Fidelity Investments tapped retirement advisers and consultants for information when developing its new website, FidelityConnect — an easy-to-use dashboard that provides a snapshot of every corporate retirement plan that is recordkept by Fidelity.

Fidelity found that advisers want easier access to analytics of their plans. They want to be able to measure performance, complete benchmarking, access plan data and run reports on the data, says Phil Chisholm, vice president, defined contribution management for Fidelity Investments.

(Image credit: Bloomberg News)
(Image credit: Bloomberg News)

And even though the site is targeted at 401(k) plan advisers, plan sponsors benefit from the easy access to data as well. If plan advisers can use the system to benchmark the plan, keep track of fees and plan analytics, both plan sponsors and plan participants win, Fidelity says.

Numerous companies have been sued because employees felt that their employers were not acting in their best interest when it came to the retirement plan, its investment options and the fees they were paying for plan administration and revenue sharing. Hidden fees meant that participants were not saving as much as they would have liked in their employer-sponsored 401(k) plans. Fee disclosure rules that went into effect in 2012 require both plan providers and plan sponsors to be more transparent about retirement plan fees.

FidelityConnect is another way for the plan and its advisers to keep track of fees and plan agreements.

When Fidelity started the project two years ago, it was working with a blank slate.

“It was exciting and daunting at the same time,” Chisholm says. “We [had] a lot of great ideas and a lot of people willing to share ideas. We [didn’t] want to throw the kitchen sink in and build bells and whistles on things that are going to overwhelm people.”

Fidelity started with a web-based survey and interviews with advisers and consultants about what features they were interested in. Staff at Fidelity shadowed advisers for a week to watch them work and see how they and their support teams use different types of information.

Most advisers don’t just work with one recordkeeper, Chisholm says. They work with five to eight different retirement plan providers. That’s why it is so important that the website be user-friendly.

“If I have to read a manual or dig to use something, you lost me,” he says. “I don’t have time to learn a website that is different from a competitor’s.”

Fidelity continues to tweak and add features to the website with input from a small group of users who were familiar with what the company was trying to do with the website.

“As we go through the course of the year, more and more features will be added,” he says. One of the things Fidelity is adding is the ability to see a plan’s documents, like its legal agreement, plan service agreement, fee schedule and plan overview.

One of the biggest beefs advisers had with similar systems is that they would be pulled into an impromptu meeting about a client and would not be able to pull up the particulars of the client’s workplace plan very quickly, Chisholm says.

FidelityConnect’s one-page overview allows advisers to pull up important data quickly, like which investments the plan has access to and what plan design features they include. Is there an employer match on the plan and what are the eligibility requirements for employees to receive the match?

“It is not just advisers benefiting from this but also their support teams."

When an adviser logs in to the platform, it will see every client it has that uses Fidelity as its plan provider. It also will see the adviser’s compensation at a glance.

“It is not just advisers benefiting from this but also their support teams,” Chisholm says, adding that Fidelity has received a lot of positive feedback from adviser support teams who are using the website.

“It is a site that will continue to grow and evolve over time,” he says. “It’s not just a one-time build. We are committed to supporting the needs of advisers and adding additional functionality. We know things will change a year from now, and we are dedicated to making sure we have the funding to build it out further.”

The website is expected to fully launch in the marketplace during the first quarter of 2017.

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