3 How do you attract and retain quality employees?

Herbert Hatanaka,
Chief Executive Officer,
Special Services for Groups (SSG)

The marketplace for our professional staff is very competitive. I’m really proud of our ability to attract and retain employees long term. The cornerstone of that ability is our retirement plan.

Our Mutual of America representative suggested we offer a company-wide 403(b) plan in addition to our defined benefit pension plan. SSG’s Board of Directors took a leadership role, working with Mutual of America to include the plan features that would most benefit our employees. We spent many months communicating the details of the plan to every individual at each of our locations. That was quite a complex process. Throughout, Mutual of America’s people were just excellent.

We found that the 403(b) plan services offered by various financial companies are quite similar. The qualitative difference lies in the execution and personal level of service. There’s always website information, social media and the like. But can I get my employees a person to talk to and answer their questions and not have them feel intimidated in the process? That accessibility is the big hitter, the differentiator that keeps individuals informed and satisfied with the plan. The ability to call Mutual of America’s representatives at will and ask questions adds to the comfort level of everyone that works for us.

Our board of directors meets annually with Mutual of America for an in-depth plan review and to discuss any regulatory or other changes that might affect us. Our board members are highly skilled, with deep professional backgrounds in management, finance, banking and law. These are people who know their stuff and ask the right questions. We’ve been very satisfied with the performance of the plan’s investment options, Mutual of America’s strong financials and the Company’s ongoing administrative, educational and fiduciary support.

We’ve been with Mutual of America since 1986. In those 30 years, SSG has grown from fewer than 50 employees to about 650. We’ve stayed with Mutual of America not because of inertia, but because they’ve been able to grow with us, offering us exceptional service throughout.

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As a Mutual of America representative, I stay on top of what’s happening in our industry to be prepared for every conversation I have with an employer, board member and employee.

Rosa Weyman,
Field Vice President,
Los Angeles Regional Office,
Mutual of America

Our Regional Office teams are proactive about service. We visit annually with plan sponsors and boards of directors for an in-depth plan review to help them meet their fiduciary responsibilities related to oversight of their plan, updating them on the services that we provide; talking to them about the performance of the investment funds available under their plan; disclosing our fees; and giving them various reports that benchmark investment performance, services and fees so that clients can see whether our funds and our fees are competitive. We’ll also review their employees’ contribution rates and discuss plan design changes to make their plan a more valuable benefit for their employees.

Employers can offer important benefits, but if their workers don’t understand them, they typically won’t participate. When meeting with employees, we help individuals of all levels of financial sophistication understand the retirement plan and the saving and investment options available to them. Many have never learned about financial wellness — the ability to balance competing short-term and long-term financial needs. This is where we start, for this broader competency allows them to begin thinking about setting aside even a small percentage of their salary towards retirement and can help lead them to long-term financial security.

All the Regional Office sales and service representatives complete annual training to learn about enhancements to our retirement products and investment services, new regulatory requirements and trends in the financial services industry. These training sessions develop our confidence, industry knowledge and professional skills; they also develop the teamwork that is the cornerstone of Mutual of America’s service model.