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List the top 401(k) plan providers in the $10m and under marketplace?

Jun 04, 2014 by Stephen from Manhattan, NY in  |  Flag
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James Holland Level 18

While it is admirable of Tracy to offer his firms 3(38) services that is merely a piece to the puzzle. There are many parts to running a fully compliant plan and I would argue the investments are the easiest piece to control. Administration & Compliance are the far bigger concerns that is why you need a true Open Arch PARTNER not provider to help control costs and get the hands on service the RPF needs to run the plan not an 800#. Alliance Pension Consultants, Epic Advisors, CDM, BCG Consultants are some terrific options. Also look for a 402a Independent Named Fiduciary to oversee the whole plan for you to fully ensure compliance.

Comment   |  Flag   |  Jun 04, 2014 from Charlotte, NC

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For small plans (<$10mil in assets) I've found John Hancock's 401(k) offers a robust, competitively priced platform. They also recently moved to a more transparent fee structure recently (http://www.thinkadvisor.com/2014/03/06/john-hancock-changes-401k-plan-pricing) that eliminates a lot of the conflicts in how participants pay plan expenses. I use this platform for all of my small 401(k) plan clients.

Comment   |  Flag   |  Jun 06, 2014 from Alameda, CA

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Fidelity, Schwab, Vanguard, Principal, Transamerica, and almost retail mutual fund company. Fidelity, Schwab and Vanguard are probably the best.

2 Comments   |  Flag   |  Jun 04, 2014 from Canton, GA
John A. Frisch CPA/PFS, CFP®, AIF®, PPC

William, I have to respectfully disagree with the term "best". If you had said "...probably have the most plan assets" I would agree. Best is relative. All on your list except Principal and Transamerica are low cost but they provide no service; no help to the fiduciaries so they can do their job right, proprietary funds and no one on one participant support. Just a bare bone plan platform designed to sell their mutual funds. I'll give Principal and Transamerica some credit for trying to make the Fiduciaries life easier by providing some reporting but then you get higher cost fees and even more proprietary funds. And they will not function as plan fiduciaries. If a sponsor really wants a plan designed to keep the fiduciaries in compliance and give the participants access to the best/simplest investments, and education then they should find a consultant to set up their plan. They may use one of the firms you mention as the skeleton but they'll add all help that is so often lacking from the typical "top" plan provider. Doing a web search for an RIA who provides 3(38) services is a good place to start to find a really top plan. Best, John

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Flag |  Jun 04, 2014 near Woodbridge, VA
Tracy Scott Burke

I agree with John. The ones that William named are heavy hitters but not always the best. None of them are willing to sign on with the plan sponsor as plan fiduciaries. As John indicated, finding an RIA that can provide these services as a fiduciary is often the best. My firm, Conrad Siegel Investment Advisors, fits that bill. Check us out at www.ConradSiegel.com - we provide services to companies throughout the US. All the best. Tracy

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Flag |  Jun 04, 2014 near Harrisburg, PA

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Daniel Glanville Level 10

Stephen,

If you are looking for ease of use and low fee structure I would look at ANICO's. They have over 35 choices and a nice flat fee structure. If you are looking for investment choices, flexibility, and access to active management in your plan Flexible Plan out of Michigan is an excellent choice. They provide great diversification and a personalized plan for each person on your team. As a platform it can depend on the size, but Fidelity typically runs the lowest as far as fee structure whether you use a per trade cost or an advisory fee. As you can see, the best thing is to shop the market a bit before diving in.

Comment   |  Flag   |  Jun 06, 2014 from Colorado Springs, CO

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Stephen,

To add to the previous posts... as someone who reviews plans of all sizes and forms I can honestly tell you there is minimal difference in fund choices among them. I utilize the pain points my clients have had in the past as a recipe for providing a truly great plan. Do your work in finding an advisor that clearly shows you a "Commitment to Plan Services" so you know exactly what they are offering in the servicing aspect, which is #1 in complaints I've seen from folks looking to move. Next, think about your employees... form a plan that fits their style the best. Are they internet savvy? Will they be active in the plan or put money in and never look at it? Do they need/want onsite education on an ongoing basis? Find someone who is organized, a company who has a proven track record, and someone you feel can provide a better service than you are expecting.

I hope this helps!

Thanks, Travis

Comment   |  Flag   |  Jun 11, 2014 from Indianapolis, IN

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Vanguard has recently started offering a great "starting" 401(k) with Acensus. The great thing that is unique, beyond the usual very low costs associated with Vanguard, is that you will work with an advisor that takes on the fiduciary role for you. This is VERY unique and is an extra layer of protection in the 401(k) market. I would recommend looking into them and to find an advisor that is able to work with them for you.

Comment   |  Flag   |  Jun 16, 2014 from King of Prussia, PA

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