Vestwell Announces New Advisory Board of Six Industry Leaders including Josh Brown and Lori Hardwick to Provide Strategic Counsel on Company Initiatives

NEW YORK, Nov. 9, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — Vestwell announced today the creation of a new advisory board to provide guidance and advice as the firm experiences significant growth. As of today, the board includes six prestigious industry leaders.

Vestwell’s new advisory board will meet with the firm’s leadership team to provide strategic counsel. Discussions will revolve around best practices, innovative ideas, and sharing feedback on the growing company’s trajectory. The newly appointed Advisory Board members include:

  • Josh Brown, CEO of Ritholtz Wealth Management
  • Lori Hardwick, Founder & President at AI Labs, former Co-Founder & Group President at Envestnet, Inc. and Chief Operating Officer of BNY Mellon’s Pershing
  • Aaron Schildkrout, Global Head of Growth & Driver Product at Uber
  • Lowell Putnam, Co-Founder and CEO of Quovo
  • Jamie Bernardin, Former CTO at Integral Ad Science & Founder/President of DataSynapse (acquired by TIBCO Software)
  • Peter Kennedy, Former Chief Operating Officer TIAA Individual & Institutional Services, LLC. and former Chief Administrative Officer for the Managed Account Business at UBS Financial

Josh Brown, CEO of Ritholtz Wealth Management, is a renowned industry thought leader known for sharing market and industry insights on his blog, The Reformed Broker. “I am thrilled to be selected as an inaugural member of Vestwell’s new Advisory Board,” said Brown. “I’m excited to use my experience as a financial advisor to shed light on industry issues to help propel Vestwell’s effort of providing advisors with best-in-class retirement planning technology to the next level.”

Lori Hardwick, is an entrepreneur at heart, having been a co-Founder of Envestnet as Group President of Advisor Services, and most recently co-founding Advisor Innovation Labs. She has deep working knowledge of what drives advisors and how they can best service their clients. Her proven ability to grow, shape and lead a team in the FinTech & FinServ space is highly-valued. As it pertains to Vestwell, Ms. Hardwick states, “The company’s retirement technology solutions are changing the way advisors interact with their clients. I’m looking forward to providing counsel to the board on how to service advisors on all sides of the table, from technology to customer service perspectives.”

“In just about a year since launching, Vestwell has attracted thousands of financial advisors looking to offer low-cost retirement plan options on a platform that assumes fiduciary responsibility,” said Aaron Schumm, Vestwell founder and CEO. “We are thrilled to announce our new Advisory Board, which will continue to push us to innovate more, allowing us to create efficient and customized solutions for financial advisors – ensuring that plan sponsors have access to high quality, low-cost retirement plan options. It’s a true pleasure to be surrounded by such experts and thought leaders in the industry, as we take Vestwell to new heights.”

About Vestwell Holdings, Inc.
Vestwell Advisors, LLC is a SEC registered investment advisor, a wholly owned subsidiary of Vestwell Holdings, Inc., specializing in 401(k), 403(b) and other defined contribution and benefit retirement investment management services. Built by an experienced team led by CEO Aaron Schumm, Vestwell assumes 3(38) investment management and ERISA3(16) fiduciary responsibility on the behalf of advisors and their plan sponsor clients. Learn more at Vestwell.com and on Twitter @Vestwell.

This is not an offer, solicitation, or advice to buy or sell securities in jurisdictions where Vestwell Advisors is not registered. An investor should consider investment objectives, risks and expenses before investing. More information is available within Vestwell Advisors’ ADV. There are risks involved with investing. Investors should consider all of their assets, income and investments. Portfolios are subject to change. All opinions and results included in this publication constitute Vestwell Advisors’ judgment as of the date of this publication and are subject to change without notice.

SOURCE Vestwell Holdings, Inc.

Related Links

http://www.vestwell.com

 

3 Reasons Why 401(k) Plan Fees Should Reflect Amounts Managed, and Not the Number of People Invested

401(k) fees are like death and taxes—not fun but inevitable.

