From the December 2003 issue of Investment Advisor • Subscribe!

Top Considerations

When getting into retirement plans, advisors should consider a number of issues.

On the Web, Education

Among the places to learn more about running retirement plans are Web sites like www.freeerisa.com, www.plansponsor.com, and the plan provider directory available at www.investmentadvisor.com.

Eventually, Compensation

While Mike Matson of Matson Financial Advisors says that retirement plans are "not lucrative up front," they can lead to income streams from managing assets for clients who are principals or high-level executives in the firms for whom you handle plans. In addition, the income from retirement plans is predictable - something to be welcomed in a tough economy, or for that matter, at any time.

Always, Motivation

Be ready to help clients. Robert Travis of Smith Barney in Shrewsbury, New Jersey, and Matson say it's surprising how many people know so little about retirement plans, especially plan participants.

Travis points out that you can help clients maximize pension investments. As an example, he cites a plan sponsor putting $40,000 into a profit-sharing plan. If the cap for that profit-sharing plan is $42,000 and the sponsor wants to contribute more without affecting funding requirements, "someone at the next level might talk about a cash balance plan" instead that will allow an input of $90,000 without increasing funding requirements.

"What surprises me," says Matson, "is the number of plans we're asked to review where they haven't seen the advisor since the plan was initially established." He points out that once the plan is in place, it still needs to be serviced. It's the advisor's ongoing commitment, he says, that will keep participants happy and retain clients.

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