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First Premier Bank and Premier Bankcard take a progressive approach to in-plan advice

November 13, 2020

As part of its recordkeeping change, the $173,000,000 PREMIER 401(k) Plan is making managed accounts its Qualified Default Investment Alternative (QDIA). Headquartered out of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, First PREMIER Bank and PREMIER Bankcard have over 2,100 participants in 18 bank and 4 bankcard locations all located in the State of South Dakota.

Colleen Stratton, Assistant Vice President of Total Rewards, commented, “We knew we were going to go through the disruption of a full recordkeeping/administration conversion. Our consultants at intellicents advised us that this would consequently be an opportune time to re-examine plan provisions and service features that could be dramatically enhanced due to advancements in technology. One of those services was our approach to in-plan participant investment advice.”

As a 3(21) fiduciary advisor to the plan, intellicents also provides in-person and 800# telephone advice to participants. They likewise managed five risk-based model portfolios composed of the Plan’s core investment menu, and advised the PREMIER Investment Committee on a suite of target date funds which had acted as the Plan’s QDIA. Prior to the conversion to Empower’s recordkeeping/administration platform on October 1st, 28.2% of participants were using the risk-based models and 11.7% had positions in the target date funds.

“Why should all 40-year-old participants be invested exactly the same?” commented Scott Weeldreyer, Vice President and Senior Investment Manager at First PREMIER Bank. “Our new managed account QDIA today takes into account a dozen different factors rather than just age. Plus it provides participants not only investment advice, but also advice on plan contributions and distributions. This takes a financial planning approach to in-plan advice, and coordinates perfectly with our worksite financial wellness initiatives. And as an added bonus, intellicents is a 3(38) investment manager on the managed accounts.”

“Empower’s new Advisor Managed Account technology allows us to basically expand our model portfolio service to the plan to go beyond just risk, and likewise take into account current account balance, contribution rates, employer match, gender, salary, anticipated Social Security benefits, and a participant’s outside assets and spending habits,” added Brad Arends, CEO of intellicents. “We’ve actually branded this expanded service as “intellicents bioni(k) managed accounts”, and feel it is the next generation of in-plan participant investment advice. It essentially takes our model portfolios and puts them on steroids. PREMIER is taking a progressive thought-leadership position in making this their QDIA. We expect many of our clients to likewise migrate in this direction.”

In 2010, only 18% of Plan participants were on track to maintain their same standard of living at retirement. With intellicents’ encouragement, PREMIER has consistently focused on improving employee retirement outcomes over the past decade. In 2013, they moved to a 100% safe harbor 5% employer match, and 85% of participants currently contribute at least enough to receive the full match. Automatic enrollment was raised from 3% to 5% in 2015, and the annual 1% automatic deferral increase cap is being raised from 10% to 15% in 2021. Early retirement for distributions was also changed from 59½ to 55.

To add to this theme of continuous improvement, PREMEIR automatically re-enrolled every Plan participant into the new managed accounts. Only 14 participants elected out, so now over 99% of participants are using one or more of the advice services being offered by the Plan.

“By the end of 2019, we had improved our aggregate retirement readiness scores to 53% of our employees on track for a successful retirement outcome,” said Miles Beacom, CEO of PREMIER Bankcard. “We want to continue that momentum. For that reason, our Leadership group unanimously decided to annually pay 100% of Empower’s added fees for the managed account services for all participants. It was the right thing to do for our people.”

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