Still, plan sponsors often have some leeway in deciding how their fees will be calculated.

While 401(k) fees based on the number of total plan participants have been gaining ground, there are three clear benefits for plans whose fees are tied the total assets under management (AUM).

Fee by Headcount

Fees based on headcount have been gaining ground.

In 2016, 51% of plan sponsors reported using plans that assessed fees based on the number of 401(k) participants. This was the first time that fixed fee plans made up more than half of total plans.

Yet while fixed fee arrangements are becoming more common, they may not be the best choice for fast-growing companies.

3 Reasons to Choose Plans Based on AUM Pricing

Here are three reasons why plan sponsors may wish to consider AUM-based fee structures for your plan:

  • First, AUM-based fee plans are more predictable, even when a company is growing fast. If it doubles its workforce under a fixed per-person structure, then its benefits costs will also double. With an AUM structure, new workers typically don’t cost much, because they haven’t accumulated balances yet. Plan sponsors  can expand without worrying about how it will change your benefits obligations.
  • Second, these plans are more cost-effective. Fees are typically levied on the employee, not the plan sponsor, which significantly lowers costs for business owners. Plus, because the fees are deducted from investment returns, most employees don’t notice the costs at all.
  • Third, AUM fees will probably be a better deal for a  young, fast-growing workforce. Employees start, most often, with zero balances. As they accumulate wealth in their accounts, costs may go up, but employers won’t have to pay extra fees right away.  

 

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and do not constitute any service or obligation of Vestwell Holdings, Inc or its affiliates.

This Tax Benefit Can Get Your Client Over the Fence About Starting a Retirement Plan

It’s time to discuss whether your small business owner should start offering a retirement plan.*

You might be able to garner more interest on the topic by showing what tax benefits are included.

The tax credit, a dollar-for-dollar reduction of the company’s income taxes, might just be enough to get your client over the fence.

Credit for Small Employer Pension Plan Startup Costs

If certain conditions are met, your client can claim a deduction for the start-up costs of a new retirement plan, of up to $500 per year for the first three years of the plan, for a maximum of $1,500.

The plan must be a qualified retirement plan, SEP-IRA, or SIMPLE.

Is Your Employer Eligible?

According to IRS rules, eligible employers must:

  • Have fewer than 100 employees who received at least $5,000 in compensation for the past year
  • Have at least one non-highly compensated employee in the plan
  • Not have contributions or accrued benefits from another qualified retirement plan from the same company or as part of a control group, for this same group of employees, for the prior three years before this plan was put in place

The Tax Credit

The amount of the credit is 50% of the normal start-up costs for the plan each year, up to a limit of $500.

Eligible start-up costs include:

  • Costs to establish the plan
  • Cost to educate your employees about the plan

The credit may be claimed for each of the first three years of the plan, and businesses may choose to start claiming the credit in the tax year before the tax year in which the plan becomes effective.

It is also part of the general business credit and may be carried backwards or forward if it can’t be used in the current tax year.

There is no “double dipping,” i.e., the same costs used for the credit cannot then be deducted as a business expense.

Retirement plans offer a number of benefits for business owner and their employees.

Mention the $1,500 tax credit benefit to your small business clients, and you might be able to get them over the fence about offering a retirement plan to their employees.

 

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and do not constitute any service or obligation of Vestwell Holdings, Inc or its affiliates.

*Vestwell and its affiliates do not offer tax advice

Are you about to lose your client? Maybe, if you’re not managing these top 3 problems

A new Fidelity Investments “2017 Plan Sponsor Attitudes” study shows that 4 in 10 plan sponsors say they want new advisors. Nearly half of your book of business may be at risk.

That change in advisors could set some $1.3 trillion in defined contribution assets in motion.* But it’s also an opportunity.

You now have the chance to win the same percentage of plans away from your competitors.

To gather this information, Fidelity surveyed 1,106 plan sponsors responsible for plans with at least 25 participants and between $10 and $250 million in assets. Some, but not all, of the respondents were Fidelity recordkeeping clients.

