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Financial Planning Month-October

October is Financial Planning Month

If you’re looking to expand your presence in the healthcare sector, you’re probably trying to figure out how to sit down with the physicians whose names are on the doors you’re knocking on. But unless you have an existing relationship with one of those physicians — or a personal contact who can help you start one — you may be knocking on the wrong doors.

At many medical practices, the people who make the big decisions about employee benefits aren’t the doctors themselves. The people who run the day to day operations of a practice are the CFOs, the CEOs, and practice managers — they’re the ones you want to talk to. To keep their physicians happy, they want to do everything they can to recruit and retain top talent. They want to prove that their work brings value to the organization.

And if you know what they’re looking for, they’ll find that value with you.

Surveys show that qualified retirement plans are the number one concern for practice managers. That’s going to be even more important this year. 2021 is a restatement year, when TPAs have to review, revise, and renew all 401(k) adoption agreements. Since the last restatement, a practice’s needs may have changed; what plan design worked before may not work for them anymore. That’s going to create a lot of work and potential confusion for practice managers; and a huge opportunity for you.

This year, practice managers will be actively looking for ways to improve the QRPs they may have been taking for granted. With SMA Services you can offer to have an ERISA attorney review their legal plan documents at no extra cost. The contact you’re dealing with most likely does not, and will not, understand the terms of their plan the way a good TPA will. (45% of survey respondents admitted to not understanding the fees in their current QRPs.) Plan design, fee structures, investment options, compliance: if there’s a way to improve their existing plan, they will welcome the opportunity to have someone explain it to them in clear language.

That someone should be an independent TPA who you can take with you to your appointment as the plan design specialist. An expert who can review a plan’s adoption agreement, fee disclosure, and current investments can uncover possible flaws in a way no one else can. They can also suggest design techniques to help improve the existing plan. In groups with high earners, it’s especially important to understand a plan’s safe harbor and profit sharing options. There are multiple plan options for each of these sections; and once an expert TPA identifies them, you’ll be there to offer a range of solutions.

Along from the reassurance of expertise, a truly independent third party will help put your contact’s mind at ease. Unlike a wholesaler, whose primary interest is in selling their company’s products, an independent TPA is a neutral party. They’re simply pointing out where a practice can improve their plan — not pushing any particular plan to replace it. They’re educating, not selling. Review by an independent TPA will help you to establish a relationship that’s built on trust.

Sometimes, a practice’s plan design can improve in ways that didn’t even exist when the initial adoption agreement was drafted. The passage of the CARES Act, as well as recent changes in the SECURE Act, may also affect their plan in ways they haven’t foreseen. Your contact also may not be aware of the recent simplification of safe harbor rules. If an employer uses a safe harbor 401(k) the plan is exempt from nondiscrimination testing, regardless of an employee's deferral(or lack thereof). In addition, if an employer uses the 401k with safe harbor non-elective option - 3% of salary contribution for each employee - this will reduce your overall profit-sharing contributions to maximize physicians' benefits.

Any physician will tell you that in medicine, regular checkups are necessary to maintain good physical health. In medical practices, regular checkups are necessary to maintain financial health. The TPA review you provide is just that: a financial checkup. You’re providing a service that any practice manager will be happy to receive; and in return, they’ll be more likely to buy the retirement products you’re hoping to sell. That’s the real value you bring to their practice. And that’s what will get you through the door.

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