research | PLANADVISER January/February 2017

PLANADVISER Top 100 Retirement Plan Advisers

The nation’s most outstanding advisers serving retirement plans.

By PLANADVISER Staff | January/February 2017
Art by Josh Cochran

Many years ago, to help readers learn about the evolving specialist retirement plan adviser marketplace, sister publication PLANSPONSOR introduced a “Most Successful Advisers” list, recognizing 25 individual advisers who had a sizeable book of business in terms of retirement plan assets under advisement (AUA). That list has morphed into the annual “PLANADVISER Top 100 Retirement Plan Advisers,” which includes individual advisers but also adviser teams, ranging from small, single-office teams to mega firms.

To become eligible for this quantitative listing, advisers must complete the annual PLANADVISER Retirement Plan Adviser Survey, fielded each September. As we did last year, instead of having advisers select a category in which to compete—with the potential for gaming the system—we defined categories by the number of advisers and number of total employees, including support staff, in one’s practice. Those figures assigned advisers into the following categories: individual adviser – meaning one adviser with support staff; small team – a group of two or more advisers and support staff, the total not exceeding 10; large team – a group of 11 to 35 advisers and support staff; and mega teams – 36 or more team members. This year’s list includes 17 individuals, 42 small teams, 29 large teams and 12 mega teams.

In the pages that follow, we highlight the quantitative standouts according to the dollar value of qualified plan AUA as well as the number of plans under advisement. The qualification standards continue to rise, as specialist advisers and consultants build their practices. This year, individuals needed a minimum of 110 plans or $900 million in retirement plan AUA; small teams had to advise at least $1.8 billion in retirement plan assets or 130 plans; large teams needed $4 billion or more in retirement plan AUA or 175 or more plans; and mega teams had to oversee at least $12 billion in retirement plan AUA or 250 plans.