“The stakes for plan advisors have been raised,” according to Jordan Burgess, head of specialist field sales for Fidelity Institutional Asset Management.

How can advisors protect their existing book of defined contribution business — and ensure they get a slice of that $1.3 trillion in moving assets?  

By addressing the issues that plague plan sponsors most, the top three pain points for company owners who offer defined contribution plans.

Plan Sponsor Pain Point #1: I’m not sure I’m fulfilling my fiduciary duties.

Most plan sponsors know they have to manage their company’s plans to serve participants’ best interests, but few understand exactly what that means.

Your ability to explain their fiduciary duties—and, if possible, take on some of these duties in their place—can go a long way to assuage these concerns.

Working with Vestwell, for instance, solves this problem. Vestwell can take on fiduciary responsibility for your clients and provide ERISA Section 3(16) fiduciary plan administration services, as well as 3(21) or 3(38) fiduciary investment management services.

Plan Sponsor Pain Point #2: My plan’s investment options may not be performing well enough.

More than a third (36%) of the plan sponsors in the Fidelity survey replaced at least one underperforming fund last year.

Plan sponsors understand that they are responsible for offering participants a sound, well-managed array of options.

But most company owners and HR professionals don’t have time to continually monitor investment performance.

You can help them by providing a competitive analysis that shows how their investment menu compares with other companies in your industry through Vestwell.

 

Plan Sponsor Pain Point #3: My plan costs too much in fees.

Keeping fees reasonable is a big part of any plan sponsor’s fiduciary responsibility—and it’s a moving target since the fee landscape has been changing rapidly over the last several years.

You can set a plan sponsor’s mind at rest by offering a competitive analysis of plan fees through Vestwell.

This analysis will show whether a plan is paying more, about the same, or less in fees than similar sized plans in the company’s industry.

To capture your share these assets in motion, you’ll need to offer in-depth retirement plan expertise, insightful plan design, quality, cost-effective investment options and advice, and guidance on fiduciary responsibilities.

Vestwell can help you meet their needs with streamlined, cost-effective plan design and the ability to take on fiduciary responsibility.

For more on how we can help you make the most of this opportunity, visit www.vestwell.com.

 

*Fidelity Investments, 2017 Plan Sponsor Attitudes

Vestwell Recognized Globally for its Innovation by RegTech 100 List

 

Vestwell is excited to be named one of 2018’s most innovative companies in regulatory technology by RegTech 100. The RegTech 100 recognizes companies that are transforming the regulatory technology industry and are quickly becoming important to financial institutions. Vestwell is proud to offer a solution that makes the complexity of regulating retirement planning a simple, streamlined process for financial advisors, companies, and participants.

 

Global RegTech 100 list announced to recognize the FinTech companies changing the landscape for financial institutions

NYC Startup Vestwell Raised $8M To Ensure Your Employer is Offering The Right Retirement Plan

1/3 of Americans have nothing saved for retirement while half have less than $10K saved.  The outlook for retirement savings has been bleak but it doesn’t need to be.  Vestwell is a digital platform targeted towards financial advisors that can use the platform to ensure their clients can offer retirement plans for their employees.  Pensions have all about disappeared and employers need low cost ways to offer retirement investment options for their employees and employees need the help of their employers to achieve their retirement goals.  Vestwell facilitates this seamlessly and efficiently. No longer are employers forced to adopt out-of-the-box plans that do not meet their and their employees needs.

AlleyWatch spoke with founder Aaron Schumm about the startup, their Series A round of funding, and the state of the retirement industry.

Who were your investors and how much did you raise?

Thank you. We are very excited about closing our Series A. We raised $8M, led by F-Prime Capital. The round was entirely inside, with the same VC firms participating in our Series A. To us at Vestwell, it’s great to have such strong commitment from a highly talented team of investors around us.

Tell us about your product or service.

