PensionPro of the Month May 2017

Jordan Cross, QKA

CrossPlans

With a background in baseball analytics at a premiere sports agency, Jordan Cross brought a command of statistical analysis to his father’s TPA firm. But his knowledge of the pension industry both began and ended there. “It took me two years to speak intelligently about what we did,” said Cross. From there, Cross set out to redefine a traditional firm to meet modern customer expectations and carve out its niche in a competitive market. In the last four years, CrossPlans has doubled its plan count through organic growth and high retention.

“We know what we need to do and we’re working on it,” he said. “We wear our successes and failures pretty publicly.” CrossPlans has had 100% turnover twice since 2013. “I picked all the wrong people,” Cross explained. “We worked to define our process and vision, and they didn't get it - some left on their own and others, we had to let go.” The process and vision Jordan is referencing is an embrace of a functional work environment. 

Similar to his days as an outlier driving sabermetrics (statistical analysis of baseball records), Cross brought an outsider’s perspective to the TPA industry and knew CrossPlans needed a business plan that included: a way to standardize processes to mitigate risk and optimize operational efficiency, ensure consistency of client service, and recruit young talent. Setting a strong foundation was instrument in CrossPlans ability to evolve from a practice to a business.

“Renee (Conner) was the first TPA professional who wasn’t just talking 5500's, plans and compliance,” said Cross. “She was talking profitability, margins, cost savings — things that made sense when trying to grow a business.”

Few TPA firms grow from a practice to a business, measuring their profit and productivity instead of just plan count and number of administrators. Cross broke the traditional model of building a practice within a practice and simply hiring a new administrator every time they added 80 plans. “PensionPro created our safety net,” he explained. “We could ensure our entire team was operating the same way and new employees had a standard to follow. We didn’t need to stick with the old way of doing things.”

Cross credits his father, Jack, for laying the groundwork for the success of the firm. “He loves the nuts and bolts of compliance and tax code and the sophisticated ‘pension-ese’ of what we do,” he said. “The maturation of our young team, and the growth of our staff and systems makes us poised for growth.”