PLAN SPONSOR OF THE YEAR Finalists | PLANSPONSOR
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PLAN SPONSOR OF THE YEAR Finalists

Corporate 401(k) >$50MM - $100MM

National Account Service Company LLC

Barbara Bell-Dees

TOTAL PLAN ASSETS/PARTICIPANTS: $93.5 million/754

PARTICIPATION RATE: 97.68%

EMPLOYER CONTRIBUTION: Up to 3.5%; plus nonelective contribution

National Account Service Co., a company that provides information technology solutions to health care plans across the nation, knows that if you want employees to save for tomorrow, you need to help them tackle the financial issues of today. And this focus on holistic financial wellness has paid off in big ways.

In 2013, NASCO, whose main office is in Atlanta, began working with adviser Plan Sponsor Consultants; through this relationship NASCO conducted financial wellness assessments from Financial Finesse, a company focused on education.

“Given our demographic, we have more associates approaching retirement, and we also [have], on the opposite end, many newer associates who are younger in their careers at NASCO,” says Barbara Bell-Dees, vice president of human resources (HR) and people services at the company. “So the stressors ranged from appropriate planning for saving earlier in their career, to paying for children’s college, to estate planning and planning for retirement.”

Since providing these assessments—which associates receive incentives to complete—emergency funds have increased, debt has decreased and, in turn, the deferral rates and participation in the company’s 401(k) plan have improved, says Mike Kane, managing director and founder of Plan Sponsor Consultants.

The company now has a work-force financial-wellness grade of “A” with a quantitative score of 6.1, based on Financial Finesse’s system. In 2014, when associates were first assessed, the company had a quantitative score of 5.5, according to Bell-Dees. To boot, the average 401(k) account balance is $123,000, and the participation rate is nearly 98%. In 2013, the average balance was $80,000 with a 94% participation rate.

To make sure financial wellness stays top of mind, NASCO also offers quarterly educational seminars on topics that associates request. Retirement is always an area of interest, Bell-Dees says. The company’s associates span generations from early 20s to over 80 and over two-thirds of the work force is remote, so education is offered both on-site and over the phone via web conferencing technology. In addition, one on one financial planning with an adviser is also offered on-site and over the phone. 

“Honestly, all of the decisions we made and the things we have put into place have contributed to our ability to help associates save for the future, and we are providing them with [resources and people] to address their individual needs,” Bell-Dees says.

Aside from the robust educational resources, NASCO also prides itself on its plan design features. Bell-Dees says the company was an early adopter of the qualified automatic contribution arrangement (QACA). The company’s automatic enrollment for new hires starts at 3% and increases annually by 1% up to 6%. In 2014, when NASCO switched to Empower Retirement for its recordkeeping services, it added the SecureFoundation Funds to give participants retirement-income security and growth potential up to and through retirement. It was a good fit for a company with a high percentage of near-retirees—60% of the work force is at least 50 years old, Bell-Dees says. The majority of participants who use these funds are within 10 years of retiring, she adds.

The company’s defined benefit (DB) plan has been frozen to new participants since 2009, but NASCO provides a nonelective contribution to the defined contribution (DC) plan for all associates who are not participants in the DB plan, as well as a match. Each January, NASCO makes a contribution to the associates based on their previous year’s total plan compensation—e.g., base salary, bonuses, taxable allowances—plus years of service, that is equal to between 4.5% and 8.5% of compensation. The matching contribution is 3.5% of pay—100% of the first 1% deferred and 50% of the next 5% deferred.

“This plan design not only demonstrates our commitment to the associates of NASCO but also continues our focus on our associates, their families and their well-being,” Bell-Dees says. —Corie Hengst

 

 

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