Vestwell is a turnkey solution for financial advisers providing them with the ability to offer clients a retirement plan without taking on the risk and costs typically associated with creating one. We remove the friction points of confusion, cost and compliance overhead that come with traditional retirement plans. Vestwell’s digital platform allows for seamless plan design, automated onboarding, and low-cost investment strategies, making it easier for employers to offer a retirement plan. Vestwell becomes an extension of the financial advisor’s services, acting in everyone’s best interest while scaling through technology and allowing financial advisors to focus on clients.

What inspired you to start the company?

My own experiences are what drove me to start Vestwell. Being a product person by trade, having cofounded a wealth management platform (FolioDynamix, now owned by Envestnet), I experienced first-hand, the difficulties in offering a retirement plan to our employees there. Being a huge advocate of advisors, with a deep understanding of how to build a scalable FinTech platform for the financial services landscape, I thought it was long overdue that we put a better solution in the hands of advisors to help their clients, the way they want to help them.

How is it different?

The 401k industry has been around for 40 years and sliced a million ways. Our differentiators are centered around how the platform is architected to scale an advisors practice while helping ease the pain, expense, and liability an advisor, plan sponsor and participant may be beholden.

Each user (advisor, company, and employee) has their own dashboard and interface that can sit across multiple record-keepers, custodians and executing brokers, without changing the user experience. Advisors no longer have to either shove a company in a box that doesn’t fit the company or customize a plan through various providers that won’t allow an advisor to scale his or her practice. We’ve figured out how to deliver a custom, white-labeled (e.g., ABC Advisors Retirement Platform), solution at a fraction of the cost, but still allow the advisor to do what s/he wants to do for their client while being compensated for it.

What market you are targeting and how big is it?

We work with RIA’s, independent broker-dealers, asset managers, and bank/trust custodians to equip them with a solution for advisors to services plan sponsors and employees at scale. The target plan sponsor size is $500K-$50M (2-2K employees). Upwards of 90% of this market is serviced through financial advisors, but they need a better solution to help their clients more effectively. The total asset breath in this space is upwards of $25T.

What’s your business model?

Primarily Vestwell charges basis points in an a-la-carte fashion based on the services provided. The solution is a full-service, unbundled turnkey suite. We become an extension of the advisory firm. They do what they do best, and we fill in the rest to compliment the advisor.   For example, if an advisor wants to be the 3(21) or 3(38) investment manager on the plan or hire a sub-advisor, they can do so, and we facilitate the technology, administration, trading, custody, and clearing, in a white-labeled capacity.

What should everyone know about retirement?

EVERY employee in America should have access to a 401k plan. It’s crucial for saving for retirement in one of the most effective ways possible, especially given company matching (free money) and tax deferrals. But, one should be mindful of the plan design, legal liability (as a fiduciary) and the cost, including the investment fees and ongoing administration. Paying too much or exposure to too much liability can be detrimental to a company or employee in the future. Fear or uncertainty shouldn’t stop one from setting up a plan or investing in one. It just needs to be clear, easily consumable and structured in a way that aligns everyone’s best interest.

What was the funding process like?

We were incredibly fortunate in our funding process. We hadn’t, officially decided to raise our Series A, with plenty of runway ahead of us. There was a lot of outside interest in Vestwell. But, our Series Seed investors said: “Listen, we are behind you 100% in whatever you feel is best for the company, and we are happy to do the round ourselves to help take Vestwell to the next level.” The group around the table have been a delight to work with, and added a significant amount of value beyond just capital. So the decision to keep the round internal was easy.

What are the biggest challenges that you faced while raising capital?

It’s a massive distraction from the business to raise capital. My focus was to keep the internal employees involved very small and contained, so the rest of the team could focus on funding while I finished up the funding.

What factors about your business led your investors to write the check?

Our investors are all there for specific reasons. We had an opportunity to be supported by teams that knew FinTech, the retirement industry, advisory practice, and B2B2C scaling better than anyone. They didn’t need much convincing. We all saw the fit and the strategic direction of the company. They were happy to support those efforts and take this to the next level.

What are the milestones you plan to achieve in the next six months?

