Court House

Team Leader Profile – Maryann Geary

Meet BPAS Team Leader and EVP, BPAS Plan Administration & Recordkeeping Services,Maryann Geary.

Jul 12, 2016

QDIAEVP, BPAS Plan Administration & Recordkeeping Services

At BPAS our team leaders play a crucial role in shaping the present and future of our company. But beyond their titles and official bios, we wanted to share a little bit more about these extraordinary individuals. Rather than write a simple profile, we wanted to have each one tell us who they are in their own words.  So we sent them a series of questions about their work and their backgrounds, and we asked them to answer their favorites.

Every so often we’ll post their answers and let you learn a little more than you might expect about our team leaders.

1. How do you feel the culture of BPAS is different from other companies where you’ve held a leadership position? 

There are two main differences with the culture of BPAS compared to other companies where I have held leadership positions.

The first is that BPAS has a very cooperative culture.  Whenever we encounter a problem or a challenge, the folks at every level within BPAS are ready and willing to tackle it head-on.  They are creative, proactive people, and have a can do attitude.  After nine years with BPAS, I am still awed by the intelligent, creative, and workable solutions we are able to develop.

The second difference, and one that is so important to me, is the integrity at BPAS.  Recordkeeping and consulting firms handle thousands of transactions on a daily basis and despite best efforts, things do go wrong.  Additionally, plan sponsors make some mistakes when dealing with the very complex rules applicable to retirement plans.  BPAS never takes the easy way out when errors occur. We tackle them head on, correct them completely, and according the Employee Plans Compliance Resolution System (EPCRS) requirements.

I have never been asked to compromise my integrity when an error is uncovered, and this is so meaningful to me.  At the end of the day, I know that I am working alongside honest, intelligent, cooperative people.

2. For participants, what do you see as the benefits and drawbacks of automatic enrollment? 

This might be a biased answer because I honestly can’t think of any drawbacks of automatic enrollment.  So, let me start with the benefits.  Research shows that employees simply are not saving enough for retirement.  This has a devastating impact over the long term on the employee, the employer, and really, the country as a whole.  By implementing an automatic enrollment program, employees are forced to save for their own retirement and, in most cases, they will notice very little impact in their take home pay.

However, I think that automatic enrollment alone is only a part of the solution. The real benefits come in when you couple automatic escalation with automatic enrollment.  This ensures that employees’ savings continue to grow over time as the employee’s salary increases.

When you think about it, isn’t that they way we were raised and how we raised our children?  Put ½ of your allowance in your savings account and do what you want with the rest, but get in the habit of paying yourself first.  Unfortunately, life often interferes with our best intentions, so rather than expecting the employee to have the discipline to save on his or her own, automatic enrollment ensures it.

3. What can plan sponsors do to improve participant understanding of their benefits? 

You know, I am on the fence with this one.  Many employers hold enrollment meetings and try to educate participants about their retirement plan, but research shows that employees don’t really understand this information.  It is more effective to establish an auto plan including automatic enrollment, automatic escalation, and Qualified Default Investment Alternatives (QDIA), and to spend the time assisting participants with analyzing the gap between what they are projected to have at retirement and what they need to have.

4. How does your background in education affect your work with BPAS? Do you feel it provides a unique insight?

I believe that I am teacher at heart, and I bring that to my everyday life at BPAS in a variety of ways.  First and foremost, I believe in continually learning and improving your skills.

Under my leadership, thirty-one of our thirty-two consulting staff members have obtained professional designations from the American Society of Pension Professionals and Actuaries (ASPPA).  In order to obtain an ASPPA designation, candidates are required to study for and pass a series of examinations that demonstrate mastery of the subject matter.   The designation programs usually take about 1 ½ – 2 years to complete and many of our staff members hold more than one designation.  Our commitment is apparent!

Also as an educator, I require our consulting staff members to continue to enhance their skills through training sessions, seminars, webinars and personal research.  At any given time, there is a training session occurring at BPAS.

I think it is also important to note that our conversion staff, document staff, and VEBA/HRA staff members have also obtained professional designations within their specialty field.

In my position, I have the opportunity to work directly with leadership in other firms, and I find that many firms don’t support staff members in attaining and retaining these professional designations.  I think this puts BPAS in a unique position.  I know that I wouldn’t go to a doctor that didn’t pass their medical boards, so why would a plan sponsor trust their retirement plan to a non-designated individual?