I always talk about my open door policy with financial advisors and third-party administrators where I will help these plan providers out without billing them for their time or actively seeking business. I kind of have that liberty because it’s my own law practice and I don’t have the stress to bill when everything at the end of the month is mine anyway.
The reason that I take the phone calls and respond to the e-mails is the belief that the retirement plan business is a relationship driven business and I learned that from a friend of mine named Richard Laurita. He was the salesman at two TPAs I worked with. Rich was all about developing relationships in this business. I once joked that he probably couldn’t spell 401(k), but he didn’t need to because the relationships he developed over time brought him and his employers business. I follow the same approach and quite honestly, most of the plan providers I have talked to over the past 8 years never brought me business and that’s fine because someday they might. The help I give in these types of conversations are free and I can probably say on one or two fingers how many plan providers abused that free help. I believe that if you help people, they will remember you.
So here is the part where I talk about one of my success stories. There was a registered investment advisor with absolutely no retirement plan clients and he wanted in this business. For over two years, we spoke on the phone and met where he introduced me to people and I introduced him to people, but no business for me. I’m a patient man, that’s what happens when you go to school for 22 years straight. Over time, he took my advice on how he can partner with other advisors and he attended conferences that I suggested he attend.’
Well that registered investment advisor who was honest that he didn’t know much about that retirement plan business and wanted to seek help from those that could, including yours truly, has netted a few retirement plan clients and is now an ERISA §3(38) fiduciary (hiring me to develop his service agreement at a flat fee).
This story isn’t about me. To me, it’s about how plan providers can get ahead just by being honest about what they don’t know and developing the relationships with those that do.