax problem and wanted an easy solution to reduce their income tax liability.  A qualified plan was the perfect solution.  I started the TPA firm because there were no TPA firms in Midland/Odessa Texas in 1983,.  Employers in the area needed a resource to assist them in evaluating and setting up a qualified plan.

 

Q: What do you do in your position as Senior Vice President for Retirement Plan Services at Meeder Investments?

A: The Retirement Services Division is one of several within Meeder Investment Management.  My role is to manage a team of internal and external personnel to service existing client accounts and grow the firm’s retirement plan assets.

 

Q: How do you think fee disclosure has impacted the retirement plan business?

A: Fee disclosure has definitely had an impact on the compensation retirement plan service providers receive.  Since the 408(b)(2) regulations were implemented in 2012 and the pending DOL rule, every service provider, record-keepers, advisers, TPA’s, and mutual fund providers have had to reduce their fees.  Hopefully, the end result is better outcomes for  plan participants.  It is important to remember a qualified retirement plan is required to follow very complicated rules, regulations, and document provisions.  In addition to assisting the participants in saving for a dignified retirement.  A significant amount of expertise is required to maintain plan operational compliance on an ongoing basis.  Service providers should be adequately compensated for this expertise and service.

 

Q: How do you think the new fiduciary rule will impact the retirement plan business?

A: The new fiduciary rule, if and when implemented, has already impacted the retirement plan business.  I believe advisers will become more segmented based on the services and fiduciary responsibility their broker/dealer or RIA firm are willing to allow the adviser to accept.  There will be firms offering plan level fiduciary services and participant services and firms offering participant level services and no plan level services.  I believe most advisers will only be allowed to offer fiduciary advice and not be allowed to have discretion as a 3(38) fiduciary.

 

Q: What types of retirement plan solutions does Meeder Investments offer financial advisors?

A:

  1. Plan level 3(38) Services
  2. Participant level 3(38), Designated Investment Manager, Services
  3. Combination of 1 and 2

 

Q: What don’t financial advisor understand about 401(k) plans, but they should?

A: A 401(k) plan, or any qualified plan for that matter, is very complex and should managed as a professional service and not a commodity.

 

Q: How does Meeder help plan participants and sponsors navigate the world of participant directed 401(k) plans?

A: By providing the resources for the plan sponsor and adviser to properly govern their plan and to create an inspiring plan for participants to save for retirement.

 

Q: Is revenue sharing going to be a thing of the past in the retirement plan business?

A:  Yes, each service provider will have to charge a reasonable fee based on the services being provided to the plan without regard to any revenue sharing.

 

Q: Meeder does offer a 3(38) solution, do you think that is a growing part of your business?

A: Yes, we offer both plan level and participant level 3(38) services and have since 1974.  The plan level 3(38) will be a significant area of growth for the retirement services division.

 

Q: How can people learn more about your services at Meeder Investments?

A: They can contact me by phone, 254-266-4892, by email, jatwell@meederinvestment.com, or go tO our website, meederinvestment.com.

 

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