For nearly three decades Jim Cantey has directed, grown and shaped the companies of TPS Group, an actuarial and employee benefits consulting firm, specializing in retirement plans, payroll and human resources. Cantey has not only honed skills in designing and servicing all aspects of retirement plans, but also in anticipating clients' additional needs and managing a company that meets and exceeds them.
After working in an institutional pension department at a Boston firm, Cantey joined The Pension Service, which his father founded almost half a century ago. For nearly 15 years, Cantey oversaw the company's financial and daily operations before assuming his current role. His approach to business is to maintain a family friendly work environment that retains talented staff. But customer service is the top priority at TPS Group, Cantey says, because “if we don't have clients, we don't have a business.”
He finds that his professional skills are assets in his hobbies and other activities, too. While Cantey serves on the advisory board of the Franciscan Sisters of the Eucharist, in Meriden, Connecticut, he is a former trustee of the Catholic Family Services, in New Haven, Connecticut and the Ronald McDonald House. An active sports enthusiast, he also enjoys collecting books.
Cantey earned his Bachelor of Science degree in History and Economics from Boston College in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, graduating with honors. Later, he was certified as an Associate of the Society of Actuaries, highlighting his strengths in designing and managing financial programs that control risk. Cantey currently resides in Madison, Connecticut.
Since 1980, Ben Gagliano has worked in the employee benefits, insurance and administration world. After running western New York's largest employee benefits firm, which he co-owned, Gagliano joined Jim Cantey, a friend since the early 1990s, at TPS Group.
Involved in product development, marketing, company direction and acquisitions, Gagliano is also experienced in pension, group benefits and medical, cafeteria and welfare benefit plan sales. He says TPS Group makes it easier for clients to do business because of the company's knowledge base and business approach. "By continuing to place those who specialize in other services, such as human resources or payroll, in the right positions, the company continues to anticipate clients' various needs. That’s how we create unique solutions that really make a difference for our clients."
For Gagliano, the company's success comes down to its employees. With a dedicated, hardworking and knowledgeable group of associates, he says the family-friendly work environment is just the right style. "No matter how large we grow, I don't want to lose our sense of caring about the people who work here. We really are only as good as the people who make up our team."
As far as TPS Group's future goes, Gagliano has a dream he'd like to see come true. "I want our company to be a destination - a home - for more talented people to make a career, a good living and have security," he says.
Gagliano received a Bachelor of Arts degree in History from Canisius College in Buffalo, New York. He has also completed continuing education courses in financial services.
In the past 25 years Michele Henry has done just about everything at TPS Group. She now focuses her skills in overseeing operations, ensuring this growing company is performing to industry standards. With her level of experience in the financial services business, Henry knows TPS Group's main asset is its staff, many of whom have worked 15 years or more for the company.
As far as working with clients, Henry regards President and Owner Jim Cantey's example as the one to follow. She says that Cantey's care of and interest in each individual is what sets this company apart. By staying in touch with changes in the business climate and understanding what they mean, TPS Group is able to assure clients that their needs will be met. "We are constantly asking, 'What other avenues can we explore? What do our clients need right now?" Henry explains. "Our clients know they can trust us."
She believes the people-friendly nature at TPS Group also helps retain talented staff. Although the company is growing, they've kept some small business approaches. "Work is tough, but you have to relax," she says. "Part of the reason TPS Group works so well is that staff doesn't have to choose between their job and their personal life."
Henry earned her Bachelor of Science degree in History and Anthropology from Southern Connecticut State University, in New Haven. She has also received her insurance license, participated in financial services classes at Fairfield University and completed certificate programs through the Internal Revenue Service, the Department of Labor, and the National Institute of Pension Administrators, among others.
Phil Coco has spent over 15 years with TPS Group managing sales and marketing for all of their offices and working with financial advisors to deliver solutions-based retirement programs to their clients . He has also worked to develop and foster relationships with clients, providing them with the tools and information needed to run a successful retirement program.
People are the number one reason TPS Group is so adept at anticipating the needs of the marketplace, Coco says. By hiring "only the best," the company has been able to build a strong team who understand how the industry has evolved and recognize how clients' needs have progressed. Thanks to a low turnover rate and a majority of staff with 12-15 years invested in the company, clients reap the benefits of top quality service.
As a company, TPS Group has goals and objectives, and have created tools to serve clients well. They adhere to a master checklist, for instance, reviewing retirement plan sponsors annually to be sure plans are administered accordingly. “We stay on track and if there are problems, we address them immediately,” Coco says.
In the future, Coco sees the company, under President and Owner Jim Cantey's direction, continuing to add more services that fit clients' needs. In this age of simplicity, he says their clients can comfortably say, "TPS Group is handling everything."
