Defining a Retirement Plan Master

Defining a retirement plan master Recently a survey was conducted by the Brightwork Partners, of 100 financial consultants and advisors that are actively advising on corporate retirement plans. Actively [currently, presently, insert your favorite synonym] is the key word here because this is really telling as a quick cartography of the industry landscape.

Only 10% of these advisors received 51%-100% of their income from managing retirement plans. What the means is that out of those 100 financial consultants and advisors that were surveyed, only 10% came even close to having any kind of specialized focus on retirement plans. 90% of them make most of their money from managing and overseeing various other financial plans.

Most commonly, income from advising and retirement plans was 1%-10% of the practice. Additionally, only 31 of the 100 practices answered that they actively (there’s that key word again) advised on these types of plans, as opposed to occasionally.

The median amount of assets in defined contribution plans was $29 million. If the practice stated that they were actively managing these types of plans (21%), then the median figure jumped to $238 million in assets under management.

The average number of plans managed was 17 for the total and 33 if the practice was actively working in the space. 65% of the advisors and consultants surveyed were part of Registered Investment Advisors and mainly fee-based as opposed to commission-based. Only 30 firms reported receiving any commission from plans.

91% of these advisors/consultants think of themselves as fiduciaries to the plans they sell. 73% assist with providing financial wellness support.

We’ve all heard the idiom “Jack of all trades, master of none.” Sometimes that’s heralded as a positive trait in polymaths like DaVinci and Galileo. But they aren’t the ones managing your retirement plan. You deserve a specialist in this field, a company or an individual who actively occupy a niche within their industry.

In his New York Times best-selling book, Mastery, Robert Greene writes a lot about what it means to occupy a specialized niche and truly master that work. He writes that “Mastery is dependent on the intensity of our focus.” That intensity of focus isn’t reflected in these survey statistics, at all.

Retirement Planology specializes in retirement plans and fiduciary responsibilities. While we care for the same level of assets and number of clients as those surveyed, we’re one of a kind. We are actively masters at the forefront of our niche. We get 100% of of our revenue from the retirement plans we actively manage and we’re an active fiduciary 100% of the time, assisting with financial wellness and support programs.

If you’d like to learn more about our services offered to plan sponsors, click here to email us. If you want hear more by Robert Greene and his book Mastery, he recently gave a great interview in the September 8th episode of the Blanchard LeaderChat podcast, available here.

Retirement Planology Named to 2017 Financial Times 401 Top Retirement Plan Advisers


September 27, 2017 – Retirement Planology is pleased to announce that it has been named to the 2017 edition of the Financial Times 401 Top Retirement Plan Advisers. The list recognizes the top financial advisers who specialize in serving defined contribution (DC) retirement plans.

This is the third annual FT 401 list, produced independently by the Financial Times in collaboration with Ignites Research, a subsidiary of the FT that provides business intelligence on asset management.

Financial advisers from across the U.S. applied for consideration, having met a set minimum of requirements. The applicants were then graded on seven criteria: DC assets under management (AUM); DC AUM growth rate; specialization in DC plans; years of experience; advanced industry credentials; compliance record and DC plan participation rate. There are no fees or other considerations required of advisers who apply for the FT 401.

The final FT 401 represents an impressive cohort of elite advisers: the “average” adviser in this year’s FT 401 has 19 years of experience advising DC plans and manages $1.6 billion in DC plan assets. The FT 401 advisers hail from 38 states and Washington, D.C., and DC plans on average account for 74% of their total assets under management.

The FT 401 is one in a series of rankings of top advisers developed by the FT in partnership with Ignites Research, including the FT 300 (independent RIA firms) and the FT 400 (broker-dealer advisers).

What investments you need to change for the DOL Rule

Multiple times today I've heard reports and seen documentation of "advisors" telling their clients that in order to accommodate the DOL's Fiduciary Rule, they need to make substantial changes to their investment menu. Folks, this is a dirty lie. Read on to find out why.

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2017 401(k) and 403(b) IRS Limits

Hot off the press from the IRS! No changes to the contribution amounts for 401k and 403b plans for next year. The limit on these plans remains $18,000 with a $6,000 catch-up for those turning age 50 or older. IRA limits also remained the same at $5,500 with a $1,000 catch-up.

Other limits pertaining to retirement plans: 

  • Total that can be contributed by the employee and employer increased to $54,000
  • Annual compensation limit considered for retirement plan benefits increased to $270,000
  • Annual compensation of “key employees” in a top-heavy plan increased to $175,000
  • Annual compensation of “highly compensated employee” definition remains at $120,000

Cost of living changes were made to other limits including:

  • deductibility for IRAs based on income
  • income phase-out for Roth IRAs
  • income limit for Savers Tax Credit

Visit for more information and details.

What does the DOL’s Proposed Fiduciary Rule mean to Plan Sponsors?

In a very, VERY small nutshell, the point and purpose of the DOL’s recently released proposed fiduciary rule is to level the playing field for all financial professionals interacting with retirement plans…that is, group plans (401k, etc) as well as IRAs. It establishes an enforceable fiduciary standard of care DOL believes to be consistent with the Employee Retirement Income Security Act.

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I Made a Promise Mr. Frodo: When to Share Investment Liability with a Fiduciary Financial Advisor

I Made a Promise Mr. Frodo: When to Share Investment Liability with a Fiduciary Financial Advisor

Fiduciary liability can feel like an incredible burden to bear, even for HR professionals. Job requirements day to day are demanding enough without adding retirement plan management on top of it. That’s where a fiduciary financial advisor comes in to help carry the weight of it all.

It’s like being entrusted with a heroic mission, much like Frodo Baggins in Lord of the Rings. Financial advisors are like the Samwise Gamgee’s of the story, the unmovable support that can carry you forward when you’re overwhelmed.

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Nobody can see your invisible jet: Why you need a retirement plan philosophy

Nobody can see your invisible jet: Why you need a retirement plan philosophy

For growing companies at an inflection point within their human resource capacity, a retirement plan philosophy provides a clear reference point for what’s important and what’s not within an organization, for both employees and executive leadership.

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