We’ve already signed over 50+ advisory firms and are onboarding plan sponsors continuously. The next few months are focused on scaling faster and faster, while delivering on a few key strategic platform features we think will delight our users.

What advice can you offer companies in New York that do not have a fresh injection of capital in the bank?

Listen, startup life is hard. There is zero glamor in it. I feel that many people have a skewed perception as to what it means to be an “entrepreneur.” But, I do stand by the notion that if you believe in what you are doing, you love it, and most importantly, you can add real value to this world and society, then it’s worth pursuing. One has to stay highly focused on how to add value a segment of the population with a more significant goal of sustainable benefit for all. If you can do that, while creating a clear path to a viable, sustainable business, you’ll find funding. In the meantime, ignore the fluff. Ignore the distractions. Stay focused.

Where do you see the company going now over the near term?

Generically, growing, scaling and providing value to advisors, companies, and employees. Specifically, I want to position ourselves to equip every financial services provider to create a more meaningful interaction with the American workforce through technology, while being a viable, scalable, profitable business.

Where is your favorite fall destination in the city?

These days, I feel my destinations only include our home, office, and an airport. But, my wife and I love taking our little 11-month old son to nearby Central Park or along Riverside, maximizing as much time together as we can, given our overly hectic schedules. People always say it, but it’s incredible how much joy and renewed perspective children give you.

Vestwell Announces New Joint Offering with Riskalyze to Deliver an End-to-End Digital 401(k) Experience Built Around the Risk Number®

The partnership will bring two of the financial advice industry’s leading financial technology platforms together for an optimal retirement planning and risk assessment experience

NEW YORK, NY, October 5, 2017 — Vestwell and Riskalyze today announced a new joint offering called Riskalyze Retirement Solutions, allowing advisors to access a new version of Vestwell’s retirement planning portal on the Riskalyze platform. The deep partnership will put Vestwell, the industry’s first fiduciary-backed retirement platform for the financial advisor community, and Riskalyze, the industry’s leading risk alignment platform, in the hands of financial advisors to better service employers and investors everywhere.

Aaron Schumm, CEO at Vestwell, was featured today during the main keynote address at the Fearless Investing Summit, where both companies discussed how the partnership will help advisors scale their practice, while enhancing the client experience, with compliance and a fiduciary mindset at the core.

Advisors will be able to simply log into the Riskalyze platform to generate 401(k) proposals and onboard clients electronically. In addition, plan participants will have access to pinpoint their own Risk Number® to help them get matched with the right asset allocation.

In addition to Vestwell’s 3(38) investment management services, the new joint offering will include access to several of the asset managers in Riskalyze’s Autopilot Partner Store. This will give advisors, plan sponsors and plan participants access to additional investment strategies, while still allowing Vestwell to assume ERISA 3(16) fiduciary responsibility on behalf of advisors and plan sponsors.

Overall, the new joint offering will allow advisors to clearly document their alignment and compliance with the pending DOL Fiduciary Rule, and demonstrate that they are acting in the best interests of plan participants. Users of the joint offering can look forward to the following features:

  • Operational Efficiency: The integration will remove an advisor’s administrative burden to sell, implement, and service retirement plans while handling both the HR participant notification process and the 5500 tax filing on the advisor’s behalf.
  • Holistic Planning: Riskalyze’s risk alignment platform will now enable advisors to offer an end-to-end digital 401(k) experience built around the Risk Number, by integrating risk assessment, goal analysis and asset allocation into Vestwell’s innovative experiences for advisors, plan sponsors and plan participants.
  • Scalability: By offering flexible, bundled or unbundled investment and fiduciary services, the digital platform will enable advisors to scale their business without heavy operational cost or burden. The platform does this by leveraging administrative services and fiduciary services as needed.
  • Enhanced Client Experience: With a streamlined and simple digital portal, advisors will be able to control the delivery of their client experience. By allowing advisors to deliver a consistent experience through an open-architecture, multi-custodian, multi-record-keeper platform, the platform will equip advisors to seamlessly guide clients in choosing investing strategies based on their individual needs while automatically rebalancing portfolios.

