Victory’s President, Ashley Rosser talks with the editor of the 401k Specialist about how to encourage employees to start saving for retirement early.

Family Ties That Bind

How To Make 401k Succession Planning Successful
Post from 401K Specialist – June 2017

The cobbler’s children have no shoes—it’s cliché but apropos when discussing advisor succession planning for their practices. An industry dedicated to diligent planning for others fails to do so for itself. How does it specifically work in the 401(k) space? These business partners with familial ties shed light.

What happens now?

Posted By: Bud Verfaillie
JUNE 16, 2017

Would you be ready for this phone call? “Hi Dad, it’s Ashley…I know this is really random and I totally understand if you say no. I was wondering if maybe I could come into the office sometime and learn more about the business.”

In the fall of 2009, my daughter made that call, which dramatically changed the course of my family’s life.

Her career for the prior decade was as a registered nurse, serving in a large pediatric hospital in their level-one trauma center. She genuinely liked what she did and was good at it. However, she kept having thoughts about joining me, a business owner since before she was born.

Growing up, however, she never really thought of the business as something she wanted. Like most kids and business, Ashley imagined it dreadfully boring. She absolutely hated math and could not envision sitting at a desk performing complicated calculations. Plus, she saw that I worked long hours, especially when she was young. She remembers when I coached her softball team in a dress shirt, tie and sneakers, not having time to change before the game. To this day, she can’t really say what prompted her to make the call. She just knew she wanted to learn more.

I started my financial planning practice in 1978, right out of college and newly married. My first office was a closet I converted to a workspace in our one-bedroom apartment. I grew a mustache because I thought it made me look older.

Fortunately, through hard work and perseverance, the practice grew. In 1995, we converted the private wealth management division to fee-only. We severed our relationship with our broker-dealer and established Victory Asset Management Co. an independent RIA firm. In October of 2000, Victory hit the $100 million AUM mark. In 2005, I repositioned the practice to develop a proficiency in compliance consulting for 401(k) plans.

I always wanted my three daughters to chase their passions, but in the back of my mind, I privately hoped that at least one would get involved in the practice.

This set the stage for that career-changing phone call. That three-minute call changed my practice, legacy, and motivation to grow the business. It’s hard to express my emotions when my oldest daughter called to ask what I thought about her joining the firm. We laugh now, but there was a 20-second period of silence as I processed what I heard. It was the most rewarding day of my professional career. I shed tears of joy at a national conference I was attending in the midst of over 4,000 advisors and vendors. My private wish was becoming a public reality.

Ashley and I immediately brainstormed about how to create this new working relationship. I made certain my wife of over 35 years, Peggie, was involved in our big picture discussions so as to gain her perspective and support. Peggie has been my strongest personal and professional supporter, and I wanted to make certain she understood and was on board with our strategy, as the decisions would have a direct financial impact on our retirement plans.

Phase One: Planning

Since I was no longer concerned about an outside sale, we focused on an internal succession strategy. I made a few phone calls to peers who had children in their practices. I quickly identified issues of concern.

There were notable differences between the founding parent and their incoming children. The issues stemmed primarily in differences in work ethics, style, and client confidence which was ultimately affecting client integration. Certain clients only wanted to work with the founders. I already knew Ashley had a great work ethic, good disposition, outgoing personality and a sincere desire to help people. I felt confident that once she proved her professional competence, everything else would fall into place. We identified the type of training, licenses, accreditations and mentoring that would be necessary to assure a great client integration.

Valuing the business proved challenging, but we eventually decided to use a multiplier of revenues, then discounted, because I knew I was going to receive future income (and because Ashley was my daughter).

Ashley agreed to take a more modest salary and utilize sweat equity in exchange for purchasing company stock, which I gifted her as well. The plan is for her to receive a total of 10 percent of the company stock each year over the next 10 years.

Victory is an S-Corp, and all of our stock is in voting shares. We considered providing a minority discount for stock transfers, as well as changing some of the voting shares to non-voting shares, but decided against it as to not complicate it further.

The main disadvantage for just gifting the stock was that Ashley would have to wait for my death to receive a step up in cost basis if she decided to sell the business.

At the end of the 10-year stock transfer, the business will pay either myself or my estate an income for 10 years. Once we valued the business, we had a stock redemption agreement created and funded it with term insurance. We also purchased key-man life insurance on me. I wanted to make certain Ashley could hire the right type of professionals while she was still learning the business if I died early into the transition.

