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  • By Lisa Brody

Township chooses two financial advisory firms

After a lengthy review process, Bloomfield Township’s financial sustainability committee recommended two firms, Gregory J. Schwartz & Company and AndCo Consulting, to direct different investment and benefit plans and advise the board of trustees on their decisions, and trustees unanimously approved their recommendation on Monday, October 23.

Dave Petoskey, chair of the financial sustainability committee, noted, “This has been a couple years in process. The township is a fiduciary of the township’s investment and benefit plans, and the board of trustees seeks assistance and guidance in its financial endeavors from experts in the public sector.”

The financial sustainability committee was created by the board in 2015 as an investment advisory committee to guide the board on all investments held by Bloomfield Township, or where the board of trustees acts as a fiduciary. It is comprised of three residents who are in the financial services community, the township supervisor, treasurer, finance director and a trustee. Its original goal was to send out requests for proposals (RFP) to companies or individuals who can determine the sustainability of the township’s defined benefit program and equity investment plans the township hold, and to recommend them to the township board of trustees who made the final determination.

Petoskey said that currently there is $71.6 million in the equity investment plan, of which $60.3 million is in a defined benefit pension plan and $11.3 million is in the retired employees health care trust. Another $30.5 million is in participant directed plans, of which $6.1 million is in defined contribution 401A plans; $22.7 million in deferred compensation 457 plans; $1.1 million in a retirement health savings plan; and $600,000 in a college savings 529 plan.

In April and May 2017, the committee began the RFP process for selecting financial advisors by disseminating the RFP, “with a deadline for submissions June 15,” Petoskey said. “We received nine proposals, which were initially reviewed by treasurer Kepes and financial director Theis.”

He said three proposals – from Mass Mutual, VOYA, and ICMA-RC, were removed, and the other six proposals were presented to the financial sustainability committee, although one was eliminated because it did not meet the minimum requirement of advising another municipality.

The five firms under consideration were Gregory J. Schwartz & Co., which has had the equity investment contract with the township; Sherdan Road; AndCo Consulting; Retirement Plan Advisors (RPA); and Graystone Consulting.

During the final round, Petoskey said, presentations were made before 13 township employees from seven different departments, along with the committee.

Ultimately, the committee decided to choose two firms to provide services to Bloomfield Township – for the participant-directed plans, to engage Gregory J. Schwartz & Co. of Bloomfield Township, and for the trustee-directed plans, to hire AndCo out of Orlando.

“We put hours and hours into this,” Petoskey said of the committee, “and we did a thorough job of this. Both firms had ample diversity across the board.”

“Do we know what the contract consists of with each company?” trustee Dave Buckley asked.

“A five-year agreement with fixed costs,” replied Kepes. “In addition, AndCo has a one-year refund if we’re not satisfied in the first year.

“The whole process was done in an extremely transparent fashion,” Kepes continued. “For everyone who’s gone through this, it’s been a great process.”

“I’m thrilled with the results of the committee. We’ve been working on this since 2015,” said clerk Jan Roncelli. “The job of the committee was to advise us, the board, because we don’t have the expertise.”

“We would have been well-served by any of the companies,” Kepes noted. “The more we’re engaging ourselves, the more we’re engaging our employees, the more we’re educating ourselves financially.”

Trustees voted 7-0 to approve the recommendations of hiring Gregory J. Schwartz & Co. and AndCo.

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