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COLLECTED WISDOM™ on Retirement Plan Advisor's Practice Management

Here is a collection of articles, commentary, insights and other information around issues dealing with a retirement plan advisor's practice management including growing your book, running your business, and best practices.

This archive contains not only the most current material on the topic, but also older items that are still relevant, provide background, perspective or are germane to the topic.

If you find a broken link or an items that you feel is outdate, irrelevant or no longer appropriate, please let us know.

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TPA Issues in DOL Investigations of Client Plans

Abstract: It's always unpleasant when a TPA gets a call or a letter from the Department of Labor (DOL) about an investigation of a client's qualified plan. What should a TPA do? As a first step, a TPA should notify its client about the inquiry from the DOL, so that the client can, if desired, relay that information to its attorney.

Source: Asppa.org, December 2018

Retirement 2020 Study

Abstract: There is a sea change underway in the retirement industry. As many as five different generations are now participating in retirement plans. New technologies are emerging to engage participants and streamline back-office operations. All the while, the regulatory environment continues to shift with new and proposed rules. Amidst dramatic change lies unprecedented opportunity.

Source: Broadridge.com, December 2018

How Many Plans Make You a DC Specialist?

Abstract: Cogent Reports' latest analysis of the DC plan adviser industry shows most advisers touching this space still manage only a handful of plans, while those with more plans are growing much faster than the average firm.

Source: Planadviser.com, November 2018

Keys to Expanding Women's Role in the Recordkeeping Industry

Abstract: Across the financial services industry, women are commanding a greater role in key decisionmaking. Where do today's recordkeepers stand in that context? What are today's trends, and where is the industry headed tomorrow?

Source: Asppa.org, October 2018

Principal Transactions: Advisers Are Still Fiduciaries Under the 5-Part Test

Abstract: One of the trickiest areas of compliance for advisers and their supervising firms is related to principal transactions. David Kaleda, a principal in the Groom's Fiduciary & Plan Governance practice, provides an overview of compliance obligations for advisers in connection with principal transactions.

Source: Groom.com, August 2018

2018 RIA Benchmarking Study

Abstract: The 2018 RIA Benchmarking Study by Charles Schwab is the leading study of its kind in the RIA industry. The Study features insights based on self-reported information on topics such as asset and revenue growth, sources of new clients, products and pricing, staffing, compensation, marketing, technology, and financial performance.

Source: Aboutschwab.com, July 2018

401k Advisers, Is Your Value Proposition Even Valuable?

Abstract: If you talk to any marketing consultant, one of the top things they bring up is having a value proposition. Retirement plan advisers' most frequent value proposition centers around the investment review process. But there's a big issue with that: It isn't really what plan sponsors value or why they hire an adviser.

Source: Investmentnews.com (registration may be required), June 2018

Why 401k Advisers Should Heed TPA Consolidation

Abstract: Third-party administrators have been in the spotlight following a string of recent acquisitions, and retirement plan advisers should take note. TPAs have been getting more attention largely because of an aggressive roll-up strategy being executed by the private-equity backed firm Ascensus.

Source: Investmentnews.com (registration may be required), June 2018

Fiduciary Conduct Is Good for Business

Abstract: The focus on compliance obscures the compelling business case that fiduciary conduct (1) is what clients want, (2) is operationally efficient and reliable, (3) strengthens client-adviser relationships and makes them more enduring, (4) provides the adviser with greater pricing power, and (5) enhances the advisory firm's brand and market valuation.

Source: Investmentnews.com (registration may be required), February 2018

2018 Predictions for 401k Advisers, Distributors and Recordkeepers

Abstract: As we enter 2018, the adviser-sold 401k market begins its next phase of development. No longer an awkward, energetic teenager, the market is entering early adulthood, bringing with it heightened responsibilities, greater scrutiny and more opportunities, for some.

Source: Investmentnews.com (registration may be required), December 2017

Best Practices Arising From the DOL Fiduciary Rule

Abstract: This article examines the manner in which the fiduciary rule, and in particular the BIC Exemption, affect business best practices regardless of whether any changes are made to the fiduciary rule and related exemptions.

Source: Wagnerlawgroup.com, October 2017

Five Cybersecurity Best Practices

Abstract: Regulators want to ensure advisors safeguard client and business information online. Implement these best practices to reduce the risk of your data being compromised.

Source: Morningstar.com, September 2017

How Retirement Plan Advisers Can Combat 'Dramatic' Fee Compression

Abstract: As with other service providers to defined contribution plans, price compression for adviser services has been rapid and deep. Price compression in the retirement plan arena isn't new, but it's gotten to a point where observers believe advisers could be in trouble? absent some sort of change

Source: Investmentnews.com (registration may be required), September 2017

Tips to Boost Your Retirement Plan Expert Reputation

Abstract: The retirement plan business is relationship-based. A recent survey found that 7 out of 10 plan sponsors were introduced through a trusted relationship. Therefore, by strengthening your relationship muscles, you can boost your 401k referrals and favorable introductions.

