cover story | PLANADVISER March/April 2011

PLANSPONSOR Retirement Plan Adviser of the Year

2011 PLANSPONSOR Retirement Plan Adviser and Adviser Team of the Year

By | March/April 2011
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2011 PLANSPONSOR Retirement Plan Adviser of the Year 

James L. Worrell, GPS Investment Advisors, LLC, a Member Firm of 401(k) Advisors 

James Worrell, Founder and President of GPS Investment Advisors, LLC, a Member Firm of 401(k) Advisors, in Providence, Rhode Island, was exposed to the retirement plan business early on; his father ran one of New England’s largest third-party administrator firms in the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s. However, Worrell was not planning on going that route, going to law school at night while working for a mutual fund company that also provided retirement plan recordkeeping. However, as he was getting ready to graduate, he was offered a wholesaling job in Atlanta and took it, putting law on the back burner.

In 2000, Worrell left wholesaling because he was getting tired of the ending relationships of sales. “As a wholesaler, you are in for the close and then are gone,” he says. “The consultative piece [of being an adviser] was attractive to me.”

He moved back up north and joined a firm called Financial Architects Partners, which was an HNW life insurance firm, with just $12 million in pension assets under management, something Worrell saw as an opportunity for growth. However, after several years there, it seemed to him that members of the firm were going in different directions, so, in 2007, he founded GPS Investment Advisors.

The firm’s name came from Worrell’s mission;

“A compass tells you direction,” Worrell says, “but GPS takes you there.” His philosophy, he says, is to provide advice and guidance to clients to allow them to effectively carry out their responsibilities and manage their retirement assets. Like the GPS in your car, he decided he wanted to give individuals direction—to help them plan, save, and invest wisely to get them to retirement. His practice has grown to include 45 plans and $400 million in assets under advisement.

Soon after he founded GPS, he began leveraging resources from what is now Retirement Plan Advisory Group, a private-label toolset from 401(k) Advisors. In fact, Worrell was using that system when he was approached by 401(k) Advisors about being a member firm. He decided that was the right thing to do and is now a Managing Director of 401(k) Advisors.