About Administrative Fiduciary Services
Russell Hooker is the Executive Vice President and Shareholder at Nova 401(k) Associates, one of the largest and fastest growing Third Party Administration firms in country and is based here in Houston. He is also President of Administrative Fiduciary Services, Inc., which provides 3(16) fiduciary services where he oversees sales and marketing for the firm. In his role at Nova, he works with retirement plan advisors and their clients to design qualified plans that meet the objectives of the business. With almost 20 years of experience in the retirement plan industry doing everything from Spanish enrollment meetings, to working with programmers of recordkeeping systems, to sales and marketing, Russell brings a broad range of experience.
Russell also serves on the TPA advisory council for several major national recordkeepers where he is asked to provide his feedback on current market trends and innovations. He regularly conducts educational seminars for retirement plan advisors and plan sponsors alike. His background as a linguist in the military gives him the unique ability to make these seminars not only very informative, but easy to understand.
Karen Smith has been practicing in the retirement area for more than 25 years. She is President of Nova 401(k) Associates and a founding Shareholder of AFS. In the past, she has been involved in several industry groups including ASPPA, where she was a member of the Board of Directors. She is a past president of ACOPA. Additionally, Karen was a member of the American Academy of Actuaries Committee on Qualifications for several years. Karen speaks at industry groups about technical issues and professionalism.
Prior to forming Nova 401(k) Associates in 2000, Karen worked from 1990-2000 in the Houston office of William M. Mercer, Incorporated (“Mercer”). A graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, Karen received a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics with Honors in 1990. She received her Doctorate of Jurisprudence from the University of Houston Law Center in 1998.
Arasely Valdez is the Chief Operating Office and founding Shareholder of AFS and is also the Practice Manager for Nova 401(k) Associates. As our COO, she is responsible for managing AFS’ daily operations. She is a member of the National Institute of Pension Administrators (NIPA), having attained her APA (Accredited Pension Administrator) designation in 1999. In addition, she holds a QPA and QKA designation from the American Society of Pension Professionals and Actuaries (ASPPA). Arasely is also an Enrolled Retirement Plan Agent (ERPA), enabling practice before and represent clients with the IRS. Arasely has over 25 years’ experience in the pension industry, both in management and in Defined Benefit and Defined Contribution compliance and administration.
As our Practice Manager, she is responsible for managing Nova’s daily operations. This responsibility includes developing, implementing, and monitoring processes, procedures, and controls to maximize operational efficiency. In addition, she regularly assists the Account Managers with day-to-day technical issues and client relations.
Arasely is a native Texan, born in Brownsville and raised in Houston. She is bilingual, fluent in both English and Spanish. She is the proud parent of her daughter, Andrea. These days Arasely spends a lot of time driving Andrea to all her after school activities and checking homework.
Steve is a founding Shareholder of AFS and has over 23 years of experience in the retirement plan industry. Steve is also a Team Leader responsible for managing a team of 7-10 account managers and other staff. In addition, his responsibilities include managing some of Nova’s largest and most complex plans, training and mentoring staff, assisting with daily technical questions and marketing meetings as needed. Steve specializes in defined contribution plan administration, including plan design and implementation for 401(k) profit sharing plans, annual compliance testing, complex controlled group and 410(b) cross-testing, annual trust accounting and Form 5500 preparation.
From 1993 until April of 2006, he served as Vice President of Malcolm Thompson & Associates, a Houston-based 401(k) TPA. Prior to that, he worked as a benefits analyst at Shell Oil Company. His continuing education includes regular attendance at professional conferences, as well as reading and studying current regulations, rulings, and articles. Steven graduated from the University of Texas with a B.B.A. in finance and minor in accounting in 1989.
He is a member of the National Institute of Pension Administrators (NIPA), and the American Society of Pension Professionals and Actuaries (ASPPA), having attained the designations of APA (Accredited Pension Administrator) and QPA (Qualified Pension Administrator) with each organization. Steven is also an Enrolled Retirement Plan Agent (ERPA), enabling practice before and represent clients with the IRS.
Nathan is a founding Shareholder of AFS and is also a Marketing Director for Nova 401(k) Associates in the North Texas Area. He has spent the last thirteen years in the retirement plan industry and his background includes sales, design, implementation and administration of defined contribution plans. His responsibilities include the establishment and maintenance of relationships with AFS’s many different partners in the retirement plan community, assisting financial advisors and plan sponsors with retirement plan design options, and navigating a broad variety of retirement plan providers.