Source: Napa-net.org, July 2017

Menu Design Needs Process Heavy Approach

Abstract: With the growing 3(38) role, competition is naturally increasing and 3(38) fiduciaries are looking for ways to distinguish their services. A largely overlooked opportunity in differentiating services is choosing to incorporate plan menu design into one's value proposition.

Source: 401ktv.com, July 2017

401k Advisors: Thriving in a Big Brand World

Abstract: As a business owner and retirement plan advisor, you understand the fiduciary process of organizing, formalizing, implementing, and monitoring. Now, it's time to take the same approach to constructively evaluating your brand. Professional branding could be the differentiator needed to demonstrate your experience to increase your retirement plan business.

Source: 401k-marketing.com, April 2017

401k Advisors: Marketing Works in a Squiggly Line

Abstract: In today's dynamic multi-media world, your plan sponsor prospects search for information in a variety of ways. They seek information on their phones, Google, newsletters, seminars, webinars, emails, blog articles, LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube, et al. That's why it is important to be where your prospects, clients, and centers of influence are searching for information.

Source: 401k-marketing.com, April 2017

Colorado Proposes Cybersecurity Rule for Investment Adviser Firms

Abstract: The Colorado Division of Securities recently proposed two new rules that would require investment adviser firms and broker-dealers to assess cybersecurity risks and implement written policies and procedures "reasonably designed to ensure cybersecurity."

Source: Ria-compliance-consultants.com, April 2017

Five Major 401k Lawsuits That Directly Impact Advisors

Abstract: There's a clear need to increase awareness about litigation risk and to understand the key issues that have made their way to the highest courts. These decisions have implications for 401k retirement plan advisors, plan sponsors and other plan fiduciaries alike. Recent decisions should help shape compliance strategies for those responsible for managing defined contribution plans.

Source: 401kspecialistmag.com, April 2017

Collective Investment Trusts - A Perfect Storm

Abstract: Cost advantages and growing regulatory compliance requirements are making Collective Investment Trusts an important investment vehicle in the DC market. The characteristics that differentiated CITs from mutual funds are becoming competitive advantages, and their place in the retirement market is expanding to include even small players. This 28-page white paper can help you understand the increased opportunities CITs present to asset managers seeking a larger share of retirement assets.

Source: ALPS, March 2017

Exploring the Impact of the DOL Fiduciary Ruling on the DC Marketplace

Abstract: This 9-page research paper explores the DOL fiduciary ruling's impact on the DC market. The paper begins by looking at how DC advisors see the ruling changing their businesses and how it's shifting their priorities. Then it turns to the participant view, examining their awareness of the ruling and how it alters their perceptions of financial advisors and the industry overall. Then, it looks at DC advisor satisfaction with the support they are receiving from financial providers.

Source: Marketstrategies.com, February 2017

SEC Publishes 2017 Examination Priorities

Abstract: The SEC's Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations published its examination priorities for 2017 for broker-dealers and investment advisers. The priorities generally reflect practices, products, and services that OCIE believes may present heightened risk to investors and to the integrity of the US capital markets. OCIE's 2017 priorities cover three broad areas.

Source: Practicallaw.com, January 2017

Eight Ways to Protect Your Advisory Firm From Cyberattacks

Abstract: With heightened regulatory scrutiny, greater frequency of data breaches, and high-profile incidents of hacks pervasive in the daily news cycle, advisory firms have sharply increased their focus on cybersecurity. While the risk can't be eliminated, steps to raise awareness, adhere to best practices and have a detailed plan can help protect a firm and its clients.

Source: Investmentnews.com (registration may be required), January 2017

Best Practices for RIA Business Continuity Plans

Abstract: While the SEC proposed Rule 206(4)-4 has not yet been adopted, RIAs should nonetheless review their business continuity and disaster recovery plans and ensure that they address many of the issues identified in the proposal, which are reviewed here, and incorporate certain best practices so that they are better positioned to respond to and recover from significant business disruption events.

Source: Alston.com, January 2017

Practice Development: Best Practices When Managing Your Staff

Abstract: In the success of your firm, equally important to free cash flow, is the people. You need to make sure you have the right people on your team. This article reviews a number of best practices when hiring and managing your staff.

Source: Planadviser.com, December 2016

How to Manage Your Company's Cyber Security Policy

Abstract: How can your firm protect itself from the growing number of cyber threats? It starts with exercising some online common sense. Here a few considerations to evaluate your company's security practices and processes.