Around this time, I thought it appropriate to update my estate plan, which was created 15 years earlier. Our net worth had changed, additional properties were purchased and I wanted to make it clear how the estate was going to factor into Ashley’s eventual acquisition of the practice.

It was also a good time to give the practice a facelift and to upgrade our technology. I thought better technology and software programs could increase proficiency, plus I didn’t want Ashley to have to endure my “old school” practices.

The first step was a name change to Victory Asset Management Co. DBA Victory Fiduciary Consulting. The new name was more indicative of our business model. In addition, we would not have to set up a new RIA firm, just make a name change with the SEC.

We then upgraded our server and workstations. We changed our client management and servicing software, and upgraded our retirement planning software. Victory’s website and marketing materials were also dated. We completely rebranded the company and created a new website and capabilities brochures. Ashley played a key role in all the decision-making so she could take ownership. The rebranding was costly but necessary. We sent out several press releases touting our changes.

Our training and mentoring program was quite simple. I showed Ashley how I conducted certain tasks and she watched. On certain tasks, we had written procedures. The next time that task needed to be completed, Ashley would complete the task as I watched and when necessary, provided critiques.

If procedures were written, it was a great opportunity to see if they needed to be updated. We both had our own styles, but the end result seems to be the same.

Phase Two: Implementation

Implementation was probably the hardest phase for Ashley. After passing her Series 65 exam and earning an insurance license, and my confidence, it was time to introduce her to clients. Plan sponsors, 401(k) participants and our clients had never dealt with anyone other than me, and some of our support staff.

This was a crucial step in the process. Clients had to begin to see Ashley as a competent owner. The only way for this to happen was to have her act in that capacity. We did this in steps. Ashley had been attending meetings and conferences for two years. I would always be present and Ashley would listen and interject comments. It was now time for Ashley to be the presenter and for me to sit back.

She began to take a more active role in client meetings, but I was always there to act as a backup and provide critical analysis after the meeting. She began to gain both the confidence and trust of our clients. Ashley led meetings and calls, and the transition was smooth. She was already a familiar face and voice to most clients, so it seemed very natural.

Eventually, calls began going directly to Ashley. I stopped being copied on most emails. Even though our clients knew I’d not left the practice, reaching out to Ashley became the normal practice for most clients.

Several senior managers even went as far as saying they not only felt comfortable with Ashley taking over the practice but that it also provided them future assurance of our formal succession plan. In August 2016, Ashley was promoted to president while I still retain the title as CEO. This helped recognize her ownership position.

Phase Three: Departure

I am a little over seven years from formally retiring from the practice, though I cannot imagine not being involved in some way. I have the freedom to take longer vacations, but I do not anticipate full retirement anytime soon. However, it’s increasingly satisfying to know that if something did happen to my health, I have a legacy that positively impacts my clients and family for generations to come. I also shaved the mustache because I thought it made me look younger.

Initially, the succession plan seemed daunting as we mapped all the necessary steps. In reality, it made me analyze the practice from an entirely different perspective. As a result, we made our practice upgrades much faster than we would under normal conditions, and it positioned us to be more competitive while offering a more robust value proposition.

Victory Fiduciary Consulting is a retirement planning firm in New Jersey that specializes in 401k compliance consulting. Victory first earned its CEFEX certification in 2007. Bud Verfaillie is an AIFA, PPC and CFP and Ashley Rosser is an AIF.

operational upgrades

Registered Investment Advisor Firm Announces Operational Upgrades

Victory Fiduciary Consulting’s senior management announced their firms 2016 operational upgrades after more than two decades.

“Victory has undergone substantive and sustainable changes in 2016, including a rebranding marketing initiative, key personnel additions, and now system upgrades, to augment our firm’s operational efficiency,” said Bud Verfaillie, CEO.

The operational upgrades include industry state-of-the-art software, integration, and internet management improvements to streamline client services. Victory Fiduciary Consulting upgraded their fund monitoring and reporting; plan participant enrollment; retirement and income projections; and client relationship management services.

“We have incorporated a variety of industry financial tools and resources into our Victory toolkit to provide enhanced client services, but never want automation or technology to replace personal interaction,” said Ashley Rosser, President.

Operational Upgrades

Fund Monitoring & Reporting:
Victory Fiduciary Consulting utilizes, fi360®Toolkit, an industry leading fund monitoring and reporting software program that provides the most accurate investment information to our investors. The fi360® Toolkit allows our Plan Sponsors the ability to track and document portfolio decisions over time to help meet industry best practices and fiduciary principles. Plan Sponsors can create custom investment policy statements that integrate with reports, thereby saving valuable time and money.

