Mike McWherter, JD
Chief Compliance Officer
Mike joined PenChecks in 2012, and is responsible for managing and overseeing the company-wide compliance function. With more than 23 years of combined legal, financial institution and ERISA plan provider compliance experience, Mike provides guidance and oversight for all compliance matters, supervises regulatory exams and audits, and coordinates between outside counsel, management and the board of directors.
Mike previously served as Vice President and Chief Compliance Officer at Memphis, TN-based First Mercantile Trust Company, a member of the MassMutual Financial Group, where he designed, implemented and guided company-wide compliance programs for First Mercantile’s Recordkeeping and Collective Investment Trust platforms. Mike graduated cum laude from Lambuth University and earned his JD from the University of Memphis School of Law. He has been an active supporter of the Boy Scouts of America, Habitat for Humanity, and the United Methodist Church, serving two 4-year terms on the Board of Ordained Ministry at the Conference level.
From an early age, Mike knew he wanted to go to law school. What he didn’t know was that one day this would take him across the country and land him in a career field that didn’t even exist when he graduated from law school.
In the late 1980’s the job of Chief Compliance Officer was unheard of. After the Enron, WorldComm and other scandals, it became obvious that corporate America needed a new kind of C-level executive to monitor regulatory compliance. Having served in the same role at another financial institution, a mutual friend put Mike and PenChecks Trust President Peter Preovolos together, and a few months later Mike made the move to California.
As Chief Compliance Officer or “CCO”, Mike is responsible for ensuring that PenChecks Trust provides its products and services in compliance with the many rules, regulations and laws that govern qualified plans, as well as with its own internal policies and procedures. Considering this requires dealing with three levels of federal oversight – the Department of Labor (DOL), IRS, and Securities and Exchange Commission – as well as state and/or federal bank/trust company oversight, this presents a highly complex challenge. Fortunately, Mike’s background in law, regulatory, fiduciary, BSA/AML, and operational compliance and risk management made him uniquely qualified to fill the job.
Supporting the Mission
On the client side, Mike plays a key role in helping PenChecks Trust deliver on its mission of providing cost-effective distribution services to plan sponsors, TPAs, and other stakeholders. He also shares the core belief – held by all who work at PenChecks Trust – that helping people have enough money for a secure retirement is important to everyone.
One of Mike’s most important roles involves interpreting new government regulations so PenChecks Trust can align existing processes and services with the new laws and, when appropriate, develop new products to serve clients and their plan participants more effectively.
For example, when the DOL introduced its abandoned plan regulations in 2006, it enabled financial institutions to terminate and wind down abandoned plans and distribute the money more efficiently by allowing them to become Qualified Termination Administrators, or QTAs. After studying the regulations, Mike identified synergies with some of PenChecks Trust’s core services, including lump sum distributions and Missing Participant IRAs. He recommended the company become a QTA, which it did with the DOL’s approval, and helped develop the program internally. Since then, PenChecks Trust has successfully terminated hundred of plans and reunited thousands of people with their retirement money.
Never A Dull Moment
In addition to the variety of interesting challenges afforded by his job, Mike enjoys working at a company where the culture is one of cooperation and trust combined with an honest desire to help clients solve their distribution problems. He especially appreciates having a voice in both the strategic planning and the day-to-day operations of PenChecks Trust, and being able to provide support at all levels, from the Board to senior management to front-line employees.
A native of Tennessee, Mike frequently travels back east to visit his two sons, where he remains active in their school, Boy Scout and athletic activities. In San Diego, he enjoys running, kayaking, hiking, and other outdoor activities afforded by the wonderful climate.
Meet the Team:
> Peter Preovolos, APA, RIA, AIFA, PPC / President and CEO
> Spiro Preovolos / Vice President, Business Development
> James Hensel, CPA, CVA, CFA / Chief Financial Officer
> Mike McWherter, JD / Chief Compliance Officer
> Kevin D. Smallen / Chief Information Officer
> Bryan Pruden, MBA / Chief Operating Officer
> Wendy Henderson / Vice President / Director of Operations
> Scott Okrasinski / Vice President/National Sales Director
> Tom Drosky / West Regional Vice President
> Mark Russell / Eastern Regional Director
> Chip Davis / Southern Regional Director
> Paul Kociuruba / Central Regional Director