Source: fi360.com, October 2016

Advisers Have a Fiduciary Duty to Put Robust Business Continuity Plans in Place

Abstract: State and federal regulators cite an adviser's fiduciary obligation to protect clients' interests from being placed at risk as the basis for requiring business continuity plans. However, the SEC's justification for the proposed rule leaps beyond core fiduciary principles. Instead, the regulator seeks to assert that an adviser's failure to provide a viable BCP would be subject to anti-fraud provisions of federal securities laws.

Source: Investmentnews.com (registration may be required), September 2016

Tech Solutions the Key to TPAs' Future

Abstract: Historically, recordkeepers, not TPAs, have held a leadership position in technology deliverables that are provided to plan sponsors, participants, and advisors. Today, however, there is a growing reliance on TPAs to deliver more technology-driven solutions that enhance an advisor's ability to win new clients and keep existing ones.

Source: Asppa-net.org, August 2016

Best Practices When Working With Your 401k Plan Clients

Abstract: The advisor will become the plan sponsor's go-to resource for all things plan-related if he or she believes the advisor understands the company's plan and has the knowledge to troubleshoot plan problems. Consider these best practices to ensure that you remain the go-to resource.

Source: Sourcemedia.com, July 2016

2016 RIA Benchmarking Study

Abstract: Independent financial advisory firms reported that they have maintained a ten-year growth trajectory despite numerous and varied investment environments, according to results from Schwab's 2016 RIA Benchmarking Study. The Study underscores the critical importance of the advisor/client relationship as the bedrock of firms' strength and resilience, and as a driver of growth.

Source: Schwab.com, July 2016

Employee Benefit Plans and Data Security Issues

Abstract: In recent weeks, much of the discussion around a recent Supreme Court case, Gobeille, has focused on ERISA preemption. But for fiduciaries of benefit plans the case can serve as a reminder of important duties that often go unexplored: protecting the private data of participants. Article reviews a number of practical steps that plan sponsors and other fiduciaries can take in the hope of preventing problems.

Source: Benefitslawadvisor.com, April 2016

Cybersecurity's Impact on TPAs

Abstract: A recent announcement by the ERISA Advisory Council that it will be focusing on how cyber-related threats affect TPAs is addressed in a recent legal advisory from Pillsbury Law.

Source: Asppa.org, April 2016

What Does the Final DOL Rule Mean to TPAs?

Abstract: It may have been primarily directed at investment advisors, but plan administrators need to understand what it means and how they will be affected as well. Craig Hoffman, general counsel for the American Retirement Association, and David Schultz, attorney and product manager for FIS Relius Wealth & Retirement, summarized the salient provisions of the final rule and the related prohibited transaction exemptions.

Source: Asppa.org, April 2016

Conflicts in a Rapidly Changing Fiduciary Landscape: Dually Registered or "Hybrid" Challenges

Abstract: Dual registration and hybrid models have become increasingly popular because they have a great deal of flexibility in serving client needs. This 12-page paper takes a close look at some of the unique concerns confronting the growing number of individuals and firms that have adopted dual registration or hybrid approaches to serving client needs.

Source: Pershing.com, March 2016

Conflicts in a Rapidly Changing Fiduciary Landscape: Broker-Dealer Challenges

Abstract: While the outcomes of the Dodd-Frank mandate and the DOL's proposal remain uncertain, for the foreseeable future, broker-dealer firms are likely to experience increasing pressure to demonstrate that they have policies and procedures that identify and prevent conflicts of interest. This 8-page paper discusses some of the common broker-dealer practices that the authors believe to be potential conflicts.

Source: Pershing.com, March 2016

What Retirement Plan Sponsors Value Most From Financial Advisors

Abstract: This 28-page survey report finds that plan sponsors prefer to work with plan advisors who emphasize employee education, good customer service and reducing plan costs as core to their value proposition. Among those already working with an advisor, fiduciary support trumps cost on this list.

Source: Massmutual.com, January 2016

Becoming a Go-To Firm in the DC Marketplace

Abstract: An 8-page Cogent research paper that reviews the attributes that most influence retirement plan advisors' likelihood to recommend a DC investment manager and the aspects that strengthen relationships by building loyalty.

Source: Marketstrategies.com (registration may be required), January 2016

SEC Draws a Bead on 401k Specialists

Abstract: Continuing to deliver on its promise to focus on 401k plans and IRAs under its ReTIRE (Retirement Targeted Reviews and Examinations Initiatives) program, the SEC is focusing examinations on retirement advisors.

Source: Napa-net.org, January 2016

SEC Warns Advisors to Pay Closer Attention to 12b-1 Fees

Abstract: A recent Securities and Exchange Commission exam sweep of investment advisor and mutual fund complexes' distribution fees, including 12b-1 fees, has prompted SEC staff to issue guidance warning advisors and boards to pay closer attention to such fees.

