SPARK National 2015


Sunday, June 7, 2015

1:00 – 7:00 pm Conference Registration

1:00 – 7:00 pm Exhibitor Setup

Monday, June 8, 2015

7:00 – 8:00 am Continental Breakfast with Exhibitors –

8:00 – 8:30 am Welcome & Opening Remarks

Joe Ready, Executive Vice President and Director, Wells Fargo Institutional Retirement and Trust and President, SPARK Institute

8:30 – 9:20 am Washington Regulatory Update

Steve Saxon, Chairman, Groom Law Group
Tom Roberts, Principal, Groom Law Group

The DOL’s proposed fiduciary regulation is the most controversial ERISA initiative since the enactment of the statute in 1974. If adopted as proposed, the regulation will have a significant impact on financial institutions selling products to IRAs and 401(k) plans. The proposed changes would essentially open up the $7 trillion IRA market to ERISA, impacting the sale of investment products, from mutual funds to variable annuities, to IRAs. The proposal would also change the definition of an “advice fiduciary,” making it easier for DOL to assert claims against persons or entities selling investment products or gathering assets. In this session, we will discuss the impact of the proposal on your business, from the standpoint of what needs to be changed to make the proposal “workable” and what you will need to do to comply if the proposal is adopted without change. Specifically, this session will focus on:

  • Changes to the definition of Investment Advice Fiduciary
  • Fiduciary status “carve-outs” for sales presentations
  • The new Best Interest Contract Exemption for IRAs
  • Changes to PTE 84-24 and other Exemptions

9:30 – 10:00 am Break with Exhibitors –

10:00 – 11:00 am What’s Ahead for the 114th Congress: A Conversation with Congressional Insiders

Mike Hadley, Partner, Davis & Harman LLP

The 114th Congress is well underway, and retirement issues have already come to the fore. In this session, moderated by SPARK counsel Michael Hadley, Congressional insiders will discuss current legislative activity around retirement issues, as well as the prospects for pension reform, tax reform and Congress’s involvement in the fiduciary regulation.

11:10 – 12:00 pm BREAKOUT SESSIONS

SESSION A – Using Analytics and Big Data to Transform your Retirement Business

Jeff Carroll, Retirement Product Development Officer, DST Applied Analytics
Daniel Cross, Vice President, DST Applied Analytics

Analytics and “Big Data” are transforming the way we do business. How can new technologies, data science, and behavioral economics help you better understand and engage with your customers, drive action, and improve outcomes? The DST Applied Analytics Group will answer these questions and discuss competitive strategies for developing data-driven insights to help you better understand your customers, make informed business decisions, and improve communications with retirement plan sponsors and participants.

SESSION B – Industry Trends for Providers and Advisors and How to Capitalize on Them

Michael DiCenso, Managing Director, Sales and Marketing, Mesirow Financial

Individual Retirement Savings, Margin Compression, DOL Regulations, and SEC Regulations all present new challenges for Advisors, Providers, and Plan Sponsors. Learn more about these trends and how to capitalize on them to grow your revenue and profitability.  Three things attendees will learn:

  • What has changed procedurally since the EGTTRA restatement?
  • How have the documents changed?
  • Preliminary 403(b) and pre-approved DB restatement issues.

12:00 – 1:00 pmLunch

1:00 – 1:50 pm The Digitization of Financial Communications

Rob Krugman, Head of Digital Strategy, Broadridge Financial Solutions, Inc.

How do we communicate with clients in a constantly changing digital world? The challenge is the complexity of digital channels that does not exist with traditional printed and mailed communications. If not properly addressed, businesses can suffer from inefficiencies that lead to low customer satisfaction; however, when properly addressed, digital channels can significantly enhance customer relationships. This session provides objective insight that encourages attendees to rethink their communications strategies with regard to optimizing customer engagement in a digital world. During this session we will discuss:

  • Identifying the preferred digital communications channels
  • Developing relationships with clients through their preferred channels
  • How digital channels provide opportunities to replace static content with interactive capabilities

2:00 – 2:30 pm Break with Exhibitors –

2:35 – 3:25 pm BREAKOUT SESSIONS

SESSION A – The Changing Distribution Landscape

Ron Bush, Managing Principal, Retirement Research and Principal, Brightwork Partners, LLC
John Guido, Principal, Retirement Research

Channel tension is nothing new but with the growing specialization of retirement plan advisors there has been a blurring of roles between product/service providers and advisors. Today’s distribution partner may also be a competitor for profitable value-added services once the sole province of investment firms and service providers. For example, RIA advisors using open architecture platforms and charging incremental fees for 3(21) or 3(38) services competing very successfully with provider due diligence platforms or advisor-created custom target date funds competing with off-the-shelf funds. In this session we’ll draw on recent research to explore these trends, the impact on investment firms, providers and broker-dealers and how these firms are responding.

