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RIAs want more investment options in 529 plans

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Concerns with fees levied by traditional providers of 529 college savings plans has increased by more than half since 2012, according to new research.

Private College 529 Plan, a prepaid tuition plan sponsored by more than 270 leading private colleges and universities, unveils this finding in a survey of registered investment advisors. Conducted at the National TD Ameritrade conference to gauge opinions on popular college savings options, the research reveals changes in funding of college savings plans.

The report finds that RIAs’ concerns about the fees imposed by providers of 529 college savings plans has increased to 45 percent in 2014 from 28 percent in 2012. Even so, an overwhelming majority of survey respondents (92 percent) recommend using a traditional 529 plan with their clients.

Mirroring an earlier 2012 survey, the 2014 report finds that more than half (53 percent) of RIAs cite a lack of quality and selection of investment options as their greatest concern with 529 college savings plans. However, the concerns with fees levied by traditional 529 plan providers increased from 28 percent in 2012 to 45 percent in 2014.

Additionally, the number of RIAs highlighting exposure to market volatility as their main concern decreased by almost half from 34 percent in 2012 to 18 percent in 2014. Three-quarters of the RIAs surveyed agree that the two main benefits of pre-paid 529 Plans are the ability for parents/guardians to lock in today’s rates for future college tuition costs and the plan’s ability to offer protection from market exposure and volatility.

According to PC529’s survey data, the number of respondents selecting the ability to lock in today’s rates as a key benefit of 529 plans decreased from 57 percent in 2012 to 49 percent in 2014. However, more respondents selected the benefit of gaining protection from direct market exposure as this number went up slightly from 15 percent in 2012 to 20 percent in 2014.


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