Source: Thinkadvisor.com, January 2016

Getting on a DC Advisors' Short List

Abstract: DC advisors maintain a limited set of go-to providers, as they continue to recommend just 2.4 plan providers on average for prospective clients to consider. Remarkably, nearly one-third of DC advisors (32%) recommend only one plan provider to prospective clients, creating a daunting challenge for DC recordkeepers that are striving to gain advisors' attention.

Source: Marketstrategies.com, October 2015

Lead Magnets: A Social Selling Tip

Abstract: Today's business world -- and particularly selling environment -- no longer takes place in a linear, flat fashion. The game has changed and the business of selling now requires you to work multi-dimensionally and embrace the digital space by implementing social selling. Here is why and how.

Source: 401khelpcenter.com, October 2015

Four Secrets of Successful Plan Advisors

Abstract: Fidelity announced the results of its sixth annual Plan Sponsor Attitudes survey, which revealed four secrets of successful plan advisors. These insights are critical given that, of the plan sponsors surveyed, an overwhelming majority (84 percent) use an advisor. Of those who do, 17 percent are actively looking to switch advisors.

Source: 401khelpcenter.com, October 2015

Recordkeeper Partners Critical to Success

Abstract: Two senior retirement industry executives -- one from an advisory firm and one from a recordkeeper -- discuss how the two types of service providers can work together for better plan sponsor outcomes.

Source: Planadviser.com, September 2015

Website Privacy Policies and the FTC's Authority Over Retirement Plans

Abstract: Remembering that ERISA does not preempt the application of other federal law, which we continue to learn to integrate into our practices, we now may find ourselves needing to deal with the Federal Trade Commissions standards as well.

Source: Businessofbenefits.com, September 2015

The SEC's Cybersecurity Enforcement Action and Risk Alert

Abstract: The SEC had a busy week regarding investment adviser and broker-dealer cybersecurity. Its new Risk Alert highlights some areas investment advisers and broker-dealers can focus on to stay in compliance with securities regulators and to keep clients' personally identifiable information.

Source: Ria-Compliance-Consultants.com, September 2015*

Is Becoming a 3(16) Plan Administrator Worth It?

Abstract: Some TPAs are looking at 3(16) plan administrator services as a means to increase fees. Others see them as a way to create a compelling point of differentiation for their businesses. A small handful has even begun offering these services in a modified format to help ensure the plan's overall compliance and success. But, what are the drawbacks?

Source: Asppa.org, September 2015

Authority Marketing: The Ultimate 401k Client Acquisition Advantage

Abstract: The majority of advisors fail to acquire and master one critical client acquisition tool: authority marketing. If you want the ultimate unfair advantage to attract and acquire new business, become an author. Here's why.

Source: 401kspecialistmag.com, September 2015

Ten Terrifying Advisor Questions for 401k Plan Sponsors

Abstract: Your plan sponsor clients might be acting as fiduciaries; then again they might not. How do you know? How do you ensure they (and you) don't get sued? By asking them these 10 questions.

Source: 401kspecialistmag.com, September 2015

Don't Be Intimidated by Independence

Abstract: It's not for everyone, but one advisory firm founder says most retirement specialist colleagues are well suited for the move to independence. There is a fairly lengthy process of papering new service agreements and you need to carefully educate your clients about what any new agreements involve.

Source: Planadviser.com, September 2015

How to Build a 401k Business From Scratch

Abstract: "There's plenty of opportunity," said Fred Barstein, founder and chief executive of TRAU. "There are lots and lots of plans." According to Labor Department statistics, there are approximately 500,000 401k plans in the country, but smaller plans are where people typically recommend fledgling 401k advisers get their start.

Source: Investmentnews.com (registration may be required), September 2015

FinCEN Proposes New Anti-Money Laundering Rules for Investment Advisers

Abstract: The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, a bureau of the US Department of the Treasury, just released proposed rules that would extend anti-money laundering requirements to RIAs.

Source: Kattenlaw.com, August 2015

Navigating Change in the 401k Market

Abstract: This 10 page research paper examines several behavioral and attitudinal aspects of 401k plan sponsors that are likely to impact the defined contribution industry over the next several years. Data are based on the opinions of a representative sample of 401k plan sponsors responsible for plans ranging from less than $1 million to over $1 billion in DC assets.

Source: Marketstrategies.com, August 2015

401k Service Models: The Complete Guide

Abstract: As you move up-market, you have to provide a more robust suite of services in order to be competitive, provide the additional support larger plans need, and keep your competition out. But how do you create a service process that's appropriate for the market you're in?

Source: 401kbestpractices.com, June 2015

Cybersecurity: SEC Outlines Steps You Can Take

Abstract: SEC guidance points out that the use of technology makes it necessary to protect confidential and sensitive information from third parties. Its suggestions include the following steps, which track a time-tested solution process: (1) assess; (2) develop an appropriate strategy; and (3) implement that strategy.

