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Advisors can add 403(b) value, says study

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Advisors can bring both financial and emotional benefit to participants in 403(b) plans, according to a new study.

Participants in 403(b)s—chiefly teachers in U.S. public schools—can benefit from what an advisor can bring to the table, according to the study “Enhancing Outcomes, The Value an Advisor Brings to K-12 Participant Preparedness and Account Performance in 403(b) Plans” from retirement services provider AXA US.

The study found that those who used an advisor had a 34 percent higher median balance in their accounts than those who had the option to use an advisor, but did not do so.

The AXA study also found that respondents who used an advisor contributed more—33 percent more per month, on average—and were more diversified than respondents who chose to go it alone.

They also paid more attention to their account, with 80 percent of those using an advisor keeping an eye on things, compared with 70 percent of those who chose not to work with an advisor.

Two thirds of participants who used an advisor said that they enrolled in their plans earlier because of the advisor’s influence, and 86 percent also said an advisor helped them set and stick to retirement savings goals, compared with 67 percent who set and stuck to goals on their own.

In addition, the satisfaction rate with their plans was higher among those who used an advisor than among those who could have, but did not—75 percent compared with 56 percent.

But 403(b)s don’t seem to need all that much help.

The Plan Sponsor Council of America reported earlier this year that participant contributions are up, as are average account balances. In addition, more employers are providing contributions to the plans, and more of them are offering a Roth option.