Retirement Plans Manager

5 - 7 years experience  •  Education.

Salary depends on experience
Posted on 11/14/17
5 - 7 years experience
Salary depends on experience
Posted on 11/14/17

Job Summary:  

The Retirement Manager administers and maintains the University’s qualified and non-qualified retirement and retiree plans and programs. Functions as a liaison between vendors and employees and advises employees on eligibility, coverage, and other benefits matters ensuring that the retirement plans components are properly communicated to and valued by the employees, are competitive with peer universities, comply with all regulatory requirements, are administered in accordance with plan documents, guidelines and processes, and that plan expenses are reasonable. Incumbent is a subject matter expert who regularly collaborates with and participates on various committees often serving as process owner for regulatory process and key controls. Supervises the retirement plan specialists (2) who meet with faculty and staff in retirement planning.

Principal Accountabilities:

Plan Administration

  • Administers and maintains the University’s qualified and non-qualified retirement plans and programs. This includes 403(b) and 457(b) retirement plans as well as a frozen defined benefit plan. Also administers the Medicare Supplements and Medicare Advantage plans offered by Northwestern to Retirees. Functions as a liaison between vendors and employees/retirees and advises employees/retirees on eligibility, coverage, and other benefits matters. Compiles and maintains benefits records and documents, provides communication and training as needed.

Vendor Management

  • Manages the relationships with specific vendors and serving as the organization's point of contact. Researches, analyzes and evaluates vendors and recommends new vendor purchases. Provides support to the organization for problems with vendor products and services related to retirement and retirement planning. Manages contract renewal with vendors or when appropriate, the RFP process.

Plan Design

  • Assists in the research of and plan design changes, making recommendations to the Northwestern University Retirement Investment Committee (NURIC).  Oversees the implementation and maintenance of plans.


  • Maintains compliance with regulatory requirements, reviews and evaluates new and existing laws and regulations for benefits compliance.  Coordinates and oversees efforts with internal partners in HR, Office of General Counsel, Budget, Financial Operations, University communications, and Northwestern University Information Technology.

Staff Management

  • Provides leadership to team members to improve success. Plans, directs, supervises and coordinates the work activities of subordinates, and provides recommendations for evaluation, hiring, firing or administration of discipline.  Establishes goals and performance objectives.  Creates and maintains measurable goals for each individual, holding them accountable to their delivery methods, team effectiveness and work quality.  Coaches and counsels staff members relative to performance improvement, training and development, team effectives, cross-training, etc.
  • Performs other duties as required

Minimum Qualifications:

  • A bachelor’s degree in Finance, HR or related field;
  • Direct supervisory experience with professional employees
  • Eight or more years of retirement plan administration experience with defined contribution, defined benefit, and retiree health & welfare plan administration, preferably in a university setting.  
  • Thorough knowledge & experience of/with retirement plan processes, procedures, policies, best practices, and regulatory and legislative compliance requirements.
  • Experience with participant communications of retirement plan benefits.

Minimum Competencies:

  • Communication --Communicates strategically to achieve specific objectives (e.g., considers optimal "messaging" and timing of communication. Uses varied vehicles and opportunities to promote dialogue and develop shared understanding and consensus. Maintains continuous, open and consistent with others. Checks own understanding through paraphrasing and asking questions.
  • Complex Problem Solving — Identifies complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions
  • Critical and Analytical Thinking — Uses logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.  Ability to review and dissect information and can apply basic compensation analytic concepts and calculations.
  • Customer and Personal Service — Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment (and working with employees at all levels of the organization), meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.  
  • Flexibility – Able to adapt to a fast paced, highly decentralized environment
  • Judgment and Decision Making and Discretion — Considers the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one. Ability to anticipate needs and take initiative and is appropriately discrete.
  • Regulatory Environment --Knowledge of laws and the statues that govern retirement plans; able to research quickly when necessary
  • Organizational Effectiveness – The ability to marshal resources (people, funding, material, support) to get things done.  Can orchestrate multiple activities at once to accomplish a goal, uses resources effectively and efficiently, arranges information in a useful manner.
  • Personal Savvy – Displays a high level of professionalism, a positive attitude and composure while dealing with demanding stakeholders; builds appropriate rapport, uses diplomacy and tact, can defuse high-tension situations.
  • Problem Sensitivity — The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing there is a problem.
  • Project Management – Able to lead project team with adherence to project schedule, timelines and deliverables; resolves issues after consulting with the appropriate stakeholders.
  • Technology - Possesses working knowledge of the use of technology to streamline processes with a specific emphasis on the Microsoft Office suite of products.
  • Trustworthy—Ability to manage confidential information appropriately and exercise a high degree of sensitivity and discretion with confidential information; adheres to a strict ‘need to know’ basis for information sharing

Preferred Qualifications:

  • Graduate degree in human resources or business or CEBS designation
  • Experience in a large, decentralized environment, preferably a university, where ideas and programs are the result of collaborative meetings with key stakeholders
  • Programmatic experience in the design and implementation of a comprehensive retirement planning workshop that guides faculty and staff through the process of planning a successful retirement
  • PeopleSoft experience is a plus

Preferred Competencies:

  • Excellent listening skills, coupled with the ability to process information rapidly
  • Confident in large group speaking and presentations, with an ability to pivot based on audience feedback
  • Visionary strategic thinker with the ability to execute and deliver
  • Executive presence in managing communications and comprehension of senior level issues around retirement plans
  • Participates in retirement forums and presents to peers in the industry on retirement topics


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