Heads up, advisors: now’s a good time to strengthen your business relationship with retirement plan sponsors.
Why? Because on Aug. 30, the Department of Labor’s (DOL) disclosure fee requirements will go into effect and sponsors must notify millions of participants in writing about the specifics of their retirement plans. That means spelling out all sales loads charged against investments, expense ratios for annual operating expenses and other fees for services such as accounting and record-keeping.
For advisors who serve the plan sponsor market, the DOL’s Employee Benefits Security Administration participant fee disclosure rule, known as ERISA 404(a)(5), also spells opportunity.
According to Charlie Epstein, a chartered financial consultant and founder of the 401(k) Coach Program, the new rule is a good way for advisors to reach out to sponsor clients and remind them of best practices for helping employees achieve successful retirement outcomes.
“As a rule of thumb, over-communicating is better than the alternative,” said Epstein, author of Paychecks for Life, a book that offers nine principles for participants to turn their 401(k) plans into secure retirement income. “Employees will appreciate you, and better yet, many will be more willing than ever to meet with you to discuss their personal financial planning. In the end, you will get paid more for your actions, not less.”
Read on for Epstein’s top five tips for advisors in a post-fee disclosure world.
(For more about retirement planning, read Putnam: Asset Allocation Is Overrated in Retirement Plans at AdvisorOne.)
1) Get Out in Front of the Noise.
According to 401(k) Coach Program founder Epstein, there is a lot of press swirling about that says employees are paying too much for their 401(k) plan or that the 401k plan is broken.
“While you may think that’s nonsense (and so do I – 401k plan fees have been dropping 25% to 50% across the country), you need to get out to your 401(k) employers and make them all aware of the pending DOL 405(a) participant fee disclosure,” Epstein reminds retirement plan advisors.
“Let employers know what it means and what they may expect from their employees reactions,” he adds. “Let them know how their 401(k) record keeper plans to communicate these fees and in what format.”
2) Time for a New Request for Proposal.
If you haven’t put your 401(k) plans out for an RFP bid in the last three years, you best do so now, Epstein says.