ASC Spring 2011 Newsletter

In this issue:

Need a secure web “portal” for your clients to upload and download files?

Gemini Plan Sponsor for Non-Daily Plans provides your clients with a new level of service – web access to securely exchange information with clients in a quick, secure and efficient manner. Clients can easily and securely upload census files and download documents and forms. All files are stored on your own server; not in a third-party location. ASC’s Gemini Plan Sponsor is simply the secure “portal” through which your files are exchanged from designated folders.

Secure Census File Uploads
Clients can securely upload census files to you; no more password protecting files. And no more worries about email file size limits. Gemini allows your clients to upload files in a secure environment, over a secure, encrypted website, without having to maintain your own encryption.

Use our new Census Wizard to produce census requests in batch, which are simultaneously put into each client’s folder for clients to instantly access and download. An email notification is sent to your designated email group when a file has been posted by your client.

Secure File Downloads
Clients can download plan specific plan reports as well as general forms over the web instead of contacting you. You can post plan documents, SPDs, annual valuation or compliance testing results in a private folder. In addition, there is a “Public” folder where you can post forms or any other documents for your clients to download at their convenience.

Professional, Customized Website Access
ASC’s Plan Sponsor website is integrated with your business, customized with your logo and linked from your website. Customization for individual Plan Sponsors is also possible: customizing menus, colors, fonts, and uploading your client logos.

Easy & Affordable
It’s easy to set up – all you need is a standard internet connection and a dedicated workstation (XP or higher) that is connected to ASC to serve as the gateway. Each of your clients would have an individual login and would have access to only their own files. It is affordable with a customization setup fee of $1500 and maintenance of $75 per month.

Tom Lusby, ASC Daily Valuation Support Manager has been with the company for 17 years.

A true California native, Tom, as well as his parents and grandfather, grew up in Glendale, CA.  Tom currently resides north of LA in the foothills of La Crescenta with his wife Christine and two kids, Andrew and Katherine, where he is actively involved with his church.  Tom attended California Lutheran University where he majored in Philosophy and Religion.  After college Tom worked in and managed a bookstore for 10 years.  Later, following a career change, Tom took a job at Transamerica Occidental Life where he worked in the pension field for six years.  At Transamerica Tom used the ASC software and eventually met ASC President Alan Gould.  He collaborated with programmers at ASC and Transamerica in the development and implementation of their first Daily Valuation system with participant Voice Response access.  Eventually Tom came to work for ASC to provide support/training to ASC’s growing number of Daily Valuation clients.
Tom recalls, “At the time, Transamerica was a large company and ASC was this little company and I had some family members trying to discourage me from moving over to ASC.  However, I could tell that ASC had great potential and that Alan Gould would be a wonderful person to work with.”  He’s been with ASC ever since, providing both support of the Daily Valuation and Gemini systems as well as recommending and testing programming enhancements.

Q: What was your first impression of ASC?

Because I had already been a user of the ASC products plus I knew Alan Gould I had a positive impression of the company.  It was obvious that their software was going in the right direction.

Q: Interest in ASC continues to grow. Why do you think that is?

I think there are two reasons.  One, pension plans are going to continue to increase in the coming years and ASC fills this need efficiently with superb programming and products.  Secondly, ASC has always received very high marks for its Customer Support team, which is filled with highly qualified people with serious pension experience.  ASC has done a great job hiring the best people at all levels of the company.

Q: Who do you primarily work with at ASC?

My main coworker is Bob Long with whom I share the support of the DV Direct and Gemini systems.  I highly admire and respect Bob and we get along very well.  Bob’s expertise and long experience keeps the big picture in view, while I tend to focus more on the technical side.  I also work with Brian Olson, Mike Boecher and Ken Joseph on the programming side regarding troubleshooting and enhancements.  Ken’s office is next to mine, so we share some day-to-day interaction, occasionally including serious discussions and humorous banter.  All of my coworkers are very sharp and talented – I love the interaction with all of them personally and professionally.  In addition, I play an intermediary role between our customers and the programmers, translating our users’ needs and requests to our programmers.

