Financial Engines, the nation’s largest independent registered investment advisor, is now delivering online managed account services to more than 9 million participants in more than 600 defined contribution plans, with total in-plan assets exceeding $1 trillion. 

The Sunnyvale, California-based company, which began offering managed account options to plan sponsors in 2004, now has a presence in 144 of the Fortune 500’s defined contribution plans. 

“Companies hire us for the retirement results we provide employees, our non-conflicted advice, and our deep integration with the nation’s leading recordkeepers,” Lawrence Raffone, president and CEO of Financial Engines, said in announcing the milestone. 

Raffone replaced Jeffrey Maggioncalda as CEO last year. Maggioncalda founded the company with William Sharpe, a noble laureate. 

According to the Plan Sponsor Council of America, 36 percent of employers offered managed accounts in 2012, up from 25 percent in 2005. 

Questions over the value of managed accounts were raised in a Government Accountability Office report last year, which examined the costs of the eight largest providers of managed accounts, though it never identified them.

The GAO said it found a wide variance in the fees the providers charge, ranging between $8 and $100 on every $10,000 of participant assets. Also, some providers were found to have inadequate fee disclosures and benchmarking for participants, factors that ultimately could create fiduciary liability for sponsors. 

In an interview with BenefitsPro after the GAO released its report last year, David Weiskopf, a senior director of communications with Financial Engines, said the company was “absolutely confident in the value we provide sponsors and their enrollees, and we know we’re delivering it at a fair price.” 

On average, Financial Engines account holders pay about 40 basis points in fees, Weiskopf said. 

According to research conducted by Financial Engines and Aon Hewitt in 2014, participants that used managed accounts saw a 3.32 percent median increase in annual returns, net of fees, compared to participants working without guidance.