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In This Issue
Debrief: Turning Pain into Gain
De-stress: How do You Spell RELIEF?
Recharge: Focus on Yourself, Your Employees and New Strategies
SCS e-xpress Sept/Oct 2010


Sun in handsA Message from Sarah & Chris:

The theme of this issue is "debrief, de-stress and recharge."

Although there is no longer a slow season in the retirement services business, the period following the Form 5500 frenzy and preceding the tax season craziness is an excellent time to debrief, de-stress and recharge. As you read on, think about your own workplace and how you can take advantage of this special time from now to year end to turn pain into gain and start the year re-energized.

We hope you enjoy our free SCS e-newsletter.  Please send us your ideas and suggestions for future issues.  Have a great day!  

Where We'll Be
Orlando, FL
02/02/11 - 02/05/11

Las Vegas, NV
03/06/11 - 03/08/11

Matrix University 
Sawgrass, FL
03/19/11 - 03/23/11

The Power of Three Workshop
Hilton Head, SC
04/06/11 - 04/08/11

TPA-Select Study Group
New York, NY
05/12/11 - 05/13/11

Western Benefits Conference
Las Vegas, NV
07/24/11 - 07/27/11

ASPPA Annual Conference
National Harbor, MD
10/23/11 - 10/26/11
Today's Tips

Save the Date!  April 6 - 8, 2011.
Watch your email for more information on The Power of Three Workshop.  Don't miss Sarah, Chris & Sal in action in Hilton Head, SC. 

The current ASPPA continuing professional education (CPE) cycle ends December 31, 2010. Don't forget that you need one ethics CPE credit for the 2009-2010 cycle! Still need that ethics credit? Earn it by reading one of the ethics articles in either the Spring or Summer 2010 issues of The ASPPA Journal and then taking the special online quiz . 

Today's Quotes

A person who is nice to you and rude to the waiter is not a nice person. (This is very important - pay attention.  It never fails!)
 - Dave Barry

I think it's wrong that only one company makes the game Monopoly.
 - Steven Wright

Today's Laughs

Optimist: My glass is half full.

Pessimist: My glass is half empty.

Corporate downsizing consultant: Looks like we have twice as much glass as we need here.

  - Janice Wilson


How do I set the laser printer to stun?




 Turning Pain into Gain


Internal debrief: Schedule a half-day facilitated brainstorming session for employees to talk about EFAST2 and Form 5500 processing or some other topic relevant to your operations. To encourage open discussion, management should not be in the room during the session. Create an agenda focused on what went right, what went wrong and what could have been done better. Create breakout groups so that each group has representation from various ages and job duties. Encouraging open honest discussion and establishing the rule that "no idea is a bad idea" will keep the sessions constructive rather than becoming a forum for compliants.  Brainstorming creates camaraderie going into tax season and will earn you employee buy-in for any changes that need to be implemented, because they had a part in the decision.


External debrief: Give your customers and advisors an opportunity to debrief for your benefit. Create a survey with questions that will identify possible customer pain points.  Include additional questions targeted at soliciting positive customer feedback, which can be used to identify your firm's competitive advantages.  Build in a few open-ended questions - you never know what you might learn!  Launch the survey well before or just after the holidays so that you can incorporate what you learn into your 2011 strategies.


See how SCS can help with brainstorming sessions and survey creation and distribution.



 How do You Spell RELIEF?


How do our SCS customers de-stress?  Some of our favorites include pot-luck lunches, Ultimate Frisbee games,  Wii bowling tournaments, attending a community event as a group, Guitar Hero jam sessions, costume day for Halloween, mulling wine and holiday charity drives.


We encourage firms to establish a social committee, with representation from  different age groups, that rotates its members every few months.  This group can help plan events that allow everyone to de-stress and re-connect.  The social committee approach takes the planning burden off of management and also alleviates the "I have to be at the picnic because the boss says so" syndrome - events are planned by and for employees and are usually voluntary.


Here are some of our favorite YouTube videos to help you de-stress:

1) Toddler with iPad

2) College men singing Lady Gaga a cappella

3) Stairway to Heaven on classical guitar


 Focus on Education


If you manage a TPA firm or an insitutional retirement services area, use this time at the end of the year to recharge the employees - the ones who work hard to keep the wheels turning.  Focus on technical training, soft skills and credentials. If you or your employees haven't already earned ASPPA's Retirement Plan Fundamentals Certificate, earn it before the end of the year. Map out your strategies to obtain ASPPA credentials. Remember that promoting the percentage of staff who have earned ASPPA credentials is a significant competitive advantage: "100% of our senior staff members are credentialed by ASPPA." Take advantage of webcast CPE opportunities and listen to recorded sessions that you missed during the busy times. Schedule a training seminar focusing on soft skills (e.g., customer service or communication)  to re-energize your employees before the busy season. Now is a great time to create a training plan for call center employees and relationship managers who may not be as busy in the first quarter as compliance administrators.


Advisors are busy at this time of year - the "selling season." However, the competitive advantage of credentials and education may be even more important for 401(k) advisors as fee disclosure rules are implemented.  ASPPA partners with the College for Financial Planning to deliver retirement advisor education in the early part of the year when the selling season slows somewhat.  Check out this great education opportunity for advisors...


power of three-smallThe Power of Three Workshop

Sarah Simoneaux, Chris Stroud and Sal Tripodi
(Power of Three - get it?) combine to bring you an Industry Update, focused on what you need to know to succeed in today's rapidly changing workplace.


Hear Sal speak on technical issues - then find out from Sarah and Chris how to put that knowledge into practice. Enjoy networking with your peers while discussing topics that are relevant to your business. You can bet we'll have some fun too! Don't miss this interactive meeting that will tap into "the power of three!"

Watch for information on the first annual The Power of Three Workshop,  to be held in Hilton Head, SC, April 6th - 8th, 2011. Stay tuned...


What Our Customers are Saying...

"SCS is a great resource to us while we are growing. We look forward to being smarter in the new year."


     - Owner of start-up midwest retirement services firm

Power of 3 Retirement Industry Update Workshop

ASPPA Member

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