A Day in the Life of a… Retirement Consultant!

Desk Setup - Retirement Consultant

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What I Do:

When I tell people I’m a retirement consultant, 99% of people respond by asking what stocks they should invest in. I explain that I don’t have knowledge in investments and am actually not even licensed to discuss investment options with individuals. In my role, I help employers administer retirement plans to their employees.

So what is it I really do? I work for a financial company that offers many products and services, including annuities, claims, life insurance, and retirement, to name a few. I am in the Retirement Operations Department with my official title being Plan Services Consultant, or Retirement Consultant to simplify things.

I work with companies who maintain a retirement plan through my organization and assist the company with all things plan-related. There are several different retirement plan options, such as 401k plans, 403b plans, 457 plans, and defined benefit plans. Each plan type allows for certain provisions based on IRS and DOL regulations. It’s my job to assist client’s with administering the plan and ensuring that the provisions chosen work best for the organization. If not, we look at what changes can be made and how that will impact the plan.

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With sponsoring a retirement plan comes annual compliance testing, required IRS and DOL filings, and legislation changes requiring plan amendments. Companies hire my employer to keep track of all these items and ensure their plan is compliant with all regulations. Sounds fun right?! Actually, I love it!

Prior to the pandemic, I worked in the office and truly enjoyed my cubicle surrounded by my coworkers. I’ve been working from home for almost two years now and have gotten used to it, but I do plan on going back to the office, at least part time, at some point in the future.

So what does my daily routine look like?

Photo by STIL on Unsplash

Daily Routine:

7:30-8am

I wake up and begin my workday. My start time is 8am and I’d ideally give myself some extra time to get ready in the morning prior to starting, but I really enjoy sleep and see that as a perk of working from home (hehe).

I start the day in lounge clothes, although sometimes I get my upper half ready right away if I have morning meetings. I know they say you’re not as productive or in the right mindset if you don’t get ready each day, but I will tell you that I am just as productive, if not more, no matter what I have on. Now, I’ll admit I do feel better once I’m fully ready for the day, but I don’t find that a necessity to do a great job at work. I make it my goal to be completely ready to go everyday by noon.

8-10am

Most days, I have the first couple of hours of work available to go through emails, return phone calls, and follow up on outstanding items. Essentially, I use the first couple of hours to get fully organized for the day. I try not to schedule too many meetings first thing in the morning, so I have a chance to review the schedule for the day ahead and catch up on what’s come in from the day before until when I’ve started the next morning.

I am logged into my team’s phone line at the start of my workday so it’s possible if it’s busy that I may have a lot of calls, but that is not usually the case. Our calls go through our Retirement Service Center before being directed to the correct Retirement Consultant to help keep our workload manageable. If it’s a really quiet morning I may try to get an amendment submitted to our Document Team for a plan or work on a payroll correction.

10am-12:30pm

Things start to get much busier mid-morning. I usually have a steady number of emails coming in, the occasional phone call, and possibly a meeting or two scheduled. Email requests range from questions on a participant’s eligibility to questions on how to handle a payroll file that was submitted late. Since I have a caseload rather than projects, I may have 15 clients calling or emailing me on an issue or I may have two or three plan corrections I need to complete. It really varies depending on the day and time of year.

12:30-1:30pm – Lunch Break

I get an hour lunch break each day and I make sure to take the time. It’s really important to my mental health that I get a break from work and step away from my desk. I usually try to get a workout in as I tend to be most motivated during the middle of the day. However, occasionally I use the hour to take a catnap if I need it or run errands. The important thing is I get away from the outstanding issues and new emails coming in.

1:30-4pm

The hours after lunch look a lot like my morning hours. I usually have a few more meetings, but generally call clients, respond to emails, and work on outstanding issues. We have several systems and databases where work is stored so I make sure to check each system to ensure I am not missing any urgent work for the day.

4-5pm

Don’t ask me why, but I tend to be the most productive in the last hour of the workday. I don’t make a lot of client calls during this time, but I submit a lot of items to our various internal partners and make sure my documenting is completed for the day. I also review my notes to ensure all items have been logged or taken care of.

After Work:

It’s always my goal to end work at 5pm. However, it’s not a goal I fulfill very often and will always be a work in progress. To help achieve leaving my home office on time, I try to plan something for after work whether it’s taking Willow for a walk or going to the gym if I didn’t get a lunch workout in. The hardest part of working from home for me is setting boundaries with ending my workday. I love being a retirement consultant and helping clients build the best retirement program for their employees. The hours can be long and the work can feel never-ending, but my colleagues are wonderful and I truly enjoy working with the clients.

In future posts I’ll share how I ended up in the Retirement Consultant position and future career goals. I’d love to hear about your workday and ways you set work boundaries. Feel free to share in the comments or send me a email.

Work hard, travel harder 🙂

– Lily

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