Retirement Learning Center
President, Retirement Learning Center, LLC and
Executive Director - PLANSPONSOR Institute
John Carl is Founder and President of Retirement Learning Center, the nation’s preeminent thought leader on retirement issues, as well as founding lecturer for The Retirement Advisor University (TRAU) at UCLA Anderson School of Management Executive Education, and Executive Director of the PLANSPONSOR Institute, the education and training arm of PLANSPONSOR. He also serves on the Government Affairs Committee for the National Association of Plan Advisors. As the “advisor to the advisors,” Carl is a highly sought after industry insider who travels the country educating groups of financial professionals on the very latest in retirement legislation, forecasts, and developments affecting the industry.
A 25-year veteran of the retirement industry, Carl has been featured on CNBC, CNN, Forbes, ABC News, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and CBS MoneyWatch.com, among others. Carl released his first book in 2009, Retirement Resource Guide: Essential ERISA Education & Best Practices for Financial Advisors, which has won multiple APEX Awards for publishing excellence and serves as the basis continuing education workshops for financial advisors. It is now in its sixth edition.
Carl’s extensive industry experience includes having run Alliance Capital’s Defined Contribution initiative as well as creating and running the state of Rhode Island’s 529 savings plan, CollegeBoundFund®. Later, Carl directed Global Product Management for the firm. Carl has also operated as a successful branch and regional sales manager for Prudential Securities, as well as an independent financial advisor. Carl is a graduate of Lehigh University, and has completed Executive Continuing Education coursework at Columbia University. Carl is based in New York, and maintains the firm’s consulting and content operations in Brainerd, MN.
W. Andrew Larson, CPC
Director of Retirement Education, Retirement Learning Center, LLC
With 33 years of experience in the financial services industry, Andy is a respected authority, frequent lecturer and author on industry topics. Andy’s background includes managing and consulting with major recordkeeping platforms, extensive product design for plan sponsors and advanced sales support for intermediaries who work with plans. As a retirement industry executive, he ran the recordkeeping and consulting practice for Universal Pensions, Inc. (UPI), and headed the BISYS Corporate University. He has served as an adjunct professor for the Central Lakes College system in Minnesota, and provides expert witness services on numerous industry topics. Andy is co-author of RLC’s book, Retirement Resource Guide: Essential ERISA Education & Best Practices for Financial Advisors. He is a graduate of the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota, and maintains a Certified Pension Consultant (CPC) designation from the American Society of Pension Professionals and Actuaries.
Jennifer Kiffmeyer, J.D.
Director of Educational Content, Retirement Learning Center, LLC
Jenny began her retirement services career with Universal Pensions, Inc. (UPI), in 1993 as an IRA and retirement plans technical consultant. At UPI she held the roles of Consulting Manager, Managing Editor, and—following BISYS’ acquisition of UPI—Manager of ERISA Content. In 2004, she left BISYS to join PLANSPONSOR Institute, and eventually Retirement Learning Center (RLC), in the role of Director of Educational Content. Jenny regularly contributes articles to various industry publications and newsletters, and has served on several advisory boards for professional certification programs related to the retirement services industry. She is co-author of RLC’s book, Retirement Resource Guide: Essential ERISA Education & Best Practices for Financial Advisors, winner of multiple APEX awards for communication excellence. She received her Juris Doctor in 2016, with an emphasis on ERISA law. She holds BA degrees in Communications and Anthropology from Luther College, and has completed graduate work in education at Bemidji State University in Minnesota. She maintains the PLANSPONSOR Retirement Professional designation from PLANSPONSOR Institute, and the Certified IRA Services Professional and Certified Retirement Services Professional designations from the Institute of Certified Bankers.
Melissa Barr, QPA
Sr. Consultant, Retirement Learning Center, LLC
Missy Barr began her career in the retirement services industry at Universal Pensions, Inc. (UPI) in 1992 as a full service recordkeeping professional in the balance forward arena, and quickly worked her way into supervising a full service recordkeeping team. When UPI entered the 401(k) daily valuation market, Missy supervised a team in the compliance testing department, and later was promoted to manager of the compliance testing department, overseeing several teams that were responsible for providing compliance testing and Form 5500 services for approximately 4,500 employers. When UPI was acquired by BISYS, Missy took on the role of ERISA Consultant, where she prepared document reviews, responded to ERISA technical questions, assisted clients with plan compliance issues, and oversaw a team that prepared complex employer compliance testing and contribution calculations. Missy earned a BA degree in Business Administration from San Jose State University, and maintains a Qualified Plan Administrator (QPA) designation from the American Society of Pension Professionals and Actuaries.
Cathy Bourassa, QKA
Sr. Consultant, Retirement Learning Center, LLC
Joining the Retirement Learning Center in 2010, Cathy Bourassa has more than 10 years of experience in the retirement industry. She began her career at Universal Pensions, Inc. (UPI) in 1999 as a Compliance Specialist in the compliance testing department, preparing compliance testing and Form 5500 services for employer-sponsored plans. Cathy quickly moved into a Senior Compliance Specialist position in the department overseeing the training of new staff and the preparation of compliance testing, Forms 5500 and employer calculations. When BISYS bought UPI, Cathy took a position in the Information Service Group with a primary focus of explaining compliance testing and Form 5500 preparation to plan sponsors. In 2005, Cathy became an ERISA Consultant where she prepared document reviews, responded to ERISA technical questions, conducted training classes and assisted clients with plan qualification issues and corrective calculations. As an ERISA consultant at Ascensus (formerly BISYS), Cathy helped plan sponsors complete correction programs to bring their plans back into compliance with the IRS and DOL regulations. This included submitting plan corrections to the IRS under the Voluntary Correction Program (VCP) and preparing submissions to the DOL under the Voluntary Fiduciary Correction Program (VFCP). Cathy maintains a Qualified 401(k) Administrator (QKA) designation from the American Society of Pension Professionals and Actuaries.
