The Blue Prairie Group PrairiedigmTM
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Our focus is on helping participants achieve retirement security while simultaneously helping our plan sponsor clients meet their fiduciary responsibility and minimize both personal and organizational risk. We follow a well-defined, proprietary approach when working with ERISA plans: the BPG PrairedigmTM.
Blue Prairie Group works with all types of institutional retirement plans – defined benefit, defined contribution, and non-qualified plans – for a wide variety of institutional clients, including corporations (public and private), not-for-profits (including higher education, religious, social service and health) and government entities.
We work on all aspects of the plan including investments (both portfolio design and ongoing monitoring), plan design, fiduciary governance, employee financial education and fee analysis and negotiation. Our investment consulting process, BPG Fiduciary-based Investment ConsultingTM is designed to improve investment outcomes and protect our busy fiduciary clients from unnecessary risk.
Benchmarking: The BPG Plan Health Smartcard™ is a multi-dimensional “report card” which assesses the overall health of any organization’s ERISA retirement plan. [expand title=”more” swaptitle=”less”] Our methodology is rooted in the belief that the primary purpose of a retirement plan is to help the greatest number of participants achieve retirement security. The Plan Health SmartcardTM is the quantitatively-based framework we use to evaluate ERISA retirement plans and specify opportunities for improvement. It quantifies our consulting approach to ERISA retirement plans—The BPG Prairiedigm TM.
Using a proprietary scoring methodology, we look at a plan across 6 key dimensions and by creating a unique, easy-to-understand, weighted score for each plan, we can then track a plan’s progress over time and make comparisons between plans of different sizes and across different industries. [/expand]
Fee Analysis and Negotiation: Blue Prairie Group was a pioneer in analyzing the total cost structure of ERISA retirement plans and clarifying the arcane and often confusing fee structure of recordkeepers. [expand title=”more” swaptitle=”less”]We continue to assist our clients in understanding the total cost structure of their plans and negotiating down the implicit recordkeeping costs. As fiduciary-based investment consultants, we use the savings we generate to lower the total cost of the investment portfolio; this directly benefits participants and helps fiduciaries to meet their fiduciary duties. For more information about plan fee analysis and negotiation, please click: 401(k) provider economics and excess revenue. Lowering total plan costs : The BPG 6-step fee analysis. [/expand]
Investment Monitoring (Performance Measurement and Evaluation): Our investment reports are specifically designed for busy fiduciaries. The writing is succinct, with recommendations located up front and written in plain English.[expand title=”more” swaptitle=”less”] The Blue Prairie Group Investment SmartCardTM, the heart and soul of our investment reports, explicitly links the criteria for ongoing investment performance back to each client’s custom Investment Policy Statement (IPS). Reports are color-coded for easy use and our analysts’ qualitative analysis adds a critical dimension to the understanding of your investments’ performance. We know that committees are interested in how their plans stack up against industry norms, so we also provide additional comparative information about plan design and fees. Finally, we meet routinely with all of our clients to review performance, make necessary adjustments, and conduct fiduciary training to ensure that all committee members share a common understanding of key fiduciary concepts. [/expand]
Custom Target Date Funds: Blue Prairie Group has been creating custom target date funds (and models) for its ERISA clients since 2005 and we currently advise/consult on roughly $500 million of custom target date assets. [expand title=”more” swaptitle=”less”] We work closely with our clients to develop customized glidepaths and allocations taking into consideration the organization’s particular demographics, benefits and compensation philosophy and different levels of risk. We then manage the portfolios based on a custom benchmark and make periodic changes to the portfolios based on changes within the organization as well as larger macroeconomic events. Custom target date funds are often superior to off-the-shelf products because of their use of more refined asset classes such as real estate, commodities and TIPs, the use of low cost, institutionally-priced investment vehicles and best-in-class money managers.[/expand]
Investment Policy Statement: An Investment Policy Statement serves as the basis for all material investment decisions and is a foundational piece of fiduciary governance. [expand title=”more” swaptitle=”less”] BPG’s Internal Investment Committee (IIC) has created a powerful IPS template that we customize for each of our clients. Every year, we revisit this key document with our clients and make changes based on industry and market changes as well as evolving best practice standards. Our IPS is thorough yet flexible. Most importantly, Blue Prairie Group analysts monitor the investment performance of the various managers used by our clients based on criteria established in the IPS. [/expand]
Vendor Search and Selection: Selecting the right retirement recordkeeper is a complicated and time consuming task. To do it well requires a deep knowledge of the client as well as the industry. [expand title=”more” swaptitle=”less”] A poor decision can be catastrophic from a fiduciary and employee relations perspective. Blue Prairie Group consultants have conducted hundreds of searches for all different types of organizations across all types of industries. We use a proprietary 6-step process that is designed to match the right vendors to your organization’s needs.
We help our clients each step of the way — from setting goals and selecting markets, to drafting and sending a custom RFP. BPG then analyzes the responses and creates an easy-to-read executive summary, interviews the finalists, conducts site visits and negotiates the contract details. The entire process is documented and Blue Prairie Group is able to serve as an implementation project manager if the client is short staffed.[/expand]
Employee Financial Education : is designed to help retirement participants with the complexity of retirement planning and also, to assist with the larger issue of financial literacy. [expand title=”more” swaptitle=”less”] An effective communications program begins with a deep understanding of your firm’s unique demographics, corporate culture, technology, company objectives and employees’ needs. To achieve this understanding and then create a communications program that matches these needs, we begin with thorough surveying of both the client and its employees. Based on the information gathered during this process, we then have a framework to design the most appropriate strategy.
As an independent registered investment adviser, we have the ability to bring real advice (not guidance) to your employees in the following ways:
- Toll-Free Employee Financial Help Desk®: This program gives your employees access to a Certified Financial Planner® or a Registered Investment Adviser to answer questions regarding investments, general financial planning, retirement planning, retirement account rollovers, and more.
- Group Seminars: Blue Prairie Group educational consultants offer group seminars in an interactive, non-threatening atmosphere on a range of topics, such as Financial BootCamp, Getting the Most Out of Your 401(k), Roth Contributions, and Debt Management.
- One-on-One Consultations: We believe personal, one-on-one conversations are the most effective way to assist employees in search of financial advice. Consultations range from 30 minutes to an hour and we encourage spouses to attend. We recognize the organizationally-sponsored retirement plan is just one part of an employee’s overall financial picture, and we are happy to assist with such topics as investing, retirement, insurance needs, college planning, debt management, and divorce related financial issues.
- Executive Financial Planning. Blue Prairie Group offers your executive team independent and objective advice from our team of experienced, multi-disciplinary consultants; headed up by a single point of contact. We integrate each client’s benefits plans with their unique needs regarding estate, tax, retirement and risk planning, with the ultimate goal of achieving coordinated planning and implementation. [/expand]
Fiduciary Training: We believe that an educated and informed oversight function not only improves the ability of the investment advisor to provide great service; it also improves the likelihood of the organization realizing a positive investing experience. [expand title=”more” swaptitle=”less”] Blue Prairie Group provides boards and management with the ability to delve into a variety of investment topics. And because Blue Prairie Group is independent of any product providers, you can be confident that all research, education, and advice is being provided solely in the best interest of your organization. [/expand]