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RK Client Newport Utilities Finalist for Plan Sponsor of the Year

Published by: Jeff Hall, CFP®,CIMA® Date: June 04, 2019


Newport Utilities, a provider of electricity, water, wastewater and broadband services, was named a finalist for the 2019 PLANSPONSOR Plan Sponsor of the Year award thanks to its impressive efforts in delivering a 401(k) plan that boasts 100% of employees on track to replace at least 70% of their income in retirement.

“Replacing 70% of your income in retirement is a major industry challenge. Research shows that, on average, only 31% of retirement plan participants are on track to achieve that goal. Participants need a more hands-on approach and that’s where the UnifiedPlan comes in,” says Unified Trust CEO and Founder Dr. Gregory Kasten.

The UnifiedPlan Managed Account Solution defines a goal for each participant, replacing 70% of pre-retirement income, adjusted for inflation and targeting as close to the normal Social Security retirement age as possible. Employees are automatically enrolled into the plan with the least amount of risk necessary to succeed. Unified Trust, as a discretionary trustee, makes adjustments as needed along the way to help keep each of the more than 100 Newport Utilities participants on track to achieve their retirement goals.

A fiduciary “outcomes-focused” plan design lays the groundwork for success, but it must also be delivered with an advisory group that shares the plan’s mission to help each and every participant be prepared for retirement. Jeff Hall, CFP®, CIMA®, Partner and Senior Advisor at Rather & Kittrell, the plan’s advisory firm, says, “I’ve been personally engaged with nine out of every 10 participants at Newport Utilities since I took over the plan 14 years ago. The conversations have encompassed just about every personal financial planning topic imaginable beyond their quarterly retirement income projections. These include investment management, rollovers, college savings accounts, Roth IRAs, inherited trusts, Social Security claiming, wills, powers of attorney, living wills and long-term-care insurance. I’ve even been involved in meetings with participants and their children at the same time to discuss financial issues.”

Through its dedication to employees, Newport Utilities has created a culture of savers. “Our employees want to retire and see the value in saving. Nearly 60% of our participants utilize the auto-escalation feature of our plan called ‘Progressive Savings’ so that they can automatically save a little bit more every year. We also have older employees who mentor the younger generations about the importance of saving for retirement. It’s amazing to know that we deliver a benefit to our employees that will last them for the rest of their lives,” says Connie Frisbee, Human Resources Manager at Newport Utilities. Newport Utilities has conducted two re-enrollments over the years, increasing participation and allocations to the default investment.

RK co-founder Chris Kittrell states, “Rather & Kittrell is a leader in the retirement plan space in our area.  We manage over 100+ plans for some of the regions most visible businesses.  We have demonstrated that we have the resources and expertise to serve plan administrators and retirement plan committees well.  However, the biggest impact we have is at the participant level helping them make the best decisions for retirement.  Jeff has done a wonderful job serving everyone within the Newport Utilities plan organization and this nomination is evidence of that success.”