SPARK National Conference
General Inquires
Marlene Jung

Conference Agenda


1:00 - 7:00Registration
1:00 - 6:00 Advisor Pre-Conference Workshop:  Evolving Your Practice with Industry Changes

Todd Berghuis, Senior Vice President, ERISA Compliance, Ascensus
Stephen Cronin, Vice President, National Sales Manager, Ascensus (Moderator)
Gene Huxhold, Senior Managing Director, Consulting Services Group, John Hancock Mutual Funds
Greg Porteous, Vice President, iShares
David Wasik, Vice President, Senior Retirement Platform Specialist, Federated Investors

Recent and anticipated retirement legislative changes have altered the methods used by top retirement advisors in retaining and obtaining retirement plan business.  There has been a dramatic shift in recent years of retirement business moving away from "light" retirement advisors to "heavy" retirement advisors, ... those heavily focused on this business.  We are in the midst of a watershed moment.  There are far too few retirement focused advisors available to capture the number of opportunities recent and anticipated legislative changes has created.  More and more plan sponsors seek the services of highly knowledgeable, retirement focused advisors.  This session will explore the attributes, tactics and strategies employed by highly successful retirement advisors during this period of change in the retirement industry.

  • ETFs in 401(k)s - iShares
  • Share Class Strategies - John Hancock Mutual Funds
  • Best Practices for Building Your Retirement Business - Federated Investors
  • Capitalizing on Recent / Anticipated Legislative Changes - Ascensus
2:00 - 5:00 TPA Pre-Conference Workshop:  Redefining the TPA Service Model

Patrick Hale, Director of Client Services, The Retirement Plan Company, LLC (TRPC)
John Kopra, President & CEO, The Retirement Plan Company, LLC (TRPC)

The Retirement Plan Company (TRPC) recognizes a fundamental change has occurred within the retirement plan service industry.  This change has been brought on by both a reduction in the retirement plans steeped in regulatory complexity and an increase in the functionality of retirement plan administrative systems.  Our current economic environment has forced small businesses to ponder both the value of maintaining a retirement plan and the expenses associated with their current service provider.

In this new business climate, TRPC creates wealth building opportunities for retirement plan professionals through the utilization of leading-edge technology combined with innovative staffing solutions.


7:30 - 8:30Registration & Continental Breakfast with Exhibitors
 8:30 - 8:45 Welcome and Opening Remarks
 Cynthia Hayes, Managing Partner, Oculus Partners, LLC
8:45 - 9:45 Marketplace Update 

Ronald Bush, Principal, Brightwork Partners, LLC
Bob Wuelfing, President, RG Wuelfing & Associates, Inc.

The conference begins with a review of U.S. retirement market data estimates for the first six months of 2010 and an analysis of current trends by Bob Wuelfing of RG Wuelfing & Associates.  Bob will also discuss the Pension Communications Project, which is assessing retirement plan communications from companies around the globe.  Bob will be joined by Ron Bush of Brightwork Partners, who will present findings from the firm's research on developments in the retirement income market.

 9:45 - 10:15 Break with Exhibitors
 10:15 - 11:15 Achieving Optimal Operational Performance in a Demanding Environment

Jude Metcalfe, President, DST Retirement Solutions
Billy Morris, Senior Vice President, SunGard Wealth Management
Bob Wuelfing, President, RG Wuelfing & Associates, Inc. (Moderator)

Service providers today are faced with a host of challenges, including an ever changing regulatory landscape, increasing client demands, and pressure on both fees and expenses.  This session will explore how companies can best link their business strategies with systems capabilities / needs to achieve optimal operational performance in this environment.

 11:15 - 12:15 Benchmarking Fees and Value

Cindy Conway, Group Director, Global Benefits, Cadence Design Systems, Inc.
Tom Kmak, CEO, Fiduciary Benchmarks

ERISA section 404(a)(1)(a) requires that plan fiduciaries make sure the fees they pay are no more than reasonable.  But that is easier said, then done.  The myriad of fee structures that exist in the retirement industry have more variations than a Rubik's cube.  And as some simple mathematics will demonstrate, ignoring value components of participant success measures for the sake of lower fees is a serious mistake. 

