In the News
May 17, 2013
May 16, 2013
Overall, about 14.6 million reviews of broker or firm records were conducted in 2012 using BrokerCheck, according to FINRA. A growing number of privately-run adviser directories, such as BrightScope or AdviceIQ, are also making it easier for investors to check out brokers.
Brokers' legal woes can trigger sticky conversations
May 15, 2013
BrightScope, a company that rates 401(k) plans, put the average balance lower, at $60,000. Brooks Herman, the company's head of research, said that of the 58 million Americans with 401(k) plans he could only find a couple of hundred with balances over $3 million.
Taking a Closer Look at a Proposal to Limit Tax-Deferred Savings
May 14, 2013
"Every adviser should be very cognizant of how they're portrayed on the Web, where they're judged by people they don't even know yet," said Mike Alfred, co-founder of San Diego-based BrightScope, which two years ago launched an online directory of financial advisers.
Potential clients who want to check out an adviser can start with a simple Google search, or log on to sites such as BrightScope, AdviceIQ and MyFinancialAdvice, which all collect and publish information about everything from adviser licenses and employment history to side hobbies and languages.
Controlling your online image
May 5, 2013
Even if financial advisers have a lot of letters after their names, that doesn't tell you anything about their experience. Among the variety of designations, a CFP, certified financial planner, is often considered the most significant. A PFS, personal financial specialist, and a CFA, chartered financial analyst, also provides credibility.
BrightScope.com provides information about many advisers, including experience, certifications and conduct. If a planner is a CFP you can go to cfp.net to verify their certification and see if they have been disciplined by the CFP Board.
Middle class struggles to get good financial advice
May 3, 2013
The ABC Action News I-Team found Syniverse, a Tampa-based innovator in wireless communications around the globe, to have one of the region's five best retirement plans. Using data from Brightscope Inc., the I-Team identified companies that are giving their employees a chance for a comfortable retirement ---- and others that seem willing to let workers fend for themselves in their golden years.
"Whatever it takes to grow dollars in a 401(k) account, that's what we favor," said Brooks Herman, head of research at Brightscope, explaining how the ratings service evaluates retirement plans.
I-Team: Syniverse Technologies LLC has one of the five best 401(k) plans in the Tampa Bay area
April 24, 2013
What kills returns the most is plans with very high fees. Unfortunately, the vast majority of participants have no idea how high their fees are in comparison to other similar plans. If you work for a relatively big organization, you can look up your plan on Brightscope.com and see how it rates on fees.
What to Ask About Your Retirement
April 17, 2013
Web-based software "disruptor" BrightScope Inc., which has gained a name for shedding light on the opaque 401(k) industry, has brought advisor industry pundit Michael Kitces to its advisory board just before it launches a fee disclosure feature later this year on BrightScope Advisor Pages.
Kitces, partner and director of research at Pinnacle Advisory Group, and publisher of the Nerd's Eye View financial planning industry blog, will join fellow advisory board member Josh Brown, the "Reformed Broker," in offering BrightScope insights on how it can refine its Advisor Pages' ADV fee disclosure feature.
Advisor Industry 'Disruptor' BrightScope Adds Kitces to Advisory Board
April 16, 2013
That old maxim about the keeping your friends close and enemies closer is playing out in the RIA arena as two relative newcomers to the RIA business have placed some of their firms' harshest critics on their respective advisory boards.
Today BrightScope Inc. announced that Michael Kitces, partner and director of research at Pinnacle Advisory Group Inc. and publisher of the blog Nerd's Eye View, will serve on the firm's advisory board and will also serve as an advisor to the company and its executives.
Kitces and BrightScope's managing principals, Ryan and Mike Alfred, found common cause in this article where they felt advisors were being disrespected by the owner of a rising online advisor.
Two firms that have love-hate relationships with RIAs draft their harshest critics to serve as consiglieres
April 12, 2013
Brooke's Note: They're young, they hang out laundry that people prefer stay in the dryer and they unabashedly hope to make their fortunes from their efforts someday in an IPO. So not everyone is friends with the Alfreds. But in an industry that has so many assumptions hard-wired, they are a force of capitalism that softens those hard spots — for better or worse. This latest effort to advance by flagging fees is a prime example and perhaps the pièce de résistance.