“At Vestwell, our number one priority is providing financial advisors with retirement technology that removes the administrative burden of implementing and servicing retirement plans,” said Vestwell CEO Aaron Schumm. “We’re thrilled to reach more advisors through our partnership with Riskalyze, an industry leader whose mission of equipping advisors with outstanding risk assessment technologies mirrors our own core values.”

The offering will be available to Riskalyze users including Registered Independent Advisors, Independent Broker-Dealers, investment managers, plan sponsors, and employees.

“Vestwell’s mission to make retirement plans affordable and accessible for all investors is reflective of our own hope: to empower fearless investing by providing investors with their true risk tolerance, and helping advisors align portfolios in the best interests of their clients,” said Aaron Klein, CEO of Riskalyze. “These shared values are what prompted us to choose Vestwell as our partner in delivering an end-to-end digital 401(k) experience built around the Risk Number.”

The integration will be available later this year. To introduce the offering to the advisor community, Riskalyze and Vestwell will be hosting joint webinars to help educate and train advisors using the platform. To learn more about Vestwell’s retirement planning platform, visit www.vestwell.com. For more information about Riskalyze, visit www.riskalyze.com.

 

About Vestwell Holdings, Inc.

Vestwell Advisors, LLC is a SEC registered investment advisor, a wholly owned subsidiary of Vestwell Holdings, Inc., specializing in 401(k), 403(b) and other defined contribution and benefit retirement investment management services. Built by an experienced team led by CEO Aaron Schumm, Vestwell can assume 3(38) or 3(21) investment management and ERISA3(16) fiduciary responsibility on the behalf of advisors and their plan sponsor clients. Learn more at Vestwell.com and on Twitter @Vestwell.

This is not an offer, solicitation, or advice to buy or sell securities in jurisdictions where Vestwell Advisors is not registered. An investor should consider investment objectives, risks and expenses before investing. More information is available within Vestwell Advisors’ ADV.  There are risks involved with investing. Investors should consider all of their assets, income and investments. Portfolios are subject to change. All opinions and results included in this publication constitute Vestwell Advisors’ judgment as of the date of this publication and are subject to change without notice.

 

About Riskalyze

Riskalyze is the company that invented the Risk Number®, which powers the world’s first Risk Alignment Platform, empowers advisors to automate client accounts with Autopilot, and enables compliance teams to spot issues, develop real-time visibility and navigate changing fiduciary rules with Compliance Cloud. Advisors, broker-dealers, RIAs, asset managers, custodians and clearing firms use Riskalyze to empower the world to invest fearlessly. To learn more, visit www.riskalyze.com.

 

Media Contacts:
Jessica Torchia
917-636-4804
Jessica.Torchia@ficommpartners.com

3 Types of Advisors That Can Benefit from 401k Plan Automation

Talk to advisors on the floor of any major financial advisor conference, and you will see that there are many kinds of advisor practices. Lifestyle or high-growth, niche specialty or generalist, local or location-independent, the variety is endless. And yet, most advisors have one thing in common. They chose their profession because they wanted to help clients by empowering them to make better financial decisions.

The exhibit hall of the same conference will reveal that the FinTech industry has numerous tools and automated systems to support advisors in their quest to help. Modern financial planning platforms make it easy for advisors to scale their practices and support a large number of clients.

Unfortunately, when it comes to helping companies that sponsor their own retirement plans, the 401k industry makes it difficult for advisors to help. A lack of standards, confusing terminology and limited fund choices contribute to an environment where many advisors find it is easier to just avoid servicing retirement plans.

That is a big loss for their practices, their potential clients and the industry overall. When done right and assisted by modern technology, a 401k offering can be a powerful differentiator and a strong contributor to an advisor’s bottom line.

From our years of experience helping advisors, we have learned that there is no single “right” way to manage 401k plans. Some professionals dip their toe in, while others choose to become 401k specialists.

These three case studies highlight some of the struggles advisors encounter with 401k plans and how technology can help them scale.