Plan Participant Enrollment:
Victory Fiduciary Consulting utilizes SmartPlan, an interactive, employee engagement and enrollment software program to augment our 401k plan participant services. SmartPlan helps increase 401k participant participation and deferral rates on more plans in less time.
SmartPlan features virtual instructors, actors John and Arlene, who serve as instructive hosts. They guide employees through an interactive experience to discover their individual retirement needs and risk tolerance. Plus, SmartPlan is available 24-hours a day, across a variety of platforms including web, iOS, Android and Windows Mobile, making it easy for user accessibility.

Retirement & Income Projection:
Victory Fiduciary Consulting utilizes MoneyGuidePro™, a state-of-the-art, financial analysis and projection software program to provide the highest quality retirement planning services to our clients. MoneyGuidePro™ is the flagship product of PIEtech, Inc., a web-based financial planning software program that helps Victory Fiduciary Consulting create, implement and maintain investment strategies that will best meet the lifetime financial goals of our clients.

Client Relationship Management (CRM):
Victory Fiduciary Consulting now utilizes Redtail Technology, a leading provider of web-based Client Relationship Management (CRM), paperless office and email archiving solutions in the financial services industry. Redtail Technology offers integration with many of the financial services industry’s most widely-used applications, including leading insurance, annuity, reporting, and financial management companies. Redtail Technology’s CRM helps Victory Fiduciary Consulting to more efficiently manage and service our valued clients, while simultaneously improving operational efficiency.

Established in 1995, Victory Fiduciary Consulting is an independent Registered Investment Advisor (RIA) firm based in Mullica Hill, NJ that provides 401k consulting services to Plan Sponsors of small to mid-size companies and serves as retirement investment advisors to private investors from all walks of life.

Victory is one of only three firms in the Delaware Valley to earn a 2016 Center for Fiduciary Excellence (CEFEX) Certification, and the only retirement planning firm in the State of New Jersey to earn the prestigious Investment Advisor Certification Validation.

rebranding

Local Registered Investment Advisor Firm Launches Rebranding Initiative

Victory Fiduciary Consulting senior management announced today that they will launch a new rebranding and marketing initiative of the 21-year-old firm. The rebranding initiative will encompass a comprehensive marketing communications plan, advertising campaign, sales and marketing strategy.

“We are truly excited to launch a rebranding marketing initiative that breathes new life into our firm, while underscoring the cornerstone and foundation of our guiding principles of honesty, integrity, and professionalism,” said Bud Verfaillie, CEO, Victory Fiduciary Consulting.

“Our institutional objective is to ultimately, align the firm’s retirement and 401K business sectors through effective marketing communications, which facilitates lead generation, brand recognition and revenue maximization,” said Felecia Ward, Director of Marketing.

The most significant aspect of their rebranding initiative is the firm’s name change. The financial industry is a heavily regulated profession that focuses on compliance.

“Due to the significance of fiduciary responsibilities associated with compliance adherence, we purposely enacted a name change of our firm from Victory Asset Management dba Victory Fiduciary Consulting to Victory Fiduciary Consulting to highlight the key role we play as fiduciary advisors to the clients we serve,” said Bud Verfaillie, CEO, Victory Fiduciary Consulting.

The rebranding initiative includes a brand identity package, complete with a new logo design by freelance graphic artist and writer Melissa Gonnella, letterhead, business cards, company website: victoryfiduciary.com, designed by VisionLine Media, a Haddon Heights, NJ – based website design firm, and all new website content.

In addition, the firm will launch a visual impact advertising campaign, entitled “Ship 2 Shore,” conceived and solely executed by Felecia Ward, Director of Marketing, which features a sailing theme with Plan Sponsors of 401k Plans as their primary target audience and Private Investors as their secondary target audience. The advertising campaign will include print ads, social media ads, and direct mail post cards produced by Bellia Print & Design, a Woodbury, NJ – based high quality, graphic design and custom digital print service.

“Conceptually, I envisioned our Plan Sponsors symbolically represented as Captains of their 401k Plan ships, who shoulder the fiduciary responsibility of their 401k Plan, while Private Investors are depicted in aspirational and exclusive tropical island settings,” said Felecia Ward, Director of Marketing, Victory Fiduciary Consulting.

