You’ve built up a respectable wealth management practice over the years. And many of your clients are professionals who run companies of their own. One day, a business owner you advise approaches you about taking on their 401(k) plan and you’re intrigued. You’re excited to expand into this new and exciting practice area. You’ve always been passionate about helping clients achieve a successful retirement, and this is another way to do that. Yet there are ERISA compliance issues to contend with, participant education and engagement considerations and all your additional fiduciary duties — particularly when it comes to keeping fees reasonable and transparent. Didn’t you just read about another excessive fee lawsuit in the Wall Street Journal?
So how do you go about making the jump from wealth manager to 401(k) advisor? Here are some tips to help make the transition smooth and successful.
Make it official.
You can apply for a professional credential through a number of associations like the National Association of Plan Advisors (NAPA), which offers a Certified Plan Fiduciary Advisor (CPFA) designation. According to the organization, “Plan advisors who earn their CPFATM demonstrate the expertise required to act as a plan fiduciary or help plan fiduciaries manage their roles and responsibilities.” Certifications or other similar professional designations can signal to potential clients that you’re not just dabbling in the retirement plan space and have put effort into training for this responsibility.
Fill your toolkit.
Helping mitigate investment, inflation and other risks for individual clients is one thing, but retirement plan specialization brings with it an entirely new set of risks that you and your clients will face — including excessive fee lawsuits. Such litigation has sadly become more and more common in recent years and is not limited to sponsors of large plans with lots of participants. You will need to make sure the plans you advise maintain reasonable fees or you and your client may find yourselves in the crosshairs of an ERISA lawsuit. Taking the plan out to bid every 3 to 5 years is the guidance provided by the Department of Labor (DOL), but a lot can change during that interval. PlanFees offers an easy and affordable fee checkup that you can perform in minutes on an annual basis or whenever you feel there’s a need, helping you maintain your fiduciary obligations, enhance plan sponsor and participant outcomes and reduce fiduciary exposure.
Get professional guidance.
Connecting with other professionals in the retirement planning industry is one of the fastest ways of getting up to speed. RPAG is a leading technology, training and retirement plan practice management platform. By becoming a member, you’ll have access to a suite of cutting-edge tools that top retirement plan advisors across the U.S. rely on to manage and grow their practices. Included is “Live RPAG” advisor platform training that’s conducted by technology experts, a CFA-led investment team, ERISA experts as well as senior retirement consultants. Through RPAG, you can access an in-house team of former fiduciary practicing attorneys who assist members with compliance and governance related questions. You’ll also have valuable sales and marketing support, including access to webinars, white papers and email marketing resources critical to building your retirement plan book of business. Many resources are FINRA-reviewed and can be branded with your company name, logo and contact information. And regular in-person and virtual events will give you many opportunities to build your professional network.
Ready, Set … Jump
You have considerable skills to leverage as a wealth manager when entering the retirement plan advising space. But to ensure the best outcomes for plan sponsors and participants, you’ll need to expand your reach. With the right arsenal of tools, training, technology and support, you can develop a comprehensive and holistic service model to tackle the challenges and reap the rewards of growing and expanding your professional practice. Whether you’re an emerging or established retirement plan specialist, PlanFees and RPAG are here to help you win and retain business while promoting better outcomes for plan sponsors and participants.