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PLAN SPONSOR OF THE YEAR Finalists

Corporate 401(k) >$100MM - $250MM

The Beck Group

Tori Coln

TOTAL PLAN ASSETS/PARTICIPANTS: $116 million/995
PARTICIPATION RATE: 93.1%        
AVERAGE DEFERRAL RATE: 8.3%
DEFAULT DEFERRAL RATE: 6%
EMPLOYER CONTRIBUTION: 50% of the first 6% of pay

Construction and architectural firm The Beck Group, of Dallas, has a work force that includes both highly compensated employees (HCEs) and non-highly compensated employees (NHCEs), but it sees many similarities between those two groups—specifically that both have little time to focus on their retirement plan, says Tori Coln, financial wellness and benefits manager at the company.

For that reason, The Beck Group automatically enrolls its employees into its 401(k) plan at a 6% deferral rate, she says. This is paired with a 1% annual escalation, up to a 10% cap. Currently, the company matches 50% of employees’ first 6% of contributions, but this is scheduled to be increased to 100% on the first 6%, this year, she says. In addition, last year, The Beck Group rolled out Dave Ramsey’s SmartDollar program in order to help employees get their financial house in order.

“If you are stressed out at home because of your finances, you are not going to be as focused as you can be at work—and with some of our folks risking their lives on skyscrapers,” The Beck Group realizes how critical this is, Coln says.

The match is not the only contribution the employer makes. It also makes a profit-sharing contribution to all employees, Coln notes. Last year, the company contributed $2.2 million to its profit sharing, she says, with the amount paid increasing with the individual’s age and ranging from about $1,000 to $18,000, she notes. Those contributions “can make a big difference” in terms of peoples’ retirement outcomes, Coln says.

The Beck Group also offers a Roth 401(k) option, and, for HCEs or other employees interested in maximizing their contributions, there is an additional after-tax contribution option with a $53,000 cap, as well as a nonqualified deferred compensation (NQDC) plan. “The after-tax contribution source isn’t just for the high earners,” Coln points out. “It’s for anyone looking to maximize his savings above and beyond the 401(k) caps of $18,000 and $24,000 for those 50 and older.”

As the plan’s recordkeeper, T. Rowe Price provides education sessions and a website where participants can assess their retirement confidence score. The plan’s adviser, Lockton Retirement Services, offers one-on-one sessions to participants at no cost to them.

To boost participation at the education sessions, all of which are recorded and can be accessed remotely, The Beck Group offers a prize or a free lunch, Coln says. It helps, too, that the company’s T. Rowe Price representative has been the same individual for a number of years, so employees are now very familiar with him.

To ensure that The Beck Group is offering its participants all of the options they want in their retirement plan, the company issues a survey annually. Last year’s investigation showed that many participants did not understand the match, so the committee changed the formula, she says.

Earlier surveys indicated that people wanted more education; in-plan Roth conversions; and true-up, after-tax-savings and more conservative fund options. The company has made good on all five of those requests, she says. For the last one, the company added a number of index funds to the lineup. —Lee Barney

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