The initiative will also include new sales & marketing collaterals for the firm’s advisors. The collaterals include vivid, four-color capabilities brochure booklets, sales response post cards, a pictorial mini-brochure, and PowerPoint presentation. The nautical theme is continued with a personal touch by the firm’s advisors, who will personally deliver treasure chests with an old-world map design to AAA clients and prospects as a memorable calling card. The treasure chests contain a Captain’s leather journal filled with a four-color, pictorial mini-brochure.

Other clients and prospects will receive a pictorial mini-brochure and a mini-telescope, while others will receive a pictorial mini-brochure and mini-treasure chest containing a fully functional compass that glows in the dark.

“Armed with high quality sales and marketing collaterals, we are confident that we can effectively compete with other RIA firms to garner business from small, mid-size, and Fortune 500 companies,” said Ashley Rosser, President, Victory Fiduciary Consulting.

The rebranding initiative will also highlight the firm’s commitment to community and support of local business partnerships. Victory Fiduciary Consulting is active in community events which support the residents, businesses, and governance of Mullica Hill, NJ, where the firm is geographically based. The firm’s CEO Bud Verfaillie is Acting President of the Mullica Hill Rotary Club, while firm President Ashley Rosser is a member of the Mullica Hill Women’s Triathlon Club

Established in 1995, Victory Fiduciary Consulting is an independent Registered Investment Advisor (RIA) firm based in Mullica Hill, NJ that provides 401k consulting services to Plan Sponsors of small to mid-size companies and serves as retirement investment advisors to private investors from all walks of life.

Victory is one of only three firms in the Delaware Valley to earn a 2016 Center for Fiduciary Excellence (CEFEX) Certification, and the only retirement planning firm in the State of New Jersey to earn the prestigious Investment Advisor Certification Validation.

Registered Investment Advisor Firm Names New President

Victory Fiduciary Consulting senior management announced new leadership for the nearly 40 year-old Registered Investment Advisor (RIA) firm. Bud Verfaillie, CEO has named Ashley Rosser as the firm’s President.

“We are thrilled to simultaneously have both our family and business legacies continue under the highly qualified and proven leadership of my daughter Ashley Rosser as President of Victory Fiduciary Consulting,” said Bud Verfaillie, CEO.

In her new capacity, Rosser will oversee the firm’s overarching executive operations, including Plan Sponsor Services, New Business Development, Private Investor Client Services, Vendor Management, and Human Resources.

Rosser is responsible for educating Plan Trustees and their Board of Directors on legislative changes made by the Department of Labor and providing recommendations on required 401k plan conformity.
“I have watched my father carefully lay down the foundation of our business over the past 35 years, with the cornerstones of honesty, integrity, and a strong work ethic. I am honored to have the opportunity to continue the legacy he started, allowing Victory to serve its’ clients for generations to come,” said Ashley Rosser, President.
The firm’s CEO, Bud Verfaillie achieved a long-term personal and business goal when one of his three daughters joined his practice in 2009. Rosser started out as an entry level apprentice, where she learned all aspects of the practice.
“Working as an understudy, she quickly learned all the necessary skills to provide outstanding financial counsel to both our 401k Plan Sponsors and our individual private investors,” said Bud Verfaillie, CEO.

In 2016 the firm has undergone substantive and sustainable changes, including a rebranding marketing initiative, operational upgrades, and personnel additions. “Today, our story is focused on two fronts. The first, is offering companies a 401k plan as good as the best run Fortune 500 plans. Secondly, we want to provide private investors with financial counsel that will provide them with a successful and prosperous retirement.” said Ashley Rosser, President.

Established in 1995, Victory Fiduciary Consulting is an independent Registered Investment Advisor (RIA) firm based in Mullica Hill, NJ that provides 401k consulting services to Plan Sponsors of small to mid-size companies and serves as retirement investment advisors to private investors from all walks of life.

Victory is one of only three firms in the Delaware Valley to earn a 2016 Center for Fiduciary Excellence (CEFEX) Certification, and the only retirement planning firm in the State of New Jersey to earn the prestigious Investment Advisor Certification Validation.

Read More at NJ.com

Victory Fiduciary Consulting Launches New Website

Victory Fiduciary Consulting’s senior management announced the launch of their newly rebranded website: victoryfiduciary.com.  “We invite our clients and prospective clients to visit victoryfiduciary.com for our latest press releases, social media postings, industry resources, access to important links, and company information,” said Bud Verfaillie, CEO.

In addition, the firm has distributed an e-vite invitation to their clients, business associates, and vendors inviting them to peruse their new site.

Victory Fiduciary Consulting collaborated with the website design team of VisionLine Media, a Haddon Heights, NJ-based company, to provide a comprehensive online source of company information and services.

