January 6, 2011

Buckingham to Offer Turnkey 401(k) Program for Independent Advisors

BAM CEO: ‘Acquisition part of industry trend in wake of fee disclosure rules’

The Buckingham Family of Financial Services announced Wednesday that it had acquired Advisors Access, a turnkey 401(k) program. Advisors Access will now be offered by BAM Advisor Services. In addition to BAM’s current 125 independent registered investment advisor (RIA) clients, Advisors Access will be offered through other RIAs operating in the 401(k) market.

“BAM has been providing clients opportunities in the qualified space for many years, but we wanted to broaden that offering and expand the turnkey offering in the proposal process,” says Mont Levy (left), CEO of BAM Advisor Services, when asked about the impetus for the deal. “We were aware of Advisors Access and felt like they did all the things we wanted to do, so we approached them and got a dialogue going.”

Levy notes more RIAs are ramping up their 401(k) business in order to build out their comprehensive platforms in the wake of new regulations and fee disclosure rules, specifically with sponsors’ responsibility for fee transparency.

The Advisors Access program provides RIAs the with what Levy describes as key features plan sponsors are seeking as the next evolution of 401(k) plans: advisor-managed portfolios, access to exclusive institutional investments, one-on-one advice, fee transparency, and the fiduciary liability protection of working with both an ERISA 3(21) fiduciary advisor and an ERISA 3(38) investment manager.

Advisors working with Advisors Access receive assistance at every step of the 401(k) process, from marketing to enrollment to the ongoing client-service process. The collateral materials of the program are private-labeled, allowing each advisor to further differentiate their practice and connect their firm with the national brand of Advisors Access.

The Advisors Access program is offered alongside BAM’s platform of RIA support services, which include back-office, technology, fixed income, marketing, compliance and risk management. Like BAM, Advisors Access has an emphasis on passive investing. Screening more than 10,000 active and passive mutual funds when creating and rebalancing portfolios, Advisors Access’s says its screening process continues to find that many of the most effective, lowest cost investments are those which favor a passive strategy.

Advisors Access was acquired from Capital Directions, a fee-only, Registered Investment Advisor with more than $800 million in assets under management. Advisors Access will maintain its name and will continue to be managed by Capital Directions. The terms of the deal were not disclosed. 

In October, The Buckingham Family merged with Wealth Management Consultants, LLC. Currently with over $13 billion in assets under management or administration, The Buckingham Family joined the Focus partnership of independent fiduciary wealth management firms in 2007 with $7.9 billion in assets.

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