Source: Asppa.org, May 2015

Establishing a Growth Engine Through Marketing and Business Development

Abstract: This just released 2014 Fidelity RIA Benchmarking Study took a close look at the marketing and business development activities of participating RIAs and found that many firms have room for improvement. The study also examined high-performing firms that outperformed all other eligible firms on a number of core financial metrics, to understand what they are doing differently.

Source: Fidelity.com, April 2015

Thinking About Going Independent? Understanding Your RIA Options

Abstract: The Registered Investment Adviser model continues to be an increasingly attractive option for independent advisers in today's marketplace. Obviously, there is much to consider before making this type of business decision. Here are some things to think about when searching for the right business model for your practice.

Source: Investmentnews.com (free registration may be required), April 2015

Creating a Written Information Security Policy for Small RIAs

Abstract: Both FINRA and the SEC have indicated that they expect advisors to have a written policy to address information security, particularly cybersecurity. Follow these three steps to create a policy that identifies your risks, prevents security breaches, and creates a response plan in case something does happen.

Source: Morningstar.com, April 2015

Six Core Components of Your 401k Business Plan

Abstract: Building a business plan to guide your 401k sales and services activities will improve your probability of achieving your goals. This article is to focus on the six core components your business plan should include.

Source: Markleyactuarial.com, April 2015

What Type of 3(16) Services Will You Offer?

Abstract: There are significant differences in the types of 3(16) services currently available. If you are considering becoming a 3(16) administrator, you must decide what type of 3(16) administrator you will be, what type of services you will offer, and how much liability you are willing to take on.

Source: Tparesources.com, April 2015

IFS Releases 11 Best Practices for Advisors

Abstract: Seeking to spur the SEC into action on finally creating a universal ethics code for financial advisors, the Institute for the Fiduciary Standard (IFS) has released 11 best practices that they hope professionals will adopt even without government intervention.

Source: Napa-net.org, February 2015

$140 Million Settlement: What it Means to Your Retirement Plan Practice

Abstract: In December 2014, two parties in a high-profile ERISA fiduciary breach case filed a motion for the court to approve a settlement worth $140,000,000. This settlement is nearly 10-times greater than some other recent high-profile settlements. This article suggests that advisors that sells and services retirement plans need to consider adopting seven recommendations.

Source: Fraplantools.com, January 2015

Independent Advisers Expected to Gain Marketshare

Abstract: Research from Cerulli Associates predicts the combined asset marketshare of independent advisers will surpass that of wirehouse advisers by 2019.

Source: Planadviser.com, December 2014

Differentiate Yourself in the 401k Market

Abstract: If you want to stop competing on fees (and funds and fiduciary status), Sharon Pivirotto, CEO of 401kbestpractices.com, suggests five things you can do to identify the value you actually bring to the table and clearly articulate in a way that helps plan sponsors understand why they’d want to hire you (as opposed to a product or vendor you might be able to represent).

Source: The401ksgblog.com, December 2014

Benchmark Study for Hiring Sales Personnel to Grow Your TPA Firm

Abstract: This is a four page summary of the study. The study presents insights on TPAs, their employment of dedicated sales personnel and their impact on sales, revenue and profit, and aims to serve two important objectives: 1) Help TPAs understand the best practices surrounding hiring and maintaining strong salespeople; and, 2) Bring this topic under closer focus so TPAs can determine if hiring a salesperson will help fuel future growth. Includes how to obtain full study.

Source: Ta-retirement.com, November 2014

How to Carve Out a Niche in the 401k Market

Abstract: If you're one of those advisors and would like to expand your 401k business, or you've been thinking about moving into this segment of the financial industry, then the four steps listed in this article will help you get started.

Source: Advisorchecklist.squarespace.com, November 2014

Ten Best Practices in Using TPA Service Agreements

Abstract: Using a service agreement on most engagements is a simple matter of risk and return. "Without a service agreement, if there is a dispute, it will fall to the lawyers to sort it out," says Summit Benefits' Norman Levinrad. What should be in a service agreement? Levinrad outlined 10 key elements.

Source: Asppa.org, November 2014

Five Tips for a Successful Advisor RFP Process

Abstract: A well-run advisor RFP process can help plan sponsors identify and prioritize their most important issues, gather intelligence on advisory services available in the market, help simplify decision making and document an important fiduciary process. The following article shares five tips and best practices that can help make what might seem like a daunting process seem much more manageable.

Source: Captrustadvisors.com, October 2014

Tips for Effective Retirement Practice Marketing

Abstract: Marketing skill is essential in building up a retirement advisory practice, says Sean Ciemiewicz of Retirement Benefits Group, but public relations can be overwhelming for the unprepared. The first marketing lesson Ciemiewicz shares with advisers, both independents and those affiliated with a larger firm, is that it is possible to be successful in marketing without spending all that much time on it.

