Retirement plan advisers who strive to develop proprietary tools may very well be overlooking a wealth of resources available from their many providers. Wells Fargo National Sales Manager for Defined Contribution Ron Cohen, based in Boston, has an important warning for advisers seeking to do just that.
“When I’m in conversation with advisers, I often tell them to stop trying to create tools on their own,” Cohen recently observed. “It’s not that advisers couldn’t build some strong tools or technologies going solo, but I can tell you that any idea they’re going to come up with—chances are it’s already built out there and ready to go, better than they could do it on their own.”Story Continued Below
That seems to be the consensus of a number of industry providers, including recordkeepers, third-party administrators (TPAs) and investment managers. Leading firms across all three service provider segments have poured tremendous resources in recent years into the value-add tools they deliver to advisers, to help them better run their practices, supply to sponsor clients and participants—and, in some cases, white label or rebrand, so the tools appear proprietary. Availing themselves of such tools allows advisers to advance their deliverables while freeing up time to sell and service clients, instead of creating the tools themselves.
Traditionally, such tools have helped advisers gain new business or boost reporting efficiency while improving client service and responsiveness, but a whole host of next-generation support services has recently come online. And it is not just “robo-advice” platforms delivering more portfolio automation: Everything from student loan calculators and Social-Security-claiming data to mortgage debt analysis is being offered—making 2017 a great time to reassess your provider tool kit.