Over the years, we have reviewed issues surrounding the adviser-sold qualified plan market and ways that advisers can be more successful in this market. But for many, the defined contribution market made popular by 401(k) plans is not an important part of their practice, for many good reasons. So what are the reasons that most advisers do not focus on DC plans, and why should they consider changing this strategy?
Of the 300,000 or so financial advisers that actively sell and service the investing public, half, or 150,000, manage at least one DC plan. This is an astounding number given that there are only 5,000 that have a least 10 plans, $30 million and three years' experience - which is a minimum to be successful. Additionally, there are only 1,500 true experts who have more than 25 plans or $75 million under management. Selling DC plans is hard - it takes multiple meetings, many months and sometimes years to close the sale to a buyer who is not sure they even want to have a DC plan. More advisers are being forced to become named fiduciaries under ERISA, exposing themselves and their broker dealer to growing liability. Meanwhile, the first few years' revenue is small compared to health care plans or financial planning and wealth management.
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