“Newbie Newman”

“Newbie Newman” is an advisor who never worked in the 401k space. Of course, he is familiar with retirement saving plans. He has a few wealth management clients who are small business owners, and a few have asked him if he could manage their 401k plans.

However, Newman is hesitant to take the first step. The complexities of the DOL Fiduciary Rule, conversion horror stories, and the intricacies of fiduciary responsibilities make it seem like adding plan sponsor clients is a lot of effort for an uncertain payoff.

How can 401k plan automation help Newman?

With a turnkey technology solution, Newman would not have to become an instant fiduciary expert. The software will take care of the most complicated parts of 401k plans. With all the necessary elements to manage a 401k plan in one place, it is easy to get organized and structure the workflows.

New plan sponsors can be onboarded in 30 minutes or less, and their employees can be enjoying the benefits of a new plan within 30 days. With technology handling the heavy lifting, Newman is free to focus on serving his clients and building new relationships.

Outcome: Newman is now a holistic advisor because he can offer 401k plan management to his business owner clients.

“Generalist Gerry”

“Generalist Gerry” is an advisor with a handful of 401k plan clients. While he has been servicing them for a few years, there are days he wishes he didn’t have to. Figuring out the right partners was tough enough (TPAs? RKs? Corporate trustees?) but now, the ongoing effort spent to service the plans is a painful reminder of the day he chose to take them on as clients.

Somewhere between manually filling out forms, faxing hundred-page adoption agreements and dealing with call centers, Gerry realized that large record-keepers and Third-Party Administrators don’t provide the level of support he requires.

On a good month, Gerry spends between 10 and 15 hours laboring with his three plan clients. A simple request from a participant for a loan from her 401k can take an hour or longer to fulfill!

How is he supposed to grow his business if the model does not scale?

“There must be better way,” reflects Gerry as he waits on hold with the record-keeper. In the hour it takes him to get to a real person, he could have made several follow-up prospect calls!  

The good news is that there is a better way. The right technology platform can bring all the key players together in one “virtual” room. There is a single point of contact for onboarding and other critical tasks. Your dedicated relationship manager is always there to answer your questions on anything from tech support to administrative details.

Modern technology solutions for 401k plan management offer true white-glove treatment for loans and rollovers. They automate filling out paperwork and guide you through the process so you won’t have to Google confusing acronyms.

Even better, participants can submit online forms to change their contributions or request loans without requiring a phone call to your office.

Outcome: Plan participants are happier since administration is simple and their needs can be addressed in a timely manner. Gerry is happy since he no longer has to deal with multiple points of contact, and his workload is dramatically reduced. Perhaps more 401k plan clients are in his future?

“Specialist Stephanie”

401k plans are a significant part of “Specialist Stephanie’s” book of business. She services 30 retirement plan sponsors, many of them large and sophisticated.

Stephanie would love to create her own model portfolios and present custom strategies for her clients. Unfortunately, some record-keepers are also fund companies, and they prefer to restrict her plans to using only their funds. Since there are so few options, there is little chance Stephanie will be able to create custom-tailored portfolios for her discerning clients.

Additionally, planning for quarterly client meetings has become a chore for Stephanie. Plan information is often difficult to locate, and many plans do not have participant-level data. Stephanie spends hours trying to dig up relevant details and explanations, and every quarter the burdensome process repeats.

Stephanie’s other problem is branding. Even though she manages client relationships and is building her brand as a 401k specialist, Third-Party Administrator and record-keeper brands are the only ones visible to her clients. Stephanie’s name and logo are nowhere to be found, so plan participants never get to know her! This will be a problem if a participant leaves to start his or her own company, since they don’t have a direct connection to Stephanie.

Finally, tracking assets under management and investments is cumbersome. Stephanie’s sponsor clients are spread across 10 different record-keepers and custodians. If she wants to manage and see her overall AUM, she must log in to each record-keeper’s platform separately, write down the AUM and enter the number into a spreadsheet.

