How much to save might be the most important decision made by a plan sponsor, but for plan fiduciaries, the choice of which offerings to invest that savings in can be fraught with concern. Alison Cooke Mintzer, Editor-in-Chief of PLANSPONSOR and PLANADVISER, spoke with Joe Frustaglio, Vice President and National Sales Manager at Nationwide Financial, about how advisers can help their clients navigate their fiduciary responsibilities and improve investment outcomes for their plan participants.
PA: What do you think are the most significant challenges for retirement plan advisers?
Frustaglio: As I travel around the country and listen to what advisers are facing, there are legislative and regulatory changes, and keeping up with those on behalf of sponsors is first and foremost. Second, many are concerned about how to grow their practice without adding a ton of expense, and about working with the right providers that have the support they need.
I’m really encouraged by the fact that many advisers understand that we have a savings crisis and see it as an opportunity to help America’s workers and business owners close that gap. They see it as their responsibility to take control of this and make sure that people are prepared for retirement.
PA: What are advisers and broker/dealer (B/D) firms looking for in providers and products?
Frustaglio: Advisers want to do business with firms that are totally committed to the retirement plan marketplace, and they look to providers to help them be efficient in growing their practices. From a product standpoint, it’s necessary to be able to serve clients on the spectrum from very simple to complex, and to be able to provide flexibility within those products. Advisers do not want to have to deal with seven different providers, they want a partner that can do a number of different things.
Advisers clearly compete on the health of the plan. So, making sure you work with a provider that can demonstrate how the adviser has made a difference in this plan—advisers need proper documentation, data feeds, everything. We’re seeing, from the broker/dealer firms, more requests for data feeds and additional plan information. They’re looking at more sophisticated ways to attract advisers to their firm.
I think everybody has to demonstrate their value now more than ever. It goes back to whether firms are committed to this marketplace, willing to spend the money on all these feeds that need to be directed to the firms and so forth, and of course, Nationwide Financial is willing to do that.