SESSION B – The Status of Qualified Plan Approvals and the Modification of the EP Determination Letter Program

Robert Choi, Director, Employee Plans, Internal Revenue Service
Richard Hochman, Managing Director, DST / McKay Hochman

During a meeting with retirement industry practitioners in late March, Sunita Lough (Commissioner, Tax Exempt and Governmental Entities, IRS) and Vicky Judson (Associate Chief Counsel, Tax Exempt and Government Entities, Treasury) announced a huge change for qualified plans of the future. The gist of the announcement is that the IRS intends to eliminate the existing program for issuing recurring Determination Letters for ongoing Individually Designed Plans. Under the new program, Determination Letters would only be available, with some very limited exceptions, upon the initial adoption of a plan and upon its termination. This new general policy would start in early 2017. This will also likely impact the pre-approved program that so many plan sponsors rely upon, because issues will arise as to what the impact of changing a pre-approved plan will be. The session will address where the IRS intends to go with future guidance on this very important issue.

3:30 – 4:30 pm How will Market Constituents Respond to Money Market Fund Regulatory Changes?

Marc Pester, Business Development Leader Prudential Retirement’s Institutional Income and Stable Value Group, Prudential Retirement

Money market assets represent over $2 Trillion, with over $100 Billion in Defined Contribution retirement plans. The new money market fund regulations will require a reassessment by plan sponsors, consultants, advisers, money market fund managers, and recordkeepers. This session will summarize the money market regulation changes and review how each market constituent will likely respond to the changes. You will learn the challenges the changes represent to recordkeepers and the viable alternative paths forward. How will the changes impact related markets (eg, Non-qualified DC plans, DB plans, VEBA, Auto IRA)?

5:00 – 7:00 pm Reception with Exhibitors –

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

7:00 – 8:00 am Continental Breakfast with Exhibitors –

8:00 – 8:15 am Opening Remarks

David Musto, Executive Vice President and Director, Empower Retirement and Vice President, SPARK Institute

8:15 – 9:00 am Retirement Policy: A Time for Leadership and Vision

Bob Reynolds, President & Chief Executive Officer

Bob Reynolds, President and CEO of Great-West Financial and Putnam Investments believes that this is a time for bold leadership and a new vision in U.S. retirement policy – by our public officials and by the financial services industry itself. Most often, we assess retirement savings policy only in terms of providing income for retirees. We worry about a looming “crisis” — while failing to see what’s actually working well in workplace savings and how we can spread these successes. For too long, we have relied on deeply flawed budget rules that raise the “costs” of retirement savings to the Treasury — and understate its immense benefits.

Bob’s talk aims to reframe America’s retirement debate and put it into the larger context of investment, growth, opportunity and global competition. He will challenge the retirement services industry to act — right now — to address the shortfalls we can address under current law. He calls for adopting proven solutions across all existing plans and urges the industry and its trade groups to press for legislative and regulatory reforms to enable us to close the “coverage gap” and truly solve America’s retirement challenge. Above all, he challenges everyone involved in this debate — policy-makers, media, thought leaders and financial services — to adopt a larger vision of what retirement policy — done right — can accomplish for the nation.

9:20 – 10:10 am Understanding the Impact of the Proposed Fiduciary Regulations on Your Business

Barbara March, Chief Executive Officer, BridgePoint Group LLC
Scott Brogan, Managing Consultant, BridgePoint Group LLC
Shelli VanDeMark Kendig, Practice Director, BridgePoint Group LLC

Understanding the implications of regulatory change is often a careful balance of business and compliance priorities, and generally requires firms to make decisions under ambiguous circumstances. Please join the team from BridgePoint for a discussion of the potential impact of the proposed regulations on financial services organizations. The session will also feature a view into the early actions taken by industry peers and recommended steps that you can take now to obtain the optimal outcome for your company and your clients.

10:10 – 10:40 am Break with Exhibitors –

10:35 – 11:25 am Competitive Edge Insights: Accelerating Growth And Optimizing Operations

Mike Rogalski, Group President, SunGard – Wealth and Retirement Administration (Moderator)
Diane Kolvek, Vice President, Retirement Plan Sales and Relationship Management, Ameritas
Barry Kublin, President, Benefit Plans Administrative Services, Inc. (BPAS)
Mike Shamburger, Vice President, T. Rowe Price

In the world of accelerating change, there is no substitute for customer intimacy. Today’s buyers of retirement products are more sophisticated and require more dynamic and innovative applications than ever before. Mike Rogalski, President of Wealth and Retirement Administration for SunGard, will moderate this panel of industry leading executives to provide insight into purchasing behaviors, what front-office and advisory tools are needed to capture participant engagement and retention, and how firms are implementing agile business models to strike the balance between accelerating growth and optimizing operations.

11:35 – 11:55 am Break / Check-Out

11:55 – 12:45 pm Three Key Retirement Trends That Can Make A Difference in 2015

Stuart Ritter, Vice President, T. Rowe Price Associates, Inc.

When the Pension Protection Act of 2006 identified target date investments as a qualified default investment alternative, adoption of those investments achieved a tipping point. What’s reaching a tipping point today? In this session, we’ll share our perspectives on the plan design and services that are likely to become tomorrow’s best practice considerations. Learn how you can evaluate your plan through the lens of these future best practice considerations and begin thinking about your strategy now to help plans thrive over the long term.