As successful and focused defined contribution retirement plan advisers continue to grow their businesses at a rapid pace, they logically look to hire salespeople to take advantage of the many opportunities coming their way. With 500,000 DC plans between $250,000 and $100 million that either do not have an adviser or use one that has fewer than five plans under management, the opportunities are robust. And with only 5,000 "elite" DC advisers with at least 10 plans, $30 million and three years' experience, and 1,500 "super elite" advisers with 25 plans or more than $100 million, the competition is thin. So hiring more sales people makes sense, right? Not really.

In most successful DC practices, the principals have sold and sourced 95% of the deals, if not more. While there has to be a team effort to be successful, especially for mid- and large-market plans, the principal is the one driving and closing the process. Other people can make the appointment, prepare for the meeting, follow up on the meeting and service the plan, but only the principal can be the main person at the initial and succeeding meetings until the deal closes. Think about it: If another person in or outside an adviser's organization is really capable of sourcing and closing a deal, why would they work for someone else?

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