Source: Planadviser.com, October 2014

Business Continuity Plan, Including Succession Plan

Abstract: The North American Securities Administrators Association proposed a model rule requiring investment advisers to create and implement written procedures to address business continuity and succession planning in the event of the owner's and other key personnel's untimely departure or a natural disaster. With this proposal NASAA has caught up with the SEC requirements for federally registered investment advisers to establish business continuity and disaster recovery plans.

Source: Ria-compliance-consultants.com, September 2014

Professional Retirement Plan Advisors Have Significant Impact on Retirement Plan Performance

Abstract: Transamerica Retirement Solutions released a research report highlighting the benefits of partnering with a professional retirement plan advisor. This study demonstrates that professional retirement plan advisors are central to the strategic direction, administration, and overall performance of the retirement plans they manage. The study defines professional retirement plan advisors as those who work primarily or exclusively with retirement plans.

Source: 401khelpcenter.com, August 2014

SEC Staff Issues Guidance on Investment Adviser Proxy Voting Responsibilities

Abstract: The SEC appears to expand the oversight responsibilities of investment advisers that retain proxy advisory firms to provide proxy voting recommendations by establishing an ongoing duty to monitor these firms to ensure that they have the capacity and competency to adequately analyze proxy issues. The guidance reiterates and builds upon positions that the SEC has previously taken.

Source: Jdsupra.com, July 2014

New Demands Require New Approaches for Recordkeepers

Abstract: Retirement administrators today face challenges from both their front-office and back-office operations. They must respond to new demands of servicing their participants, resulting from emerging market and demographic trends as well as regulatory changes. Success depends on their ability to maintain a laser focus on improving their core business operations while reducing costs.

Source: 401khelpcenter.com, June 2014

Plan Sponsors, Advisors, Not On Same Page Regarding Retirement Plan Success

Abstract: It seems as if retirement plan sponsors and advisors to those plans have different views of how to measure the success of a retirement plan. The perception divide suggests advisors may be more concerned with meeting the fiduciary duties of the plan sponsor than in ensuring employees build an adequate nest egg to prepare them for when they leave their employer.

Source: Insurancenewsnet.com, June 2014

Defined Contribution Consulting Support and Trends Survey

Abstract: PIMCO's DC Practice has prepared the 2014 Defined Contribution Consulting Support and Trends Survey to help plan sponsors understand the breadth of views and specific consulting services available within the DC marketplace. This survey captures data, trends and opinions from 49 consulting firms across the U.S., which serve over 7,800 clients with aggregate DC assets in excess of $2.8 trillion.

Source: Pimco.com, April 2014

SEC Cybersecurity Initiative

Abstract: The SEC will be conducting examinations of more than 50 registered broker-dealers and registered investment advisers, focusing on areas related to cybersecurity. In order to empower compliance professionals with questions and tools they can use to assess their respective firms' cybersecurity preparedness, the SEC has included a sample cybersecurity document request in the Appendix to this Risk Alert.

Source: Sec.gov, April 2014

ERISA Compliance Policies and Procedures: Where Are Yours?

Abstract: An investment advisor becoming an investment advice fiduciary under ERISA sh0uld revise its written policies and procedures and code of ethics to address its ERISA obligations. Industry practice unfortunately appears to not always include a complete discussion of the relevant ERISA risk considerations in the firm's compliance manual. This article identifies a few examples of common risk items which should have written policies and procedures.

Source: Wagnerlawgroup.com, January 2014

Developing Your Investment Adviser's Compliance Calendar for 2014

Abstract: To help manage the ongoing compliance process, registered investment advisers should consider developing a compliance calendar that can serve as an effective and proactive tool to assist the investment adviser with meeting its ongoing compliance requirements. Developing a compliance calendar can help strengthen an investment adviser's written compliance policies and procedures that must be developed pursuant to Rule 206(4)-7 of the Investment Advisers Act and similar state rules to detect, prevent, and correct possible regulatory violations that can occur throughout the year.

Source: Ria-compliance-consultants.com, December 2013

Pursuing Rollovers in an Evolving Regulatory Landscape

Abstract: The current regulatory environment and possible changes to the DOL fiduciary advice regulation can present challenges to advisors who provide services to retirement plans or retirement plan participants. This white paper identifies steps for advisors to consider in light of the current regulatory environment and anticipated developments pertaining to capturing rollovers.

Source: Pershing.com (free registration may be required), November 2013

The Importance of the Investment Policy Statement

Abstract: The purpose of the investment policy statement is to document the investment plan and provide guidance for consistent, informed decision-making. It should be the central component of all advisory relationships, serving as both a roadmap to investment success and a barrier to the kind of bad investor behavior that can derail even the best laid plans.