This session will be an interactive exercise in how to benchmark your retirement plan.  It will answer a number of questions such as:

  • How do you build an apples to apples comparison group?
  • What is the proper way to benchmark fees?
  • What value measures for sponsors and participants should be compared to those fees?

It will also involve a case study from an actual plan sponsor in Silicon Valley that went through a recent benchmarking exercise.  So, please join us as we investigate what has become one of the most important topics in the retirement industry to make sure you understand the complexities associated with this critical fiduciary duty.

 12:15 - 1:15 Lunch
 1:30 - 2:30 IRS "Hot Buttons" & Tips

Kimberly Solecki, Compliance Consultant, ING
Ed Salyers, Senior Employee Plans Specialist with the Tax Exempt and Governmental Entities,
   Internal Revenue Service

This session will explore IRS hot buttons with respect to 403(b) plan audits and provide tips plan sponsors can use to facilitate 403(b) plan compliance.  The audience will also gain insight in terms of what to expect during an IRS audit and preparation tips. 

 2:30 - 3:00 Break with Exhibitors

SESSION A - The SPARK Institute Update

Evan Giller, Partner, Giller & Calhoun
Larry Goldbrum, General Counsel, The SPARK Institute  

Learn about The SPARK Institute's latest initiatives on behalf of the retirement plan services industry.  Covered topics will include the Institute's proposed new Universal Small Employer Retirement Savings Program, activities in support of guaranteed lifetime income solutions for DC plans, 403(b) plan activities and investment advice issues.

SESSION B - Tools For Categorizing & Analyzing Target Date Funds

Glenn Dial, VP - Defined Contribution Investment Solutions, J.P. Morgan Asset Management

While the process of assessing and evaluating target date funds is still in its increased pressure to ensure that the target date funds they choose are the most appropriate give plan goals and the needs of participants.  This session will review the legal and fiduciary landscape affecting plan fiduciaries today.  It will also demonstrate a first-of-its-kind tool to help categorize, analyze and evaluate target date funds that are best aligned with a plan's needs and those of its participants.

SESSION C - Innovations to Improve Participant Outcomes in the New Normal

Fred Greenstein, CEO, iJoin
Cheryl Ouellette, Manager, Retirement Services Consulting, Deloitte Consulting, LLP 
Scott Parry, General Manager, Hewitt Financial Services

Too many American workers will lack sufficient savings in their retirement plans to provide needed income in their senior years.  This panel of DC plan industry veterans will discuss this looming problem and share innovative solutions for improving individual retirement outcomes, including the use of mobile technology to engage DC plan participants on their own or in group meetings.  This will also be an interactive session, offering a hands-on experience of this paradigm-shifting technology, and providing the audience with a chance to share strategies and innovations for helping DC plan participants achieve financial independence.

 3:45 - 4:45 "The 401(k) of the Future:  Attaining Financial Wellness"

Andy Sieg, Head of Retirement & Philanthropic Services, Bank of America Merrill Lynch

In the new age of retirement, achieving financial wellness has emerged as a core objective for corporate benefit programs alongside traditional health, life insurance and disability benefits.  In this session, Andy Sieg will discuss how leveraging financial wellness methodologies to improve employee behavior within 401(k) plans can lead to stronger organic growth for plan providers.  He will also review how pending legislation combined with giving plan participants access to tailored advice and education can help evolve 401(k) retirement programs to be more effective saving systems for Americans.  There will also be a question and answer session.

 4:45 - 7:00 Cocktail Reception with Exhibitors

 7:30 - 8:00 Continental Breakfast with Exhibitors

 8:00 - 9:15 Washington Update

Steve Saxon, Principal, Groom Law Group

After health care reform, Washington is now beginning to focus on a variety of important legislative and regulatory issues affecting 401(k) and other retirement programs - from investment advice to 401(k) fee disclosure , guaranteed income products and even fundamental issues involving who is and who is not a "fiduciary" under ERISA.  This session will provide insights into the details of these initiatives as well as the prospects for their completion.  It will also focus on the impact of health care reform on our U.S. retirement policy. 


