Shannon Edwards and Allyson Rentsch,
Shannon Edwards founded TriStar Pension Consulting in 1999 with the belief that neither she nor anyone she employed should ever have to sacrifice having a family in order to have a career in the TPA Industry. More than twenty years later, Oklahoma based TriStar is now administering 275 plans and consists of 6 onsite and 2 remote employees. But what does it take to grow a TPA consultancy from idea to operation?
“Our greatest strength is our teamwork and dedication to one another,” explains Shannon. “This results in a very high level of customer service to both our clients and advisor network. Our people are critical; this isn’t a profession you go to school for. It takes years of dedication and skill to function at a high level within the TPA industry,” adds Edwards. She proves that keeping great people isn’t just about giving them what they want – it’s about making them better. One tactic that TriStar uses is a commitment to ongoing training to strengthen the skills of her employees.
“When we implemented PensionPro, we thought that all the work had been done for us and that we would just turn it on and it would improve the way we operate our business. I am not afraid to say that I got it wrong and the real benefits come when you put real work back into it,” recalls Edwards. This is true for all TPA firms, not just TriStar. Allyson Rentsch, Director of Operations for TriStar says, “Shannon needed to understand there wasn’t just one large red button that launched the space shuttle.” That’s when TriStar brought Katie Boyer from PensionPro onsite to give the entire team intensive training on the system. “I knew from the minute we started that TriStar was committed to making their operations better. Their dedication to one another was evident by their honest and collaborative interactions. They are truly TPA Pros.”
TriStar combined their existing processes, industry best practices, and the system’s capabilities to implement PensionPro across the organization. “This software is now critical to our operations. It enables team collaboration across our remote teams and enables us to reallocate work in the more stressful times of the year,” says Allyson.
When asked about the future, Shannon is not shy about the headwinds that the TPA industry faces. “Fee compression and communicating our value proposition to clients will be ongoing challenges. That’s why great people and great technology are not optional anymore.”