Source: Investmentnews.com (free registration may be required), October 2013

ERISA Compliance Issues for Plan Providers: The DOL Consultant/Adviser Project

Abstract: The purpose of this article is to describe the legal and regulatory underpinnings that led to the DOL's creation of the Consultant/Adviser Project (which is also explained here in greater detail), the ERISA issues on which service providers need to focus, and the steps they should take to avoid liability exposure under ERISA.

Source: Drinkerbiddle.com, October 2013

New Fiduciary Rules Create Opportunities for Retirement Plan Advisors

Abstract: Target date funds have grown phenomenally in the past five years from virtually zero in 2007 to about $1 trillion today, half in mutual funds and the rest in custom funds and collective investment trusts. And it's just beginning. The DOL recently issued a must-read guide on target date funds for defined contribution plan fiduciaries. These new rules clarify several safe harbor provisions, as well as provide several opportunities for proactive investment advisors.

Source: Targetdatesolutions.com, October 2013

How Can 401k Advisers Use 3(16) Administrators to Advance Their Practices

Abstract: We have reached a tipping point. Plan sponsors have had enough. This is most strikingly evidenced by the movement to professional plan management under section 3(16) of ERISA. These professionals are responsible for the hiring and oversight of third party administrators, accountants, and other service providers; making discretionary decisions regarding the administration of a plan; and filing annual returns, among other things. This movement will force you to adjust your service models if you are to thrive.

Source: Fiduciaryplangovernance.com, October 2013

Not Your Ordinary TPA (Part 2)

Abstract: This article is part two of a three-part series on how not to be an ordinary service provider and discusses the relationship with the customer and what services customers value. In an increasingly commoditized business, part of the equation for success for retirement service firms will be to provide great customer service and a key part of that is looking for what customers will want in the future.

Source: Scs-consultants.com, October 2013

The Key Succession Issues for an Advisory Practice

Abstract: Succession planning has moved to the top of the practice management priority list for tens of thousands of advisory firms. As the average age of founder/advisors creeps ever closer to traditional retirement age, the profession is asking itself a lot of hard questions about how to keep these businesses alive -- and take care of clients -- after the founder retires.

Source: Advisorperspectives.com, October 2013

Chatham Releases TPA Benchmarking Study

Abstract: Chatham Partners recently concluded its 2nd annual TPA Satisfaction and Needs Assessment Study; surveying 173 TPAs and gathering their opinions of leading retirement service providers. The study assessed TPAs' attitudes and perceptions of leading retirement service providers, including their levels of satisfaction with providers' TPA support services, personnel, technology, product and service offering, and overall impressions. Here are some key findings.

Source: 401khelpcenter.com, October 2013

Excessive Fee Suits Offer Advisor Lessons

Abstract: More than 30 lawsuits have been filed against 401k plan sponsors in the past few years, leaving little doubt that the retirement field remains strewn with legal landmines. Attorneys Mike Prame and David Levine, speaking Monday at the 2013 Center for Due Diligence conference, drew up a map of sorts to help retirement advisors tiptoe their way to safety.

Source: Benefitspro.com, October 2013

Why a TPA Can Be a 401k Financial Advisor's Best Friend

Abstract: The relationships that an advisor can have with their clients and other retirement plan professionals are the most important things and everything else is secondary. One of the most important relationships that a financial advisor can develop to augment their practice to current and future clients is finding a few third party administrators to work with. In many ways, the TPA's can be the financial advisor's best friend and this article will show you why.

Source: Jdsupra.com, October 2013

A Refresher on the Requirements for Investment Advisers' Written Policies and Procedures

Abstract: Well-designed policies and procedures should allow the investment adviser to detect and promptly correct any violations that have occurred. Rule 206(4)-7 requires investment advisers to adopt their policies and procedures around identified areas of risk related to the investment adviser's practice and business model. Article lists issues that an adviser's policies and procedures should address, at a minimum.

Source: Ria-compliance-consultants.com, September 2013

Ten Ways TPAs Can Help You Grow Your Business

Abstract: If you haven't already reached out to third-party administrators (TPAs) to help you grow your retirement plan business, you may be missing out. TPAs bring a lot to the table -- including expertise, relationships and resources.

Source: Planadviser.com, September 2013

RIA Recordkeeping Requirements

Abstract: Rule 204-2 (the "Books and Records Rule") under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 requires investment advisers registered with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to make and keep true, accurate, and current certain books and records relating to its investment advisory business.

Source: Ria-compliance-consultants.com, August 2013

SEC to Review Advisor's Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Planning

Abstract: "With hurricane season underway, and with the problems from last year fresh in mind, we trust that our member firms will review their business continuity planning procedures against these best practices."

Source: 401khelpcenter.com, August 2013

Building a 403(b) Business: Where the Opportunity Lies

Abstract: In the retirement plan world, change equals opportunity for financial professionals, and change has been a constant among 403(b) plans since the Internal Revenue Service passed significant regulations. But the biggest opportunity for change right now lies in one key segment of the 403(b) market: private higher education.

