2013 PLANADVISER Retirement Plan Adviser Survey

Advisers reveal their favorite retirement plan partners

By Alison Cooke Mintzer See Archive >
2013 PLANADVISER Retirement Plan Adviser Survey
JooHee Yoon

It can be said that retirement plan advisers have a better—or at least a more comparative—perspective than their plan sponsor clients on the relative strength of products and services offered by investment and recordkeeping providers, not least because advisers can and usually do work with many providers concurrently. This year’s PLANADVISER Retirement Plan Adviser Survey, our seventh, endeavors to gain insight from the adviser community about how providers and funds are selected, as well as which are currently in favor.

This year’s survey, as always, will be published in two parts. In this issue, we examine advisers’ favored investment and recordkeeping providers. Our next issue will feature adviser practice structure and experience, with the intention to help advisers learn from, and benchmark against, peer experience. This year, we were fortunate to receive complete survey responses from 629 retirement plan advisers, enabling us to present data that is representative of the plan adviser community as a whole.

On the investment side, the criteria for fund selection have remained stable. This year, as in 2012 and 2011, performance versus benchmarks was the top criterion for selecting appropriate funds, and 92% of advisers ranked performance first, second or third in 11 categories. Five-year return was the next most important criterion (78.1% ranked this in the top three), followed by plan fee structure (68.4%).

When asked to list their top five fund family recommendations for plan sponsors, advisers once again chose PIMCO/Allianz as their preferred fund family, with 50.6% of advisers listing the firm, although this is a drop from last year’s 56.6%. Vanguard came in second at 44.2%, and American Funds ranked third (40.3%), followed by J.P. Morgan (31.6%) and T. Rowe Price (30.0%).