What are Retirement Plan Sponsors Looking for in a Financial Advisor?

Image: What are Retirement Plan Sponsors Looking for in a Financial Advisor?

As a financial advisor, you're in the unique position to provide plan sponsors and participants with advice and guidance on issues relating to their finances—which most American adults and retirement plan sponsors alike could benefit from. You’ve been able to turn your financial savvy into a career, and it’s important to continue bringing in new clients and growing your business. But with more than 300,000 financial advisors in the U.S. alone, you have to set yourself apart. And what’s one of the best ways to do that? Know what plan sponsors are looking for in a financial advisor, and know how to demonstrate that you have the skills and expertise potential clients want and need.


How to showcase your value as a financial advisor

When one investment provider surveyed their plan sponsors, they found that almost nine in 10 plan sponsors agree that involving a financial advisor in running their workplace retirement plan has helped the company as a whole achieve better plan outcomes—including higher employee participation rates and more plan participants being on track for retirement1. Perhaps even more telling is that plan sponsors report their financial advisor provides confidence in investment management and compliance, offers valuable support in regulatory matters, provides guidance on critical plan design options—and a full 95 percent agree that their advisor is worth the cost 1.

Still, it’s vitally important to demonstrate that the service you provide is worth the fees and other costs to your clients. Luckily, there are a number of simple, actionable steps you can take to showcase all of the value you have to offer to current and prospective clients.


Understand the needs of the plan sponsor and participants

To determine the features that should be offered in your client’s new retirement plan, you first need to understand the needs and goals of both the plan sponsor and plan participants. If you know the plan sponsor wants to maximize their tax advantages via the plan, tell them which tax credits they may be eligible for and work with them to create additional tax savings for their business—by adding an employer match to their plan, for example.

For participants, be sure to provide plenty of opportunities for financial education, communicate effectively with them, and help them determine which investments best fit their risk tolerance and overall retirement goals.

Read more: How to Talk to Clients About Their Risk Tolerance


Take administrative responsibilities and burdens off clients' hands

Plan sponsors were clear that they want their financial advisor to help them feel confident in investment management and compliance, so it’s important to minimize their administrative burden. Consider a retirement plan design that includes a 3(38) investment manager to offer your clients two layers of fiduciary protection.

You can also help your client set up payroll integration with their new retirement plan to help streamline their benefit and payroll processes. Payroll integration offers a variety of benefits—saving clients time and money by eliminating the need to manually enter data twice, reducing errors by automating the transmission of data between the payroll provider and retirement plan provider, minimizing administrative tasks, and ensuring participant contributions are invested in a timely manner.


Build a relationship with your clients

If you want clients to trust you and the advice you give, it’s important to invest in building a relationship with them over time. Get to know what matters to them—and present them with information and education that may help them reach their goals and overcome their challenges.

Avoid using financial jargon or terminology they may not understand in your meetings with them, and make sure to leave the door open for any questions they may have. Keep in touch with the plan sponsor and participants regularly to maximize trust between you and ensure the plan is running as expected.

You might also be interested in: How to Write Effective Prospecting Emails


Helping retirement plan sponsors as an advisor

It’s clear that, as an advisor, showing your worth to plan sponsors is paramount if you’re trying to grow your business. Providing the above experiences to plan sponsors and participants can go a long way in proving your value as a financial advisor—and making your fees "worth it."

That’s where we come in. Here at Ascensus, we’re focused on the client experience, as well. For more than 40 years, we’ve partnered with financial advisors to bring retirement savings solutions to millions of savers across the country. Our industry-leading expertise and flexible retirement offerings are designed to save advisors time, enabling you to spend more time on the things that really matter—like participant education and efficient communication. We want to help you help your clients achieve retirement readiness and exceed the expectations of plan sponsors all at the same time.


For more information about how we work with advisors, visit our Advisor Toolkit or contact our retirement specialists at 800-345-6363.



1"The Value of a Financial Advisor" Morgan Stanley at Work. Last accessed September 7, 2023. https://www.morganstanley.com/content/dam/msdotcom/atwork/retirement-financial-advisor-benefits/value-of-fa-report.pdf