2014 Recordkeeping Survey

The right recordkeeper for you and your client

By Alison Cooke Mintzer See Archive >
2014 Recordkeeping Survey

Many retirement plan advisers have a “short list” of recordkeepers with which they do business on behalf of their defined contribution (DC) clients. Depending on the adviser and the types of clients he serves, this list could range from a single recordkeeper to a few dozen or more.

Some recordkeeping providers specialize in certain areas of the market—by client size, plan type or geography, for instance. Others may have expertise that would suit a particular client. Some providers do both adviser-sold and direct-sold business. Others do no business through intermediaries, while some insist on working only through advisers or consultants.

To help advisers get a better sense of this distribution landscape, we asked retirement plan recordkeepers, as part of sister publication PLANSPONSOR’s 16th annual Recordkeeping Survey, about their business delivery models, specifically pertaining to advisers and other intermediaries.

PLANSPONSOR received 75 complete responses this year from the nation’s leading recordkeepers (see PLANSPONSOR’s research Web page for the full survey). From that total, 56 respondents answered questions about the business they conduct with or through intermediaries, and those recordkeepers have been included in the tables on the pages that follow.

The survey shows that only a few recordkeepers work solely with their own proprietary advisers, while the rest of the respondents were split fairly evenly between those that work solely with independent advisers (defined in the survey as those outside the recordkeeping firm) and those that work with both groups. In terms of options available for adviser compensation, of the 56 recordkeepers, 45 (80%) provide registered investment adviser (RIA)/hard-dollar fees; 39 (70%) provide ongoing trails/commissions; 28 (50%) utilize Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) accounts and upfront commissions; and 48% offer a finder’s fee.

Recordkeepers also offer advisers a wide array of resources and support services. Of the 50 recordkeepers that reported the types of such services they make available, all indicated that they offer education and enrollment support to advisers. Nearly all—96%—offer legislative updates, 94% offer plan benchmarking reports to advisers, and 92% make plan design services and rollover assistance available. About three-quarters of recordkeepers (76%) offer lead generation for defined contribution plans, 70% offer access to ERISA counsel for advisers, and 52% offer resources for provider searches.

In terms of investment advice tools, 56% of recordkeepers give advisers access to their own proprietary tools, and 78% provide access to third-party investment advice resources.