How Do Plan Sponsors Choose an Adviser?

Franklin Templeton investigated defined contribution plan sponsors’ process for selecting plan advisers.

According to “Insights on Closing the Sale,” more than half of plan sponsors reviewed at least five advisers in their search. While 81% of plan sponsors actively sought advisers through recommendations or referrals from colleagues, peer organizations or retirement plan service providers, less than one-quarter of plan sponsors responded to an adviser solicitation.

When asked what criteria they used to initially screen potential advisers, plan sponsors most often cited personal fit/sales process (60%), followed by pricing (53%) and experience/expertise (44%), with previous relationship (5%) least frequently cited. When selecting an adviser from among those considered as finalists, plan sponsors continued to most frequently cite personal fit/sales process (55%) as an attribute leading to their decision.

Other attributes—most notably pricing—were greater factors in situations when the bid was lost than when the bid was won by the adviser.

The study is based on conversations between Chatham Partners and plan sponsors whose plans collectively represent more than $6 billion in assets. The study paper is available at the resource center in Franklin Templeton’s online Retirement Center. The paper addresses lead generation, prospect management and finals activity.