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Do Retirement Plan Sponsors Find Your Advisory Services Valuable?

Plan Sponsor Survey | Retirement Advisors | Ohio CPA Firm
Discover key findings from the 2017 Plan Sponsor Attitudes survey. Read on to check out our summary.

Retirement plan advisors are chosen by plan sponsors for a variety of reasons, but according to Fidelity’s annual Plan Sponsor Attitudes survey, unless advisors prove to be knowledgeable, attentive and supportive, their plan sponsors will not hesitate to look for an advisor who will.

The survey, which was summarized in a recent article by, found that while 65 percent of plan sponsors are satisfied with their plan advisors, 38 percent are on the market to make a switch – up from 30 percent last year. And while the majority of respondents rely on their plan advisors for plan design and investment services, survey responses show that what sponsors value most can vary from the initial reason for hiring an advisor in the first place.

Thirty-seven percent of those surveyed said concern about fiduciary duties led them to hire a plan advisor while company growth and help with investments were cited by respondents at 27 percent and 26 percent respectively. However, once the advisor-sponsor relationship was established, 34 percent of those polled said their advisor’s retirement plan expertise was what they found most valuable, followed by the ability to understand the needs of the sponsor’s company and their employees (18 percent) and investment expertise (17 percent).

Finally, when it came time to consider splitting with their advisors, the three primary reasons plan sponsors gave for their decision were:

  1. A need for a more knowledgeable advisor
  2. Too many servicing issues with their recordkeeper
  3. Not enough support for employee education requirements.

“This is not a time for plan advisors to rest on their laurels,” said Jordan Burgess, head of specialist field sales overseeing DCIO sales at Fidelity Institutional Asset Management. “For some advisors, this could put their business at risk. For others, this could be an opportunity to win new clients.”

Other Key Findings

  • Not only are plan advisors instrumental in the plan sponsor’s decision to make plan design changes, nearly 80 percent of plan sponsors surveyed reported their participants are satisfied with the changes.
  • Auto-enrollment is the most popular plan design change among survey respondents, followed by:
    • Adding a qualified default investment alternative (QDIA)
    • Enrolling or re-enrolling participants into a target date retirement fund
    • Adding a Roth contribution option
    • Adding an annual employee deferral percentage escalation program
  • When it comes to their retirement plans, plan sponsors are primarily focused on reducing business costs. They also expressed concern for managing fiduciary responsibility, preparing employees for retirement and addressing the risk of litigation and liability.

Fidelity’s 2017 Plan Sponsor Attitudes survey analyzed data collected from more than 1,100 plan sponsors. Those participating in the survey were identified as the primary person responsible for managing their organization’s 401(K) plan, which were identified as having at least 25 participants and $10 million in plan assets. The survey was conducted in collaboration with the eRewards panel from Research Now, an independent market research company.

By Paul McEwan, CPA, MTax, AIFA (New Philadelphia office)

Check out these articles for more insight for retirement plan advisors:

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Unlock The Savings Potential Of Your Plan’s Participants

Retirement Plan Participants Are Content To Watch Their Savings Simmer