Despite plan sponsors’ satisfaction with their plan advisors being higher than ever, the percentage who are actively looking for a new advisor is also at a record high, according to a survey released Thursday by Fidelity.
The sixth annual Plan Sponsor Attitudes survey found that although satisfaction is at 70%, the percentage of sponsors looking for a new advisor increased from 10% in 2013 to 17% this year.
Not only is satisfaction at its highest level, but the perceived value advisors offer is also at a record, according to Jordan Burgess, senior vice president and head of specialist field sales overseeing defined contribution investment only (DCIO) sales at Fidelity Financial Advisor Solutions.
Fidelity surveyed more than 950 plan sponsors, including those who don’t use Fidelity as a recordkeeper. Plan sizes ranged from 25 participants to 10,000.
Advisor use among sponsors is high at 84% and has been “reasonably consistent” over the life of the survey, Burgess told ThinkAdvisor on Wednesday, staying between 85% and 90% most years.
“So a lot of plans use advisors, satisfaction is strong and at the highest level, and perception of getting a good value is at its highest level,” he said.
Why, then, the increase in sponsors shopping for a new advisor?
The No. 1 reason given by sponsors for looking for a new advisor is because they want someone more knowledgeable. Burgess believes they’re looking for two things.
“One is what they’ve looked for, for a long time, and that’s the standard stuff: Are they focused on helping you manage the fees in the plan? Are they focused on helping you manage the investments in the plan? Are they focused on helping you manage your fiduciary responsibility?” he said.
However, plan sponsors have also shifted their focus to improving outcomes for their participants, Burgess said.
“Last year was a big deal in that for the first time in the history of the survey, preparing participants for retirement became the No. 1 goal of the plan,” he said. “They still had the traditional items like attracting new employees or reducing costs related to the plan, but the No. 1 thing they were looking for from the advisors was to prepare participants for retirement.”