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Q&A With a TPA: Jeff Schreiber of Prime Pensions

This is the first in a series of Q&As about building your business with a TPA partner. In the Loop asked Jeff Schreiber, director of sales for Prime Pensions, about the meaning of partnership and the elements of effective collaboration. Because TPAs are an important part of an advisor’s practice, we’re sharing his insights here.

What does successful partnering look like to you?

Jeff Schreiber

Successful partnering is about building long-term relationships. It applies to all parties — the TPA, the wholesalers who work for recordkeepers like The Standard and the advisors who are working with our mutual clients on a regular basis. Partnering includes sharing your individual goals with each other, exploring where you can best help each other out and, when appropriate, conducting joint calls with an employer.

Sometimes, new relationships tend to keep score a little bit. This is not necessarily a bad thing. It’s a good way to make sure that everybody's doing their part. But we all know it's much nicer when you're partnering together successfully and the reciprocity just happens automatically. Those relationships take a good amount of effort. But at the end of the day, that's what makes it all go around.

What should an advisor look for when choosing to partner with a TPA?

First, find a TPA that has a successful service model, ideally one that's stronger than your own. You really don't want to be in a position where you're apologizing for somebody else's work product. Advisors should spend the time checking out a TPA’s service model up front — asking for references from other advisors, wholesalers and clients the TPA works with, for example. This mitigates the calorie burn you’ll have to put into problem solving further down the road.

There are benefits to teaming up with TPAs and recordkeepers who are committed to delivering white-glove service. Let me give you an example. Relationship managers at The Standard, who are knowledgeable on all facets of retirement planning, know when to insert themselves into complex situations. Recently, after adding a new location to their business, our client failed to remit several payrolls’ worth of employee contributions to the plan on time. The relationship manager recognized they were probably late and contacted the client to explain Department of Labor timing standards and the correction process for late deposits. She also reached out to let Prime know about the situation so that we could address it right away. The relationship manager’s efforts went above and beyond and represent total professionalism.

Second, understand each other’s business proposition — the products you offer, your service models and so on. Armed with this information, you will be able to leverage each other’s time through conversations that you’re having with prospects on each other’s behalf. The more you’re telling each other’s story, the more successful your prospecting efforts will be.

This is particularly important when you’re working with smaller plans, when it will take a good amount of volume to hit your goals for the year. Savvy advisors will say to themselves, “I know I need other partners in order to maximize my opportunity in this space.” Then they make sure they have the right TPA partner to provide the right service for the clients at the end of the day. That's the magic.

A third thing that is really important is a commitment to and appreciation of regular communication. Set up a time to talk about your joint pipeline and treat each other like you would any preferred partner. This minimizes the chance of miscommunication or having items fall through the cracks. And you never know what other opportunities for crossover business could come up when you are having these regular discussions.

What do you enjoy most about working with plan advisors?

I've always enjoyed building businesses, specifically with regard to an advisor’s distribution model. An advisor may be adding on a new line of business or just taking an existing model to the next level. Having the advisor say, “Here's where we are. Here's where we want to get to, and we need you to help put the pieces together and work with our folks to help get us there.” That's what I really enjoy.

I also especially get a kick out of working with the Prime sales team to help them build the best coverage model in their territories that they can. A primary component of effective territory management always revolves around the relationship they have with their top advisors and their top wholesalers.

Oftentimes, it seems like we're all so busy with what we have to do day in and day out that we don't always take the time to celebrate the successes we have achieved. I always try to find those moments where we can just take a pause, look back, take a deep breath and celebrate the fact that we did a pretty darn good job.


If you’re looking for more TPA business-building ideas, we’d love to help. Contact your regional vice president for more insights and information.


Jeffrey D. Schreiber, JD, is the director of sales for Prime Pensions, Inc. Based in Florham Park, New Jersey, Prime Pensions has been a trusted consultant in retirement plans for employers and financial advisors for more than 45 years. Prime administers more than 11,000 plans from six offices across the country.

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