In the sales process, an employer may or may not meet anyone from the 401(k) TPA’s office. If the employer does meet someone from the TPA, it is often the TPA firm owner or a polished salesman with good hair. But, after the plan is an established client of the TPA firm, who will the employer talk to when they have questions? The TPA firm will probably be available for escalated issues, but not for day to day questions. The salesman will be on to the next prospective client. TPA firms typically use one of two service models: a team approach or a dedicated account manager.
A Team Approach
With the team approach, each client is assigned to a team of multiple professionals who jointly serve clients. The client typically makes contact via a team email address or phone number instead of an individual email or phone number. This approach potentially minimizes disruption in the event of turnover at the TPA firm, but it also makes it difficult for the client to form relationships with the staff at the TPA firm. Also, sometimes employers become frustrated with having to repeat the same information to multiple people.
Dedicated Account Manager
Some 401(k) TPA firms use a dedicated account manager approach. With this approach, each client is assigned to a particular account manager. In some TPA firms, the account manager does everything from soup to nuts. In other TPA firms, the account manager has team members who help with completing ADP Tests and Form 5500, but the account manager is the primary contact for the employer, and the employer may actually have no contact with the other team members. For certain functions such as plan documents and loan and distributions, the employer may occasionally deal with staff from those departments.
Nova 401(k) Associates assigns a dedicated account manager to each plan once the client has completed the implementation process. The account manager serves as the primary point of contact. Nova 401(k) Associates has a separate loan and distribution department to process loan and distributions and a separate plan document department. At the client’s option, clients may deal directly with these departments or their account manager.