Happy Clients never leave, but Unhappy Clients do

As many of you know, I worked for a third party administration (TPA) for almost 5 years. I liked my co-workers, loved the work, but I didn’t love constantly fighting for a decent raise every December. The majority owner of this producing TPA was a master salesman, but his partner who acted as the COO was incompetent and just a miserable man to work for. The place seemed to have a large turnover of employees and I told my boss that happy employees never leave, only unhappy employees leave.

After taking a contractually required break from the retirement plan business (which included a Department of Labor investigation), this TPA owner has started a new financial advisory practice where independent ERISA fiduciary services are offered. I have received many calls about this development as this TPA owner and I never saw eye to eye after I left (with much thanks to his partner for that).  I even received a call from the head of a producing TPA that inherited my old TPA’s block of business and this is after this person had blown me off previously. I don’t know the purpose of the call, other than lamenting that my old boss is stealing this guy’s business. My issues with this old boss is in the past, what he’s doing has nothing to do with me because he’s not taking food out of my mouth and I loathe to get in any fight that doesn’t involve me (I wish some of my family members took that advice).

The point is that people can be incredulous that this old boss of mine is in the advisory business again, but the fact is that happy retirement plan sponsor clients never leave. As a retirement plan provider, be less concerned with what the competition is doing and be more mindful of how you treat your client.  If they want to hire a provider who left some unanswered questions about allegations made against them that really doesn’t matter because the client clearly wasn’t happy if they are getting rid of you.

Providers may tell me that they have had happy clients terminate them and I just believe that because of the difficulty in changing plan providers, no retirement plan sponsor client making a change was happy with the current provider’s work.  It may be a simplistic approach, but that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

 

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One Response to Happy Clients never leave, but Unhappy Clients do

  1. alisa says:

    As Non-producing TPA’s we frequently have 4 or 5 “clients” for every plan. We have the financial adviser who likely referred in the Plan Sponsor. We have the business owner, who is always too busy to meet with us for a plan review, but can’t remember who we are when contacted by a new broker. Or the owner who gets a divorce and cleans house wholesale, because we were hired by her ex. (That one eventually hired us back!) We have the payroll person who talks to us every week and is heartbroken when the business owner changes TPAs without asking them. We have the HR/office manager who talks to us every month and who we jump through hoops for to make her life easier, but also isn’t in the meeting with the new financial adviser when he wants to “save the business owner money” by bundling his 401(k). We’ve also been known to take the fall for the HR or payroll person who screws up the deferral allocations every year, because if it is our fault, he gets to keep his job. So, do we have happy clients leave us? We can have 4 happy clients in a plan and one that wants to make points or save money and out we go. Yep, happens all the time…..

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