Financial advisors working with defined contribution plans may not be providingthe services that plan sponsors want.

|

According to a new study from Wells Fargo Asset Management, there is often adisconnect between what plan sponsors want and what advisors areconfident about providing.

|

For example, 70% of advisors surveyed found that followingthrough on regulatory and compliance issues is among the mostchallenging issues they face – which isn’t surprising given the newLabor Department fiduciary rule – but this focus is a priority forplan sponsors.

|

Also, almost 60% of advisors surveyed found that understandingparticipant behavior was challenging but that too is a priority forplan sponsors.

|

Wells Fargo surveyed 250 financial advisors, with 38% workingwith plans under $20 million and 62% with plans over$20 million, and compared their responses to those of plan sponsorssurveyed in 2015 in what it calls "The Science of Satisfaction"series.

|

The biggest disconnects uncovered in the survey pertained towhat advisors believe add value to their relationship with plansponsors and what the sponsors believe.

|

On a scale of 1 to 10, the number one value for plan sponsorswas effective communications, and the number two value wasengagement with the plans.

|

For advisors, the comparable rankings were numbers six and 10,respectively.

|

More than half of the advisors surveyed found it hard to provideeffective communication with easily understood explanations, and athird found that showing engagement with a plan to bechallenging.

|

Advisors ranked responsiveness as number one value they bring tothe relationship but that ranked last for plan sponsors since it’ssomething that they expect; they don’t view that as part of anadvisor’s value proposition, says Ronald Cohen, Head of DCIO &RIA Sales for Wells Fargo Asset Management.

|

Plan sponsors also rank understanding participant behavior apriority for advisors who can then help educate participants abouttheir retirement plans, but that ranks on the low end for advisors,which could be short-changing their business.

|

The study reports that advisors who consider understandingparticipants an important services were twice as likely to reportrevenue growth of 25% or over the past three years.

|

Advisors now more than ever “have to understand what plansponsors are looking for and deliver on that,” says Cohen.

|

He explained that as a result of the DOL fiduciary rule, all advisors have to act asfiduciaries, working in the best interest of their clients, whichwill make it harder for those who have been fiduciaries all along.They can’t differentiate themselves simply by being fiduciaries;they need to do more, says Cohen.

|

He suggests that advisors working on retirement plans provideannual summaries to plan sponsors, highlighting theiraccomplishments through the year; survey clients to learn whattheir priorities are; and develop education plans for planparticipants in concert with plan sponsors.

Complete your profile to continue reading and get FREE access to BenefitsPRO, part of your ALM digital membership.

  • Critical BenefitsPRO information including cutting edge post-reform success strategies, access to educational webcasts and videos, resources from industry leaders, and informative Newsletters.
  • Exclusive discounts on ALM, BenefitsPRO magazine and BenefitsPRO.com events
  • Access to other award-winning ALM websites including ThinkAdvisor.com and Law.com
NOT FOR REPRINT

© 2024 ALM Global, LLC, All Rights Reserved. Request academic re-use from www.copyright.com. All other uses, submit a request to [email protected]. For more information visit Asset & Logo Licensing.

Bernice Napach

Bernice Napach is a senior writer at ThinkAdvisor covering financial markets and asset managers, robo-advisors, college planning and retirement issues. She has worked at Yahoo Finance, Bloomberg TV, CNBC, Reuters, Investor's Business Daily and The Bond Buyer and has written articles for The New York Times, TheStreet.com, The Star-Ledger, The Record, Variety and Worth magazine. Bernice has a Bachelor of Science in Social Welfare from SUNY at Stony Brook.