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Neal is a Principal in the Chicago office and a member of the Retirement Plan Services Group. He has more than 17 years of experience working with executives and investment management committees to develop efficient and effective retirement plan strategies. Neal specializes in creating healthy retirement plans for all types of institutional clients.
Prior to joining Cerity Partners, Neal was an ERISA Consultant for Blue Prairie Group, helping thousands of employees at all stages of their careers and across many industries implement more effective retirement savings practices. Earlier in his career, he worked in both relationship management and sales for Voya Financial and Nuveen Securities, giving him unique insights into developing retirement plans that produce healthy outcomes for employees.
What kind of clients work best for you?
I love clients who love to ask questions, who want to know how things work, and who have a genuine interest in helping their colleagues. I love working with teams that work well together and laugh a lot. And I really work best with clients who roll up their sleeves, and afterward know it's 5 o'clock somewhere!
What do you do in your personal life that helps you help your clients?
If there is one positive to COVID-19, it has given me the ability to spend time with my daughters and coach them on their softball and soccer teams. Coaching them is very much like working with my clients — they are not experts in retirement plans, but they are willing to learn. As they become more comfortable with the processes I teach, they become more proficient and ultimately challenge me, in turn making me a better "coach" by encouraging me to improve the content I share and the methods I teach.
How would you describe your best day doing what you do?
My best day is the one during which I am spending time with clients and talking about more than their retirement plan. I want to know how they are doing and what's new with their business. More importantly, I want to know what is most important to them — what are their interests and what motivates them to do what they do every day.
Why are retirement plan services important, especially today?
Employees demand more of their employers today. Designing a world-class retirement plan within a benefits program that attracts and retains the best employees means our clients will be more likely to succeed because they can focus on the goals of their business.
Was there a specific incident in your life that made it clear you were made for this career?
There was not one specific incident, but rather a gradual move into retirement plan advisory. I followed several colleagues and mentors who, over time, moved from the asset management business into retirement plans. Like me, this group of people had a genuine interest in helping investors save enough to retire on their own terms. I was fortunate these people took the time to share their knowledge and allowed me to learn from their experiences.
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