Web Database Offers 401(k) Provider Information for Plan Advisers

A new service called 401(k) Rekon aggregates and lists resources offered to financial advisers by 401(k) plan providers.

The Web site (www.401kRekon.com), which launched last week in beta phase, essentially serves as a portal for advisers to research 401(k) bundled providers, defined contribution investment-only (DCIO) providers, and third-party administrators (TPAs). The goal is to let providers give advisers their “elevator speeches,” CEO Ross Marino, a financial adviser, told PLANADVISER.

The site aims to help advisers save time to research 401(k) providers—but is only a starting place and doesn’t aim to analyze the information or tell advisers what’s best, Marino explained. “You have to do a certain level of research to help your client make a decision; we are just doing a large portion of that research.”

The site is especially geared toward advisers that don’t specialize in 401(k) plans as well as financial analysts at broker/dealers. “We will save them time by giving them a place to start their research,” Marino said.

Marino has had a financial planning practice for 21 years and got into the 401(k) business about 10 years ago. He leveraged the resources of providers in order to learn about 401(k)s, he said. “As you enter the 401(k) industry, you realize it’s a completely separate business from financial planning…What I found was there weren’t a lot of resources to help the average adviser implement 401(k) plans into his or her practice,” Marino said. “Everything seemed as if it was geared toward full-time 401(k) advisers.”

“I joke that learning how to do 401(k)s and researching the providers is cruel and unusual punishment,” he added.

The site offers information on about 50 providers (Marino expects it to grow to 70 or 80). Under each provider, it presents summaries and links to resources. While advisers can’t view password-protected information without a login and can’t access materials non-compliant with their firms, they can see that the information is there.

So far, Marino said providers are very responsive to giving Rekon their information—after all, the service allows them to give their commercial to advisers. Marino said providers are also interested in using the service themselves in order to learn about the other platforms.

The site is free right now for advisers, but Marino plans to have a business model by offering premium services and charging providers for listings. New services coming soon will include a search function, which would allow for advisers to search the database for certain features (such as which provider has a guaranteed income product or which DCIO firm offers a third-party investment review).