The Value Alliance Brings: A Defined Benefit Client’s Perspective

PatSmarjesse
Donna Rebeck, MBA, CPA, CAE

Vice President, Finance & Operations National Automatic Merchandising Association (NAMA) Offices in Chicago, IL

Donna Rebeck is responsible for accounting functions, payroll and insurance, as well as the association’s pension and 401(k) related matters. We asked her about the association’s retirement plans and their experience working with Alliance Pension.

A Little Background

NAMA was founded in 1936 and represents the interests of more than 1,100 member companies in the $25 Billion U.S. convenience services industry. NAMA has a defined benefit plan which has been “frozen” since 2004. A frozen plan does not accrue additional benefits. NAMA would like to terminate the plan once it reaches its funding goals, but with changes in required funding and changes in the market related to these plans, NAMA (like so many other plan sponsors) is still working toward that event.

 

Donna, tell us about NAMA and your role.

I’ve been with the National Automatic Merchandising Association (NAMA) for two years. About half of our employees are in Arlington, Virginia and the other half work out of Chicago. We also have several employees in southern California and in Atlanta. As VP of Finance, I wear a lot of hats. I’m responsible for accounting, insurance, our association’s pension and 401(k) plans, and payroll.

"I've become very impressed with their expertise on many retirement plan types as well as the skill level of their staff."

Was this your first experience with Alliance?

Alliance administered a money purchase plan for an organization I worked with years before I joined NAMA. That was a very different type of plan. Alliance had managed it for many, many years, long before I was involved. When I came into the picture, Alliance helped me when our organization was looking to discontinue the money purchase plan and move to a Safe Harbor 401(k). Through this process, I’ve become very impressed with their [Alliance] expertise on many retirement plan types as well as the skill level of their staff.

How has Alliance been instrumental in helping you manage this frozen DB Plan?

Alliance shows up as a partner. Jeff Van Wagner, our primary Alliance contact, meets with us personally, comes to our executive committee meetings twice a year either by phone or in person, and presents the actuarial and other demographic information relevant to our plan calculations. At these meetings, he also provides us with updated plan termination options. At every meeting, Jeff represents our interests in conjunction with our investment consultant. It is helpful and comforting that the two work closely together.

"Most importantly, he understands the history of our plan. That gives us a great comfort."

We really appreciate that Jeff provides a personal touch and has taken the time to understand our situation and business. He also brings a bit of his own humor, which is great. For a consultant or an actuary, he’s actually fun to listen to. We appreciate the consistency in service we receive from Alliance. We benefit from having the same person working with us and presenting to us. He knows us and our industry. He also understands our participants. Most importantly, he understands the history of our plan. That gives us a great comfort.

Jeff and the team behind him - that’s what Alliance brings to the table for us.