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At your service

SCOTT NEEB 28-Aug-2018

All too often, plan sponsors can be overwhelmed by their expanding roles and responsibilities. Retirement plan financial advisors can be of assistance with a tried and true sentiment: lean on me.

One way you can provide value to your plan sponsors is by helping them evaluate and manage existing service providers. It is a unique opportunity for you to provide important insights that guide them toward the best decision for the plan.

For example, take inventory of all existing service providers for the plan and then sit with the plan sponsor and ask these questions:

  • What do they offer?
  • What are their strengths?
  • What are their weakness?
  • What is the structure of their pricing and fees?

You might also offer to:

  • Assist with service provider selection
  • Assist with plan conversion and any change in service providers

Bear in mind that the path of least resistance is to not change the vendor unless, of course, it is in the best interest of the plan and its participants. In most instances when something is wrong, it isn’t because the plan is broken. It is usually because the previous advisor wasn’t doing his or her job.

If you are onboarding a new plan sponsor, uncovering any issues with existing service providers could be extremely beneficial. Consider asking a series of questions to help a plan sponsor divulge his or her biggest gripe with service providers.

These questions can help you figure out any issues the plan sponsor wants to address:

  1. If you could start again from scratch, what three areas would you want to improve upon the most?
  2. What three issues worry you the most today?
  3. What three things influence building trust with service providers? (Prompted answers could include: Delivering on promises, making things simple for participants, calling me regularly.)
  4. What services are most important to you? (Prompted answers could include: Monitoring and reviewing investment options, employee education and enrollment meetings, plan design, fee transparency.)

The bottom line is plan sponsors and participants need help, and retirement plan advisors have an incredible opportunity to stand apart by helping them manage service providers more efficiently.