Keeping track of over a dozen login credentials for different plans is a hassle, and the process of monitoring investments is excessively time-consuming. Since managing each plan takes so long, Stephanie has little time for plans with less than $1M. Turning away potential clients is always painful.

The good news is that a turnkey platform can be an easy solution for the smaller plans. The advisor can make up to $7,500 per plan each year with minimal upkeep time. Adding 10 plans can create an additional $75,000 in annual income with very little additional work required!

In choosing the right platform, Stephanie should look for one that offers the simplicity and convenience of a single point of contact. Vendors like Vestwell fulfill the roles of both record-keeper and Third-Party Administrator, making it easy for Stephanie to manage multiple plans. There is only one place to go to gather data on the plans and prepare for quarterly meetings.

The right platform will also allow Stephanie to build her own models and strategies. A stronger and more flexible menu of investment options, which is not limited by the interests of fund companies, is exactly what she needs!

Best of all, a modern solution will allow Stephanie to finally build her own brand as a 401k specialist. Plan sponsors and participants will log in to Stephanie’s white-labeled website. Participants that go to another company or start their own business will know Stephanie’s name and can contact her to set up their 401k plans, no matter what’s next for them.

Outcome: Stephanie can spend her time and energy on maintaining client relationships. No more chasing down forms or combing websites for performance data! Clients get personal treatment that makes Stephanie look good. After all, a modern platform like Vestwell works as an extension of Stephanie’s firm.

Winning the 401k space with modern technology

You might be curious about 401k plans, have a handful of plan sponsor clients, or run a specialty 401k practice. No matter which case study you currently associate with, the right technology can help you serve your clients better, improve your workflows and scale your practice.

The three cases we chose are just examples from a broad range of advisor practices. We know that your firm is unique. The Vestwell team is here to make it easy for you to service retirement plans, whether you are Newbie Newman, Generalist Gerry, Specialist Stephanie or someone in between!

Your guide to end-of-the-year 401(k) notices

The final quarter of 2017 has arrived, and with it the reminders of important year-end notices for retirement plan sponsors. Here’s a quick guide to some important notices, and why they matter:

October 1: Safe Harbor establishment

The deadline to establish a new safe harbor 401(k) plan for 2017 was October 1.

For those companies still wanting to contribute to a retirement plan for 2017, they might consider establishing a profit-sharing plan for this year, and then starting a safe harbor 401(k) plan early in 2018.

For those unfamiliar with safe harbor plans, the main advantage is that they provide a means for business owners and highly-compensated executives to contribute the maximum amounts to their 401(k) accounts.

This can, at times, create a problem if the company’s workforce does not contribute enough for the plan to pass its various discrimination tests regarding the amount deferred by the highly comped, versus non-highly compensated employees.

In exchange for enhanced matching or a contribution for all employees that is immediately vested, the highly comped employees are not restricted in the amount of salary they can defer, up to statutory plan limits.

In summary, these plans can greatly enhance the ability of business owners and highly- compensated employees to save for their own retirements.

November 1: SIMPLE conversion to a 401(k)

For employers offering a SIMPLE IRA who want to convert the plan to a 401(k), the deadline for notifying employees is November 1.

Rules stipulate that an employer cannot offer both a SIMPLE IRA and a 401(k) in the same calendar year.

When planning the conversion, employees under 59½ who pull their money out of a SIMPLE plan within the first two years of participation face a 25% penalty fee of their investment balances for doing so.

Employers, then, will want to ensure that they don’t unintentionally subject their employees to this penalty.

Safe Harbor plan for 2018

Employees must be provided with a notice that the plan will offer a safe harbor provision no later than December 1 of each calendar year.

This notification is required for existing plans that already offer safe harbor provisions, and for existing plans that wish to convert to a safe harbor plan in 2018.

Summary

Clients who offer small business 401(k) plans may not be aware of all required year-end notices, or of the benefits of a safe harbor plan.

You can help plan sponsors are on top of the requirements and important dates, while establishing yourself as a trusted expert on the subject.