cover story | PLANADVISER August/September 2013

2013 PLANSPONSOR Retirement Plan Adviser of the Year

The winners of our 2013 PLANSPONSOR Retirement Plan Adviser Year Award for individual adviser, team and multioffice team.

By Lee Barney | August/September 2013
Page 1 of 6
Katja Heinemann

2013 PLANSPONSOR Retirement Plan Adviser of the Year

Jeb Graham
CapTrust Advisors LLC
Tampa, Florida

Jeb Graham, retirement plan consultant partner with CapTrust Advisors in Tampa, Florida, since 2005, is the 2013 PLANSPONSOR Retirement Plan Adviser of the Year. Graham’s mission statement is “to deliver exceptional services in a user-friendly manner, providing true value to help plan sponsors create the best possible retirement outcome for plan participants.” He adds: “The value I deliver to my clients, and ultimately to their plan participants, is meaningfully greater than that being delivered to most plan sponsors by other advisers.”

Graham, an independent registered investment adviser (RIA), has specialized in the retirement plan industry for more than 15 years—100% of his clients are retirement plans. He is active in the industry, writing, speaking at industry conferences and “promoting best practices that serve the interests of plan participants.”

Instead of limiting his counseling to plan sponsors, Graham has embraced both investments and retirement plans. “Many consultants have expertise and experience in either the investment side or the retirement plan side,” he says. “Those who do [both] are very valuable to their clients. I continually invest time in staying current on both the investment side and the plan side.”

While 60% of CapTrust’s clients offer 401(k) plans, 37% are nonprofit and higher education 403(b) plan sponsors. Graham says he gravitates to these types of 403(b) plans because they are “underserved.” These are great sponsors to work with, he says, because they “really want to do right by participants and are receptive when you make recommendations. They’re really good people, and that’s the kind of people I like to work with.” The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) regulations that brought more plans under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) umbrella have also made it “easy to have conversations with these people because they really need you,” Graham says.

When beginning to work with a new plan sponsor client, CapTrust sets goals and helps the sponsor decide on metrics for the plan’s success through a “participant services policy document,” similar to an investment policy statement (IPS) or an education policy statement. In developing a client service model, Graham says, CapTrust realizes that “each client is different. We start out with [its] objectives, design an overriding retirement benefits strategy and work closely with providers to tailor a service delivery model and a particular approach.”

 Another key way that Graham believes his firm distinguishes itself is by using metrics to assess retirement plan success—including the percentage of participants on target to meet their retirement goals—and aiming for the best retirement outcome. This is a change from years ago, Graham says. “Today, defined contribution [DC] plans are retirement vehicles,” which means that a participant’s income replacement ratio is vital.