Meet a senior retirement plan design consultant
Allison Diamond, senior consultant, discusses her role at Lincoln and explains how she designs plans to help plan sponsors meet their goals and stay in compliance.
Q: What’s your role at Lincoln?
A: I’m a senior consultant with the Retirement Plan Design and Consulting Group (RPCG). Every day is filled with different opportunities. I answer technical questions for internal and external partners, and work with plan sponsors, advisors and consultants to help meet their plan design needs and drive better retirement plan outcomes. I review requests for proposals (RFPs), lead Plan Document Days, fix operational failures, provide assistance with merger/acquisition transactions, prepare cost projections for new plan features, and consult on plan design.
Q: How do you interact with plan sponsors, advisors and consultants?
A: My interaction includes emails, conference calls, direct calls and face-to-face client meetings. Usually the account manager (AM) or relationship manager (RM) start the conversation and I’ll take over from there. We’ll have a call that includes the AM, RM, consultant or advisor, plan sponsor, and maybe even their attorney or a plan document consultant. My approach has always been to gather and analyze the facts, then provide a solution that everyone can understand.
Q: How do you help drive better outcomes?
My role is to help our plan sponsors keep their plans in compliance and in tune with their financial goals and plan objectives. Recently, we had a client go through a merger and acquisition. We designed a plan to meet their changing needs and satisfy their requests within ERISA guidelines. We provided a turnkey approach by walking them through each step of the process, while accommodating the needs of the plan sponsor and its employees. By providing benchmarking information and industry standards, we equipped the plan sponsor with the valuable insight needed to make challenging decisions for the plan.
Q: How do you retain great relationships with clients?
A: I try to make my internal partners, consultants and advisors look great. We listen to their needs and ask clarifying questions. Through this approach, we gain their respect and become the trusted advisor. For example, a municipality wanted to add a new plan for its executives. I met with the client in person, provided a write-up of available plan design choices and walked them through each option. The consultant was involved in the entire process. The client was so happy it brought the relationship to a new level.
Q: What tools do you rely on most?
A: I use The ERISA Outline Book every day. We call it the “industry bible.” It’s a reference book on qualified and nonqualified plans. It’s also a fully searchable and cross-referenced website containing everything about ERISA. I also use CCH IntelliConnect, a web-based system with links to books about qualified and nonqualified plans and to Internal Revenue Service and U.S. Treasury regulations.
Q: What’s your favorite thing about your role?
A: I love helping clients maintain retirement plans that meet their objectives and benefit both the plan sponsor and its employees. I enjoy solving challenging problems using a systematic approach, which is a win for everyone.