Source: Principal.com, July 2013

Not Your Ordinary TPA (Part 1)

Abstract: Although retirement services companies and TPA firms are often small firms, the principles of business are the same as very large businesses: (1) identify who you and your customers are, (2) listen to what they say and value, and (3) repeat (1) and (2) regularly. This article is Part One of a three-part series on how not to be an ordinary service provider. This part explores who you are and how to identify your customers.

Source: Scs-consultants.com, July 2013

Survey Shows Large Opportunity in Small Plan 401k Market

Abstract: Financial professionals looking to expand their business see a large opportunity in the micro- to small-plan retirement market, according to a series of surveys conducted at Guardian Retirement Solutions. Survey identifies time and resource management as key challenges to participating in the multi-billion dollar micro- to small-plan retirement market.

Source: 401khelpcenter.com, July 2013

How TPAs Can Compete With the Payroll Provider TPAs

Abstract: If you're a TPA, you're often butting heads with these payroll providers and it's frustrating because plan sponsors think there is some value in using a payroll provider as a TPA. This article is how TPAs can compete against payroll provider TPAs.

Source: Rosenbaum Law Firm, July 2013

How Useful Are Form 5500s for Business Development? Five Tips and Insights

Abstract: Tom Clark, Chief Compliance Officer and Director of Fiduciary Oversight at FRA/PlanTools, has spent considerable time and energy delving into and analyzing the DOL's Form 5500 database for usable prospecting information. He shared some insights and tips in this article.

Source: Fraplantools.com, July 2013

Cyber Sleuthing for Sales Success

Abstract: Many folks view social media as a one-way communication vehicle -- a broadcast and marketing medium meant to sell products, share news, and post opinions and ideas. They miss out on the opportunities to research consumer trends, investigate competitors, and actively engage with clients and prospects through listening. If you're not being a cyber-sleuth, then you are leaving one of the most valuable pieces of social networking uncovered.

Source: Shoefitts.com, May 2013

Asset Management and Social Media: A Guide to Social Marketing

Abstract: Paper focuses on how fund firms can optimize their social media presence on the most popular social networks: LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Google+. The guide describes the most valuable features and attributes on each social network to fund firms and highlights best in class strategies from industry leaders. The guide also provides recommendations for building out and improving your firm's social media properties.

Source: Corporateinsight.com, May 2013

A Matter of Trust: Standards of Conduct under ERISA, the Exchange Act, and the Advisers Act

Abstract: The purpose of this article is to help a broker or dealer registered under the Exchange Act and an investment adviser registered under the Advisers Act better determine at what point he or she is acting as a fiduciary for purposes of ERISA and the applicable standards of conduct under ERISA by comparing and contrasting the corresponding requirements under the Exchange Act and the Advisers Act.

Source: Groom Law Group, May 2013

Advisor: It's Time for a Website Checkup

Abstract: When was the last time you lifted the hood on your website? As recently as just a few years ago, advisors were able to get by with a very minimalist website with a logo, a bio, a photo and perhaps a map to your office. For many, that kind of simple brochure like website met their online needs. Times have changed. Here are five mistakes to avoid.

Source: 401khelpcenter.com, April 2013

The Second Deadly Sin for Plan Providers: Complacency

Abstract: Retirement plan and the retirement plan industry are fluid, which means what is good today maybe not good for tomorrow. You can never be too complacent because losing your client or your competitive edge is just around the corner.

Source: Rosenbaum Law Firm Blog, April 2013

The Building Blocks of a Successful Retirement Plan Practice

Abstract: Too many retirement plan providers such as financial advisors and third party administrators suffer in their business because they don't know the good building blocks in assembling a retirement plan practice. This article is all about the good fundamentals and building blocks in assembling a retirement plan provider practice.

Source: Rosenbaum Law Firm, March 2013

Schwab Releases RIA Merger & Acquisition Activity for Year End 2012

Abstract: According to industry-wide independent registered investment advisor (RIA) mergers and acquisition data compiled by Schwab Advisor Services, 2012 closed with a thirty percent increase in the total value of M&A transactions year over year. The assets under management of the 45 deals completed in 2012 totaled $58.8 billion versus $43.9 billion for the 57 deals in 2011.

Source: 401khelpcenter.com, January 2013

Advising 401k Plans: Are You Acting As an ERISA Fiduciary?

Abstract: To gain a marketing advantage some advisors and brokers willingly or inadvertently become plan fiduciaries assuming personal liability imposed by ERISA. Providing investment services to 401k plans is not without pitfalls. However, if one understands how the services provided fit into the regulatory framework, the assumption of fiduciary responsibilities and liability can be avoided.

Source: Lewis and Roca LLP, January 2013

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