SESSION A -  A 403(b)/457(b) TPA's Function:  Best Practices for Employer 
                       Responsibilities under new regulations

Steve Banks, Founder, TSA Consulting Group, Inc.
Joe Rollins, President, TSA Consulting Group, Inc.

This session will explore the responsibilities of the 403(b) Plan Sponsors under the new regulations and how TPAs are assisting in the process.  In the session, we will analyze the existing services provided by different TPA service platforms and how they relate to Plan Sponsor needs.  What are the ongoing needs of the Plan Sponsor and what are the Best Practices of a TPA service to fill that need as it relates to the new regulations.

SESSION B - Tools, Tips & Tactics for Advisors

Steve Cronin, Vice President - National Sales Director, Ascensus
Paul D'Aiutolo, Vice President, Investments Institutional Consultant, UBS Wealth Management
Steve Dimitriou, Managing Partner, Mayflower Advisors, LLC
Jim Phillips, President, Retirement Resources Investment Corporation

In this session we will review with our esteemed panel of top retirement advisors how they're capitalizing on the trends and issues affecting the retirement industry.  We'll discuss with our panel what they consider to be their key attributes in obtaining and retaining prized plan sponsor clients.

SESSION C - Trends in Fiduciary Issues

Bob Melia, Head of Product Strategy, Lincoln Financial Group
Abbie Pancoast, Senior Counsel, Lincoln Financial Group

This session will focus on the recent headlines, trends and land mines that have grabbed the attention of fiduciaries in the small end of the market.  Session will describe the issue, the potential danger, what small plan fiduciaries are focused on and some strategies service providers can follow to turn these concerns into opportunities in the market place.

 10:00 - 10:30 Break with Exhibitors
 10:30 - 11:15 BREAKOUT SESSIONS

SESSION A - Coping With Change: Bringing a New Order Into the World of 403(b) Plans

Paul Gallagher
, Managing Director, Product Development and Management, TIAA-CREF

A comprehensive look at how regulators, plan sponsors, service providers and participants are dealing with the unprecedented changes in the 403(b) marketplace. 

SESSION B - Supporting Advancements in 401(k) Design

Stacy Schaus, Senior Vice President, DC Practice Leader, PIMCO  

Increasingly, plan sponsors are reevaluating their investment option menus by implementing custom target date strategies and integrating broader asset diversification and risk management techniques.  They're also studying a range of retirement income solutions.  This session will share plan design advancements and how providers are supporting their delivery.  Specifically, the session will address:

  • Record keeping approaches to support custom target date strategies, including a look at both trust and model portfolio delivery.  
  • Risk management approaches, including less liquid assets and hedging strategies.
  • Retirement income alternatives, including deemed IRAs and retirement income solutions (systematic withdrawal, annuities, bond funds, etc). 

SESSION C - New DOL Investment Advice Rules:  An Impact Assessment

Kim Meyer, Vice President, Ibbotson Associates, Inc.
Roberta Ufford, Groom Law Group

The Labor Department's new proposed rules regarding participant investment advice could cause major changes throughout the retirement plan market.  The revised rules would, for example, bar the longstanding use of performance data from computer models that generate advice.  They would also - for the first time - define what "generally accepted" investment theories , or prudent investment strategies, must be used as the basis for computer-driven and direct-to-participant advice.  In this session, a leading investment consulting and legal expert will outline the issues and assess the potential impact on participants, employers, service providers and asset managers.

 11:15 - 11:30 Break / Check-Out
11:30 - 12:30 Guaranteed Lifetime Income Products - An Overview 

Bruce Ashton, Partner, Reish & Reicher

For years, the 401(k) industry has focused on retirement savings accumulation.  But what about after that?  This session will address guaranteed lifetime income solutions.  How do these products operate?  What are the plan sponsors hurdles?  What about recordkeeping challenges?  And what are the concerns of participants, advisers, and regulators?

 12:30 - 12:45 Closing Remarks
 Cynthia Hayes, Managing Partner, Oculus Partners, LLC
Silver Sponsors

Other Sponsors

AXA Equitable
Lincoln Financial Group
ADP Retirement Services
DWS Investments
Federated Investors
Oppenheimer Funds
Media Sponsors
Fund Action
Employee Benefits Jobs