The Joseph Group

What Is a Plan Quarterback….and Why Does It Matter?

September 19, 2023


In the retirement plan advisory business, there are three types of plan advisors. The first is the traditional plan investment advisor. This type of advisor will simply monitor the plan’s core menu of funds and make recommendations on when/what to change. The second is more of a plan specialist role. They’ll manage the plan’s lineup but also provide basic forms of education to plan participants and make recommendations on plan providers, such as recordkeeper and third-party administrator (TPA). The third type of retirement plan advisor is what The Joseph Group serves as, which we call the Plan Quarterback.

So, what exactly do we mean by “Plan Quarterback”? Just like football, all players play an essential role in the success of the team. The TPA and Recordkeeper are still critical parts of having a healthy plan, after all, without the offensive line a Quarterback is going to spend a lot more time on their back than running the offense. The Plan Quarterback’s role is to get the team aligned and working towards your plan’s goals. That’s a short way of summing up the role, but below are a few key differentiators that a retirement plan advisor/quarterback should be taking on.

  1. Providing financial education to the team and fiduciary education to the plan sponsor(s). Typically, this consists of both seminars and one on one sessions with the team and then at least an annual fiduciary review with the plan sponsor. In most cases the education is tailored to what the team needs at that time and can be delivered as often as quarterly. We’ve found great success in retirement outcomes when we can get in front of the team to explain the plan and how it can be used to their benefit.
  2. Annual Due Diligence Meeting with plan sponsor to both review plan usage and statistics but also to review each investment fund offering on the menu, evaluating its appropriateness for the plan’s core menu. In addition to the fund analysis, this meeting includes evaluating plan partners to determine if the right partners for the plan are in place, as well as plan fee benchmarking, review of services, relationship, etc.
  3. Troubleshooting with plan partners. When an issue arises, the plan quarterback should be the first call to help troubleshoot and resolve issues with anything from technology to service with existing plan partners.
  4. Understanding the intended goals of the plan and proactively working with partners to achieve those goals. For example: If a plan sponsor’s primary goal with the retirement plan is to attract and retain their industry’s best talent, then a plan quarterback would work with the TPA or Recordkeeper to design a “best in class” retirement plan to fit their need.
  5. Paying attention to industry trends and informing plan sponsors of relevant trends or changes. For example: We subscribe to several different research publications and track statistics over multiple years, many of which we review with the plan sponsor during the annual due diligence meeting while others are often included in educational seminars.

That’s a highlight of a few of the key differentiators that a retirement plan quarterback, like The Joseph Group, would assist with to best serve a plan sponsor. There are even more services that go into the above service package. The easy way to think about how a plan quarterback operates is that (as a plan sponsor) when an issue comes up, your first call should be to the plan quarterback.

If you’re reading this and wish your advisor was helping with these things, then maybe it’s time to reach out to us and get a plan review. For no cost, we can evaluate your plan, help you understand what you have and how well it’s doing at accomplishing your goals. We find that often, even just a quick refresh is energizing, both for the company’s ownership and their team.





Written by Matt Kruckenberg, Manager of Retirement Plan Services. Matt can be reached at 614-907-8639 or matt.kruckenberg@josephgroup.com