In working with your retirement plan vendors, the relationship manager (RM) is someone you work closely with on a regular basis for a number of years. This being the case, establishing, cultivating, and managing this relationship is imperative. Beyond the basic mechanics of being your RM, taking that role to the next level and truly being a trusted partner for your organization can be a challenge. Let’s explore the topic.
We are going to look at three key areas in building and maintaining these relationships—being a business partner, a problem solver, and an advocate for your organization. That all seems very straightforward, but what does it mean tactically on the ground each day?
Being a strong business partner requires your RM to know the culture of your organization, your history, your business goals, and your people. It is important that they know you, and not just at the basic level of work product or service interaction, but understanding how you fit into the organization as well as your individual and corporate goals. The interaction with you should be frequent, and often in smaller one-on-one settings. This usually allows a more open and frank discussion with your RM without the pitfalls of a larger group discussion with multiple objectives and perspectives to work through. At a broader level, your RM wants to understand your organization’s culture, internal structure, and how your various business units interact with each other. This helps RMs have a better understanding of not only the organizational goals, but also of how they can work to help you achieve them. Understanding your future starts with understanding your history, prior success, prior challenges, and prior needs. Having an in-depth understanding of these components, together, will better equip your RM to work closely with you to develop and execute a strategy for the future. At a broader level, your RM wants to understand your organization’s culture, internal structure, how business units interact with each other, and your external market space.
Outside of delivering products and services, your RM wants to be a problem solver. Things go wrong and issues come up. It is important for your RM to react appropriately to those problems, recognizing and providing solutions in a timely fashion. Beyond providing the necessary technical product and service solutions, your RM can be an asset adding value in every interaction that helps you achieve your collective goals. Providing thought leadership, introducing new concepts to the current state of things, and helping you to view your retirement plan from a different perspective are important aspects in having a trusted partner. Let’s face it, bringing strong and positive solutions to the table only helps you reach your overall retirement plan goals.
An RM is a true advocate for you and your organization. An RM must wear a “client hat” and bring your message and mindset back to the internal vendor organization. Your RM explains your needs, goals, and perspectives, keeping your best interests in mind; from fair and reasonable fees to assuring that a high-quality work product is consistently delivered every day. Understanding these concepts also helps RMs deliver and prioritize information in a way that is most beneficial to you, from meaningful meeting materials to focused interactive discussions.
You work with different retirement plan vendors regularly. Assuring that you have the right RM who can be your trusted partner in business, problem solving, and as your advocate is important. From the tactical side of making your life easier on a daily basis to moving toward strategic retirement plan goals, the right trusted partner is essential.