President, BPAS Trust Company of Puerto Rico
From basketball to retirement plan administration. Meet BPAS Team Leader Alfredo Matheu.
1. What experiences lead you to become a BPAS Team Leader?
Before joining BPAS, I headed a retirement plans division at a trust company, and I was a financial intermediary partner for 14 years. My experience with the progress and development of BPAS throughout that timeframe gave me a special perspective on the institution. The firm’s expertise, passion, and flexibility to meet client needs made me feel very comfortable when I joined almost two years ago.
2. What past experiences in the industry do you feel have had the most significant impact on your approach to benefit plan administration?
I started my career in Employee Benefits as a retirement plan administrator 25 years ago. Lacking the current technological applications, we had to learn to produce balance-forward valuations and employee benefit statements with little help from the programming tools available today. Manually preparing Form 5500s gives you a special perspective on all the information that is needed to comply with plan filing requirements! Having this hands-on experience helped me immensely in my sales and managerial duties afterwards.
3. When you find some time for yourself, what do you like to do?
I am passionate about basketball. I played for many years when I was younger, and I still play on a weekly masters’ league. I had the opportunity to be a TV commentator for the Puerto Rico Professional Basketball League, and I owned the Atleticos de San German franchise for four years.
4. Do you feel your upbringing and education in Puerto Rico provides a different perspective on your work in benefits administration?
Being a native of the Caribbean certainly gives me a different outlook on financial services as a whole. In general, Latin Americans are not experienced investors. There is also a cultural behavior associated with spending. These factors set the groundwork for the special challenge of educating the population about the need to save for retirement and the vehicles available to do so. For most Puerto Ricans, their only exposure to equity markets is their Retirement Plan balance.
5. How do you feel the benefits market in Puerto Rico differs from the rest of the United States? How is it the same?
Puerto Rico had a late start in enacting laws that created the equivalent of Section 401(k) of the Internal Revenue Code (Section 1081.01 of the Puerto Rico Income Tax Act). Puerto Rice has its own tax code that provides preferential tax withholdings upon distribution. At the same time, there is no ACP testing or safe-harbor provision for plans in Puerto Rico. Fortunately, BPAS has been servicing hundreds of plan sponsors in Puerto Rico for over 15 years, so the firm can provide the knowledge and expertise needed to comply with requirements applicable to DC and DB Plans in the United States and Puerto Rico.