Coco has a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Communication from Keene State College in New Hampshire. He began working in the pension industry upon graduation, starting with defined benefit plan administration.
Sales Consultant/Client Relationship Representative, North Haven, CT location
“We take the time to get to know our clients in order to create a business solution that will lead to their goals.”
Diane Durso has focused on building relationships with clients, financial advisors and CPAs for almost 10 years. Through visits and annual follow-ups, Diane has gained client confidence and maintained the channels of communication with clients within all areas of administrative and benefit services.
More than 25 years of customer service and sales experience have helped Diane to strengthen client relationships while also offering business solutions through TPS Group's Payroll, Medical and Human Resources services.
Diane is happy to offer clients a “one stop shopping” approach to running their businesses. In addition to her experience with pension administration, she is a licensed life and health insurance agent and is certified in payroll management.
Bethany Goodrich has been involved in different areas of TPS Group for more than a decade. One of her areas of focus is partnering with financial advisors to make maintaining a retirement plan easier for clients. Goodrich is involved in several phases of the process, including providing plan design illustrations, joining advisors to present solutions and helping with the transition of a plan to a new provider. Her experience as an administrator before transitioning to a sales consultant allows her to bring a technical focus to client meetings.
Goodrich is very excited about the coordination of multiple services now available through TPS Group. She currently manages the relationship between TPS Group and their payroll arm Payright Payroll Affiliates. "Offering an integrated solution to coordinate retirement plans and payroll makes perfect sense. Our Automati(k) Solution is very appealing to clients wishing they could be more efficient with their internal processes" Goodrich explains.
By offering other services including payroll and human resource services the company also adds value for clients. Goodrich is happy that these areas are growing and serving clients well.
Goodrich holds a Business Degree in Organizational Studies from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.
"Consultation is a cycle. We are here to be a guide and a steward during the continual changes of life and legislation. We are constantly reviewing our clients' needs and goals.”
Jesse Walters has been involved in many different areas of TPS Group. After serving as an Administrative Assistant, he progressed into other aspects of maintaining and advancing the company. Walters' contributions include creating organizational systems, providing direct customer service support, designing marketing materials for various product roll-outs, providing local IT systems support and programming custom interface tools for administrative needs.
He now primarily focuses on his role as a Benefits Consultant, providing detail-oriented insight into group benefits, medical insurance and compliance, as well as the various funding vehicles that accompany them.
Walters received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Computer Information Systems from Buffalo State College in New York and an Associate’s Degree in Computer Art and Design from Alfred State College in Alfred, NY.
“We pride ourselves on service and the close relationships we build and maintain with our clients.”
Wendy Williamson began her career in the pension industry in 1988. She focuses on customer service and assisting clients with the complex issues involved in plan sponsorship for TPS Group, in the Connecticut office.
In the regulated industry of defined contribution plans, Williamson works to alleviate the confusion and intimidation clients may experience. She says it's key to consistently communicate well so that she and other staff can best guide clients to properly execute their plans. “The law is complex,” Williamson explains. “It's important that we show our clients we always have their interests at heart; making sure plans are in full compliance.”
Williamson earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Marketing from Quinnipiac University in Hamden.
“The relationship between TPS Group and our clients is a partnership. Each side is working together towards the same goal, which is to effectively manage a retirement plan based on its desired purpose. For different clients that may be maximizing deductible contributions, adjusting or enhancing existing plan structures as a competitive advantage to attract and retain employees, reducing costs and/or volatility, or working towards funding the plan for termination.”
Matthew Sicilia is a consulting actuary who joined TPS Group in 2010. Prior to joining TPS Group, he had over 10 years of experience in the pension field. He became an Enrolled Actuary in 2007, and is a Member of the American Academy of Actuaries. He has worked on plans ranging from 1 participant to over 10,000 participants. He consults on plan designs of both qualified and non-qualified plans. He also has significant testing experience, including but not limited to Internal Revenue Code (IRC) 416 top heavy testing, IRC 414(s) compensation testing, IRC 410(b) coverage testing, and IRC 401(a)(4) non-discrimination testing.
“I value my working relationships with my clients. I attempt to treat each one as my most important client. Setting realistic expectations and then exceeding those expectations is my goal.”
Sicilia anticipates continued growth in the number of small market defined benefit plans. With the Pension Protection Act of 2006 (PPA) approving cash balance plan designs, Sicilia expects a significant increase in these plans in the near future.
“Employers like cash balance plans because the contributions are generally less volatile than under more traditional annuity plans. Employees like cash balance plans because they are easier to understand (they have the look and feel of a 401(k) plan, but without the investment risk).”
Sicilia earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a Concentration in Applied Actuarial Mathematics from Bryant University in Smithfield, Rhode Island.
