2013 Recordkeeper Services Guide

Finding a defined contribution recordkeeper suited to you and your client

By PLANSPONSOR staff See Archive >
2013 Recordkeeper Services Guide

Advisers generally have their go-to recordkeeping provider relationships, choosing to work within a select handful of them. Between staying abreast of which providers—whether major recordkeeping firms or third-party administrators (TPAs)—still do business in which market(s) and who offers what services, advisers may find keeping it all straight a daunting task. Retirement plan advisers can be a critical sales and service channel for many providers, but while some of the latter do both adviser-sold and direct-sold business, others do no business through intermediaries.

To give advisers a better sense of this distribution landscape, PLANADVISER’s sister publication PLANSPONSOR asked retirement plan recordkeepers about their business delivery models vis á vis intermediaries as part of its 15th annual Recordkeeping Survey. PLANSPONSOR received 68 complete responses this year from the nation’s leading recordkeepers (see the magazine’s June issue for the complete listing). From that total, 58 respondents answered questions about doing business with or through intermediaries; those recordkeepers appear in the charts on the following pages.

PLANSPONSOR’s annual Recordkeeping Survey shows that most advisers have a variety of provider options to bring to clients. Only a few recordkeepers say they work exclusively with their own advisers, while the rest of the respondents were split evenly between those that work solely with independent advisers (defined in the survey as advisers outside the recordkeeping firm) and those that work with both groups.

Recordkeepers also offer advisers a wide array of resources and support services. Of the recordkeepers that reported what services they provide for advisers, the most common offerings were education and enrollment support and legislative updates, followed by investment performance or benchmarking reports. Additionally, advisers can receive help with plan design from 87% of recordkeepers; 65% of recordkeepers provide defined contribution (DC) plan benchmarking, but only 37% have provider search resources or tools. Another 83% offer advisers help with investment policy statements (IPSs) when working with investments, and in the area of investment-monitoring products about three-fourths provide IPS support.

Advisers looking for help building their business or expertise have options as well. Although 87% of recordkeepers said they offer training specific to DC plans and 58% host conferences, only 29% sponsor designations specific to DC plans. Additionally, 60% said they can provide DC plan lead generation. Regarding compensation, a majority of recordkeepers said they offer registered investment adviser (RIA) fees/hard-dollar fees and ongoing trails or commissions. Upfront commissions (a front-end load) and finder’s fees were the least popular adviser compensation options, cited by approximately half of the companies.