Shannon M. Edwards, ERPA, QPA, QKA, APA, APR
President, TriStar Pension Consulting
Oklahoma City, OK
How does TriStar Pension differentiate itself in a competitive marketplace?
TriStar focuses on individualized customer service. We are a niche firm that has chosen to focus on compliance consulting, and we’ve chosen not to offer investment products or services. By doing so, we are able to focus solely on our area of expertise. We also perform additional checks and balances and reconciliations that other firms do not do in order to make sure that the participant accounts are in good order. We exceed industry standards by requiring additional continuing education hours for our staff members, keeping them abreast of current regulations and standards. We require all of our staff members to work toward a professional designation.
What do you most enjoy about your career and industry?
I most enjoy being able to help plan sponsors achieve the goals they have for their retirement plan, as well as helping educate the plan sponsors and their participants about the importance of their plans. I find it rewarding to create a customized and optimized plan that best suits a client, especially if the client had concerns or discrepancies with their plan.
Where do you see the industry in the next five years?
As plan sponsors become more educated about their responsibilities as fiduciaries, they will expect better service from the providers that they are paying to service their plans. As we better educate plan sponsors, the emphasis on providing good service will grow. It is important that they understand it is not about finding the least expensive service providers. The focus should be on finding the service providers that provide good service for an honest and reasonable price.
How did you use the customer marketing tools?
We used them as quick explanations to help current clients and potential clients understand options that they have. We also used them to remind clients of their plan limits for the year.
How did your customers respond?
Our clients loved that the materials were easy to comprehend. Oftentimes, this industry and all of its regulations can seem overwhelming; this was a great quick reference for our customers to use.
What was the success you experienced or expect to experience?
It is hard to measure exactly what the success rate will be. Any time we can give something to our clients that is in writing yet quick to read and easy to understand, it opens the door to future conversations and possible opportunities.
What are your tips for other members who are using the tools or are planning to?
I would hand them out as often as possible. If nothing else, it is another way to keep your name in front of your clients and referral sources. You can offer them to advisors to keep on-hand as well so that they too can distribute them for you.
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