“It’s important to provide services that set us apart from others in the industry. We pride ourselves on being able to offer unique retirement solutions to our clients.”
Throughout her career at TPS Group, Ella has worked in the Defined Benefit department - first as an administrator, then team leader, then manager of the department and now Vice President, Pension Plan Design and Consulting. Ella enjoys the challenges of designing, calculating and testing the complex combinations of different types of pension plans with an emphasis on offering efficient and suitable customized solutions. “Our knowledge and expertise allow us to stay on top of the most recent trends and developments in the retirement plans industry, so we can continually adjust our approaches to the ways we handle design, maintenance and administration of our clients’ plans,” she notes.
During her time with TPS Group, Ella has been particularly appreciative of the company's work/life balance. “This allows us to focus on offering the best we can without the feeling of sacrifice that employees often feel at other companies.”
Since joining the company in 2000, Ella became a member of the American Society of Pension Professionals and Actuaries, earning her multiple credentials including Certified Pension Consultant in 2006 while being recognized with the ASPPA’s Martin Rosenberg Academic Achievement Award during the examination process. Ella earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics from Louisiana State University.
“Our clients are not just clients. We value the relationships we foster with clients and advisors and we constantly strive to improve them.”
Kristen Alexander joined TPS Group in March 2008 when we acquired R. J. Michalski, Inc., which had also built a reputation for supplying excellent management of plans and client-centered advice. Alexander worked to insure the transition was as seamless as possible for all clients.
Alexander takes pride in TPS Group's timely, high-quality, and personalized service that the talented staff makes available to every client. She manages a team that understands the industry and anticipates the needs of clients. The staff works closely with financial advisors to make maintaining a retirement plan easier for clients.
Alexander earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Criminal Justice from American University in Washington, DC. In 2003, she returned to the state to join her father’s company, R. J. Michalski, Inc. She received her Qualified 401(k) Administrator (QKA) credentials from The American Society of Pension Professionals & Actuaries in 2005.
Our staff is the key to our success. Many in our location alone, have 20+ years of pension administration experience. That, along with our personal approach to working with clients, allows us to provide a customized experience to meet our clients varying needs.
Clinch has been with TPS Group since 2001. She began as an administrator then Team Leader and is now the Defined Contribution Manager in our Westbrook Maine location. She earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration from The University of Southern Maine. Clinch also maintains the Accredited Pension Administrator designation through the National Institute of Pension Administrators.
"The close relationship that each of our administrators have with their clients coupled with the expertise they possess allows us to work with the client to make certain that the plan is meeting their unique needs. We also work closely with our clients to determine if changes to the plan would be more appropriate based on our knowledge of the plan or any trends or upcoming changes in the industry."
“Quality service is what our clients deserve and what they receive. One happy customer is more valuable than $10,000 worth of advertising.”
For nearly 10 years, Gayle Lyons has worked for TPS Group. She began her career with the company in Plan Administration and now manages the Massachusetts office.
Her extensive experience in the retail industry provided Lyons with excellent customer service skills. Her first priority –and what she enjoys most– is to ensure clients receive consistent, top quality customer service.
“What sets us apart from other companies is that we go beyond what the client expects,” Lyons notes. “Because of this, our clients feel that we are there for them every step of the way. And we are.”
Lyons holds a Bachelors degree in Business Administration from Northeastern University in Boston.
Kristen Hescox is the Defined Contribution Manager for TPS Group's New York location. She began working for TPS Group in 2004 and has more than 12 years as a pension administrator.
"Without the staff here in our Buffalo office, I would not love my job like I do. They continually go above and beyond, doing what needs to be done to meet deadlines and keep our plans in compliance. Accomodating our clients wishes and providing specialized services based on their unique needs is something that we do really well.
Hescox earned her Bachelor of Arts in Economics from SUNY Geneseo in Geneseo, NY and a Masters in Business Administration from Canisius College in Buffalo, NY.
“The IRS, DOL and Congress are constantly changing the retirement community landscape through regulation and law. Our clients deserve to have someone on their side to help them navigate these rules and protect their interests.”
The study and practice of ERISA law has been Jennifer Davie's focus throughout her career. Her business philosophy is a simple one, grounded in determining how to best provide products and services that meet clients' needs while ensuring they are adequately protected under current regulations.
“With the constant change in law and requirements for the retirement plan community, it is essential to understand the effects on employers, participants and the industry as a whole in order to better respond to the needs of our clients,” she explains.
Davie says the TPS Group Compliance Department crafts documents and plan amendments to take full advantage of the current regulations. They also advocate for clients under audit by the Internal Revenue Service or the Department of Labor, provide education and guidance to TPS Group and keep clients and TPS Group in compliance with any law changes.
Davie completed her Juris Doctor at the University at Buffalo and is licensed to practice law in the State of New York.