Joni Jennings, Primark Benefits.
California is unique. It’s where movie stars hang out, it’s where tech giants are born, and it’s where the Raisins sing and dance. Well, maybe not. However, California – specifically Silicon Valley – is a very different animal when it comes to retirement plan administration. The wave of tech innovation has given rise to highly paid, young, and very financially savvy plan participants. Primark Benefits specializes in helping these companies design plans that consider the high cost of living and the expensive costs incurred during retirement. Primark is also different from many other TPAs; as their work is usually more technical in nature, their business is primarily driven by CPAs and not advisors.
Joni Jennings of Primark Benefits joined the industry when grunge music was just getting popular in the 90s. She remembers when 401(k) plans were just gaining popularity and calculations were still done on a ledger. Although times have changed, Joni still loves the industry and has found new vigor joining Primark to help modernize their plan administration operations. “COVID accelerated our technology evolution. It was no longer a slow roll – it was an immediate necessity. Luckily, we managed to adapt and now we are built to accommodate the hybrid working model that looks like it is here to stay,” she explains.
With a growing remote workforce and some senior employee retirements, 2021 was the perfect time to implement PensionPro. “I was introduced to PensionPro at a prior firm. It’s a great system that enables you to improve your processes over time, year by year. Having employees work from anywhere will be critical for TPAs moving forward and you can’t do that in an organized manner without a centralized workflow system.”
As a remote employee herself for the last 10 years, Joni says “When you are remote, you must be a little bit of your own IT department so it’s important that your systems are easy to use, manage, and modify, if necessary. PensionPro is so easy to use and extremely easy to customize.”
Beyond technology, Joni thinks a lot about the industry she loves as a whole. When asked about challenges that all TPAs will be facing, she speculates, “over the coming years, I think keeping up with effects of legislation will remain a focus. Whether it is catchup payments from COVID legislation or new cyber regulations, this will result in far more administrative tasks.” In addition to the technical aspects of her work, Joni is also hopeful about the industry’s overall purpose and the societal challenges it faces. “I think that with the cost of living in retirement going up, the industry needs to help spread the ‘save first mentality that so many of us in the industry believe in. It is important for the younger generation to understand that building wealth and security takes time, so they must be patient.”
To connect with Joni Jennings on LinkedIn please click here.