PLAN ADVISER YEAR
Cornerstone Retirement Advisors LLC
Warwick, Rhode Island
Jim Sampson, managing principal of Cornerstone Retirement Advisors LLC, says, like many
people, he “just kind of stumbled into
the 401(k) industry.”
After earning a sports
management degree from the
University of Massachusetts
Amherst, Sampson worked in retail
management at a tennis shoe store
but had grown tired of retail hours.
Opportunity knocked when a close
friend from his high school suggested
he work at his consulting firm.
insurance. Calise and Sampson
decided to form Cornerstone
Retirement Advisors in June 2009 and
leveraged the current clients from
Cornerstone Group, offering them
401(k) services. This has provided
ample prospects for Sampson’s
growing retirement plan practice, he
says, now up to nearly 70 clients.
Sampson’s clients generally fall
into the market segment not pursued
by many advisers: the micro and
small market. “It’s an absolutely
underserved market,” Sampson says.
“If I start using fancy investment
terms, throw something at me.”
Sampson had always been good with
numbers and decided to try it out.
And so he went to work at George
Beram & Company, performing
recordkeeping, administration and
a bit of consulting for the defined
contribution (DC) team.
From there, Sampson worked at
Transamerica Retirement Services as
the company’s first retirement plans
internal wholesaler. Having seen the
retirement plan industry from the
vendor side, Sampson decided to enter
the advisory market. He became the
401(k) specialist at Telamon Insurance
& Financial Network, a property,
casualty and employee benefits firm,
and started building a 401(k) practice
that focused on the micro- and small-plan market segment.
During a benefits fair for one
of his clients, Sampson met Rob
Calise, owner of Cornerstone Group,
a benefits advisory service, which at
that time, focused on group health
His average plan size is $1.2 million,
with about 25 participants per plan.
His largest plan is $12 million.