Heidi LeMieur, C(k)P
DCIO Sr. Consultant, Retirement Learning Center, LLC
Heidi LeMieur has spent nearly 15 years in the retirement services industry providing retirement plan compliance and business development support along with education to financial industry professionals. As the DCIO Senior Consultant with the Retirement Learning Center, she has been featured as a key note speaker at numerous regional and national conferences. She is also a member of the Columbia Management Learning Center's National Speakers Bureau. In addition, she works one-on-one with financial professionals to develop repeatable business practices to close new business and gather new assets.
Prior to joining the Retirement Learning Center in 2010, she was an ERISA consultant with Ascensus (formerly BISYS Retirement Services). During her tenure with Ascensus, she was responsible for delivering live group presentations, providing technical consultations and support to financial advisors and retirement service professionals, conducting webinars and telephone seminars, and performing numerous compliance assessments for financial organizations regarding their retirement plan business.
She has served as a faculty member for the Graduate School of Banking at the University of Wisconsin – Madison. She also served as lead instructor for the IRA Online Institute, which is a 12- week, internet based course co-sponsored by Ascensus and the American Bankers Association (ABA) to provide in-depth training to retirement professionals working towards the Certified IRA Services Professional (CISP) and Certified IRA Professional (CIP) industry designations.
She received the APEX Award for Publication Excellence for a co-authored article published in the ABA Trust & Investments Magazine. Heidi earned a Behavioral Arts and Sciences Degree in Management with a minor in Psychology from The College of St. Scholastica and holds the Certified 401(k) Professional (C(k)P) designation administered by The Retirement Advisor University in collaboration with UCLA Anderson School of Management Executive Education as well as the CISP designation from the Institute of Certified Bankers (ICB).
Consultant and Plan Snapshot Specialist, Retirement Learning Center
Lori has over 10 years of experience in strategic retirement services roles. She started her career at Universal Pensions, Inc., (UPI) in 1998 as a client relations representative, and rapidly advanced within UPI. She moved to a Business Development position where she was responsible for supporting financial advisors and alliance partners regarding their retirement plan business, by providing plan setup and conversion assistance. In 2000, she was promoted to a supervisory position where she oversaw the Business Development desk and participated in client presentations with financial advisors. Following UPI’s sale to BISYS, she continued to manage the Brainerd, MN location of the BISYS Sales Desk and acted as an Internal Wholesaler, assisting the BISYS Regional Vice Presidents with sales and marketing support, in addition to delivering plan studies, design illustrations, consulting sales initiatives and product-based campaigns for financial advisors and retirement service professionals.
Senior Consultant, Retirement Learning Center, LLC
Julie Rydh began her career in the retirement services industry at Universal Pensions, Inc. (UPI) in 1992 as a full service recordkeeping professional in the balance forward arena. When UPI entered the 401(k) daily valuation market, Julie worked her way into preparing specialized contribution calculations and specialized testing. After mastering the complex contribution and testing calculations, she moved into supervising a team in the compliance testing department overseeing compliance testing and Form 5500 services for approximately 4,500 employer sponsored plans. Prior to UPI being acquired by BISYS, Julie took on the role of ERISA Consultant, where she prepared document reviews, responded to ERISA technical questions, assisted clients with plan compliance issues, conducted training on prototype and volume submitter plan documents and complex contribution formulas, and managed a project preparing customized volume submitter plan documents for employer sponsored plans. Julie earned a BA degree in Communications and Business from St. Cloud State University.
Bonnie Jacobs, QPA
Plan Document Specialist, Retirement Learning Center, LLC
Bonnie Jacobs began her retirement services career at Universal Pensions, Inc. (UPI) in 1989 in the Qualified Plans Department. She served as manager of the New Business Department for several years before moving to ERISA Consulting. Bonnie earned a Qualified Plan Administrator (QPA) designation from the American Society of Pension Professionals and Actuaries.
Robert J. Rafter, J.D.
President of RJR Consulting
Prior to starting his own firm, Robert served as Senior Vice President and Director of Institutional Corporate Retirement Services for Smith Barney’s Corporate Client Group. Mr. Rafter is a frequent author and public speaker on retirement plans, ERISA’s fiduciary standards, participant investment advice and related subjects. He has chaired numerous industry conferences on the corporate retirement plan challenges faced by both employer sponsors and financial institutions. He was also a member of the Investment Company Institute's Pension Committee since 1985. Prior to joining Smith Barney, Mr. Rafter worked as a pension consultant for Peat Marwick Mitchell and as an ERISA lawyer for Equitable Life Assurance Corporation. A graduate of the University of California at Berkeley and the Fordham University School of Law, Mr. Rafter is a member of the New York and Federal Bar.