“The new Victory website uses best practice techniques and responsive design. This allows the site to properly conform at any browser resolution on a mobile device, desktop computer or tablet. The technical goals of the new site were balanced with the desire to provide a highly graphic experience that wows the audience,” said Bryan Klugh, President, VisionLine Media.

The new Victory Fiduciary Consulting website is user friendly with a simplified design and optimized navigation. The site is features videos, slide shows, social media, and a secure login portal to access proprietary links. Users can also request information or ask questions via email.

“VisionLine Media was instrumental in bringing our creative concepts to fruition with clean design elements, balanced with the infusion of high resolution graphic images that underscore the launch of our visual impact advertising campaign, said Felecia Ward, Director of Marketing . To quote Milton Glaser,” There are three responses to a piece of design – yes, no, and WOW! Wow is the one to aim for,” I always aim for the “wow” factor,” said Ward.

The firm’s campaign entitled “Ship 2 Shore, features a sailing theme with Plan Sponsors of 401k Plans as their primary target audience and Private Investors as a secondary target audience. The advertising campaign will include print ads, social media ads, and direct mail post cards, produced by Bellia Print & Design said, Felecia Ward, Director of Marketing.

Established in 1995, Victory Fiduciary Consulting is an independent Registered Investment Advisor (RIA) firm based in Mullica Hill, NJ that provides 401k consulting services to Plan Sponsors of small to mid-size companies and serves as retirement investment advisors to private investors from all walks of life.

Victory is one of only three firms in the Delaware Valley to earn a 2016 Center for Fiduciary Excellence (CEFEX) Certification, and the only retirement planning firm in the State of New Jersey to earn the prestigious Investment Advisor Certification Validation.

Local Retirement Management Firm Earns Global Industry Certification of Excellence

Mullica Hill, NJ – Victory Asset Management dba Victory Fiduciary Consulting, a retirement planning and 401K compliance consulting firm, has earned an official 2016 Investment Advisor Certification Validation from Center for Fiduciary Excellence (CEFEX) on May 24, 2016. CEFEX is the global financial industry standard of fiduciary audit and compliance review best practices.

“We are extremely honored to have earned an Investment Advisor Certification Validation from CEFEX, thereby lending industry credence to our nearly 40-year institutional business philosophy to deliver the highest level of responsible, retirement planning with a personal customer service orientation to our clients,” said Bud Verfaille, CEO, Victory Asset Management Company.

Victory Asset Management is one of only three firms in the Delaware Valley to earn a 2016 CEFEX certification, and the only retirement planning firm in the State of New Jersey.

Southern New Jersey Financial Management Firm Earns Global Industry Certification of Excellence

Victory Asset Management voluntarily committed their firm to an extensive and rigorous CEFEX audit on May 6, 2016. The audit included a comprehensive review by CEFEX analysts to determine their implementation of best industry practices defined by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO)/ IEC F1021 3rd party assessment.

“Victory Asset Management is proud to have both our investment management and 401K process, procedures, and protocols meet the global fiduciary standards set by CEFEX,” said Ashley Rosser, Principle, Victory Asset Management Company.

The CEFEX review team then presents their final assessment package of Victory Assessment Management to an independent CEFEX Registration Committee (CRC) for review, acceptance, and final verification. Victory Asset Management earned their official 2016 Investment Advisor Certification Validation #10310 on May 24, 2016. As per CEFEX certification standards, Victory Asset Management agreed to a post-assessment to review and confirm continual adherence.

ABOUT VICTORY ASSET MANAGEMENT

Victory Asset Management Co., Inc. dba Victory Fiduciary Consulting is a 401k compliance consulting and ERISA 3(21) and 3(38) advisory consulting firm, that began successful operation in 1978 under the auspices of Bud Verfaillie, a seasoned entrepreneur and New Jersey native.

ABOUT CEFEX

CEFEX is an independent global assessment and certification organization. It works closely with investment fiduciaries and industry experts to provide comprehensive assessment programs to improve risk management for institutional and retail investors. CEFEX certification helps determine the trustworthiness of investment fiduciaries.

ABOUT ISO

ISO is an independent, non-governmental international organization with a membership of 161 national standards bodies. Through its members, it brings together experts to share knowledge and develop voluntary, consensus-based, market relevant international standards that support innovation and provide solutions to global challenges. The ISO has published more than 21,000 International Standards and related documents, covering almost every industry, from technology, to food safety, to agriculture and healthcare. Their Central Secretariat is based in Geneva, Switzerland.