Q: What skills/abilities do you have to use on a daily basis in your job?

I’ve always had excellent math ability which is a big asset on this job.  I also enjoy using my interpersonal skills – I love working with people, working out problems with them both verbally and in writing.  I try to be clear, succinct and friendly.  I used to be on the other side while working at Transamerica so I know this is valued.  Sometimes I consider myself a detective, as I analyze and resolve problems.  Other times I am a teacher, helping clients understand the system, so they can figure things out next time for themselves.  I enjoy building a relationship with our users.

Q: Do you have a funny or interesting memory from your work?

My first on-site training of a Daily Valuation client began with the realization that I had not packed my dress shoes in my suitcase.  Showing up in a suit with tennis shoes did not seem advisable (at the time), so we found a clothing store on the way to the client’s office and made a quick purchase before they even opened (they were very accommodating).  We were only a few minutes late to our client.

Q: What’s helped you be successful at ASC?

My math/analytical skills and my prior experience at Transamerica have definitely helped me a lot, as well as the confidence of both Alan Gould and Alan Cohen.  They hire sharp people and rely on them to do the job well.  That kind of trust and freedom brings out the best in me.

Q: What do you like to do in your spare time?

I have lots of interests.  I love spending time with my friends and family. I love watching and playing basketball.  I love to hike and backpack particularly in the High Sierras. I love to read in a wide variety of subjects, but often in the Bible and philosophy related books.

Q: What might (someone) be surprised to know about you?  I used to ride a motorcycle

Q: If you were retired from ASC, what do you think you’d be doing instead?

I would travel more internationally. Probably do more volunteer work whether in a counseling capacity or other dimension.  I would spend a lot of my time serving people and helping out where I can.

Q: How would someone describe you?

A good friend.  I do have a lot of close friends.  I’ve been best man in seven weddings.  Trustworthy, honest, supportive.  These are the values I try to live by.

Q: Do you have anything you would really like to do in the near future?

I would love to climb Mount Whitney in the High Sierras one of these days.  This mountain is 14,505 feet in elevation, the highest in the contiguous US. I’ve been as high as 13,000 feet and it’s a real thrill. It gives you that different perspective on the world.

Tom has done a great job merging his interpersonal skills and desire to serve people with his math and technical know-how to become a valuable and well-liked team player at ASC.  Thank you Tom for all of your great work! We’re sure ASC clients are hoping you can stay with ASC for at least another 17 years!

DB Tips from Diane Storm, ASC Actuary

Remember to run data checks (Utilities>Data Checks) on both Specifications & Employee Data before running valuation calculations.

If Assumptions or Employee data are changed and calculations must be redone, check the Calculate Effective Interest Rate box on the Calculations>Valuation setup menu.

If the crediting rate has changed from the previous year in an EOY Cash Balance plan, the Cash Balance Wizard may be run. It recalculates the prior accrued benefit used in determining the Target Liability. FAQ 893 gives instructions on how to run this Wizard.

When using a salary scale for a PPA valuation, the same salary scale must be input on both the pre-PPA Funding assumptions screen and the PPA funding assumptions screen.  In addition, to calculate the cushion amount with a salary scale included, the pre-PPA funding method must be coded as 1 – Unit Credit & all assumptions must be coded the same on the PPA & pre-PPA funding assumptions screens.

To include At-Risk calculation values in the PPA report, copy your plan & run calculations with the At-Risk assumptions coded.  Locate the total PPA Target Liability & PPA Target Normal Cost on the Values>Costs screen of plan specs and enter those numbers in the original case on the Values>Costs screen as At-Risk Target Liability for PPA & At-Risk Target Normal Cost for PPA.  Finally run partial Valuation calculations from Plan Costs.

If new insurance is being issued based on plan spec coding and a pre-retirement death benefit is being valued based on that insurance, the valuation calculations will need to be run twice in order for the death benefit to be valued correctly.  FAQ 849 has information on coding specs for funding insured plans under PPA.