Local company helping schools

November 7, 2009
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A Grand Rapids finance firm is one of a half-dozen core choices for nearly 100,000 public school employees for 403(b) retirement services.

Midwest Capital Advisors was one of six firms chosen last year by the Michigan Retirement Investment Consortium to serve 247 Michigan school districts, said Mike Hagerty, assistant superintendent of finance for the Kent Intermediate School District and co-chair of MRIC. The others are AIG Retirement (VARIC), The Legend Group, MEA Financial Services, PlanMember Services and Waddell & Reed.

In addition to the six core vendors, school districts were allowed to retain relationships with others among the more than 200 companies that had been serving the districts prior to the Jan. 1 effective date for new federal regulations regarding 403(b) plans.

TSA Management, a Florida firm, is handling documentation and other duties as MRIC’s third party administrator, Hagerty said.

Midwest Capital Advisors was chosen as a non-traditional vendor and offers more services on the Web instead of through personal representatives, said Jeff Gietzen, one of three men who founded MCA in 2003. MCA competed with about 200 other companies in a separate bid process from the other five core vendors, he said.

Hagerty said that when the new system became effective nearly one year ago, about 22,000 of the eligible employees participated in 403(b) plans.

“We are trying to leverage the technology out there today, being able to emulate that face-to-face consultation as in the past through a new dynamic Web site,” Gietzen said. “We are tapping into Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, and using e-mail.”

While MCA has primarily served 401(k) customers in for-profit businesses, he added, it now has clients in about half of the districts that are part of MRIC. Gietzen said the company has made several new hires to accommodate the 403(b) business.

MRIC received an award in April from Michigan School Business Officials.

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