Marketed to advisers, AllianceBernstein Retirement FastTrack—the name identifies it as a retirement program, says Todd Mann, director and institutional retirement specialist at AllianceBernstein—is intended to put advisers in the retirement business fast track, relative to their competitors.
At a retirement solutions forum, Mann discussed ways for advisers to accelerate the retirement portion of their business. Slightly over half of participants at the event (53%) deal with plans under $10 million; 34% deal with plans in the range of $10 million to $50 million, and 12% deal with plans over $50 million.
According to Mann, there are 320,000 advisers nationwide, but the defined contribution (DC) landscape is dominated by a very small group of advisers. A majority of those surveyed (81%) said more than 40% of their revenues come from DC sales; 15% said DC plans account for 20% to 40% of revenues; and just 4% said less than 20% of revenues are in DC plans.
More advisers are gravitating toward retirement as a business line, Mann said, and many advisers are assembling teams to be able to address corporate retirement clients. According to Mann, research shows that plan sponsors need support from advisers in the form of investment review services, keeping up to date with regulation, and participant education.
When working with advisers, plan sponsors value reasonable fees and quick responses. Those sponsors who have participated in a FastTrack presentation say it provides a refreshing and different way to review their retirement plan, Mann told PLANADVISER.
The program gives sponsors immediate feedback and allows them to address any issues and get their plan to perform better. FastTrack also enables a plan sponsor to understand their firm’s plan relative to other plan sponsors. Sponsors are given the latest research on their colleagues across the country, Mann said, including data on pension and defined benefit (DB) plans, but it is clear that the trend is in DC plans.
“The program allows sponsors to review all critical areas of their plan,” Mann said, “including fiduciary obligations, fees, investments, communications, service and overall plan goals.”
Additional value comes from hearing the thoughts of other plan sponsors about the issues that concern them, and the chance to gather information that will allow sponsors to create custom benchmarking and determine the relevant next steps to allow them to raise the bar for their plan.
“When reviewing the customized benchmark report, plan sponsors are able to determine how their plan stacks ups against other plans nationally, and from there they can develop an ongoing action plan to close gaps where needed,” Mann said.
AllianceBernstein recommends the presentation have three speakers: an ERISA attorney or a CPA that does auditing; the plan sponsor, who can partner with Todd Mann; and a Department of Labor (DOL) representative, which will help increase attendance. Two DOL presentations that have proven quite popular are fiduciary best practices and fee disclosure, Mann said. The seminar must also have some nonprofit component, such as a human resources or medical organization, for the DOL to be involved.
The program length is about two to three hours, based on about an hour per speaker. Mann said he can do his part in half an hour, if there are time constraints. The program is generally organized with about three months’ lead time, and Mann does only three to four per quarter, so that an area does not get saturated. The presentation is intended for clients or for prospects, or, Mann says, even both at the same presentation. “Clients can talk to the prospects and tell them how great it is working with the adviser,” he said.
The venue itself deserves consideration. Mann said they have had a lot of success conducting FastTrack at education institutions, and he recommends a local college instead of a hotel. “It adds another dimension,” he said.
In case attendees are spread out across the country, FastTrack is available as a webinar.
More information is available at Alliance Bernstein.