How BrightScope plans to publicize RIA advisory fees fairly amid all those onion layers
April 10, 2013
BrightScope, a provider of independent financial information and investment research based in San Diego, has compiled a list of the top 25 companies’ 401(k) plans in Florida.
"The majority of Americans rely on their 401(k) plan for a prosperous financial future, yet many do not have a clear understanding of the quality of their plan's components or how it stacks up to others across the country," said Dan Weeks, co-Founder and chief evangelist of BrightScope in a statement.
7 Tampa Bay firms among best 401(k) plans in Florida
April 9, 2013
Digital marketing trends are importand, he said, giving a shout out to BrightScope in the audience. "You have to know these guys," he said.
Chip Roame Tells It Like It Is
April 9, 2013
The yardstick is simple: A great 401(k) plan will charge you about 0.29%. That's the average cost among the very biggest ones, companies that manage many thousands of workers and their assets, leading to efficiencies of scale and, understandably, competition among the mutual fund providers to be included in the list of investment choices.
The worst? Small plans at small companies charge 1.45% or more, according to BrightScope, which studies private 401(k) plans.
You Can Find a Safe Retirement IRA
April 6, 2013
For evaluations of how corporate plans stack up, consider the ratings offered by services like BrightScope.com. If you aren't happy with what you find, complain to your company's management. And if you are part of management, get busy.
Shifting Our Retirement Savings Into Automatic
April 2, 2013
Here's something that can help you: San Diego, Calif.-based financial research company BrightScope has provided the Business Journal with a list of the top 25 Orlando-area based companies with the highest-ranked 401(k) plans containing more than $25 million in assets.
How did they come up with these rankings? BrightScope obtains some data directly from plan sponsors and record keepers, and augments it with data from publicly available sources such as the Department of Labor and the Securities & Exchange Commission. It looks at broad categories such as total plan cost, company generosity and investment menu quality.
Orlando companies with the best 401(k) plans
March 29, 2013
Brooks Herman, head of research at BrightScope, a company that rates retirement plans, said that when he looked at 401(k) plans by industry, lawyers had the strongest ones as a group: their plans had low fees and high average balances.
But lawyers' income could be at risk when a portion of their compensation is deferred into plans sponsored by the law firm. As happened when Dewey & LeBoeuf filed for bankruptcy last year, the money in those plans could be lost or reduced.
Money Advice for Doctors and Lawyers and the Rest of Us
March 26, 2013
These fee levels are not unusual. A BrightScope survey of 401(k) plans with assets over $1 billion found that the average expense ratio for the 30 largest plans was just 0.29%. The typical fee for plans with assets of less than $10 million was 1.45%.
401(k) Litigation: The 'Next Asbestos'?
March 22, 2013
Like everything else in New York, BrightScope's latest list of the area's top 25 401(k) plans is seriously competitive—so competitive, in fact, that a surprising number of big banks, brokerages and asset management firms dropped off this year's list.
With an average account balance of $303,634 and a 98.06% average participation rate this year, the best 401(k) plans in New York did well enough that a majority of the plans that BrightScope ranked below ninth place in 2012 did not appear on the 2013 list.
Top 25 401(k)s for NYC-Based Companies: Where Are the Big Banks?
March 16, 2013
Still, Pool notes, favoritism of trustees toward their own funds may not hurt plan participants if the plan administrator has "positive information" that indicates superior performance is on the horizon. The problem is, according to several measures, those poor-performing funds continued to perform poorly, year-in and year-out.
"I didn't need another study to tell me what I've seen for five years," says Mike Alfred, founder and CEO of BrightScope, a firm that evaluates 401(k) plans. Alfred says this phenomenon is particularly egregious among target-date funds, which have seen huge inflows since the Pension Protection Act of 2006 allowed them to become the default option in 401(k) plans. Not only do record keepers benefit in the short term by having more assets in their funds, Alfred adds, but if they have a robust rollover business, those assets can stick around indefinitely.
Why Laggards Stay Too Long
March 8, 2013
Investors seeking to be involved and active in their portfolios should also keep track of performance, readily available from Morningstar, and keep track of your 401k plan rating through Brightscope.com. Brightscope can help you determine whether your company is providing a sound, well-managed plan and give you the opportunity to look through both your company plans and those offered directly through brokerage companies.
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