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Opinion

Break into the Retirement Plan Sponsor Market

November 30, 2017

As large retirement plans continue to face increased scrutiny and litigation from employees and regulators alike, sponsors of small plans need the help and guidance of qualified advisors more than ever. Advisors serving entrepreneurs and business owners now have an opportunity to empower these clients to make a difference in the lives of their employees through comprehensive retirement planning. At the same time, providing retirement planning as an added level of service positions advisors to strengthen their own businesses, deepening relationships and opening the door to discuss new layers of clients’ financial and personal goals.

For many advisors the leap into the retirement space can feel overwhelming. However, as with anything new, leading with a personal strength can help advisors ensure solid footing when entering fresh territory. In this case, advisors’ most powerful strengths are well-established client relationships. For example, if an advisor is already managing a portion of a business owner’s investments, it’s a logical extension to frame the conversation about the performance of those investments within the context of their ultimate retirement goals. By drawing this connection, advisors will be poised to easily broaden the conversation so it includes a discussion of retirement planning. This conversation can naturally involve an explanation of how a retirement plan can help the client grow their business — their number one asset — and retain talent.

Expanding into the retirement space also better enables advisors to grow and strengthen their own firms. A recent PriceMetrix study shows that advisors are struggling to bring on new clients: The average number of new household relationships acquired per advisor has decreased steadily since 2013. In fact, these numbers fell to their lowest point in 2016 with an average of only 7.5 new household relationships per advisor. And given that, according to CEB/Gartner, 71% of investors prefer working with an advisor who provides a complete approach to wealth management, there is a clear opportunity for advisors looking to acquire new clients to include retirement planning within the range of services they provide. At the same time, ensuring that existing relationships remain strong is also key to maintaining a healthy practice. In addition to offering retirement planning services to attract new business, advisors should present it as an option for existing clients as well, as a way to better serve more of their needs. This approach can help differentiate advisors from competitors and deepen their relationships with existing clients.

Many advisors already provide individual advice to business owners and entrepreneurs, but despite the benefits to both their practice and their clients, they may feel uncertain about the prospect of providing retirement plan advice for a company and taking on retirement planning for its employees. Fortunately, comprehensive third-party solutions can be a pivotal resource to guide advisors through the complexities of this process, saving time and providing support with features like plan design, investment due diligence, a mobile-friendly website, plan sponsor and participant service hotlines, and bundled administrative and record-keeping services.

Moreover, these solutions may offer retirement plan options that can be tailored to meet the needs of large and small businesses alike while maintaining the level of quality often available only to bigger plans.

Leveraging this type of solution is highly efficient for an advisor looking to tap into the retirement space for the first time, allowing them to cement their value with clients in a manner that is not prohibitively resource-intensive.

Building expertise with retirement planning is a key strategy for advisors looking to remain competitive — and many business owners are in need of guidance to navigate the creation and maintenance of a retirement plan for their employees. By approaching the expansion into retirement advice in a way that is thoughtful, relationship-based, and efficient, advisors can place themselves—and their clients—on a path to long-term success.